training for triathlon

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

Ironman NC 70.3 Race Recap – Part I

I’d be lying if I said I was completely happy with the result of my 4th triathlon, the Ironman NC 70.3, in my hometown of Wilmington, on October 22nd, but I would also be lying if I said I didn’t have a total blast with this race. It’s taken me a few days to really digest and absorb everything about it, learn from it, **I was going to put a spoiler in here but mwahahaha, you’re just going to have to read the WHOLE THING to see if I met my goal**, and well, my parents were in town last week so we were often found shenaniganing around the town or in someone’s kitchen. I am so glad I had an endurance race or I’d probably be up about 5-10 pounds about now from all the shenanigans I ate and drank. Yum-o-rama!

So let me start from the beginning. I signed up for the 70.3 last fall. It was a looonnnggg time ago, and when I signed up, I decided that I didn’t want to “just” participate, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I wanted to push my tri goals a little and aim for a PR (sub 6:03) and goal time (5:30). My sister gave me my first love/hate Christmas present, the gift that keeps on giving, ahhhh, coached swimming sessions. I decided I was going to take the fins off my back and face my strong desire to never swim again, and swim a ton. I became a little more comfortable in the water, and I actually. Started. To. Like. My. Coached. Swims.  I should’ve bought a lottery ticket because I never thought that would happen. Maybe it’s because you have friends to be tortured with and the time seems to go fast, except when doing those workouts when the pool water was over 90 degrees and you just want to take an ice bath.  My goal for the race was to get through the swim as fast as possible, which is basically, just making it through successfully, with the least amount of chafing possible and to be sure the wetsuit stripper didn’t grab my tri shorts by accident.

I got my tired butt out of bed to frequently find my anaerobic threshold (i.e. barf-o-meter) on my bike, chasing my coach and friends along the island of Wrightsville Beach, back and forth, never to fully catch up, but enough to feel a significant difference in my overall bike performance.  I biked with faster people on the weekends, often coming back to the parking lot with a feeling of euphoria that I could actually do what I just did. 22mph average for 58 miles? Why, yes! Ok, that was only once, but still, I’ll never forget how my legs felt that day and the days that followed, the power I could feel building as my bike speeds and strength progressed over the months. My goal for the 56 mile bike was a sub 3:00 time, which was a 19 mph average. I was confident my hard work would pay off on race day.

Because this summer felt like we lived in a jungle placed directly on the surface of the sun, running was extremely difficult for me. I think it was for a lot of people, but I think I should win the “whiniest summer runner ever in history” award.  I swear (and I did, A LOT), the heat and humidity were relentless until two weeks prior to the race. During the worst of it, my fast pace at the track was an 8:00 mile that I could hold for a whopping ¼ mile before literally melting into the track or throwing myself down next to my bag of ice cubes in a heat tantrum. wtf6

So anyway, my run goal went from a 1:45 half to “I hate running during the summer so I don’t care” goal. Really, I wanted a 1:49:59 for my 13.1 miles, and I knew I could do it if I stopped whining, if race day wasn’t 75 or warmer, and I got my game face on.  “Embrace the suck” was the theme this summer.

Everything was lining up, I stayed healthy, and my parents decided to come from Missouri and see me finish the race and visit the family. I was deeply honored for that, and then I could point to all the other athletes and prove that I was NOT the only crazy one out there, we were literally EVERYWHERE. And now they can say they’ve seen and heard Mike Reilly give people their Ironman crowns….I digress.

I have to mention that IMNC 140.6 and 70.3 were just purchased by Ironman/WTC, and it was a unique experience to have both the full and half on the same day. We were all a little wary of how bike traffic would go because of the increased participation, but we figured the full bikers would be pretty much out of the way of the 70.3 people. Then Hurricane Matthew happened. I live in the middle of Wilmington, really close to the coast, and we closely watched as the hurricane barreled its way up the coast. Fortunately for me personally, we only had 3ish inches of rain from the whole event, and we are now in the process of getting the roof replaced on our house. We have a house, insurance with a really high-but-less-than-the-cost-of-a-new-roof deductible, and we are lucky.

Hurricane Matthew

Inland, on the other hand, just 10-15 miles away from my house and for several hundred miles west, it was a different story. The rain was relentless. From the reports I’ve read, this was not a 100 year event or 500 year event. The rain from Hurricane Matthew caused a 1000 year flood event in North Carolina just two weeks before the Ironman races, and part of the massive flooding was on the bike courses.

To make a long story short, the Tuesday before the races, Ironman let the athletes know, because of the flooding, the bike course for the half would be reduced from 56 to 50 miles, and the full from 112 to 50 as well. I was not happy about the news regarding my race, but I felt a punch in the gut for all those athletes who had trained their butts off, sacrificed hours and hours to train for a 112 mile bike ride and would not get their race. I honestly did not think there was anything Ironman could do, it was cancel the race or shorten the course. The county resources were already stretched thin, and I assume to try and change the course would have been a logistical nightmare, if completely impossible for anyone to pull off. I felt the sadness and anger from the full athletes, and I certainly did not blame them, many of them being my friends and training buddies.  I know that you can be empathetic towards the flood victims and upset about your race at the same time, but it crossed the line when some of those athletes became mean and nasty about it, none of which were my friends, of course.

On Thursday, about 30 seconds after I had accepted and really liked the fact that my bike had been cut short, it was announced that both bike courses would be 56 miles, the half participants would get their “full” race, and the full got an additional 6 miles. It was good news, but there was still an air of disappointment for those who were racing the full.

This may seem irrelevant, but it’s actually a key point. My schedule during the two weeks before my race was packed, a lot more than usual. I don’t know what the heck was going on, although I’m sure my calendar could speak for itself (but I’m too lazy to get up and look at it), but I was just non-stop busy. Extraordinarily busy. School festival, band event, volunteering, team dinner, coaching, working, shopping for food, cooking the food, eating the food, you name it. I was exhausted. Part of that is how I normally feel before a race, but part of it was because I never had a chance to just breathe. I did my personal race stuff, volunteered at the Base Performance tent, met up with my new team at Team Blue Line (I can’t wait to talk more about this!), got in my last bits of training, ran my bike here, ran my run stuff there, had dinner, worked my two jobs, and took care of my kids and house stuff, you know, pretty much the normal stuff but with a big endurance race added to the mix.

I may or may not have sent this to a few people so they would just be aware.

Because I am me, I started checking the weather, not quite obsessively, but frequently that week. It was really warm in the days leading to the race, and it looked like a cold front was going to move in right before race day. You know what a cold front means? Yeah, WIND. Yuck.Little did I know.

Pre-race rituals set in, and I got all my stuff settled in the day before the race. My parents made it into town safely, and my sister had made plans to take me to the beach and let me hang out at her friend’s house right by the start. I was nervous, as normal, about the wind, about pushing myself hard to meet my goal, and about the race in general. After I ate my ritual chicken sandwich, complete with cheese and an egg, with fries and a huge glass of water, I said “Goodnight” to everyone, set my alarm for “ass o’clock early” the next morning, and quickly fell asleep.

Part II: COMING SOON!!!

Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, fueled by base, ironman, open water swimming, running, swimming, temper tantrum, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Heel Has A (Broken) Heartbeat

Lucky for me, spring break was the week following the marathon. I can honestly say that I’ve never had such a good week “off” than I did this particular week. My recovery went so fast, and I woke up the day after running a hard 26.2 miles with barely any soreness at all. I give a lot of credit to my Base Amino supplement I’ve been taking (I’m going to write a post devoted to Base and how it helped me – please stay tuned), so I took my kids clothes shopping. We were walking around Kohls buying all we could with our 30% off coupon, and the bottom of my right foot started hurting, especially where the arch meets the heel. Yeah, I sense many of you nodding your head, and you know where I’m going with this. We weren’t done shopping, so I continued to walk, and it continued to get worse. What the heck?

By the time we got home, I could barely walk and my foot was throbbing. How could I give myself an injury from one race? And wow, great timing! Thank goodness, really.

I was very careful the rest of the week. I had zero desire to run, which was new, and I felt really good. I had fun with my kids going to the beach, hanging out, sleeping in, getting ice cream, and eating all the food, and I didn’t even go for a walk, just to help the inflammation in my foot.

The following week, on Tuesday, I decided it was time to for a run. It had been over a week, everything felt great, and I had no intentions of running hard, so I figured there would be no harm in that. It was a gorgeous morning full of singing birds, a nice cool breeze, and plenty of sun – perfect.

running homer

Three miles into my easy five mile run, when I was two miles away from the house, the bottom of my foot started REALLY hurting again. Instead of walking home, I continued to run, eventually moving to the yards bordering the road, just to take the pressure off my injured foot.

It acts like plantar and feels like plantar, so it must be plantar. But I still couldn’t understand how this could be. I had NO signs before the race (THANK YOU DEAR JESUS), so I just couldn’t get how something like this can pop up out of virtually nowhere. I iced my foot and looked up some information on it. The pain didn’t subside that day, and that night, my heel had a heartbeat. It. Was. Throbbing.

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Oh man, I’ve done it now. I freaking BQ’d my way to plantar. I talked to my coach about how to handle this, since I know plantar is BAD, finicky, and is resistant to treatment. I’m off running. No running for me! Just like the soup Nazi from Seinfeld. I felt like I had to be very proactive about treatment for this and be especially careful NOT to do something stupid, like run. So I can’t run.

soup

Except soup is running. Sigh.

Fortunately, I’m in an off-season time, resting up and doing pretty much whatever I want whenever I want to (within reason of course), so I’ve velcro’d on my biking shoes and slapped on my swim cap to get back to tri training. I was going to take it easy and swim, bike and run until the beginning of June, where I will officially begin IMNC 70.3 training, this time for reals. Well, not to be disrespectful to the distance and my prior race, but this time, I have a time goal.

As for my “broken” heart, besides not being able to run for fun during my favorite time of year to run, this week turned pretty rotten. When I was at the bus stop with my son, a little brown dog came trotting by, looking scared and trailing a leash. That was weird, so I grabbed him, thinking his owner would come running by to get him. After looking for a person looking for a dog, posting a few signs, I took him to the vet to get checked for a microchip. Nope, but we did find that he had kennel cough. Yay. I couldn’t have him around my dog, since she wasn’t vaccinated. If she got it, it could lead into some pretty nasty lung stuff, and with all the vet bills we’ve had and two pets with issues that needed to be addressed the next day, I didn’t want to pay for a vet check and medicine for this dog, then risk my dog’s health. Plus, I didn’t have a place to keep him in my house. I did not have a square to spare. Sorry, another Seinfeld reference.

I made the choice to have animal control come get him. Thankfully, they have a very high adoption rate, especially for sweet little dogs. Ugh, my heart hurt for him and I feel tremendously guilty, but I’m planning to check on him after the five days is up to see if someone claimed him.

The next day, I took my dog and cat to the vet – my dog had been itching her ear for a long time, no medicine was helping, so I had her checked. They cleaned her ear out and she was fine. My overweight cat had been losing weight the past few months and had gotten to the point where I knew something was going on. I thought it was due to a change in food, since we had to put them on special food for my other cat, who had “Kaitlyn Jenner” surgery to prevent him from getting blocked anymore. That was a few thousand dollars, and when a say “a few”, I mean a lot. Honestly, I had put off taking this other cat to the vet because of the other bills and we had a lot going on the past month. He was playing, friendly as always, and we didn’t  notice anything was off except for his weight, which he needed to lose anyway. His worst nightmare is going in a kennel, and it stresses him out so much, he pees himself every time. Poor kitty.

When the vet started examining my cat named Squiffy, he asked if kitty had ever been diagnosed with asthma. Nope, never. By the time, my cat’s stress level was extremely high and he was panting. You know when you hear “the tone” in the vet’s voice and they basically whisk your animal away? Yeah, this was a first time to me. The doc told me, if I can explain it right, is that he was in a crisis and not getting enough oxygen, brought on by his condition plus the extreme situation and his very high level of anxiety. I didn’t know. I simply didn’t pick up on it. I had no idea my cat couldn’t breathe. This was the kitten we bottle fed, gave meds to keep alive, the one my son picked out of the hundred we fostered during this time seven years ago. My son carried this cat everywhere, and this cat claimed my son as his boy. He slept on his bed every night, and when I would peek in, Squiffy would look at me as if to say, “I got it, you may leave.”. Squiffy had not a mean bone in his body, has never been aggressive, and was always the most playful, sweetest thing ever. We moved over a thousand miles, twice, and we would never have left him behind (although I did want to throw him onto the interstate when he wouldn’t stop meowing – HOURS of meowing – as we moved from Iowa to Texas). He was a part of our family. When I left the vet office, I was confident I would come and pick him back up on Monday, although I cried my eyes out on my way home and for an hour after I got home. I didn’t know he was silently suffering. I just. Didn’t. Know.

Squiffy died yesterday. After he stabilized, he crashed, and the vet couldn’t save him. I know he did whatever he could to save him, but Squiffy was just too sick and couldn’t take it anymore.

I can honestly say that I’ve never felt this kind of pain of loss before. I’ve had to put cats down before, I’ve lost my old dog, but I guess it was different because it was expected or they were old or something. This was a sucker punch to the gut. I wasn’t expecting this. I had no idea he was so sick and was basically suffocating. It’s almost a day later, and my heart is broken and I feel like I’m wearing a veil of sadness. My kids basically fell apart when I told them what happened, and I carry a lot of guilt over putting off the vet visit. It may not have changed anything, but I’ll never know now. My sweet kitty, my son’s protector, is gone.

How do you mourn a pet?  I mean, it’s just  a cat, right? Ha yeah, whoever says that never loved a pet before. He was part of our family, part of our daily life, and his presence will be missed, tremendously. When I make my peanut butter sandwiches before long bike rides or early morning track practice, who will I get to cackle at the knife making reflections on the ceiling? Who will drag my son’s toys into the hallway when the kids leave for school?  Who’s purrs will I hear as I talk to my son before bed? Why did it have to be him? Oh, Tiffy, Squiffy, Big Guy, Filsome, Miff, we love you and miss you.

My heel has a heartbeat and my heart is broken. But we will continue to love our remaining animals just as deeply, just as much. If I do know one thing though, is that I will never, EVER, put off a vet visit again.

 

 

Categories: marathon, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Ironman Florida 2015 – Pre-Race

Spoiler alert! I finished Ironman Florida on Saturday!!!! Whohoooo!!!!! I’ve been thinking of how I would write this post, and honestly, I have no idea where to start without having it be fifteen huge posts all about it! I can say that the experience was overwhelming for me, in a good way. I’ll start at the beginning.

All decked out.

All decked out.

We left home on Tuesday so we could get to Florida on Wednesday. It was my husband, our two boys, five suitcases and backpacks full of crap (which turned out to be four too many), my bike, and of course, me. The travel went well, and we got into Panama City Beach early afternoon on Wednesday. We checked in our hotel for one night, then I went to get my race stuff. Ironman Village is pretty cool. I’ve never been to a big race like this, only marathons and Beach 2 Battleship, which, to me, is just not the same. People seemed calm, the vibe was good – not electric, but good and happy. I wandered around a little, met the Base Performance guys, bought a race belt, picked up my IM stuff, and bought a few things at the expo. I had no workout that day, so we did do a lot of walking, wandering, and absorbing.

All registered and checked in!

All registered and checked in!

On Thursday morning, I met a few fellow Without Limits (our coaching team) guys and we went for a swim in the gulf and an hour bike ride along the course. The swim was great, the water was warm and clear, and the bike felt good.

Doug, me and Phillip

The weather was warmer than I had imagined it would be (mid 80’s with very high humidity), and it really bugged me, but I had to wrap my head around it, absorb it, get mad about it, obsess and worry about it, then I got over it and made a plan to deal with it. HYDRATION was the name of the game. We moved hotels, and I got busy eating and making up my transition bags. I was glad we had a hotel close to the village, as there really wasn’t a place to park nearby and the city was on top of towing anyone who tried to park anywhere but a legit parking space. I felt so bad seeing cars with bikes on them get towed off to jail. My family had a nice dinner at a restaurant on the water, and because of the daylight savings time change four days before, coupled with a time zone change, 5 pm seemed like 7 pm, so around 7-8, we hit it goodnight.

On Friday morning, I woke up at 4:45 (which felt like 6:45 to me) and realized that 24 hours from then, I would be racing. I wasn’t nervous. Where were my nerves? Did I spend them all on worrying about the waves, the heat, everything else? I don’t know, but I was pretty darned calm for what I was about to do. We all got up, ate some breakfast, and headed to the beach so the kids could play and I could get a short swim in. The swim felt good. I mean good. The water was very calm, warm, and the strokes just felt natural, not tiring or what they sometimes do. I was feeling it, and I was really happy about that. We let the kids play a while, especially since they had been trapped in the car and following me around for a few days, and we headed in to clean up.

As we jammed to my IMFL playlist, I finished getting my transition and pre-race bags ready, and around 11-12, we took my bike, Diggy, and all my crap, down to Ironman Village to turn it in. The one thing about Ironman that I wasn’t expecting were the number of volunteers and the seamless process they had in place for registration and check-in. It was extremely orderly, the volunteers were great and informative, and within just a few minutes, I had dropped everything off in its proper place and scouted out the transition route. No nerves still. Maybe it was because I knew I had adequate training, maybe it was because I knew I could handle what was to come, I don’t know, but I just didn’t get nervous. I was excited, yes, but not nervous. I had a good feeling about the race.

Walking all my stuff to IM Village

Walking all my stuff to IM Village

That afternoon, there was supposed to be the Ironman Underwear run, which never really happened for reasons I’m unsure about, even though I had painstakenly purchased Wonder Woman undies then decided for something less revealing and got some Star Wars boys boxer brief things at Walmart. My boys were both registered for the IronKids .75 mile run that started and ended at Ironman Village. I wanted them to feel they were a part of the festivities, and they were pretty excited about being able to finish under the IronKids banner and get a pretty cool medal.

IMG_9386

Too bad the big one’s eyes are close! They rocked the run, that’s for sure!

They knocked the race out, and we then headed back to the condo. After a nice chat with my coach, we grabbed the football and went to the beach to relax and play. It was just gorgeous out, and playing with my boys was a great way to end the afternoon.

Playing on the beach at sunset. Perfection.

Playing on the beach at sunset. Perfection.

On Ironman Eve, my husband and I left the kids at the condo in search of a big burger. That always suited me well for marathons, so I thought it was a good idea to stick with what works. We found a good one at a cool new place close to the hotel, The Wicked Wheel, and took it back to eat with the boys. Two seconds after I sat down, the burger was gone. 🙂 I got my list ready of the things I needed to get done before I left in the morning, thanked my boys for all their support over the last several months, and we headed to bed.

One thing I did NOT do, was drink a bunch of extra water. I had been drinking water, had a Gatorade at the expo the day I rode my bike and sweated out a bunch, and had not had coffee or any soda that week, but I didn’t drink extra. One thing I did before Boston was drink and drink, which who knows, may have had something to do with me running low on electrolytes during the race.

When I woke up at 2:45 am on Saturday, I found my nerves. All of them. They packed a punch, too. I laughed, and was happy I hadn’t felt that way before that morning. My hands were shaking!!! Does it make sense if I say I had nerves but no anxiety? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be nervous, at least just a little bit, and I certainly was a lot, but I wasn’t anxious about doing the race. I knew I had to break it up into pieces and get each piece done before I could move on to the next, all while being sure I thought about the big picture when it came to nutrition. I ate my toast and peanut butter, and went to lay down until it was close to leave for the Village, at 4:15. When we got to the village, I took my nutrition bags and filled up my bottles on the bike, checked my two transition bags, and then realized I couldn’t find my phone. I knew I took it from my husband as I went into the transition area, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Tears. THERE was my anxiety!!! I knew it was just hiding from me!!! I fell apart. But I doubt it was about the phone.  Deep down, I knew we would get it back that day, and I didn’t think any of “my people”, the triathletes or volunteers, would steal it. But it gave me a reason to bawl, which made me feel better.

Ready to go on race morning.

Ready to go on race morning.

It was time to head to the beach and for my husband to go get the kids. We decided to splurge on the VIP experience for them, so they wouldn’t have to fight to find a place to see me like they did in Boston. By the time I got to the beach (I was warned there would be a bottleneck and they were right.) That was the time I wish I would’ve had a buddy to hang out with. I was surrounded by thousands of people, but I felt very alone at that moment. When I saw the beach, full of people ready to watch the rest of us race, I got excited. I saw that the waves weren’t small, but it didn’t seem too choppy like it gets here, and I knew my ocean lesson was worth getting. I was confident I could handle this. For the first time, I was confident about the swim. I WAS CONFIDENT ABOUT THE SWIM. Something I never could imagine.

IMG_9405

I was confident about THAT!!! Who’d-a-thunk that??!

I looked and looked for my husband and kids to no avail. I had a bag with some things in it, so dropped it at the morning bag area. They said the National Anthem. Still no hubby. Boo. The physically challenged athletes were on their way. I borrowed a stranger’s phone and found that my boys were indeed in the VIP tent. Whew. I just wanted to know they were there, which was the theme of the day for me. Seeing them made me calm, made me feel ok, and of course, made me happy.

Because the water temp was 77 degrees, it was not wetsuit legal. They allowed wetsuits, but we would have to wait ten minutes after the non-wetsuit people were on their way, and we would not be eligible for awards or Kona slots.  Yeah, no problem for me! I knew I wanted to wear mine so I didn’t waste extra energy that I would need to get over the waves and fight the current. I was afraid I would get too warm and it would drain me for the rest of the warm day, but it was a risk I was going to take.

It was time. My Ironman was about to begin.

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, open water swimming, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 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

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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.

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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

New Limits in an Epic Year

Well, hello there again, strangers. Today marks the first day of school for many parents, and I find myself here with a mimosa glass of cold water, finally able to sit down, guilt-free mind you, and write a post! The first day of school is normally bitter sweet for me, as is the last day of school. I LOVE having my kids home during the summer and school breaks, but there is something to be said about having uninterrupted hours to do the stuff I need to do to make this house clean and run like a well-oiled machine without finding the room I just de-cluttered all re-cluttered within five minutes because the kids are home. I don’t know what it is, but they’re just messy. Truth be told, I’d much rather have a messy, loud house full of kids, their friends, and their clutter, than a clean, quiet one, so I am a little sad about school starting.

I thought the best way to catch y’all up is to make a list, because I LOVE lists. I especially love to cross stuff off lists and am one of those who will write something down that I’ve already done simply so I can cross it off. I never said I was good at time management….

So here goes. Here’s a list of things I’ve been doing, in no particular order of importance.

**Ironman Florida is ELEVEN weeks away. I have to admit, when I saw that on the calendar just a minute ago, the word, “Holyfuckingshit” just flew out of my mouth. Sorry, mom. In reality, I have less than 11 weeks left. Gulp. Training has been kicking butt. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s not supposed to be easy. I’ve had good swims, bad swims, good bike rides, awful bike rides, awesome runs, bad horrible sweaty runs. That’s the name of the game, but I can say that I’ve done my training and I’m feeling really good about it. I’ve pushed myself to new limits I never thought I could do (and still walk – it might be weird looking, but I’m walking). I’m loving it and can totally see why people get addicted to endurance sports.

**I started a company. Yes, I’ve hinted about this, but finally, FINALLY, I got my ducks in order and launched Epic Running Company, LLC.

EPIC Logo FINAL 2

This is something I never thought I would or could do. But it materialized just this year when I asked myself, “Self, why the hell not??!” My focus is a middle school running program I started, but I’m also interested in helping adults reach their running goals. I currently have one client, and he’s currently kicking butt in his marathon training. I love watching people push themselves past something they never thought they could do.  The program at the school will be starting on September 15th, and I’m so excited, I am giddy just thinking about it!

**I rode 80.55 miles on my bike in 4 hours and 19 minutes.  That’s an average of 18.7 mph, y’all, and for me, that ain’t no joking around. That’s a limit I never thought I’d cross. Granted, I had intervals during the ride, and they certainly made me feel every single cell in my legs as they screamed for me to slow down, but I didn’t slow down and it made up for me wanting to throw my bike into the Cape Fear River the prior week during a very challenging century ride. Two weekends, two completely different rides. That’s training.

**Athletes talk about things like we are babies/infants. We talk about pee, the color of it, if we got to go poo before a long workout, how much we eat, WHAT we eat, what we drink, how much we drink, how much, salt, sugar, everything we consume, what we wear, all that sort of stuff. I would hesitate to bring this up, but hey, THIS is the bread and butter of athlete-speak, right? So here goes. Yesterday, near the end of my ride, I experimented with peeing in my bike shorts. Other people do it and it seems like such a handy time-saver. I wanted to give it a try and see if it’s something I could do during the race. I found that yes, yes, I could do this if I really needed to NEAR THE END OF A RIDE, and I’m not to the point of being able to pee ON the bike (I just sat on the ground and let it go as I ate my Uncrustable), and I’m not sure, after 40 or so years of training myself NOT to go on myself, that I could even pee while riding my bike (without falling over) if I wanted to. Anyway, here’s what I liked and didn’t like.

I like that I didn’t have to walk into the spidery, web-filled, mosquito-infested woods to pee, possibly baring myself to an innocent person “looking for morel mushrooms” or something equally treasure-like only to find a biker’s butt. “Hey mom, you’ll NEVER guess what I found in the woods today.” Peeing in your shorts completely eliminates uncomfortable run-ins like that. Also, you don’t have to wait in line to pee. Bonus. Go in your shorts and then “accidentally” spill your water, conveniently rinsing it off. You get some relief, AND you cool yourself down. What I didn’t like about it is that there was pee in my shorts.

Yup. Even though they're black pants, there's pee.

It collected like I was wearing a wetsuit. I didn’t like that and was baffled about how spandex can be waterproof (although we know I’m not talking about water).  So anyway, I might try it again, but am concerned with how the runoff is handled. I assume we all know where it goes, since most of us are familiar with gravity, but I won’t know until I try. I’ll be sure I’m riding solo, so if you’re one of my biker buddies, don’t worry.

**Sweating. I’ve never sweat so much and have reached new limits in how many pairs of shoes I can soak through during a long run (right now, it would be two in 14 miles but I really needed 3). Seriously, I’ve never done so much working out in humid, gross, disgusting coastal North Carolina. I can usually find a loophole in running or doing something that causes the entire liquid portion IN my body to come OUT as sweat. But there’s no loopholes in Ironman training, that’s for sure.

sweat

**I can change a flat tire on my bike in less than 10 minutes. I’ve had LOTS of practice – 7 flats since the season started for me in May. This has caused a new level of stress during the ride, probably for the people I’m with as much or more than myself, and I’ve developed situational Tourette’s Syndrome that features the “F” word.

This was me. Or a nice version of me the last flat I had.

I’m not proud, but I’ve decided I’m over it and it’s almost funny. I now have new tires, new rim tape, and new tools, since the old ones broke and were “gently tossed” into a ditch in Pender County when I had a flat and it took 4 of us 20 minutes to just get the tire off the rim. That was fun. But now I am confident that if I get a flat during the race, I can change it quickly and be on my way. That’s a skill every biker should have.

My favorite quote.

My favorite quote.

**I’ve truly embraced this quote: “If you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you’ve never done.” I live and breathe this quote. I’ve cried, I’ve bled, I’ve thrown stuff, I’ve sworn, I’ve been so tired, I forgot what I was saying in the middle of my sentence, but I’ve kept going. I know it’s only going to get harder, but the beautiful thing is that we can adapt. We change to accommodate the difficulty that will come. It’s going to get really hard with school, two kids in two sports, husband training for a marathon, and my training, coaching, and a house to run, but this is what life is, isn’t it? Isn’t THIS what we’re supposed to be doing? Having fun and making memories along the way, doing things we never thought we could?

I smile thinking about this year, the things I’ve been able to do, the experiences I’ve had with my family, and it really is going to be the Epic-est year.

I’ve embraced uncomfortable-ness like never before.  And there’s absolutely nothing that will make me stop.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, coaching, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sunken Logs and Legal Fireworks

Did everyone have a good 4th of July weekend? I certainly did! As I mentioned at the end of my last post, my family and I headed to the Branson area of southern Missouri last week to visit my parents. We’ve been parked there since last Tuesday but will be moving on to the fields of Iowa this week.

**This was to have been posted on Tuesday, but because my parents live in the sticks and it was raining, we had no wifi. Gasp! So here it is, two days late.

I had some major swim/bike/run plans in my head for when we were here. Nothing was going to get in the way of my Ironman training. Until we got here and started to relax.

The first day we were here, we slept in. It was glorious, especially considering we had gotten up at 4 am the day before. But the road was calling and I wanted to get some hill running in. When I say hills, I mean HILLZ.  Steep friggin hillZ.  We took off and within one mile, I was heaving up a big hill, ready to throw in the towel and give up. It was almost as humid as in Wilmington, which I certainly wasn’t expecting. Seven point three of some of the most miserable miles later, I was done. I had wanted to go ten miles, but I didn’t have enough liquid left in my body to be able to sweat it out. I figured some of the fatigue was due to the 100 mile bike ride and heavy training week the week before that, but I was really pissed off slightly irritated about not having a good run.

The towel was SOAKED when I got done.

The towel was SOAKED when I got done.

The next day, I went to the local gym and hopped on a bike. Five minutes later, I was drenched in sweat, dreading the remaining hour.  Here’s a suggestion to every gym everywhere: USE FANS. No one wants to work out in a pool of their own sweat. It was so gross. After that suffer fest, I hopped on the treadmill for a mile or two. Funny, there were fans on the treadmills so I cranked those babies up and the run ended up being relatively comfortable, and I ended up going 3.1 miles. Not too shabby.  I’d planned to swim whenever I could, but with the weird weather and pop up storms, we ended up at the pool that day. No swimming for me.

The next day, we all headed out on the lake. Table Rock Lake is absolutely gorgeous. It’s less clear than last year, due to all the rain they’ve been having, but it’s still very clear, especially compared to what I normally swim in. I had my cap and goggles, and when we got anchored in a nice little cove, I took off to swim.  Evidently the plethora of shark attacks off MY coast has gotten to my head, because I kept seeing big huge sea monsters on the bottom coming up to get me.  I was freaked out, to say the least. Then I saw a pretty big log sticking up from the bottom and in my mind, it literally was a sea monster coming up to get me, and I actually freaked out. I did the exact same thing as when I saw all those jelly fish (stop, dog paddle like mad, and gasp for breath), but this time, it was worse. I tried three times to get myself started and saw sea monsters logs on the bottom, and three times, I totally freaked out. I swam back to the boat, shaking. WTF was this all about? I’m a tough girl who doesn’t freak out about things like this, especially dead logs that have been there for eons, but I was scared. I decided to just stop, and try again another day.

On July 4th, my husband and I were signed up to run the Firecracker 5000. Well, I was; he was signed up for the 10k. We got up super early (compared to the late mornings we’d had so far), got ready, and headed to the race. We laughed at the timer chips that were to be secured on our shoes with “bread bag” twisty ties.

Must be the new "thing" in timing chips.

Must be the new “thing” in timing chips. But it held strong!

There were probably 600 total runners, the shirts were very nice, and packet pickup was easy since we got there early. We warmed up about half a mile, found the can, and lined up.

The race started a few minutes late, but we took off in the middle of Branson Landing, a cute little shopping area. The bad thing is that they didn’t even play the national anthem before the race, something they should have made sure to do on that important day.

I fought some traffic as we started, but soon, it thinned out and I was on my way. I wasn’t sure what pace I wanted to keep, and soon, I figured I needed to just GO and not worry about what pace I was going. We ran along the Taneycomo Lake, which is a very cold lake, which made for some very nice cool air as we ran along, probably ten degrees cooler than even twenty feet away from it. Crazy. We wound around a campground and neighborhood, and I felt my pace was holding pretty good at 7:20ish. I ALWAYS slow down during the second mile, but felt I was doing well and would have a good finish. We backtracked towards the landing again, ran past it, and wound around the parking lot, which was annoying, but heard the course had to be made up that morning due to flooding on other parts of the course. Oh well, I knew the end was near!

I crossed the finish line at 22:01. Whew, I was happy with that, even though I think the course was a teeny bit short. I walked with my water to catch my breath, hid it by White House Black Market, and jogged backwards along the course to find my husband and get some more miles in, of course near the lake where it was nice and cool. I found my hubs and he was going along at a good pace, so I cut through and waited for him at the finish line. He finished in 50:36, which is a new PR for him since he hasn’t run a 10k in forever.  Whohoo!

We cooled down as much as we could and waited for the awards. In the meantime, tons of door prizes were awarded, some of them being big packs of fireworks, the kind that are as tall as I am. How cool is that?! Tons of kids were called to get some mini packs, big packs, and plenty of big kids won them, too. I was happy to win first place in my age group and got a cool gold medal to bring home.  We changed into dryer clothes and walked around, finding some little trinkets to bring home.

 

First place in the "thirty-something and above" age group (40-44)

First place in the “thirty-something and above” age group (40-44)

When we got back, we got headed to the lake, unbeknownst to us this would be our only nice lake day. It was great! We relaxed, drank, cannonballed, floated, and hung out. Perfect. Then it was back to the house for food, back to the lake for fireworks, then back to the house again for our own firework show.

Boats piling up to watch the firework show.

Boats piling up to watch the firework show.

There were so many going off all over and echoing in the hills, it was like what I imagine Beirut is like except we were having fun. I love those little novelty fireworks, like tanks, fire trucks, the parachute ones, and fountains. The boys loved everything else. We had a blast (pun totally intended).

My dad and the kids with our show stoppers.

My dad and the kids with our show stoppers.

The next day, we slept in til about 9:00, which is so unusual for us, but with the dark and quiet room, soooo nice! We couldn’t really do much outside due to the strange storms, but we hung out and relaxed.

On Monday, I ended up running 6 miles of hillz again, and then we all headed to the shooting range for a gun safety class and some guns!  I have to admit, I’m not a gun person. I have never really been around them, but I’m definitely not against them. My dad has been collecting interesting sorts of guns for several years, and wanted to teach my boys about guns in a safe way. They loved it! I loved it! We all loved it! Feeling the power of a gun going off in my hand was, oh, let’s say it was scary in a good way. If that makes any sense. After over two hours of shooting various rifles and a 9 mm, we headed to lunch and then the boat.

9 mm Diamondback

9 mm Diamondback

Wait, crappy weather again so the pool. Wait, storm popped up so once again, we were trapped in the house for the evening. We played some games on the deck as we listened to more thunder and rain. My husband and I ended up going to have a few drinks at a total dive biker bar and picked up some fried green beans on the way home. I love those things.

Every time we went out, it was like this.

Every time we went out, it was like this.

I was planning to get a swim in on Tuesday. Since I was a little freaked out, I needed to face my fears anyway, so figured I could go to the campground swim area that’s right around the corner from here. Nope, torrential rain with no sign of ending. So I went back to the house of sweat (the gym) and thankfully, this time it was a little “less hot”. I went an hour and 20 minutes hard on the bike and then did some strength on the machines. My husband was desperately trying to get internet connection, but was finding the equivalent of 12k dial up, so I didn’t get any treadmill running in this time. We headed back to my parent’s house. My mom and I took the kids for a walk around the campground during a rain lull, and of course, it started raining again before we were done. Damn. Everything was starting to flood and the lake level was rising, which is crazy since the lake is ginormous.

This was the norm for the entire week we were there.

This was the norm for the entire week we were there.

On Wednesday, we will be heading north to Des Moines, Iowa, and I’m planning to meet up with Kickass Kecia from Push My Limits sometime on Wednesday afternoon, assuming our travels go as planned. We are then going to Field of Dreams so my kids can say, “Dad, wanna have a catch?”. Then we’re headed to our old stomping ground in Sioux City to visit friends until we head back to Kansas City for our flight home on Tuesday. Whew. I’m tired even typing that.  Meanwhile, at home, my yard is dying because there’s no rain and it’s still hotter ‘n a whore in church, my cats are dying from the lack of attention, and it still as hot as the gates of hell.  I guess that’s what we’re going to get when we arrive back home. I’m hoping we get just a tiny bit of dryer air in Iowa. Just a little less humidity would be just what the doctor ordered. I can only hope.

How do you manage training when on vacation?

Categories: iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, open water swimming, running, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Getting Sharky In Here

Boy, did summer come in with a vengeance this weekend. Mid-to-upper 90’s and lows in the upper 70’s. To quote Paul from RunningWild, “Satan is sitting his ass crack smack dab in the middle of North Carolina”. That pretty much sums it up, but I have to be thankful the humidity is lower than usual, although just going outside makes you feel like you’re visiting the surface of the sun.

Things have been crazy busy, good busy, training is going well, and my kids are out of school. They both got straight A’s for the entire year, and I am so proud of them. I did remind them why I bugged them so much about doing homework. 🙂 This week, they’re at their grandparent’s house, so I have a HUGE list of things I want/need to get done while they’re not here. I’m not doing well with my list so far.

I had to do a little dance when I got my Inknburn Boston Jacket in the mail the other day. I immediately put it on and hoped for cooler weather so I could wear it. That certainly isn’t going to happen anytime soon (see above), but one can hope.

LOVE it.

LOVE it.

 

LOVE IT MORE.

LOVE IT MORE.

I’ve been enjoying my swimming, although I had a bad swim the other weekend, due to expectations not meeting reality. I thought it was going to be 1.2 miles with a significant current push, but it turned out to be 1.4 miles with basically no current push, and at one point, it was a current push in my face. It can get frustrating when expectations don’t meet reality, can’t it? I beat back the negative thoughts in my head for a few days before I was “back to normal” again. I do not have time to second guess my swim. There’s no room for it in my training plan, and just as there is in running, there will be bad swim days. Just do your work and move on. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway!

Finish Line of the swim race.

Finish Line of the swim race.

My running has been going very well the past few weeks. I’ve been pulling out some impressive times in speed work even with the increase in temperature, and I think it’s mostly due to the work on the bike. It happened last fall when training for the half iron, so I suspect it’s the case now. I’ll take it! I’ve been riding 60 miles on the bike most weekends, some faster than others, and I’m putting in some good interval work during the week. I honestly think coming into Ironman training after a marathon was good timing. I’m also hoping going into marathon training after Ironman will prove to be a good thing too.

IMG_8222

Before track practice. Sooo pretty!

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of the most beautiful sunrises the past few weeks.  I’ve gotten to know more people through the school, training, running, biking, and swimming. It’s a trip, and I am finally feeling back to myself after several years of stress and moving. I feel settled, feel happy, feel lucky, and grateful for the life I have full of amazing people.

Before Friday's swim.

Before Friday’s swim.

We’ve had a few twists this week. Friday, my friend and I went for a long open water swim in the channel. I made her swim under the bridge (mostly because I missed the boat on where everyone else was starting, but it really did turn out to be a good thing), which she HATES because there’s trolls who live under there and lots of fish hang out in the dark, shaded water. They might be drug dealers, but no one knows for sure. Not long after we successfully swam under the troll bridge, she told me she saw a jellyfish. Ok, that’s cool. I’m down with that. But I wasn’t. Totally wasn’t. At all. The first time I saw one, and you have to know, this was my first “wildlife encounter” during a swim besides seeing those teeny little fish and a skate along the shore, I screamed and started splashing around like a 2 year old. I immediately thought that I would then attract sharks, because they like noises. But I couldn’t help it. I knew these jellyfish were safe and didn’t sting, but it was the thought of it that freaked me out. Things kept bumping my feet, and when I saw one, I tried really hard, but I couldn’t help but jumping a little under water and coming up for air.

I may have behaved a little like this.

I may have behaved a little like this.

I may have let out a few “OMG” or possibly a “Oh, FUCK”, but it was my first wildlife encounter!!!! Then it was like they were everywhere, bumping my feet, getting allupinmybidness. I couldn’t go ten feet without seeing one and I told my friend, “Hey, that’s enough, I’m out.” She guilted me into finishing my workout with a simple, “You’ll regret it if you don’t finish your workout”. Needless to say, I got in some extra cardio with that jellyfish swim. But we got it done, 1.5 miles in 50 minutes, with lots of stopping, screaming, splashing, talking, troll-watching, swearing, and a good push from the current, THANK GOD.

We felt like they were out to get us!

We felt like they were out to get us, laughing and texting all their jelly friends, “Look, we’re making them scream!”

Some other people we knew swam by and I heard a random, “OMG” and “What was that?”, and one of them ended up getting out of the water too. I don’t know how many kinds of jellyfish there are, but one of my friends got stung, I was freaked out by just seeing them, and they were just everywhere, scaring the crap out of us swimmers. I was ready to get back in this week. Until this weekend happened.

We all KNOW sharks live in the ocean. We all KNOW they have to eat. They’re misunderstood creatures, thought to be scary and evil, but they’re just sharks doing what sharks do. I like to pretend there’s some netting, really good netting, or gates at the entry of the waterway where larger fish, except for dolphins of course, cannot come through. It’s like a gated neighborhood. When the hoodlum wants to come in, access denied. But this weekend, on three separate occasions, people were injured by sharks. One was not a major injury, but two of them were. All of them involved kids, and two of those kids will have at least one amputation because of the shark bites.

And people, this happened in my neighborhood.

I swim at Wrightsville Beach, I take my kids to Kure Beach, and good ole' Mr. Shark was chewing on people at Oak Island, barely around the corner.

I swim at Wrightsville Beach, I take my kids to Kure Beach and Ft. Fisher, which is at the southern end of the island, and good ole’ Mr. Shark was chewing on people at Oak Island, barely around the corner.

That’s a little close for comfort. I believe the bites happened near a pier, which makes complete sense considering there’s bloody bait at the pier from fishermen WANTING to attract fish, so I do wonder why they were swimming so close to it. Then again, I have too. And I was going to on Wednesday for an ocean swim lesson in prep for Ironman Florida. I’m not now.

So there’s been a lot of shark jokes thrown around, but when there’s three bites over a weekend really close to home, which defies the odds, it’s time to maybe just be a little extra cautious. I assume two of the bites, and even all three, were from the same shark, but you just never know. I’m not willing to take that chance, especially when, according to one of my coaches, shark attacks occur more during a new moon and a heat wave, two things that we have going for us right now. As for open water, I’m finding out from OTHER people what the jellyfish situation is. Depending on that, I’ll see if I want to swim in open water or head to the pool. As for now though, I’ll just keep assuming there’s some big gates filtering all the sharks from coming into the waterway, and if they slip through, they’re just little guys like this:

He's so cute!!!!!

He’s so cute!!!!!

Or that they’re just trying to help:

IMG_2604

What would you do? Any “wildlife encounters” you’d like to share?

 

 

Categories: interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Medication: Friend or Foe?

Another week slipped by since I’ve written and it seems like just a few days. I’ve been pretty busy (I hate using that because really, who isn’t busy?) trying to get a bunch of stuff done before the kids are out of school (and dealing with the events of last week- details below), and getting my workouts in of course.

Ahh, the events of last week. Last week was “interesting”. Due to a mysterious allergic reaction to something the week before, I had to go on Prednisone, and then the dose started decreasing last week. I thought all was good and that I was lucky enough to not have the side effects of the medication, since I heard they could be…um, well, not so fun. THEN last week happened. And I got all the side effects. No sleeping. Hunger. Moodiness. Aggression. All of them. And I was training hard and trying to start a business. It was hard. It was weird. I didn’t like it. It made me feel crazy. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that way after the dosage went down, but after talking to other people who have been on it, it’s pretty normal to feel “slightly off”. Yeah, I’ll just say I felt slightly off. If off feels like this:

 

Thursday.

Thursday.

And then I was hungry. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Everything I could pile into my mouth, I pretty much did.

Everything I could pile into my mouth, I pretty much did.

The good thing that came from this was a 5k race on Thursday night.  I didn’t want to run it, had had a VERY disturbing day (as for how I felt, otherwise it was normal), but if you combine eating and aggression, running a race really isn’t a bad thing. I had a crappy attitude coming into it, fueled on Diet Coke and chips only 3 hours before it started (because eff it, WHO CAAARRREEESSSS??!!! See above picture.) It was hot. I swam that morning and it felt like my arms were filled with concrete. Blech. So when the horn went off in the Wilma Dash, a unique women’s only race, I went. I ran. I ran hard. I ran until my lungs hurt. My legs were tired. My mouth was dry. I was sweaty. I just wanted a sub-24:00. Ok, a sub-23:00. And I came in at 22:21, enough to win 15th overall and 3rd masters. I felt a little bit released. Well, let’s just say I felt better.

Look at me on the left all scared like. Maybe it's because he took a hundred pictures and I was just tired of standing and wanted to get my beer back in my hand.

Look at me on the left there all like, “Let me go so I can get my damn beer back before she drinks it.”

Bonus on the night is that the team I’m on, Without Limits Sole Sistas, won largest team and a party at the famous Front Street Brewery. It’ll be like one free beer per teammate, but hey, better than nothing!!!

On Friday, we headed to my husband’s alma mater, Clemson, for my youngest son’s football camp.

Takin' it down.

Takin’ it down.

The Dabo Swinney Football Camp was top notch. My youngest was among the best players and coaches in the nation, filling them with life lessons and football skills.  I’ve never really felt a lot of love for any team on my own, and I was very happy to adopt Clemson as “my” team back when I met my husband. Same for the Red Sox. I’m not a die hard, but I’m right there, wearing my orange and purple and white, cheering them on in good seasons and bad.  My sons have a sparkle in their eyes when they talk about it, which to me, means a TON of money will eventually be heading the tiger way (which brings on the same kind of hulk feeling when thinking about how much money college costs), but for now, we really enjoy our time there. It hasn’t been often we have time to wander campus and check out the sites in his old stomping ground and spend way too much at the apparel store. While there, I got in eleven miles of hills and even more exploration.  Good times, minus the six hour drive and getting home at 11 pm the night before the kids start their end-of-year testing. Hopefully we can get back this fall for the game against Notre Dame, which just so happens to be on my birthday and one month before Ironman Florida. Yes, we really are trying to do it ALL this year!

Death Valley

Death Valley

As for training, I’ve been doing what I can when I can, pushing myself to be ready to start training. Yesterday marked the first day with my coach, Sami, from Without Limits. She’s a 12-time IM finisher and Kona qualifier, and she recently qualified for worlds in the 70.3. I know I’m in good and experienced hands! I’m not a very OCD person (if you saw my house right now, you’d get it – it’s just a mess but I’m sitting here blogging), but I have to admit that all was right and good in the world when I got my Training Peaks email and next two weeks training uploaded. Ahhhh, structure!

I learned a few lessons listening to the coaches at the football clinic and will find so many ways to use them in my training and for coaching. I’m motivated (even without the prednisone), am happy about my choice to push the register button that day in November, and am so looking forward to the journey. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but what journey worth taking IS?

Oh, oh, oh!!!!!!!!!!!!! The word is out, the number is in, and I wanted to let you all know that the UNCW running teams have MET THEIR FUNDRAISING GOAL and can continue on for another year!!!! They were able to raise $255,781.59 IN THREE MONTHS! Thank you for listening to me talk about my local issue and a very special thanks to those who contributed to the teams. They are so appreciative of our support and are already working hard to secure large donations to be able to update/renovate/rebuild the old track and field facility that so many in our community use and probably take for granted. I love running!!!

So all in all, it’s been a good week, I’m “officially” IM training now, and I have a love/hate relationship with prednisone. I’m glad it quickly helped my allergy, but man, it certainly made me feel funky.

Have you ever had “interesting” side effects of a medication? Do you have a love affair with any particular school?

 

 

Categories: coaching, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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