Thursday, July 30, 2009


THE EARLY BIRD...


gets the worm. Or, in my case, gets the workouts in, despite all the other chaos that's going on at work and at home. Just had to do a quick catch up because I have been swamped with work for the past 2 weeks with no end in sight until at least September--a major trial at the end of August, meaning a month of trial prep, and depositions spanning the next 3 weeks in another big case, as well as my own court case spinning out of control. And then there are my workouts, which, for the most part, are going okay.
But I learned a long time ago to not put off any workout I could do in the morning, thinking it would happen later in the day. It rarely does. Either I can't bring myself to do it after a long day at work because: its too hot, too cold, too dark, I'm too hungry, or whatever excuse I can come up with, or I get stuck working late, killing any momentum I might have had to workout after work.
So no matter how early I have to get up to get the training in, that's what I do. On the agenda for this weekend: 11 mile run Saturday; 65-70 mile ride Sunday. Oh, and then I get to come in to work the rest of the day.
Hope everyone's training is going well, you're enjoying your summer, and I'll catch up soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

BACK TO TRAINING
After 5 slothful recovery days, it was time to get back to reality. Friday after work was a 1200 meter swim. Saturday morning was a 1.5 hour run. Sunday, the rain hit before we could get out to do 50 so ended up at the gym and did 2 back-to-back hard spin workouts. Better than nothing!
My thoughts on what my next events will be are: 30k race Labor Day weekend; Aqua Velo in Maryland Sept. 26, and of course the Beach to Battleship Nov. 7 in North Carolina.
I figure I really need to step up on the run, and with a 30k race to prepare for, that should set me up for Nov. at least somewhat better than my hit and miss run training I've been doing--been doing a consistent amount of running, but shying away from longer distances with no good reason why.
So with these events looming, it will force me to step up on the swim, bike, and run, and hopefully set me up for a good race in November!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


POST-RACE AFTERTHOUGHTS


After a long race event, I always go over things in my mind to see what I've learned, to see what I might have done differently, or to see how I might improve the next time. Sometimes, its just to beat myself up with regrets over not doing what I had hoped to do or what I should have done or worst yet, why I even thought I could do it in the first place.


This time, however, I did exactly as I planned, and am just pleased to say that there were no obstacles to prevent that. Had there been, I probably would not have been prepared as well as I would have liked to deal with a longer time out there. But I do have observations I am going to put down in writing to hopefully help or add insight for someone else.


The Swim


One thing that I feel has helped me tremendously this year, in transitioning from the swim to bike, has been increasing my swim mileage more than double than any other time in the past. At first it was a challenge, and I looked forward to it, but after months of going lap after lap after lap, week after week after week, it starting becoming a drudge, to the point where by the time I went on vacation in June I was totally sick of the swim! I saw my swim times for the half mile go up and up (meaning slower) in the process as I added yardage, but I was getting it done, regardless. But then I had to regroup, and find a new way to continue getting in my swim mileage, and that seems to be working now, so that I can continue on to the next phase of my training.


Never once in the swim did I feel tired or exhausted or like it was never going to end, so to me all the extra swim practicing paid off when you get through a hard swim and still feel ready for the bike. In the past, by the time I would get out of the water, I would feel almost exhausted, barely able to get to transition, let alone hop on my bike. And when I did finally get out on the bike, my legs would be dead. I am happy to say that in my two tris so far this year, no leg exhaustion.

The Bike

The bike is always going to be my biggest challenge, and so far I haven't found any magic potion that will help me go faster. What did help in getting through a somewhat difficult bike in the race was again the week after week after week of long rides, with long for me being 50 or more miles, but never over 52. Just didn't ever work out to go more. Also 2 other shorter training rides in the week, either spin classes, on the trainer, or a short ride after work. The only thing I could do to hopefully improve would be more hills, or hill repeats, so I think that will have to become a part of my training for the next few months. Even on a totally flat course, hill training can only strengthen my legs to go faster on the flats (so I am told). I am sure in the race, had I had more hill training, that long uphill in the wind would have gone faster and felt easier. All in all, however, the only disappointment I had on the bike was that because it was longer than 56 miles, I did not make my goal time, and with the bad weather, that meant going over by 10 minutes.

The Run

While my legs weren't completely dead on the run initially, the hills took their toll, and again I knew more hill training could have been a huge benefit. While I made my projected run goal (barely), I could have surprised myself by finishing faster had I been able to hold on longer on the run. I realize the reason no one mentioned the run was hilly because to them, who train on hills all the time, it wasn't. Even Don, who has done this race many times, when I asked why he hadn't told me about the hills, laughed and said, "what hills?" So yeah, hills need to be incorporated. Not something any of us like to do at least not often, but if the end result yields a faster time in any future races, I'm willing to spend the time suffering a little now to make it easier later.

Transition

The fourth discipline here, as we all know. And, as you may or may not know, I am the queen of slow transitions. This time was worse than usual and again no exception for me. I can't say whether the weather played a factor here, since surprisingly my swim to bike transition was longer than my bike to run and it wasn't raining yet. Part of that, I realize, was the long hike to the transition and the bike, which I did not have returning on the bike. But still, if I could just learn to be faster in transition, I might actually beat someone in a race. When I total up my transition times and add the extra 10 minutes on the bike, I could actually have finished closer to 7:30 than 8 hours. Like I said, slow, I know. In a short race, transition times are a huge factor, but maybe not so much in longer ones. Still, I need to work on this.


Time

I am talking about the sense of time doing the whole event. Not in the sense of how long it takes, but how it felt on each part of the race. You lose a sense of time, or at least I did, especially on the bike. In training, a 1.25 mile swim seemed an eternity in the pool, but in open water, open choppy water, open choppy water where you are trying to survive getting clobbered, time goes by quickly. I didn't feel like I was out there forever, and finishing in the exact time I predicted told me all the swim training gave me a good idea, not only of my ability to do it, but how long it would take. Easily I could have gone longer if necessary, and that too made me feel my training went well.

On the bike, in a race, I always get caught up in speed more than time and distance, where in training its all three. This time, with my computer going haywire, I eventually had to rely only on time and distance, which I think made finishing easier and took my mind off how long I was actually out there. It didn't feel that long. My comfort level wasn't surpassed, other than my sore neck. It went by fast in my mind, much faster than on a training ride where I basically do almost the same route week after week. In a race, you have that change of scenery factor which makes it seem like it is going by faster. Only when the course went long did I start going crazy and wanting to be done NOW. My training carried me mentally through the tough spots most of the way.

The run for me is always a race against the clock, the official race clock and my own goal clock. I know I will always be close to last, and have been last more times than I can remember, and while I accept this and am okay with it for the most part, I still don't like the feeling it gives me. I have learned, however, in my training this year, to go at a pace where I know I can finish, no matter how slow it is, and hope for the best. I have learned to break it down to know how fast I must go to make my goals. At this point, however, I am not in a position to go any faster. I know certain things I could do would help, but its not going to make me win my age group or even place ever unless I'm the only one or one of three in the age group.

If I had to grade myself on Half Ironman 101, I would give myself a B- in that I made all my goals, I survived, and finished without being totally wiped out. My shortcomings were the transitions and my inability to go any faster on the hills. Now I have graduated to the next phase.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


MUNCIE ENDURATHON--NO HEAT, NO LIGHTNING.



My prayers were answered, but in place of that, we got rain and wind. Nice tradeoff. Really!


Muncie is in its 30th year as a triathlon of one sort or another. Since about 1989, its been a half IM.


Everyone from GR who is a serious triathlete has done Muncie and I figured it was time I stepped up and joined the GR alumni.


As we headed south to Muncie, IN, just about an hour and a half or so from Indie, to give you an idea of the location, I watched the thermometer in my car rise from 80 to 84 to 87 to 90 to 94. Yikes! I was going to die out there!



Seven others from the GR area were there to compete, many of whom would take their age groups, no doubt. For me? My plan was to treat it as a training day and a learning experience. My prediction, based on what I figured the weather would be, without knowing much about the course, was 8 hours. I knew I was being generous with all my times, but I also knew I would be happy with that. My main goal was to go at a pace that I knew I would and could finish.



Without going into too many details about the prep, etc., I will move directly to the swim.


To wear a wetsuit or not?


I am comfortable enough on any swim distance to not need a wetsuit, but based on the high winds and the chop on the Prairie Creek Reservoir, I finally decided on the wetsuit. I needed any advantage I could get. My goals on the swim were: 50 min.; get to the first turn bouy before the 25-29 AG men reached me; not get beat up; and try to keep on course.



I managed 2 out of 4: Swim time: 50:02. Stayed on course, despite the horrible chop. Got beat up some. Didn't make it to the first turn bouy before the young bucks reached me.

The chop was so bad that every 3rd or 4th sighting you got a face full of water instead. It was very difficult to sight, but I managed as well as I could. Everyone got at least one mouth full of water to add to their hydration plan. I did get beat up some. One dumb jerk just couldn't seem to realize someone (maybe your mother??) was swimming right next to where he decided to swim through, so when I raised my head to breath and sight, I was rewarded with a good thumping to the back of my neck, causing me to get pushed down under water just as I was taking a breath! I paid him back with a good kick to hopefully you know where!



One funny note on the swim. My usuall MO is to swim until I hit bottom, but this time a younger dude came up alongside me, probably 25 yards from the beach, and he tapped me on the shoulder and said: You can stop now. Hillarious!



The transition is pretty long: uphill about 300 yards and then probably another 300 yards or so through the transition to my bike rack. All the fast 55-59 women on my rack were long gone. I struggled in transition, as usual, but decided I couldn't worry about that. Get organized and go.


Will it rain??


Heading out on the bike, I wondered about the weather. So far so good, but the forecast was for temperatures in the high 80s, low 90s, and 50% chance of thunderstorms, some severe. The first part of the bike course was flat and fast, other than the initial hill out of transition. Once we hit the bike trail, we moved so fast, and of course there was lots of drafting, since how would anyone monitor that in there? It occurred to me after a few miles on this that we were obviously going downhill and had the wind at our back. I couldn't help wonder what we would face once we got off.



We exited the bike course at around 8.5 miles, and for the next 14 or so, it was rolling to uphill, with crosswinds. Ugh. For me, this meant dropping speed to an average around 12.9 mph. Not good. At around 22.5, it got worse. Then it was mostly a long climb with crosswinds AND a headwind to top it off. So for the next 7.5 miles, we pretty much climbed, fought the wind and were rewarded around 25 miles with a torrential downpour. I realized I had a raw spot on the back of my neck from the wetsuit when the stinging rain hit. Yowch! Felt like getting pelted with needles.



I fought the urge those 7.5 miles to not get discouraged, knowing I was doing the best I could, but still getting passed regularly. And naturally I couldn't help worry I would be last out there. Again.



I finally just said, I'm doing the best I can. Let the chips fall where they may. Still, I couldn't have been happier when we finally got to the turnaround, still raining, but at least now I hoped the wind would be behind me for a while, and it was, and that long climb equaled a nice long, mostly downhill, where my pace picked up considerably, so that by the time we got off that stretch, I was doing just what I hoped to do.



The rain was intermittent to constant, and a hard downpour. The only thing that made this tolerable was there was NO traffic, one of the best things about this bike course. From 34 to 49 miles, we again had crosswinds, intermittent hard rain, and rolling hills. I totally lost any real desire to try to ride harder when my computer on every hard downpour went haywire. One second I was riding 34.5 mph and the next I was riding 4.9. Yeah right to both. The speed was all over the place, so I finally settled on just watching the elapsing time and my mileage and ignored the pace. I was doing what I could do, whatever that was. By the time I hit 50 miles, I was pleasantly surprised that my time was only 2 minutes off my best 50 mile training rides, which left me hopeful and elated considering the weather. Now if I can just hold on for the next 6 miles, I might actually PR this distance!



Didn't happen. Not for lack of trying. Just weather and bad roads and the course being 1.54 miles long! The last 6 miles you have such rough roads that you spend all your time dodging water bottles, tubes, inhalers, sunglasses, and bumps so that I found it impossible to hold a fast enough pace. And then to top it off, the rain got harder and the winds picked up again, to the point where it was driving water into my ears and under my sunglasses, making my eyes sting so bad and mess with my contacts that I could barely see! I got REALLY mad when we passed 56 miles, then 57, and still no end. It was impossible to see so I was hoping someone would be standing at the bike dismount, and luckily there were a few people. When I pushed my bike into transition, the ground was saturated with water, and squished in my biking shoes, which were already so saturated, along with the socks, that water seemed to be pooled in my socks, and my shoes seemed to weigh 10 pounds each!



Transition was a joke, since it was raining so hard I had to wonder if it really mattered. I kept hoping lightning would finally call the race, but no such luck! The smartest thing I did was put my running shoes and a dry pair of socks into a bag, which was heaven! My socks on the bike were so saturated I could wring them out, as well as my bike gloves, and my headband. I took the time to put my bike shoes into a bag and straighten out my bike area so as not to get a penalty for having a mess, like they said they would do. I had made the mistake of leaving my towel out in the rain but was surprised that I had another almost semi dry one in my tri bag, so I used that to dry my feet as much as possible. But, I just couldn't hurry.



The funniest thing on the bike was my foaming shorts! Lisa had mentioned that Nuun was a good electrolyte replacement, so I bought 2 packages at the expo, in paper wrappers, and put them in my waist pouch. Sometime after the 3rd downpour, I noticed my bike shorts were foaming! OMG, what is going on?? I finally realized it was the Nuun tablets that were soaked and now foaming all over my left thigh. I was hoping they would absorb into my flesh to take away the aching I had in my hip and thigh, but I'm not sure that happened. I tried pouring some of my water on it, only to see more foaming yet! Again, hillarious!



13.1 to go!



I was not sure how much energy I was going to have for this run, so decided on a 3/2 run/walk ratio initially. I kept this up until 3 miles and finally realized I would not make my goal if I didn't pick it up some. We had 2 more downpours, which actually kept things much cooler, which I was happy about. If I had the choice between heat and rain, the rain would win. And funny thing. Hardly any wind on the run. Go figure on that! Yeah, that was hysterical.

I have to say I was misled on what the run course would be. I thought for sure we would do an out and back on the same bike trail we used earlier in the day, but was sadly disappointed the farther I got on the course. Instead of a flat and fast out and back, we got a rolling to hilly out and back! I was deflated. The only saving grace was, like I said, rain mostly and not much sun until the end. And I will say by mile 9 my legs were fried. Up and down the hills we went, with the turnaround at 6.55 UPHILL! I was getting mildly annoyed and discouraged but knew I had to keep moving forward. I had already seen all the GR people I knew pass me by, calculating approximately what their finish times would be, but still trying to stay positive, going mile by mile.

One good thing about the run were the aid stations every mile or so. By mile 4 I discovered Coke! They had no "solid" food at any aid station, meaning bananas or oranges, which I desperately wanted, so settled on the Coke. Mmmm, that really tasted good! I wanted to drink two glasses! But I held back, not knowing how my stomach would feel, since I had had a stomach ache since sometime on the bike. If truth be known, I think I would have done better with a beer!

Still, I plugged along. Four, then 5, then finally 6, and OMG finally, after an eternity, the half way point. I had seriously considered cutting the run short, since the bike was long, but I was afraid to get caught "cheating"and was more glad I hadn't when I realized we had a mat to cross. I would have been disqualified for sure, even though I never would have done it anyway. And I was pleasantly amazed at how many people were behind me! Of course, at least half of them passed me soon after.

By 9 miles, I was having a hard time with the hills, and my run/walk ratio changed to basically survive. Instead of the 4/2 ratio I had been on, I started going by telephone poles, first 10/2, then 7/2, finally 4/2. I was cooked! I simply could not run up one more hill! And the hills seemed that much worse coming back. By now too the rain had stopped and the sun, while behind the clouds, was making its presence known. The air was still and it was hard to breathe. When I ran out of telephone poles to count, I resorted to road signs, which were many, always indicating a long curving road ahead, then the speed, and then road markers. I did whatever I could to keep myself moving.

At 11 miles, a big rumble of thunder could be heard, like God was saying, Okay,I gave you this whole time to get finished, now I am getting impatient since there is a storm brewing. Still, I could go no faster. And the telephone poles had disappeared, the hills were many, and I had to resort to counting: 200 steps running, 50 walking. Whatever it took. Then it was driveways: 4/2. Then it was back to telephone poles.

At 12 miles, another rumble of thunder, like "I told you to hurry up!" Okay, okay, I'm doing the best I can. My legs were dead, and we still had some of the worst hills to go. I pretty much willed myself to mile 13, and then, of course, another steep uphill. I tried, really, to get up that hill, but made it halfway, looking at my watch, knowing I was close, but that hill got to me, and I had to walk part of it, but then, with a minute to go, I just went for the finish line and actually finished 35 seconds over 8 hours. I was not disappointed, that much anyway. I was just thrilled to be done.


So now I know: cross this race off my list forever!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009

TELL ME I CAN DO THIS!


Its taper time, and that means of course that the doubts start setting in: How am I really going to swim with all those people? Should I wear my wetsuit? Can we wear wetsuits? Did I bike enough? Did I run enough? And what about the heat? Maybe I'll just do the swim and bike. On and on it goes. I know everyone goes through this before a big race, and I'm no exception. Somehow I know I have to at least attempt to get through it.


I know its a big mind game and this week I'm going to have to get my head into this race. One thing I like to do before a race I haven't done before is go over the bike and run courses, check stats on other women in my age group in previous years, weather forecasts, etc. The website is really not helping calm my fears in that there are no links to anything useful, as far as I can tell. The only thing that really prompted me to sign up for this race in the first place was close proximity to home (less than 4 hour drive, hopefully) and timeframe fitting in with other training and racing plans this year. I've steered clear of it in the past because its a notoriously hot, hot race, and that seems to be everyone's biggest complaint. And me and the heat just don't do that well together. So of course I'm worried about that too!


I was finally convinced last week to taper, taper, taper, and after finding myself SO TIRED last week, I realized that was the right advice. I'm still not totally caught up on fatigue, but hopefully that will alleviate as this week goes on as well. And I'm just going to suck up the fact that having my granddaughter overnight Saturday to Sunday didn't get me much sleep either, as she was teething and had a fever all night and was fussing and kept me up from 4 am to 6 am. But she's so adorable, who can resist??

So this weeks its all easy, just keeping the legs and muscles moving and hopefully loose. A second massage tonight, after last week's torture fest. I was so tight in the neck/shoulders and ITB that she worked an extra 20 minutes on me, and 2 days later I felt like I was bruised things were so sore. I need to make sure the low back is in good shape and the legs to hopefully get me to the finish line without any lasting problems. After that, its on to Phase II of training!