half iron distance

Putting Myself in Time Out

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! And GOOOO TIGERS! We are a Clemson family and my husband literally bleeds ORANGE, so today is a happy, yet slightly hung over, day.


Second of all, I’ve missed this (blogging) so much. I’m back running again (I bet you didn’t know I wasn’t running, because how would you, I haven’t been blogging) so I’ve been thinking of so many things to write about, so I decided to write about the first thing that I really wanted to share. And I got lots to share.

Here we go. The last thing I wrote was my race report for IMNC 70.3 tri. It’s been months of trying to catch up with life, work so I can pay for life, and honestly rest. Here it is, January, and I never wrote a follow up for that particular blog, and I felt it was really important to do so.

So look at this picture from two years ago after I completed my first tri, the B2B 70.3. Look at that face!

IMG_3299

Beast Mode. In Endurance events like this, you really have to zone in on this, or you can lose your mind.

I was so happy. Thrilled, excited, powerful, and fulfilled. I knew I did the best I could for that day, especially considering it was my very first tri.

After I finished this year, I felt very unfulfilled, angry, upset, mad.

mad

Here’s the kicker. My finish time this year was less than ONE MINUTE different from the exact same race two years ago (6:03 or something like that). How bout them apples?  Less than one minute. And I was pissed. Mad. But the most interesting thing was not that I was mad about my result, which I was, but I was mad that I was mad. The race was hard. Everyone else said it too, so it must be true, right? Really, it was, and sure, I was disappointed I missed my goal time (by a lot) and mentally collapsed on the bike, and I worked my butt off for months to meet my goal time. But I was the maddest that I was mad about it at all. Where was that happy person like two years ago? That’s who I wanted to be, not a grumbly mess who would answer, “but it was way off my goal time” or “Thanks, but….”, when complimented on the race itself. No race finish should have an asterisk next to it, really.

While I was biking during this year’s race, I went from feeling good, to wanting to quit triathlon altogether, to “get yourself together”, to “I hate goal times”, to “do your best and kick as much butt as you can”. It was a tricky cycle of love to hate to love to dislike to contentment. During the run, which is my favorite thing to do in the whole world, I thought that I needed to reset my triathlon goals, and to stop making them so finite. There is so much to triathlon, at least for longer distances. So much can happen along the way to derail a race. Or make a race great. It’s not just three events, it’s pretty much five – swim, bike, run, transition, nutrition. They’re all essential components of one organism, which is the tri. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to tri. But I actually started doing triathlons after being disappointed in a 1:40 half marathon, which was a HUGE PR for me. I couldn’t shake the “it wasn’t fast enough” feeling, so I decided to do tri, so I could just enjoy the sport. Then I got all fancy with it and put big time goals on myself, and it ruined a really good race. I need to protect that “good feeling” when I tri. So I’m putting myself in time out.

Don’t get me wrong, having time goals is great. But not for me, for triathlon. I need a break from that, because that’s what I do in running. Running is where my competitive spirit resides. I am going to let triathlon be where my fun spirit resides. For now. So I’m putting myself in time out. No “racing” triathlons. No watches, no expectations except to have fun, which is the reason I do these things anyway.

Do you find you get too competitive with times? Or is that what makes it fun? Do you have sports for competing and then others for “fun”?

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap – Part II

Soooo, I was planning to post this a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I got busy with the wonderful shingles virus and taking my kids and self to our fall doctor appointments for a total of seven visits. It’s been “fun”, and now I totally understand why there’s a chicken pox vaccine.  Praise medical science for that, because shingles is like riding the roller coaster of Forrest Gump chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get on any given day. For weeks. I digress, and here’s the very extended version of my IMNC 70.3 race report. Finally.

For Part I, click here.

Part II begins….NOW.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 4:00 am to my son’s words on my alarm label, “Move your bacon”. It always makes me smile. I got up, ate four pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter, and got my fuel ready….d’oh. My fuel. Yeah, I had forgotten it in my truck that I parked at the race finish the night before. Thankfully, I have awesome training buddies, and two of them were bringing me some fuel at the bike area where we planned to meet for a picture. My husband got up and headed out to volunteer, and my sister picked me up to take us to the start.

The temp tattoo my sissy got for my race

I was tired and nervous about the wind, as it was blowing pretty hard and steady around 15 mph from the northwest, which was to be directly in our faces on the bike. Oy. When we got to T1, it was buzzing with excitement. I love this feeling.  I checked my bike, fueled her up, checked on my T1 bag, and gathered with many of my friends.


My sister drove me to the start and we went to her friend’s place, 3rd floor, where you could see the full distance swimmers coming down the channel. I’m guessing we could see at least half a mile one direction and a full mile the other. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a race, and I wish I could’ve gotten a video of it. It was a beautiful day, a little less cold than I thought it would be, but it was definitely windy. The water was choppy, so I mentally prepared to get some extra salt during my swim, haha.

Soon, it was time to head to the start and get the party started. I was wandering around, saw more buddies, when one of them happened to mention, “Hey, I think the orange caps are already across the road”, which means I missed my wave being called. Oh, man, this was the Boston Marathon all over again, when I missed my wave being called and I was LATE TO MY START. Geez. Thanks J. Mott, you could have totally saved my race! I quickly ran across the street in my cold, bare feet, thankfully, as my wave was just entering the water to wait for the start. The water was pleasantly warm, which made the wait less shivery and I tucked about six ladies’ wetsuit zipper strap into their suits to prevent them from getting tangled in the racing arms and legs. It was time to go!

Erin and me

I looked into the day that laid before me, and I was confident in my abilities, I trusted my training, borrowed a little of that confidence from my coach, and knew I could push through and have a great race. What would happen that day? Would I leave happy? Would I cross that finish line in glory? I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I was nervous, but nothing worth having is easy, and if it was easy, everyone would do it.  Before I knew it, it was time to start the swim. My plan was to not head directly down the channel, it was to head towards the middle to catch as much current as I could and veer left to cut any tangent I could without missing a buoy.

The weird thing about the swim course was that it was not like any of the courses we locals have swam in before. When we started swimming, we normally head down the channel and take a hard left. This time, we were steered at an angle towards the swim finish, which was unusual and unexpected. I was always told to “Know where you are” when open water swimming, and during the swim, sure, I knew where I was, but I really had no idea what was going on and why my landmarks were not where they were supposed to be. I followed the crowd, allowing them to determine where exactly to turn.  I felt good in the water. I didn’t stop, I didn’t get kicked in the face, I didn’t feel stressed or out of breath. When we did make our left turn, we were directly into a stiff wind, and the water was choppy.  I got my face full of wave a few times, got my extra salt, but at least I didn’t throw up. The swim finish approached quickly, and I was thinking that I was going to get my huge swim PR.

Swim: 36:51

Yay!!! Finished with the swim!!

I climbed out of the water on wood ladders, declined many offers of help, and walked myself up the dock towards the parking lot. I was so thrilled that I did not get pummeled by the fast young men whose waves started after mine. Seriously, I was stoked. I found the wetsuit strippers, let them do their job, and was happy to find the warm showers so I could at least try and wash some of the salt water off my face, arms, and neck. It felt so good!

T1 for this race is long, and it was expected, but what I really did not like is that we were required to go get T1 bags with our gear in them. I was not changing my clothes, so I had to run extra to at least get my bike stuff out of my bag and put my swim stuff back in. I heard volunteers yelling there was plenty of room in the tent, but I stayed outside the tent to transition. I heard the full participants complaining after the fact they shouldn’t have had to share the tents with the half, but where I was, there was plenty of room for all. I dropped my bag with a volunteer, ran to my bike, and knew I needed to hustle to get going. THE CLOCK WAS TICKING. Every second counted.

I knew it was windy, but I thought I could tackle it. I started my bike carefully since there was a lot of traffic, but once over the metal deck of the Wrightsville Beach bridge, I started my true journey. We headed out of town with heavy car traffic. It boggles my mind that there are so many cars out there, since this race isn’t new and signs had been posted regarding heavy race traffic for at least two weeks. I heard the drivers were very verbally abusive towards the bikers, and one biker was even hit by a car, because the driver just had to get to the shopping center and turned in front of the biker. Ugh, people, when you see bikers, realize they are moms and dads and sons and daughters and uncles and aunts and teachers and friends. BE CAREFUL! You can snuff out a life with one impatient move.

I remember finding my groove as I headed towards the interstate portion of the course. I was trying to drink and I had my baby potatoes with Base salt somewhere in there. I felt good and strong, my wonky knee was behaving so far, although I knew the hardest part was ahead of me. Yes, as I turned onto the interstate, the wind took my breath away. I was surprised at how strong it was, but I was determined to push through and meet my goal.

That portion of the course got scary. I was trying to find a good “zone”, but with the strong wind blowing at an angle, it was extremely difficult. We were coned off in the left lane of a two lane highway, with cars and trucks barreling past on the right, faster bikers flying by on the left. I almost hit a cone a few times, so made sure I was always paying attention, which made my “zoning” impossible. When the wind wasn’t as strong, I was sure to push harder, and I really had no idea where I stood with my goal time. Just before we turned north (and into the direct head wind), we rode over a ginormous bridge. Cars and trucks were backed up to our right, and you’d have to be absolutely crazy to try and ride in aero. I got out of aero and held on to my handlebars like they were hundred dollar bills. It was not my favorite moment on the bike.

We took a short jog south (which is where the extra 6 miles came from), and then turned north. Oh, Lord, it was windy.

You can literally see the cold front that brought the wind in the night before the race. Or the wind brought it in. Regardless, it sucked. Or blew.

Let me tell you a story. I hate wind. The end.

I have hated wind since I was in high school, when I was riding RAGBRAI (a week-long bike ride in Iowa) I grew to hate it even more, and I’ve pretty much hated it since. You can explain the science behind wind, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. And this is where the mind melt began. I have heard reports it was 15, 20, 23 mph steady with up to 30 mph gusts. I don’t know what it actually was, but everyone was having difficulty and it was not just “breezy”. For competition sake, we all had the same conditions, so it was fair. But I hate wind, so it really wasn’t fair.

When I saw the first aid station, I grabbed a bottle of water and chugged as much as I could, then threw it down at the “last chance trash” sign. I was trying to drink as much of my Base Hydro as I could, and I believed I was doing a good job. Probably ten miles into hell (the direct head wind), I wasn’t feeling the best. Besides having a mental breakdown during what was supposed to be my record-breaking race, I started feeling like I was dehydrated. For me, this is a bobble head sort of feeling, like I can’t really see 100% straight. I’ve had this during some training rides, and it’s not a great feeling. I should have stopped to re-fill my hydro. But I did not want to stop. I couldn’t re-fill on the fly since I was afraid of getting blown over. **I should have stopped and re-filled.**

In the meantime, my mind was filled with negative thoughts. This is what wind does to me. It sucked my confidence, my drive, and my determination away. I let the wind beat me. I should have been stronger in this moment.  I remember thinking, besides my goal is shot, that all those early barf-o-meter mornings were pointless because of this one moment, that I was absolutely crazy for having such an aggressive goal, that I need to do triathlons for fun and not time because it ruins the joy of it (this is the only thing that I still think is true), that I sucked, that this was stupid, it was just. So. Hard. Then it clicked in my brain and I laughed at the irony of it. For those who don’t know, I am a youth running coach, and in my business email signature line, there’s a little quote, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.” From that point on, I thought about the kids that I yell at, the ones I tell to push past the discomfort, and I remembered that I needed to be an example to them and to myself, that I was stronger than the damn wind, quit whining and bitching, and PEDAL. So I quit being a big baby, got a hydration game plan together, and pedaled.

When we reached the end of hell and were able to turn around and get a tail wind, I re-filled my hydration and drank as much as I could. I ate my snack, and I pushed myself. I’d been having some knee issues, so I was careful not to go overboard, but I was happy to be able to sustain over 20 mph with our tail wind. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for the tail wind. I was careful not to drink too much, as I didn’t want my stomach full of fluid for the run, but I knew I was playing a make-up game, which is hard to do in the running portion of a triathlon.

As we headed into town, I felt defeated. I let the wind beat me. I made a big nutrition mistake, one I should have already learned.  I knew I wasn’t going to get my big PR, but I just wanted to finish the race strong, and I didn’t want the run to blow up. As we came into T2, there was short steep hill where volunteers were signaling to slow down. No one wanted to slow down, but we did, and the dismount line came very fast. I think this is when I saw my parents, one son, and my sister. Oh, what a sight for sore eyes! We then walked our bikes to what was a single file rubber mat covering dirt and gravel, and we had a long walk to the bike hand off. Ugh, so much wasted time here! Then we were told to put our bikes on the left instead of right. I was not feeling great, so in the middle of trying to quickly switch (there were stacks of people behind me), I became dizzy and fell down. So embarrassing. I knew I held up the line, and quickly recovered and ran my bike, carefully, to the hand off line and into the grassy T2 area. I found my bag and ran into the tent, put my stuff down, and started to cry. I. Was. So. Pissed.

This was going out on the bike (hence the smile) since I don’t have one coming back in

Bike: 3:12:07

My friend, Beth, was working in the tent, said hi, encouraged me (she is awesome), and I quickly changed, sucked it up, and headed out to run 13.1 miles. T2 was LONG and annoying. I know somewhere along the way, whether it was T2 or just into the run, I saw my dad and son on the side. I stopped and gave them both a hug, when across the lane runs my mom for her hug. I tear up at this moment because I do not know if they truly understand how important it was for me to see them at this particular point in the race. And I love the fact that my mom probably would have bulldozed other runners to get her hug. Haha, go mom. The hugs were just what I needed.

It was a pretty big deal my parents got to see one of my races. Pretty big deal.


I knew I needed to start slow but be steady on my run. The course was really weird the first mile – we twisted and turned, went behind buildings, and I didn’t particularly like it. But once we came out of that, we ran through the bars, shops, and restaurants of Front Street, which is one of my favorite places to be in downtown Wilmington. There were a lot of people out cheering us on, but that was short lived as we headed towards Greenfield Lake. I saw TONS of my fellow Without Limits teammates, friends I knew from other training, and I thought it was just beautiful out. Funny thing is, I was hot. There was no wind, barely even a breeze, so I was laughing to myself over the irony of it – I needed that wind to cool me down.

I took a Gu (or whatever they had on the course), kept my Base salt handy, and drank Gatorade at almost every aid station, which were spread out to be about every mile. I enjoyed my run, and as the miles ticked by, I didn’t even look at what my pace was. I was feeling better, something I wasn’t expecting, so I was hoping to at least finish my half marathon fast. I wanted my parents to see me finish strong, so I concentrated on recovery more than I did anything else.

About a mile before the course turnaround, I realized my Base salt tube was empty – wow. Luckily, there was plenty to grab at the Base Performance tent. Lucky me.  I was making sure to take salt, keep hydrated, and eat. I was walking a little here and there at aid stations, but I did my best to run faster every mile. Again, the course was beautiful, and I really loved being able to see and cheer on so many people that I knew.

The miles ticked down, and I came into downtown Wilmington again. There were some crowds, but not as many people as I had expected. I pushed hard through the last mile, saw my family as I came down the finish chute, and gave high fives to as many people who stuck their hands out for me. I was done. I finished.

Coming into the finish chute

Run: 1:58:58

Let’s break it down here.

Swim: 36:51

Bike: 3:12:07

Run: 1:58:58

T1/T2: LONG

Total time: 6:03:34 (I missed a PR by a mere 26 seconds)

76/435 women

18/89 age group

361/1060 overall

As disappointed in my race as I was, to finish strong with my family watching, and to finish well compared to others racing that day, I really can’t complain about anything. I trained hard, I raced hard, I made some mistakes, but I finished with a smile and a lesson, and there’s really nothing better than that.

See that guy with the mic? That is THE Mike Reilly. :):):)

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, follow your dreams, fueled by base, half iron distance, ironman, open water swimming, race with base, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Holiday Recap

It’s hard to describe the last few weeks in a few words. Whirlwind maybe? A big whirlwind of family, sleeping, getting up early, running, more sleeping, eating some damn good food, driving, more driving, even more driving? I’m sure it’s like that for pretty much everyone else, but there’s something about this year that makes my head spin. I’m going to recap the last month, then look forward into 2016. One of my “things” for the year is to blog more! I’ve had several people comment they miss it, and honestly, I miss it too, so I plan to make sure I blog at least once a week. There’s a lot going on, lots to talk about, and if anyone knows me, I do like to talk!

So here’s a quick recap of December and the holiday.

IMG_8075

Epic Running Company – 2015 Fall Season

First, my Epic Running Company kids had their 5k on Dec. 12th. I felt such pride as those boys crossed the finish line. Their abilities spread out like Texas, but if they all have one thing in common, it’s heart. I struggled getting some of them to really push themselves and put more effort into their simple two days of training, but I think they understood more of why I was doing that when we got to the race. They put a lot of effort into their races, and I told them to just try their hardest. One runner was determined to get a PR from his last 5k, and boy, did he blaze a PR trail and finished in 21:45. That was amazing. I had several more finish in under 25 minutes, and of course, that was cool. A few threw up, and the one surprised himself by how hard he tried. His mom was sort of a wreck because of it, but I assured her he was just fine and was only pushing himself very hard. I think he wore that like a badge of honor, a puke patch?  Anyway, it was a great coach moment, and I’m already preparing for this spring, where I will have a boys and girls group. I have so many ideas of how to make the program better and more specific to the kids’ abilities and goals, so I have my work cut out for me! If only I had a track for them to practice on!!!

The next cool thing of December was finding out Ironman bought out the Beach 2 Battleship races here in Wilmington. I was planning to sign up for the half in October anyway, and thankfully, there’s still a half option, so I have my fall race planned. Ironman North Carolina 70.3 is purchased and on the books! This time though, I’m going to race the thing. My coach and I already discussed what she thinks my time should be, assuming it’s not tornadoing outside, and I’ve my sights set on a 30+ minute PR. I have a lot of work to do this summer, but I’m confident that smart and focused racing will do the trick.

 

My boys at the Orange Bowl

 

Next. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my husband is a total Clemson nut. He graduated from Clemson in the 90’s and has been a true fan of theirs before that and his love of the Tigers has grown and spread to me and our boys. Thankfully, we were able to drive eight hundred forty thousand 12-13 of the longest hours each way to Miami to watch them play in the Orange Bowl.

I’ve never been to a bowl game before, so it was a fun and entertaining experience for us, especially since Clemson won the game.

Our hotel in Miami was a mile away from a gorgeous park (WITH OPEN BATHROOMS WHOHOOO!) where I did 14 total miles of running, including speed work, the two mornings we were there. It was like July there, and although it was enjoyable, I was happy to head back north where the temps actually cooled after a very warm fall. On New Year’s Day morning, I saw the sun rise, loved the peacefulness of the reflection on the lake, saw snails chugging away to wherever they were going, and saw sun shining on the dew drops laying on a leaf. What a way to bring in the new year!

The interstate was a sea of orange as we all headed home after the big game, and it was cool to wave, nod, glance at all the other Clemson fans along the hundreds of miles towards home.

Definitely one of my favorite books!!

Since we were in the car for five zillion hours over 4 days, I finally got my book read. It was amazing. Truly amazing. I recently realized that my training intensity and effort does not match my race intensity and effort, so it’s time to change that. Good thing is, the test will be in twelve short days at the Charleston Marathon where I’m trying to PR and BQ. I’ve decided to go for it and use the tools I learned from this book. I would highly suggest this to anyone, no matter your goals. You never know what you’ll get out of it.

And one more thing, I decided to bite the bullet and get my Ironman tattoo. This tattoo does not symbolize Ironman. I hear a lot of backlash about people doing an Ironman branded race just for an “M-dot” tattoo. I did an Ironman branded race for the experience of doing one. They do things in a top-notch way, plus coming down the finish chute to people high-fiving you and cheering you just because you’re finishing was one of my favorite experiences ever. No offense to smaller races, but it’s not the same.

Anyhoo, this tattoo symbolizes following a dream, pushing “REGISTER” although I didn’t believe in myself. It means months of blood, sweat, and tears, of fear, of proving to myself that I am an Ironman, that I am stronger than I think. Training for and finishing an Ironman changed my life, and this tat is representation of the good things that can come of dreaming big and working hard.

Ironman I am

Did you watch football this holiday? Have a good time?

 

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 Relay Recap

Team “This was her idea” completed the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 on Saturday. I did the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike, while my husband ran the 26.2 miles to the finish.

FullSizeRender

Four score and seven years ago…ha, just kidding. My alarm rang at a bright (it was actually really dark) and early 4:00 am on Saturday. I had a list of things I needed to get done before my sister picked me up at 5:15 and took me to T1, where I would drop off the special needs bags, T1 bag, and got my bike all pumped and ready to go.

They passed inspection.

They passed inspection.

The time flew, and it was time to head to the swim start via trolley. I was lucky to find my friend, Alisha, who I’ve ridden bikes with and was doing the full 140.6 on her own. And spoiler alert, she finished in a screaming fast time of 12:45! When we got to the start, we came upon several others we knew, so it was so nice to have company while we waited.

Ready to go!!!

Ready to go!!!

I’m so tired of peanut butter. It’s definitely my go-to sandwich topping and I normally eat two pieces of bread with peanut butter before long bike rides. Not Saturday. I hate a BUNCH of small pancakes before I left home, then some Clif Shot Blocks and an Uncrustable at the swim start, probably 20-30 minutes out. My nerves never really hit, even as we made our way to the start line, during the National Anthem, prayer, and as the countdown began with “Lose Yourself” playing in the background. It was windy, and I was nervous about that part, but I was ready to go. I couldn’t believe what 750ish people all ready to swim 2.4 miles looked like. That was a LOT of people to swim with.

B2B start

B2B start

After the horn sounded to start, I let many people start and walked across the sand into the water, jogged, then dove in. The sound of so many arms and legs working through the water was cool. We would be swimming down Banks Channel for quite a while, then hang a left into Motts Channel, a right, then head to the finish. I knew the current was strongest in the middle of the channel, and I tried to get to the middle as soon as I could.  When I was, I noticed we were flying. The swim was going to be fast. That’s when my head started hurting. Damn.  I bet my goggles were too tight. Well, nothing I could do but finish the swim and let the headache go away, as it always did. But first, I needed to experience typical “mass start” swim inconveniences, such as getting kicked in the face by a moron who was cutting across all the other swimmers, probably because he wasn’t sighting. I called him a name, readjusted my goggles, then went back to it. In the meantime, I was kicked, hit, and had others hit my legs and feet while swimming. Nothing major though. Good. I needed to know what that felt like, because I know for sure that Florida is going to be about ten times worse, or more. I stopped several times from a strange sort of bottleneck that emerged where two people were blocking me and I felt it would take more energy to go around them than just keep going and let itself sort out. Soon, we passed by the half start. Then I saw the turn buoy, and it was coming fast. As soon as I passed the orange triangle, I took a left and angled a little left of center since I knew the current would bring me right. Once we got into Mott’s Channel, we flew along again, and the navigation marker pole came up so fast, I think someone actually ran into it. I aimed towards the finish ladders, and was soon there, but stopped kicking to pee 🙂 Twelve years later, I was ready to get out. My friend, Stacey, was working the medical tent at the swim finish and I was so happy to hear her cheer for me as I got out of the water. One thing that made me surprised and happy was that there were tons of people left in the water. For someone who freaks out about being last all the time in group swims, I was just thrilled to be in the main crowd of people. Whew!!! Swim time: 1:05.02 (my normal 2.4ish mile swim is 90 minutes, so that’s how fast the current was).

From swim finish to T1, about a 300 meter jog.

From swim finish to T1, about a 300 meter jog.

Two words: Wetsuit Strippers. Then we went through warm showers to get as much as the salt water off our bodies as we could and headed for a little jog to T1. I heard my name called out so many times, I saw my sister, and it made me so happy. Do crowds really know how amazing they make athletes feel? I felt like a rock star as I ran with my wetsuit slung over my arm, dripping wet, and grimacing from the pavement hurting my feet. I grabbed my bag and went into the tent, changed my clothes, put on arm warmers, applied sunscreen and chapstick, said hi to my friend Rebecca, and got ready to bike. I put food in my bag, but I had no time for that and wasn’t hungry. Damn. I had to pee again. But I had already started towards my bike, so figured I could wait until the aid station at mile 21 to go. I found my bike and was headed out for a nice 112 mile ride. I went to turn my watch on, and damn. Battery dead. Oh well, I had my bike computer to go by. T1 time: 9:26

Bike traffic was tricky for several miles. I didn’t want to get a penalty, but I didn’t know how to handle the bottleneck since everyone was pretty much drafting. The vehicle traffic was not blocked off, so it was weird and I wasn’t sure what lane the bikes could be in without getting run over. Hmmmm. Ok, I just followed the people in front of me. Finally, several miles (or what felt like it), the bikes thinned out and we headed out on I-140. We had a good tail/cross wind, so my speed was good. Honestly, wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt good and strong.  I did my best to stay back and be sure I could pass the person in front of me before any attempt, and I did a lot of passing. I got passed quite a bit too, but I didn’t care. That meant I beat them on the swim, so I soaked up that feeling while I could! I came upon a few girls chatting side by side, so finally, after a guy tried to pass on the left and hit rumble strips that made his water bottles fall off his bike, I yelled at them to move over and stop blocking. I could have done that in a nicer way, but really, how rude. It’s not like they couldn’t see all the bikes piling up behind them. Another irritating thing was that my headache hadn’t gone away. In fact, I had a raging headache at this point, and no ibuprofen.

Another interesting thing I noticed during this early part of the ride is the “violation police” on a motorcycle going by marking people’s number down for rules violations.  They were out in force. The last thing I wanted was a time penalty, so I did my best to not violate the rules, but with the bottleneck, I didn’t know how to actually follow the rules. Something to talk to coach about for sure.

The miles clicked by, and I wish I could have found my “zone”, but I couldn’t since we were using the left lane of an interstate and the right part of our lane was coned off with cars zipping by at 60-70 mph in the right lane. One wrong move, you hit a cone, and bam. Done. When I saw the very large bridge come into view, I knew we were at mile 20 and the bathroom was coming up. Thank goodness because I sure had to pee!  I refilled some of my eFuel, went to the jon, and was on my way again. Right into the wind. I’m not sure what the wind speed was, but I felt like we had a straight head wind of at least 10 mph. Someone said it was maybe 15, but I don’t know for sure, but it wasn’t a “light breeze” by any means. I put my head down and pedaled. And pedaled and pedaled. I sometimes get random songs in my head when I bike. I can’t remember the name of the song, and it’s not one of my favorites by any means, but all I know is that part of the lyrics have “when the wind blows”, which I thought was appropriate for the situation.

I am familiar with this route, so I knew of some landmarks along the way. I’m not positive of the speed I was going, but I wasn’t pushing too hard. My legs ALWAYS feel tired when I start out on a bike ride, and they were feeling it at this point. I think we were into the wind for 30 miles? Not sure, but we turned left, where I thought we would find relief from the wind, only to find very minimal relief. Damn. All I know is that I didn’t want it to switch around so we would have a head wind on our way back!

I thought I saw on the map that our special needs was at mile 51 or 53. We passed 53 with no special needs, and I wondered if I missed it? What happened? I didn’t understand, and I was thinking of the Coke I had in there and was anxious to drink it. Along this ride, I learned that I like to eat on the bike. I’d never really done that in training, and I’m not certain why, but I was like a biking food truck. I pulled things out of my bag, put them in the pocket in my bike shirt, and would eat a little here and a little there. Energy beans and shot blocks was what I had first, then I remembered I had some baby yellow potatoes. I dug them out and slowly ate them. Delish! Thanks for the idea, Angela!!

Finally, I saw a commotion ahead and came upon special needs at mile 58. One of the volunteers brought me my bag, and lo and behold, it was a friend of mine, Michelle. That was so cool! Another friend yelled hi to me. So awesome! I was half way through the bike and tired from pushing into the wind so long, PLUS my headache still hadn’t gone away, so I was sort of out of it. I didn’t want to eat the sandwiches I packed to practice with, so that’s one thing learned. I grabbed my Uncrustable, more shot blocks and beans, noticed the line to the bathroom was too long, and headed on my way. A mile or so later, I realized I didn’t even see or think about my Coke in the bag. Damn!!!

We had some tail wind mixed with head wind and side wind the next several miles. My headache was pounding, so over every bump, it radiated up to the top of my head. Oh, it hurt so bad and I could do nothing about it. Mental training was all I could think. A few miles up the road, I passed a biker holding his bloody face while the EMT’s helped him. I said a little prayer for him – that’s nothing anyone wants to see, ever, but especially on someone’s race day. I found out later he was ok and wants to do the race next year, but has no recollection of what happened and why he crashed.

Between mile 70 and 80, I struggled. The road was rough, so every big bump we went over, it felt like someone was stabbing me in the head. I know this is a tough part of the bike anyway, so I let myself cry. Then I sucked it up and carried on, stopping to pee and to get water somewhere along in there. Four stops was all I was going to allow myself.

With about 20 miles to go, I was on a smooth road and the miles clicked off. My legs felt strong, so I started to push a little more. With 12-13 miles to go, we turned south, and had the most amazing reward in the form of a tail wind. I headed towards my finish line, where I would hand off my timing chip to my husband and be done racing for the day. I pushed, I passed, I reveled in our delicious tail wind that was helping me maintain speeds of 21-22 mph. I had my cell phone in my bike bag just so my husband could track me to know when to be in the relay exchange zone (yes, I know I’m not supposed to have a phone, but I didn’t touch it during the race, only having it with me for tracking purposes). He noticed I was coming to the finish pretty fast and got ready to run.

When I headed over the big bridge that takes us to downtown, I got emotional. I did it. My longest bike ride to date, and it was a good one, despite the wind. I had no idea the time, no clue to my average speed, but I learned a LOT, and I had a great experience along the way. Two support crews stuck out in my head – a group of girls dressed as Wonder Woman were following someone, but always had cheers for other racers. There was a HUGE group of people dressed in blue t-shirts out supporting their person at many points. Wow. Those people were amazing to see, the amount of support they provided their person, and they also helped me too. I couldn’t imagine that kind of support!

Coming into T2, where the relay exchange was.

Coming into T2, where the relay exchange was.

I rode into the transition, gave my bike to a volunteer, and quickly found my husband waiting for me. I quick gave him a kiss and the timing chip, and he was on his way. I laid down because my head was pounding, and knew I needed to get something for it before I did anything else. The exchange zone volunteer asked if I needed anything, and actually went and got me some medicine so I didn’t have to get up, even when I told her I could go get it when I got some food. The meds came with a medical person who had to clear me before he would give me anything, which is cool and annoying at the same time, but I got my Tylenol and within minutes, my headache cleared.  Bike Time: 6:25:27. Crazy fast for me!!!

Wow. I did it. 2/3 of an iron distance on my own. It wasn’t easy, but was filled with a sense of relief for the things I learned along the way and of pride and of confidence for Florida, three short weeks from that very day. I went to the finish line to see if they would let me have food, only to find tons of people I knew, including my coach. I chatted with her for a bit, grabbed some grub, and headed back to get my bike, change clothes, and watch my husband as he ran his race. Things took a lot longer than I planned, but along the way, I noticed that I felt really good. My legs didn’t even feel very tired, and I knew at that point, I got my nutrition and effort level right on my training ride. I knew I could run after that and that I would be super tired (who isn’t?), but that it was doable.

I’ll leave the rest of the details out since this is long enough, but I knew people about three miles from the finish who were watching for my husband. They alerted me when he was on his way back, so I was ready and waiting for him at the finish to cross that line with him. He wasn’t having a great race and didn’t feel great, but he did an amazing job, and we finished the 140.6 together.

We did it!!!

We did it!!!

B2B Iron Distance Relay Time: 12:09:57

IMG_9248

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

On Swimming, Biking, and Running

First of all, I have to give a HUGE, GINORMOUS shout out to my two coaches. Sami, my Ironman coach, just completed the World Championship 70.2 in Austria and is only a few weeks away from making her way to Kona. Hello, Awesome! She has been a huge inspiration to me and has helped me navigate this crazy thing called Ironman.

Sami finishing IM France

Sami finishing IM France

My other coach, Kristen, has helped me train through some crazy races (that means I was crazy at the time, not the race), including my first half iron last fall. She was the one who had me ready to kick Boston’s butt before it kicked mine, and who will hopefully help me get another BQ come January. This nutty girl and her equally nutty friend made it into Otillo, the absolute swim/run endurance event this weekend in Sweden. This race entails swimming a total of 10k and running a total of 65k. Oh, but it’s not just that, it’s swimming to an island WITH YOUR RUN GEAR, running across it WITH ALL YOUR SWIM GEAR, then swimming to the next island, and so on and so forth. Check out the website because it’s proof people do crazy stuff. Ha! Best of luck to you my friend, Kristen.

1385080_10203974705300632_405769710090026340_n

Otherwise, I’m still here, chugging away at this crazy train called Ironman training and life.  Honestly, I’m not sure which one takes up more time.  Training feels like it’s all-encompassing. It’s very different from the half iron, and I’m not sure if it’s this way for everyone else, or if I’m the anomaly, or if it’s a factor of being a first-time Ironman participant.

I was trying to describe it to my husband, because I feel guilty that my training is taking up about 90% of my brain. I think about training, the race, nutrition, equipment, the next workout, the last workout, sharks, should I have an extra pair of goggles in my wetsuit, what if it rains, I don’t like hills, all that stuff, whirling around in my head all the time. All. The. Time. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I’m sure he’s tired of it, heck, I am tired of hearing myself talk or think about it. In explaining to him how I was feeling,  and evidently I’m still in pre-school, because the only way I could accurately describe how I was feeling was by pictures.

So this depicts the Beach 2 Battleship half last fall. We were super busy, but I got all my training in. It seemed time consuming at the time, but I was sure to have fun with it and not stress out.

Half iron training.

Half iron training. Do you like my flamingos?

You can see the Beach 2 Battleship on the left but it’s on the side. It’s clearly there, but everything else in the picture is clear and it takes up more space in my vision than B2B.

Then there’s Ironman.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

The Ironman is the main focus. Everything else is there, but it’s blurry, and the IM clearly takes precedence. This is how I feel 99% of the time. I can’t stop thinking about it, focusing on it, and chewing on it, spitting it out. But it’s always there, and everything else is in the background and fuzzy. Sure, I’m getting everything taken care of and it’s not like I’m ignoring my kids while I stare at the wall or something, but when we talk about something, my mind drifts to 1) training 2) the race itself. Considering how much time it takes me to train, it’s pretty clear why I’m always thinking about it, but I certainly gets annoying. Visualizing is good, but I’m sure visualizing the heck out of this race.

On swimming, biking, and running.

Swimming. Oh, that pesky swim. The event that has me tied up in knots, the one I hope to get through, the one that scares me the most. There’s no reason to believe I can’t finish this swim in plenty of time. But crazy things happen, I know, so I’m doing my best to prepare for it.  Except swimming open water. Yeah, there’s a jellyfish and shark convention going on this summer, so I’ve been out for a few weeks. A few weeks ago, I was going to try and swim in my wetsuit because there was a seriously jellyfish issue and tons of people were getting stung. Then my friend posted this picture.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

I basically had a panic attack. I know sharks are out there. I KNOW that, but this summer in the ocean is weird and these pictures were taken VERY CLOSE to my house, in the inlet, and a few miles from where we swim. I decided against swimming, which is good, since both the ladies I was going to swim with got stung up, even with full wetsuits on.

Me. Totally me.

Me. Totally me.

So I’ve been to the pool and have been swimming on my swim tether at my house. I have to say it’s going well. I can swim for 90 minutes without dying and being sore. I’m not fast, am not getting any faster, but, barring any weird race situations, I think I should be able to finish this swim in 1:45 or less and feel good.

BIKING.

Ahhh, biking. This is relatively new for me, this thing called biking. I’ve found to enjoy it, minus the cars going two millimeters away from me at 55 mph. I knew that I needed to really gain some strength on the bike. I’ve put in a lot of hard intervals, long rides, and it’s finally starting to pay off. I can now do 80 miles at 18+ mph after a tough week of workouts. This past weekend was the biggest confidence booster where I went 82.5 miles in 4 1/2 hours then ran 6 miles with every other mile at a tempo pace with negative splits, ending on a sub-8:00. Yeah, the legs were shredded after that workout, but I think I felt a rush of what it was like to really push yourself past the zone of uncomfortable. I pushed harder in that workout than I probably have ever, for sure harder than any other brick workouts. All I could think was that the harder I push, the stronger I will get and the better I will feel when I race.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

One thing I really enjoy about biking on Sunday mornings is seeing the gorgeous sunrises. I’ve been so blessed to have good weather so far, but the sunrises? One of my favorite things. I love the sounds, the bugs as they welcome the morning and then move into the symphonies of summer. I’m out there for hours and hours, so at least I have something to listen to.

This holiday weekend, I’m heading to central North Carolina, where there’s HILLZ. Oy, I’m not used to hills, but it’s time to do what it is that scares me, which is a 100 mile bike ride in da hills. Yup, that’ll be me on Monday. Wish me luck. To say that I’m intimidated would be a pretty big underestimate.

Running.

I haven’t missed running. I’m getting long runs in, but I haven’t enjoyed them. Why? Because I can’t breathe. I’m losing 85% of my fluids in ten minutes of running. It’s so humid. It’s so hot. I know, it’s summer, fall is coming, but I dread my long run on Saturday because I know I’m going to soak through 2 pairs of my running shoes and be so covered in sweat, I look like I just got done with my swim. I miss you, cool weather, and I miss enjoying my running. This makes me re-think trying to get into the Chicago marathon because running in soup at pace is just, well, not fun!  BUT, like I mentioned before, I’ve pushed past the comfort zone, and even when my legs are tired, I have sweat coming out of my eyebrows, I push. I have a marathon to train for after IM Florida, and every little bit faster and stronger I get now will only help me later when it’s time to push the gas to the floor.

So there. That’s the deal. Focus. Drive. Hard work. It’s been fun, I’m truly enjoying this crazy thing, and I look forward to the next few months. It really has been a journey so far.

 

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, qualifying for boston marathon, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

From 0 to 120 in Seven Days

I wonder what it’s like to go 120 in a car. I’ll never find out, but I’m curious if your face flies back like when people skydive. I would think so.

I wonder what this feels like. Probably dry.

I wonder what this feels like. Probably dry. And windy.

I’m 30.5 weeks ahead of Ironman Florida.  It doesn’t seem like that much time when you think about all the training the race will require, but then again, it’s over half a year. I’m sure it’ll be here before I know it, so it’s time to get to work!

Last week, I started riding my bike and swimming. I rode 30 miles on the trainer once, then twice, I rode 20 easy miles. No intensity was necessary, as I felt I needed to avoid ramping up miles and intensity at the same time. Saturday, I decided that I needed to get up to 50 miles. I planned to meet up with my friend, Gary, so we took off early on the route we rode tons of times last year. Part of it is a 4-lane highway at 60 mph (for the cars, not me because if it was me, hello Kona!), but it’s a good route with a 30 mile loop. There’s a convenience store that’s conveniently located for pit stops as well. I felt the 30 miles was done at a pretty good pace, especially since it was the first road ride in a LONG time. My device didn’t work right, but Gary’s Garmin said we were going between 17-18 mph. I felt like we were going slightly north of that, but who am I to argue with a Garmin?

I mentioned last week that my tri bike didn’t feel that different from my old road bike. Well, once I got on the road, I could definitely feel a difference.  It was good, and when we were done with the 30 (Gary’s first 30 in a long time), I decided to go home and ride another 20 miles on my trainer to avoid the A-holes who think they don’t have enough space in an entire highway to move their vehicles-of-death more than two inches away from my arm. A-holes. I felt like I was going to be endangering my life on the road enough this season, and I did not feel like getting killed, as I was NOT Jesus and would NOT be rising from the dead.

The 20 miles on the trainer was not what I expected. I was tired. My legs were tired, and it was hot and sweaty inside. I decided to leave the TV off and listen to music instead. It was sort of nice to have my own personal DJ (thank you, dear husband) and when I needed a new song, I just said, “NO” and he changed the song. I’m definitely going to look into this Sufferfest I hear rumors about. A lot of my harder workouts are going to be inside and probably by myself, so it’s time to turn off “Oprah’s Where Are They Now”, and get into it for real.  I wanted to give up my bike ride and wondered why 50 miles seemed so challenging. Well, one week before, I hadn’t ridden, and within seven days, I’d gotten in 120 miles. THAT is probably why. It makes more sense when you add it up.

Post-bike run. It was pretty awesome.

Post-bike run in the sprinkles. It was pretty awesome.

I stopped pedaling as SOON as that thing whispered “20” to give me a total of 50, and I quickly laced up my shoes, grabbed my phone and gum, and went out the door for more torture a two mile run.  It felt super slow, and when Helga from “Map My Run” spoke at the 1 mile mark, I was happy to realize that I was going at an 8:30 pace. Ahhh, the glory of post-bike running. I got in another mile at the same pace and was. just. done. Wow, from zero to 120 in seven days. Glorious. I’m guessing I’m going to feel accomplished for the next several months as I continuously cross the line of what is comfortable and redefine uncomfortable. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

On Sunday, I slept in. It was awesome. I felt good and it was an absolutely gorgeous Easter Sunday. My husband had gone to run 12 miles with his group, so I talked with the kids, told them to wait on the Easter egg hunt, and went out for a good 5 mile run. At the first mile, the one that seemed like the longest mile ever, I wondered if that was how I was going to feel every Monday, since my long brick workouts will be on Sundays. But after the first mile, I got into the groove, remembered what it was like to be injured, was very thankful to be exactly where I was in life, and the rest of the run felt better and better. It was Easter, a time of new beginnings, and this was my new beginning. I ended up at an 8:28 pace overall, and I came in with a smile and spent the rest of the day with my family. My husband, on the other hand and a possible rock star in the making (ok, he IS a rock star), ended up running 13.1 miles at his goal race pace. That isn’t what he was supposed to do, but he was really happy, and I am now 100% sure he’s going to blow away his old half marathon time in just a few more weeks.

My tri training is really in it’s infancy, and it’s only going to get bigger and badder, so I’m channeling my inner beast whenever I can, but especially when I have a workout in my head.  My plan is to push past it, even if just for one minute, yard, or mile. I headed to the pool on Monday and planned to do 8×100’s with a rest. I’ve just started back swimming and it’s my most difficult sport, so I’m giving myself some time to adjust to it. When I had one more 100 left, I channeled the Beast and decided to do a 200 after I was done with my 100’s. I knocked out the 200, and decided to finish with a 100. So my workout ended up being 1100 instead of the planned 800, and I was pretty happy when I left the pool. I could have stayed and done more, but I plan to swim thrice this week, so I didn’t want to end up regretting that decision. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to deal with my chlorine allergy until open water season starts, but hopefully Loratadine will help.

My view at the pool. Interesting, ain't it? Not.

My view at the pool. Interesting, ain’t it? Not.

This morning, I woke up feeling like crap because we decided to stay up and watch the basketball game. WHY DO THEY START GAMES AT BEDTIME?????  I don’t know what time it was when we fell asleep, but it was too late and after too much beer and a mini Totino’s pizza. That was dumb, but at least our dinner earlier in the evening was healthy and delish.

Springtime Orzo - Um, YES.

Springtime Orzo – Um, YES.

I wasn’t too thrilled with doing speed work, but again, I know that in order to race fast, you have to train fast, so my plan was to do 4×400’s at as fast as I could get down to, or 6:05. I hadn’t done really anything faster than 6:50, but closer to 7:00 minute miles in a LONG time, so I honestly didn’t know if I could get these done. I made the mistake of not going to the track, so it was hard to see what my paces were and then I had to check on the distance relatively often. Next time, to the track I go. My Garmin was fussy since it was cloudy. For instance, it had me going at a 5:24 pace during my warm up. Yeah, NOT. So to the best of my estimation, I got my 400’s in, not four of them, but SIX 400’s at about a 6:15-6:20 pace. I thought my hands were going to fall off when I was done and I do not understand how people can run marathons at that pace and faster. Seriously. And how do they keep their hands from falling off?

I came home after 6.3 total miles in an average pace of 8:06. A good day’s work. I then burst into tears. I was sad. It was the song’s fault, but I was just sad. I’ll tell you why in my next post but it’s running related. It comes and goes, but today it was here for a short visit.

It’s not all bad, and I’m not sitting here crying while typing. It’s just one of THOSE days.

crying

Not me.

It’s cloudy, I’m tired, and my cat is at the vet. He’s fine, but it’s weird without him here. I can go pick him up this evening and pay my bill that is probably the equivalent of my mortgage payment, but at least we’ll have him back.

With the training for this Ironman, my focus has shifted. My perception has shifted. I was annoyed a lot of the time when training for the half iron last fall. Maybe it’s because I just wanted to run and was spending all my running time on the bike or in the water? But this time, I’m getting my workouts in and my mileage built up for when I start with my coach in June. I’m also allowing myself to run when I want to run. If I want to add running, then I’m going to. I’m planning a post-IM marathon, so I will have to really work on running along with the swimming and biking, more than I would normally. This Ironman can’t be a fluke. I have to be prepared, mentally, physically, and yes, emotionally. It’s going to take a lot of Beast to get it done, so I might as well be a Beast now. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Do more than the minimum. Push yourself. Give more and you just may surprise yourself by what you find on the other side of the effort. From 0 to 120 in seven days.

Now where’s the food because I’m going to eat all of it.

Do you mentally prepare for big races? Do you for training? Do your hands feel like they’re going to fall off when you run fast?

Categories: 10x10 challenge, anything is possible, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

2015 – IM Ready

I find it interesting the way things come to be. One simple conversation or one decision can lead you to something that you never thought possible. Maybe not impossible exactly, but just not considered.

I learned a lot in 2014. The two main kernels of knowledge came at the beginning and the end of the year. I learned how to train. I trained my ass off for Boston. I ran when I was tired, I ran when I was exhausted, I ran when everyone else was sleeping in, I ran when my muscles ached, I swam to cross train, and I didn’t give up. I didn’t miss anything.  I knew that PR’s and successful races don’t train for themselves, so I got up before 5, I ran in the snow, the ice, and honestly, I loved it. I learned how to put everything into my race.  It became even more of a part of me, deeper into my soul. It made me happy to work so hard, to focus on a goal, and to push myself.

I also learned that being afraid of things is stupid. Ok, there’s things like sharks and the flu and spiders in the toe of your shoe and things like that, but I was terrified of the open water swim in my half iron triathlon. I knew we wouldn’t have a tide push, or much of one, and I was scared I wouldn’t make the time cutoff and be disqualified – I am not a strong swimmer. I FREAKED out about it more than once, and I honestly considered not doing the tri for that one reason. And when race day came, I finished in good time, with plenty to spare, and I pulled off a really good race, especially with it being my very first tri. I ate a little crow, got a little sheepish, and realized that all that worrying was stupid. And a waste of energy. There’s no room for fear when you have a a dream.

So what does this mean for 2015?

March 22, 2015!!!

March 22, 2015!!!

MARATHON: I’m still planning to run my marathon on March 22nd right here in good ole Wilmington – the goal is a 3:43, which would be a PR and a BQ. My training has increased, and I’m hopeful for a good race. I’m behind with speed work, but at this point, I’m doing the best I can that doesn’t irritate my irritable leg. It’s like the grumpy old grandpa sitting in the corner of the room with a ratty old plaid blanket over his legs, muttering “bah” every time someone asks if he wants something but then complains that no one will get him anything and he’s cold.  I can’t figure this one out, so I’m being cautious, but I’m also continuing with training. I’m still very much in love with running, and every time I visualize the race, I get goose bumps.

March 7-8, 2015 - SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

March 7-8, 2015 – SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

COACHING: I have decided to pursue more coaching education (I would like ALL of it, but let’s be realistic – one class at a time). I happened to find an open (that’s hard to do) RRCA Coaching Certification Class ONLY 90 MINUTES AWAY (also hard to do), so I signed up within ten minutes of finding it. I almost peed myself.

I’m also beyond happy that my ideas to work on the middle school Stride program curriculum were accepted. My goal is to make it more of a pre-high school cross country meets track and field program since there is no track program for any middle school in our county. I have tons of ideas, resources to read and talk to, and a plan to write. I am really excited to see this come together this spring for the fall season.  I’ll be coaching the elementary Stride this spring, so that will be working with twenty 3rd-5th graders. This will be like herding cats on a treadmill, or at least that’s what I’m guessing, but I know it will be a lot of fun!

THE BIGGUN:

The two elements that I mentioned earlier are put together on this one. I learned how to train right and to train hard. I learned how to do new things, things that I’m afraid of (or not comfortable with), and that I must take chances. I love to challenge myself physically, but more than that, mentally. I love the mental part of running, of training, of pushing yourself and doing new things. So by chance one Sunday afternoon in November, I found registration still open for Ironman Florida, and I registered.

No room for fear on this one.

No room for fear on this one.

There’s no going back, there’s no excuse that will get me out of it, and honestly, more than fear, I have a sense of determination, of eagerness, of peace. Whether I cross that finish line to the tune of “Kelli, YOU are an Ironman” or not, I’m going to face my fears and give this thing my all. Why this event? I’m such a newby, why would I take on something so BIG? Well, it’s simple to me, yet quite complex to explain. I’ll steal from the video below and say “Ironman is about persevering, enduring, and being a part of something larger than ourselves…. Anything is possible.”

November 7, 2015

November 7, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered why people do Ironman races, watch this video – for reals.  This will explain it all. For example, when I told my parents that I signed up, instead of getting, “Wow! Way to go! Good for you!”, I got a head shake with “That’s nuts” and “Why would you want to put your body through that?”. To me, it’s simple. To them, I need to be put in a straight jacket and thrown into a padded room. I had my mom watch this, and I honestly think she gets it, or at least gets it more than she did before. And this video motivates me to try my absolute best, to be the epitome of what an Ironman really is. Or more accurately, an athlete.

2015, IM ready!

Categories: anything is possible, coaching, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, no fear, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, rrca coaching certification, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

2014: Looking Back Before Looking To 2015

2014 was pretty epic. I accomplished and experienced things that I never thought I would or could. I also failed. More than once. I surprised myself with both the successes and the failures. I had a LOT of fun. I met a LOT of people.  Since this is the time of year that we make our goals for the upcoming year, I felt it was important to FIRST look at what the past year held and remember what I learned from those experiences.

EPIC:

Um, heller….did anyone say, “BOSTON MARATHON”??? The mostest epic-est, awesomer-than-anything and favorite part of my year and running life altogether was being a part of the athlete field in the 2014 Boston Marathon. It took me many years to get there, and to realize that dream was the ultimate epic experience. This got the diamond crown.

I got the medal.

I got the medal.

EPIC BUT NOT AS EPIC AS BOSTON BECAUSE BOSTON IS PRETTY DAMN EPIC ON ITS OWN:

I was able to PR in both the 5k in January (21:13) and the half marathon in February (1:40:15) as a part of marathon training. I was pretty damn happy about those times, too.

I learned how to train my ass off.  During Boston training, I never missed a workout. Ok, I never missed a running workout. Zero. I missed one swimming workout the entire training cycle. ONE. I learned how to be devoted. I learned to not make excuses. I learned that in order to become the runner you want and know you can be, you have to work and work hard. I learned how to go the extra mile. I did that, and I’m really proud of the work I did. I know I was capable of running an amazing race in April, which is almost as good as actually running that amazing race.

Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 – 6:03      I learned about being a triathlete. I looked fear in the face, cuddled with it for a while, let it whisper sweet nothings into my ear, then kicked it’s ass out. I learned how to swim better than I did before, I learned how to open water swim, I learned how to ride my bike in between swimming and running, and I learned how to run after swimming and biking. It was epic. And I’m going to do it again.

Almost to the finish of my first tri, B2B 70.3.

Almost to the finish of my first tri, B2B 70.3. It looks like my knees are stuck together.

I had fun.  Running is really awesome. But it can become competitive for me, and the ability to “just run” a race diminished. So that’s why I decided to do an endurance triathlon. Well, I had one on my radar for a number of years, but I needed to do something different and NOT be competitive. It worked, and I had a total blast training for and competing in the 70.3.

Mott’s Channel Swim – I entered and completed an open water swim race. Pretty proud of that, mostly because I would have laughed until I peed myself had you told me two years ago I would do something like that.

After the Mott's Channel Swim, a 1.3 mile open water race.

After the Mott’s Channel Swim, a 1.3 mile open water race.

The 10×10 Challenge. Ten continuous miles for ten days in a row.  I learned that it’s definitely doable to complete this challenge in July, but not advisable. I can’t wait to do this challenge again. It was an epic feeling and quite the journey in itself. Try it, you just might learn something about yourself.

Post-Challenge

Post-Challenge

Coaching. I found that I really love coaching. I’m learning a lot about it, and I know that I want to keep doing it. Being at the 5k with those boys made me feel like a momma hen watching her chicks fly for the first time. It’s a really cool mix of pride, excitement, and nerves.

Here’s the video I made for my Stride boys.

FAILURES:

I hate to admit this, but there’s usually something good that comes from failure. I think we all know this, especially as athletes. I’ve had a lot of good things come from the hard work and dedication that I’ve put into my running and triathlon training and races. I’ve also had some pretty big fails. But with a little distance, I can see how the failures have done me good. Dammit.

I’ll start with the little one. I got a pretty big PR (4 minutes) in my half marathon in February. So you’d think it’s all good, right? No, I was pissed. I got a 1:40:15, but I could never see the success in THAT because I was too busy being pissed that I was only 15 seconds from getting a sub-1:40.  I wished I had pushed just a second or two faster, that I had put my head down and gunned it into the harsh wind that met us a mile or two from the finish that totally wiped me out. I wish this and I wish that. What I REALLY wish is that I could’ve forgotten about all that garbage and celebrated the huge success that I DID have. I ran a really good race, and I’m now really happy about it. But my finishing moment was ruined by me wishing I had something better. When you start getting that attitude, that nothing is good enough, it’s time to think about things. And that is what led me to decide for sure to do the triathlon. I KNEW that I wouldn’t be competitive with it. I KNEW I would have fun, that I COULD NOT get all ants-in-my-pants about times and stuff. I knew I needed to step out of the bubble, the one that says you’re never good or fast enough. That was stupid, and that race taught me to not be stupid.

So the next one… it was the epitome of good and bad. The Boston Marathon. Yes, I’ve talked a lot about this, but I think, after this, I’m done talking about part of it. I’ll wipe the bad part out of my memory like wiping the marker board clean.

Running Boston was so awesome, so overwhelming, but I had a big fail. I trained and trained and spent hundreds of dollars on a coach and getting there and all the hubbub that comes with seeing your dream marathon come to fruition. My parents came to see me, my sister and her husband came to see me, my husband and my two kids came to see me. I was ready for the race of my life. Oh, I got the race of my life all right. The race recap I wrote that day describes the race perfectly – It was the Best of Times, It was the Worse of Times. You can read it HERE. It really was the strangest combination of good and bad. The bad was something I didn’t see coming. I thought that it was possible for me to run out of strength because I pushed the race. I was worried about how warm it was too, but when racing, I never felt hot. I wasn’t sweaty. I went for my goal, and I was doing it. I was heading for a sub 3:40 and I only had a 10k to go. Part of my race mantra was “I can do anything for X amount of time”. I was counting down. I was doing it. In freakin’ Boston. That was the best of times.

I can’t remember the exact feelings, but around mile 20-21, I knew something was wrong. I knew I had to stop, regroup, and slow down. I knew my PR was shot, but I was having fun.

Heartbreak Hill area, having a brew with one of the college kids. Most of it spilled out the sides of my mouth, but still, this was fun.

Heartbreak Hill area, having a brew with one of the college kids. Most of it spilled out the sides of my mouth, but still, this was fun.

Then the bobble head feeling started. And the nausea. It all went downhill from there. I barely remember the last part of the race. I knew I had to stop several times so I wouldn’t throw up. And I didn’t truly understand what happened until I became the internet doctor later that night.

761540_1257_0011

Can you see the sarcasm on my face?

Where’s the lesson in this? How can my slowest marathon of seven teach me something? First of all, I’ve never tried harder to finish a race. I could NOT DNF. No. Hell no. So I put on my big girl tights and pulled out every bit of anything I had to finish that race. And it took me almost 5 hours to do it, 75 minutes extra minutes in just the last 5 miles. I had to put one foot in front of the other carefully and consciously. To sum it all up, I had salt depletion dehydration. How did I turn that frown upside down? I acquainted myself with Endurolytes. I thought that taking in salt was just an endurance triathlon thing. Honestly. But I talked to a lot of people, tried them myself, and learned that Endurolytes are pretty damn awesome. I used them throughout the summer, especially during the 10×10 Challenge. I used them during my triathlon. I used them with long runs. And if I learned one thing from the Boston Marathon, it was what salt depletion was and how serious it can be. Oh, and how to help prevent it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to learn so many lessons, especially the hard way.

WRAPPING IT UP

You can always learn something when you look back at your experiences. Whether you learn them right then or have some “delayed learning” like I did, chances are, some piece of information can be available to you at almost any given moment. It’s just up to you to grab it.  Where does this leave me as I look back over 2014?

I’m very proud of the work I did. I’m proud of the chances I took. I’m proud of the fact that I let myself learn things along the way. Sure, I have a tiny baby scar from feeling so horrible during one of the best races of my life, but I’ll go back. I’ll do it again, and I’ll get my moment of glory. Some day. I’ll be patient. I know I have things to work on too. Facing fears and not letting them take over. NOT taking the easy road (swimming only on calm days). Balancing life and athletics.

As I took towards 2015, I know that I’ve got a beast mode full of grit and determination that I have not fully used before. I also have a lot more patience than I used to. What EXACTLY does that mean for me in 2015? You’ll just have to wait and see! Plans post to be coming soon. 😉

Do you look back before you look forward?

Categories: 10x10 challenge, beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, learning from failure, marathon, open water swimming, running, running buddies, running challenge, running streak, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Being a Patient Patient

patience2

First of all, you are now reading the ramblings of a USATF Level I Certified Coach. I took the 200 question test on Monday, and 7 hours later, I pushed the “submit” button and received a 98% passing grade. I didn’t realize it was going to take so long and I wasn’t planning to take it until Tuesday, but I decided to just start on Monday. I figured I’d put a few hours in and go back to it the next day. Hour turned into hours, and honestly, I was afraid all my answers would have been erased had I logged out and that my computer would decide to reset itself and delete everything that night, so I just finished the darned thing. My head almost exploded all over the table.

I want to pole vault now.

I want to pole vault.

I learned A LOT, got A LOT of ideas, and am now crafting a plan to approach the USATF decision makers to see if what I want to do in my son’s middle school will be considered enough to be able to take Level II. You see, the requirements state that you have to have three years/seasons coaching experience for track and field and/or cross country. What my plan is, is to turn the current Stride program into a pre-high school track/cross country program since there is no middle school running program AT ALL. Eye roll and fists balled up.  I’m not sure if this fits their criteria, but I’m chomping at the bit to take Level II. I mean, I’ll seriously do whatever I need to do to get that experience so I can take Level II concentrating in Endurance.

Anyway, how was y’alls Thanksgiving? Besides being cold for three days in a row (me, not the outside temperatures) and having an….. uncomfortable “bed” to sleep on (if that’s what you want to call it, but raking up some leaves and sleeping on them would have been comparable), it was nice to catch up on my sleep, hang out with the family, watch the kids play with their cousins, and eat.

No running that morning.

No running that morning.

When we got up and until we left town on Wednesday, it was raining, so when we got to Charlotte, both my husband and I wanted to go run. Run? “Gee, Kelli, I thought you were not running right now because of your leg issues…” Well, I didn’t have any other option, and I can’t just NOT do anything, so I ran. And that run was perfect. If I could have canned that run and sold it, I would make millions. It was perfect. I felt like Flo Jo. I would have run a marathon that night and I probably would have qualified for the Olympic Trials. Ok, maybe not so much, but it was one of “those” runs.  Then the next day happened. Flip. Oh, it hurt. My leg hurt on impact. I got three miles in, and I had to call it quits. The best way I can describe my thoughts is WTF. And *($%#@. I wasn’t expecting to just be magically healed all of a sudden, but I wasn’t expecting THAT. So I was worried. And took the next day off.

Back at it on Saturday to burn off the mashed potatoes and mint oreos. Pain wasn’t too bad. Form felt better. Strides seemed more even than they had for several weeks before. Could my PT be working? Six miles Saturday, six miles Sunday. I could tell on Sunday that I had run Saturday, so I knew I had to just knock it off. We were heading home where I have alternative exercise options, so I decided to take TWO weeks off running. It’s literally like torture. All of a sudden, my house is on the Wilmington Road Runners Raceway. EVERYONE is running. Except me. And I hate all of them. Not really, I’m just jealous.

patience1

So what is a runner to do when she can’t run? She bikes. She bikes hard. I have several good workouts from tri training that I pulled out, one a 90 minute heart rate workout and one a 60 minute cadence workout. My legs feel good, strong, and really, they feel like I did my running workouts, which is exactly what I wanted.  Today, I’m off to the pool to reacquaint myself with the water. Once I do that, I’ll start working on drills and improvement, probably next week. I really do hate swimming. I mean I love the concept of it, but I hate actually doing it. I hate swallowing water when I try to breathe from the left side. I hate looking like a fish out of water. But I’m determined to work on it to meet my 2015 goals and to allow my leg to fully heal. I’m REALLY trying to be patient. REALLY. And it’s hard.

patience

I was supposed to be building up miles to the Houston Marathon. Instead, I cancelled my flight and deferred entry. I was supposed to be going for a sub-21 minute 5k next weekend, a PR I’ve been wanting since last winter. Instead, I’m going to have to sit by the sidelines with my camera so I don’t blow all the progress I hope I’ll make by then.

I’m going to be patient. It’s hard, I’m frustrated, very frustrated, but I’m going to be patient.  Meeting my goal will be worth it. I’ll look back and be glad that I had the patience to do the right thing at the right time. Maybe me saying the word “patient” over and over will allow it to absorb into my body and mind? Hey, whatever works, so patient patient patience.

In any case, assuming things get healed up, my goal marathon is the Wrightsville Beach Marathon in March. No travel and I’m already signed up, so this will be my last chance to BQ for the 2016 race. I’ll be busy doing other things next summer and fall to marathon train. More on that in my 2014 wrap-up in a few weeks.

I know I’ve written a lot about PATIENCE and the “woe is me” from having to give up this marathon AGAIN this year, but honestly, I am truly thankful. I’ve never lost sight on what I’ve been able to do, the fact that I’m healthy, strong, and loved. And as annoying as it is to NOT be able to do what I want to do, I know that I WILL some day. I’m good with that.

Categories: coaching, half iron distance, marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Time To Rock ‘N’ Roll!!

For eighteen weeks, my husband, Andy, has been training for his first marathon using the Hal Higdon intermediate training plan. I think training has gone very well for him, minus a little calf glitch in there a few weeks ago that seems to be fine now. I’ve been able to see training from the flipside, and it’s been fun for me. Not as in a “haha, it’s funny watching you sweat” kind of fun, it’s just been fun to see him do something that I truly love to do. He “gets” things more than he did before, like how tired you can be, how hungry you can be, what taper madness is, what pre-race nerves are like, all the aches and pains, chafing, carb loading, and wow, about a billion more things. He’s met running friends, he’s not slept in on a weekend (except for this past Sunday) for months, and I think he’s had a lot of fun. You’ll have to check HIS blog out that he started during this adventure, called Salt Life & Clemson. He talks about life, being a dad, husband to a crazy wife, a Clemson fan, a Red Sox fan, and of course, running. Check it out!

Savannah, here we come!

Savannah, here we come!

So on Thursday, we are going to pack up the Ford and head south. His race is Saturday and honestly, I’m nervous!!! I’ve never been a Sherpa for anyone, and because he is the BEST Sherpa in the continental US and probably the entire world, I don’t want to fail him.  I’ll have two mini-Sherpas with me, which always adds an element of, um, entertainment, but it is extremely important to us all that they see their dad cross that finish line. The hay is in the barn for hubby, so getting packed and carb loaded is all we can do now. Wish him luck!! All I can say is that I’m so proud of him for all the hard work he’s put into this!

As for me, I’ve had a roller coaster of a week. On Monday, I felt like I could conquer the world in a single bound. Today, I feel like I couldn’t finish a 5k if my life depended on it. What’s up with that?? Maybe it’s coming off a big race. Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep much last night. I am worried that my shin splints have migrated into my calf, so at this point, I don’t even know if I will be able to train for my marathon in January. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since Boston, so it’s been emotional to try and think about an injury and the possibility I may have to pull the plug on my big race. I don’t understand what is going on, but after my run tomorrow, if my gait feels “off”, I’m going to make an appointment with a physical therapist who can assess my stride and see if there’s something firing wrong in there somewhere. I think I’m ok with whatever happens, there’s local marathons, but I already spent the money on a plane ticket to Houston and don’t want to go all that way to run a half marathon or not at all. How will this all play out? I’m guessing I’ll have some sort of answer by the end of next week. Can’t I just skip the pages and get there already???!!!!  Ahh, I remember now, it’s all about the journey! In the meantime, I’m going to have a BLAST with my family in Savannah and watch my husband finish his marathon.

What about YOU? Have you any Sherpa tips for me? Been to Savannah to run?

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, half iron distance, marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.