Posts Tagged With: 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

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

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

The In Between Spaces

A week ago, I completed my training for Ironman Florida.

It's about time.

It’s about time.

At that point, there was really nothing more I could do to prepare for the race PHYSICALLY, except to not get sick. As I got in my truck to go home, I started crying. It was a release, it was part sadness, it was part relief. As I cried my way home, my mind was like a rolodex of memories of the past year, flash cards of experiences over the summer. The finish line is essential to this journey, but the journey is really what it’s all about. This past week, I thought about so many things that I’ve done (or made myself do) that I would not have done otherwise, and I realized how thankful I was to have this experience. As I prepare to head south to Florida this week, I am nervous, I’m a little scared, but most of all, I’m confident that I can handle whatever the day brings.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

So what are these “in-between” spaces? Well, they’re not the number of miles I biked, or how fast I was able to get my 800 repeats done, or my power meter (if I had one) readings, the type of tires I have on my bike, how “aero” my helmet is (it isn’t), or how much faster I could swim a mile than two months ago (I can’t – I’m the same speed). I don’t know how many miles I’ve bike and run and swam. Because it doesn’t matter. I did it. I lived it. And it meant something to me.  It was more about the people I met, the multitude of sunrises I saw, the convenience store we frequented on our bike rides, the dumb dogs that chased us, the big, stupid jellyfish that assaulted me slid by and scared the crap out of me, swimming in my wetsuit in my pool, my husband and I finishing the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 as a team, the caterpillars making their way across the highway as we passed, and the butterflies the flitted by every. single. day. we. rode.

Some of the best ladies I've met! Of course, I don't have pics of the gents I've met along the way.

Some of the best ladies I’ve met! Of course, I don’t have pics of the gents I’ve met along the way.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay. Technically, the pool WAS wetsuit mandatory 🙂

It was the way my kids understood what I was doing, the way my husband easily took a lot of burden off me, never making me feel guilty (I was good at that on my own) about the time I spent away or the money I have spent. It was the exhaustion I’ve felt, the naps I’ve taken, the way I yelled at those cars “because they think they’re so cool” as I biked that one Sunday during my meltdown, the laughter as I thought about silly things along the way (like when I peed my pants on purpose to “test” if I could pee on my bike),

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

the reaction from people when I say I’m training for an Ironman, the way my friends reacted when I said “HELL NO I WILL NOT SWIM TODAY” because I was scared of sharks and jellyfish stings. It was swimming in the ocean while the sun rose.  It was riding 102 miles in the hills of North Carolina, not knowing how much I would truly enjoy the experience.

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

It was understanding why people put themselves through this, the beauty of it all, when you step back, take the training out of the experience, and just experience the experience. You see the in between spaces, the stuff people miss when they’re just training, when they’re getting through it instead of living it. The in between spaces is the meat of it, the bulk of an experience, the REAL-ness of it all, when you’re training for hours and hours in a week to cross a finish line to become an Ironman. It’s what IT is all about. It’s life. It’s real, and I love it. THOSE are the in between spaces.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim. I’m on the left.

 

My mom asked me what one thing I’ve learned from training for an Ironman. I couldn’t come up with one. I gave her and my sister three things that I’ve learned about training for an Ironman.

  1. I have the best husband ever. Hands down, no questions asked. I just do.
  2. The finish line is essential to the journey, but the journey is definitely what it’s all about.
  3. I’m thankful God gave me a body that will allow me to do this and a spirit that wants the challenge.

And my final one I’m adding, is this:

4) I appreciate the in between spaces and thankful for them all, both good and bad.

I’m thankful, I’m lucky, I GET to do this.

No matter if the swim is cancelled for an algae bloom, if it’s windy, cold, hot, humid, whatever, I know I can get through it. I’ll remember the in between spaces and know that I can get through anything to get my finish line.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 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.

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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

Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 on the Horizon

I’m sitting here writing and looking at my Training Peaks with a pseudo-taper workout schedule for the week. Wow. Ironman Florida is less than four weeks away. I have a hard time deciding if I’m totally freaked out or just ready for this thing. Going in to big events like these brings out my inner beast “I CAN DO ANYTHING” and my “I WANT MY MOMMY” sides. From my marathon experience, it’s normal to feel like you aren’t ready but really are, and that there’s no way you can complete the distance at the pace you want but you really can. I’m glad this feeling is normal, and part of me remains extremely calm as the calendar marches on. Part of me is hanging off the roof with a whiskey and cigarette.

nerves

Let’s rewind to this past weekend first. I know there are so many who ran the Chicago Marathon. Chicago is on my bucket list, I think (training through North Carolina summers is NOT fun), so I’m so thrilled to live vicariously through so many who got to be there and experience this epic race. My coach, Sami, completed the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawai’i. She worked so hard over so many years to qualify, and it was quite the experience to watch her as she completed her goal and fulfilled a dream.  Another training buddy, Angela, and her husband completed Ironman Louisville yesterday, and I was so proud of her as I watched her tracker tick along. She has the best positive attitude and was a great influence during some of my “bad patches”, specifically with my 7th flat tire. Way to go, Angela!!!!

After having a light training schedule last week and sort of half way wondering why, the weekend was full. Friday was supposed to be my day off, but since we couldn’t open water swim last week, I decided I needed to get one in.  Long story short, the 1.7 mile swim was good, AND I learned how to jump my truck. Yay for batteries that die randomly! I’m glad Melissa was there and was able to help me figure it all out, especially since my phone battery was on its last bar and I didn’t want to use it to call my husband or Google “how to jump a car”. The rest of the day was spent eating, dealing with the truck, and taking my cat to the vet. Eh, who needed any money for the weekend, right?! 🙂

Melissa and me after successfully jumping my truck.

Melissa and me after successfully jumping my truck.

I started my Saturday by running 4 miles, then raced a 5k that was postponed from last weekend because of the rain, then finished running in bits and pieces to make 2.5 hours or almost 17 miles. I was sort of disappointed in my 5k time, but I’m disappointed that I’m disappointed. I mean really, I’m not training for short, fast races by any means, so what the heck do I expect on a very warm, humid morning with a long run???? Really. My time was 22:34, which isn’t slow AT ALL, but I really wanted to be close to the same time as my last 5k, and preferably not ending with another master female fly past me at the end.

I've used this before, but it suits.

I’ve used this before, but it suits.

I stopped looking at my watch a little less than half way through, because it served no purposed and I need to run on feel, not time. See, I KNOW it’s ridiculous to be anything but happy about the race. I ended up with 3rd masters and won some money and A PIE. I WON A PIE. Hello, PIE. And MONEY. Whohoo!!! The rest of the day was filled with my kids’ ball games and then we headed to a Clemson viewing get together. That was a long day, and we got home just in time for me to prepare for Sunday’s brick workout.

A medal, a prize, and PIE!

A medal, a prize, and PIE!

On Sunday, I started off with a 1.2 mile swim in a very choppy waterway. I felt discouraged and had a lot of negative self-talk during the swim, since I was the slowest one there. I questioned my ability to complete the Florida swim course again and again, and I have to admit, it’s the one thing that scares me if the weather is bad and the waves are big. My friend, Erin, told me I’ll be FINE, and I know I should be fine, but it’s still something that scares the bajiminy out of me. After the swim, we headed out for a 3 hour bike ride in some gusty wind coming from every direction. It was weird, as we were biking into a head wind that suddenly turned into a cross wind that turned into a head wind then a tail wind, all in a few miles. We drafted from each other as much as we could, but some were faster than others, and I found myself alone some of the time. Let’s say my legs were tired, but I did my best to keep up, and we ended up going over 18 mph average, even with the squirrely winds. I even pulled for several miles 🙂

On the way home, I was jazzed up, but tired in a good way. Twenty minutes later, I felt wrecked, so I took a shower and went to bed as soon as I got home. Oh, after eating of course. After an in-and-out nap for about 90 minutes, I finally joined my family and placed myself on the couch, which is were I was found for the remainder of the day until I could get up at 9:30 and go back to sleep for the night. I was just beat. My muscles felt great, no soreness, but tired in a good way, but I was tired in general and just wanted to sleep.

Today was a well-needed rest day, and my body feels strong despite the overall fatigue.

I know what’s going to happen this weekend though, and I’m very nervous and excited about it. This will be my last big push to prepare me for Ironman Florida on November 7th. My husband and I are Team “This was her idea” for Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon. I am completing the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride, while he completes the 26.2 miles of marathon madness. We planned this so long ago, and I can’t believe it’s here.

My goal for this race is to nail nutrition.  I have to practice fueling so I know what works, and almost more importantly, what doesn’t work. Hopefully the lessons I have learned through training will serve me well and I will devise a plan that works well. The weather looks perfect so far, so I’m hoping for a fun experience! Beach 2 Battleship is a great race, and I look forward to being a participant as well as a spectator!

Here we go!

After B2B, I will be in real “taper” mode, although I know there will still be some big workouts to complete in those three weeks. I’m anticipating a lot of time being spent in prep and list-making mode for the BIG race.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods! What have you been up to this fall? Is it actually fall where you are, because it sure doesn’t feel like it much here!

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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

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

Mish-mash and Nash

IMG_7874

Last weekend, I headed to Nashville with a group of wonderful ladies where some of us would run the half marathon and celebrate having good friends and a bachelorette. Turns out, it was an amazing time and I CANNOT wait to go back to Nashville. First, the race.

Pre-race. Awesome. I LOVE big races.

Pre-race. Awesome. I LOVE big races.

It was a ton of fun. Two probs. Not nearly enough bathrooms. I saw one row of them on our way from the parking lot at the finish. One row. For probably over 20,000 people. I heard there were more along the start line, but I never saw them. Good thing I never had an emergency situation and didn’t want to run this race for time. And speaking of running it for time, I think it would have been nearly impossible to run this for time. At least in the corral I was in, which was at the 2:00 mark. There were no less than one million people in the street on the same block at one time. It was tight. The first six miles were almost at a ten minute mile pace, and it was difficult to move around and stay with my friend who was running with me. We didn’t care, it was a hoot, the start was great as always, the crowds were great, the bands were fun, and we eventually found a row of bathrooms about five miles in. There was beer, food, and excellent support.  I would definitely do this race again if I didn’t want a certain time, and I might just remember to NOT drink a bunch of Bud Light Platinum the night before. But heck, we were having fun in our KOA cabins, and THAT’S why we were there. My friend and I finished our race in just under two hours, collected our medals, and met with the rest of the runners and friends who didn’t run. Thanks to my sister who gave me her bib so I could run!!

Got me a medal with boots and a horse shoe on it. Yeah, I did.

Got me a medal with boots and a horse shoe on it. Yeah, I did.

That night, we went out on the town. Let’s say there were no shenanigans, but we had tons of fun.  We danced, we laughed, we ate, we drank, we took lots of pictures.  We are already looking at where to go for our girls weekend trip next year.

THE girls. Loved every minute of it. Except the not being able to sleep part.

Bride-to-be and her posse. Loved every minute of it.

My big Stride fundraiser is Monday. I’m nervous that it will be as organized as what I think it needs to be, but the most important part is for the UNCW team to know that we care about them and that the runners have fun. In case you missed it, the UNCW running teams must raise $250,000 by the end of May in order to keep the program running (pun totally intended) another year. Please comment if you’d like to know how to donate and thanks to you who have contacted me to donate! I have everything loaded in my truck all ready to go, and the only thing I need to do is run 5 miles bright and early and get enough bags of ice to fill up my cooler on wheels to keep the water cold for the participants. Organizing an event is difficult. I didn’t think it would be easy, but there’s so many things to think about and I have no control over many of them!!! Here’s hoping we raise a lot of money to save the UNCW running teams!!!

So as for training this week, I did get three whole days off because of Nashville. I sort of freaked out and immediately got up early to run the first morning I was back home. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing….

I didn’t sleep well the entire time, partly because of staying up late and getting up early, but part of it was that I just couldn’t sleep. Weird, but it happens. So I’ve been trying to catch up this week. I think I finally got it this morning.  Speaking of this morning, you may know that I’ve been into this coaching thing. I LOVE to coach kids. And I thought I could start taking on adult clients as well. I got my first client as soon as I got back from my RRCA coaching certification class, and I made up a plan for him to PR and get a sub-2:00 half marathon. Today was that race. I have to admit, I was nervous. What would his time mean about my coaching? As it turns out, it has something to do with it, but obviously, not even close to everything. It was warm today, and I worried about him being able to meet his goal in the heat. You just never know with races!! What do other coaches feel? Do they feel pressure? Do they worry as much as I did?

The result of my client’s race? Awesomeness, and it wasn’t because of me. I think this guy would’ve met his goal because of his thought process and focus. He told me he was going to fight for his PR, and sometimes, that means more than any amount of training, which he did and did well. So I’m very proud of my very first coaching client, my husband, Andy. He got a 12 minute PR on the same course he PR’d on last year, and finished in 1:52:30. I’m so proud of you!

The Hubster with his medal and beer. Turns out he got first in his age group too. BONUS TROPHY!

The Hubster with his medal and beer. Turns out he got first in his age group too. BONUS TROPHY!

Blah blah, I’m training, I’m biking, swimming, and running. My first open water swim was Friday, and it was PERFECTION. I felt great and that I could keep going after 1.2 miles (with a slight current). The water was shockingly cold, but once we got going, it wasn’t as bad as my wetsuit chafing. Ouch!!! I only gagged twice, and it was something I could handle under water. It was great! (not the gagging, the swimming) I’m swimming again Monday evening, before my son’s baseball game, and I’m actually looking forward to it!

Perfect conditions for our first open water swim!

Perfect conditions for our first open water swim!

I also made it to the track to tackle 8×400 at 1:30-1:34. Most of them were 1:30, but wowzers, they were not easy. Coupled with an interval bike ride, it’s been a great week of workouts! I’m very excited to work this month in prep for starting up with a coach in June. She’s awesome, a great supportive person, and is going to Kona this year after 12 Ironman races (she qualified the last race), so she knows her stuff.

This triathlon stuff has proven to be a road I never thought I would take. I have already had so many journeys and met so many people, I can’t imagine what I will think after I cross that finish line in Florida in November as an Ironman. To anyone considering it, do it. Same thing for any goal. You never know the path you will take until you take the first step.

 

 

 

 

Categories: being epic, coaching, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Spring Really IS Here

 

azalea

You know it’s officially spring here in Wilmington, North Carolina, when the Azalea Festival arrives. It’s a time when everyone in town can 1) Party like it’s 1899, 2) Eat fried anything, 3) Go to concerts that would never normally come to a town this size, and 4) Watch a 3 1/2 hour parade.

azalea1

There’s the parade, carnival, craft shows, garden parties, a bunch of stuff I’m not invited to because I’m not a belle, more stuff I’m not invited to but is put in the paper, probably to make everyone NOT invited jealous and WANT to be invited, which makes the entire Festival one of those “I really want to be a part of this thing but I really don’t know how or why”, and concerts. Alan Jackson was in town last night, and tonight, it’s the rap god, Nelly (and my son would have said, of course it’s not the rap god, THAT’S Eminem), who will be donning the “big” stage. There was plenty of “wha?” when it was announced that Nelly was the festival headliner. I mean, this Azalea Festival is all about southern belles and gentlemen, spring flowers, and fried oreos, so what does Nelly have to do with THAT? Because he brings in a LOT of people, that’s why, and there’s no way in gold teeth that he would ever come here at any other time. Hey, maybe he likes azaleas…

It hasn't gotten too hot because he still has his clothes on.

It hasn’t gotten too hot because he still has his clothes on.

So last night, when everyone was donning their cowboy hats and boots way down yonder by the Chattahoochee, I was at a home run derby, getting eaten alive by flying jaws. Tonight, when what I suspect will be a different set of people will be getting hot in here but hopefully keeping their clothes ON watching Nelly, I will be at a different field, yet again getting eaten alive by flying jaws, watching my son play soccer.

THE Azalea Queen

THE Azalea Queen

Last year, we went to what we now call “the longest parade in world history” on that beautiful Saturday morning, which was three and a half hours of watching five floats go by, followed by ten minutes of watching the people across the street because there was nothing coming down the street, followed by five more floats, followed by ten more minutes of watching the people across the street (repeat no less than twelve thousand times), and then finally, finally, FINALLY, the Azalea Queen float comes down the street, which is when we went to the carnival and spent $20 for a glass of ice water with a cup of sugar and a lemon’s worth of juice in it and resisted the urge to buy a fried tenderloin on a stick with Kurly Fries for a “great deal” of $75. All served with a smile. This year, we will be at the soccer and baseball fields for our entire Saturday, which is part of the deal when you have two kids in sports. In honor of the Azalea Festival though, I just may have to spring for a $2 hot dog.

So in my last post, I had mentioned that word “cry” and I was upset about something. Simply stated, I was sad about my marathon goal. I’m over it, but get bouts of sadness every once in a while. I’m allowed. I STILL have a post to post on that one, but there’s been a lot of stuff cooking here in my house, and it ain’t the Food Network’s fault this time. And it’s not actual food cooking. Except for when I make dinner of course. So sometimes, when there’s a lot going on, I do this:

deer

Yes, the proverbial deer in headlights.  It’s all good, and I really CANNOT wait to share what’s going on, but I need to get my ducks in a row first. After I get done staring at the wall and going buh buh buh. Let’s say that this youth coaching thing is getting bigger and my vision is now a very distinct possibility.

As for my workouts, I’ve ridden my bike the last few days, simply because 1) that’s the workout I planned and 2) I had no choice yesterday. Storms rolled through the entire morning, and as much as I like to bar-b-que, I do NOT want it to be me, so the only option I had was to ride my bike indoors. I absolutely LOVE storms, or at least not the ones where you head for the basement, and yesterday’s was like therapy. Rain, thunder, more rain and thunder, for hours at a time. I kept the house perfectly quiet while I cleaned, and it was perfectly soothing. My version of a bath in lavender.

Anyway, I’m headed to the pool today, which is almost like going to get my teeth extracted, because it’s PERFECT outside. BUT I know what I need to work on and my legs are tired, so I don’t want to do too much, plus I have a brick planned for Sunday. You know you’re tired when you walk up the stairs and need to pause and take a breath. Yeah, I need a day off. That will be tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend, every one, and I hope you are enjoying spring!

Do you enjoy spending your weekends getting eaten by flying jaws? Does this make you think of sharks like it does me?

 

 

Categories: being epic, coaching, follow your dreams, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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