Monday, November 25, 2013

What Now?

So a lot of friends have been asking me this -

"What's next?"
"Are you registering for an IM next?". 

I know that the next logical step would be to register for an ironman distance race, or IMTX 2014.  At first, I said no because I really want to get a new bike for this distance.  I have been riding my trusty road bike for the past 4 years. While I love my road bike, I feel it would be best to race an ironman distance race on a tri bike.  (Anyone disagree with this?)  And to be perfectly honest, it would take me some time to buy the bike I really want.  The Hubs and I are big Dave Ramsey fans and while we could simply charge the bike with our one and only credit card, I refuse to do this.

Then about a month ago, I found a second reason that I could not train for IMTX 2014 - the Hubby's work schedule.  The Hubs is going to have a different working arrangement from the time we arrive home from Disney (literally that day) until the end of would be extremely difficult to dedicate the time I need for training while the Hubs has this schedule...hello, 2 young kiddos at home means no running/biking at 4:00 am and no trips to the pool after work.

So that's it.  No IMTX 2014.  I also considered attempting to register for IMFL or IMAZ in 2014...I mean, the race conditions are way better than Texas in May!  But, doing your first Ironman on your home turf is just way too appealing....even with the heat.  So, the goal is IMTX 2015.  We'll see...I still have a year to talk myself out of it. :-)

So next up?  The Goofy Challenge in January!

This will be the Hubs' first official marathon (not including the one he ran in IMTX) and we're looking forward to running both the 1/2 and full marathons together.  This one is difficult for me...I know that this is not a race you run for a PR - it's way too crowded (from what I've heard) and it's designed to be fun (as in, you stop to take pictures with characters along the way!).  I may not be the fastest runner, but I am very competitive with myself.  I want PRs!  So, as hard as it is, my goal is to have fun and not worry too much about my time for either race.  In fact, if I have the opportunity, I may even stop to ride a roller coaster - during the race.  Really!

Other than the running, I am happy to report that strength training has been added back into my workout routine.  There just weren't enough hours in the day to add it to the 70.3 training schedule....I have soooo missed lifting heavy objects, pull-ups and push-ups!  Much like when the Hubs was training for IMTX, I imagine this will be my main focus from January - March when his work schedule changes and I am unable to get much running and biking in.

So that answers the "What's next?" question.  I am looking at some spring and summer races for 2014, but I haven't quite decided which ones just yet.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A "Look Back" at Oilman 2013

I used to work in oil and gas.  When we had large projects that finally came to completion, we always had a "look back" meeting in the week or two following the project.  This gave us an opportunity to evaluate what went well and what we could do differently the next time around.

I decided that at some point, I will want to train for another 70.3 and that a "look back" might be helpful!  So here it goes...


I sometimes questioned why I was swimming 3,000 or 3,500 yards when I ultimately only had to swim about 2,100 in the actual race.  Or why I was riding my bike for almost 4 hours, when I hoped to be off the bike in under 3:30.  But, OutRival Racing has training many athletes for this distance and I had to trust that my coaches knew what they were doing.  It worked! I think I trained hard, but didn't overtrain.  I made it to the start healthy and confident in my ability to cover the distance!

While I think I could tweak this a little, nutrition went well on race day.  I followed what I practiced during training (Perform, water, Hammer Gel and Honey Stinger Waffles) and it seemed to have worked well for me.  If and when I do train for an Ironman distance race, I would like to try Infinite just to see if it works for me.

I managed to not get too carried away in the swim, bike or run and start out going too fast.  In a sprint distance, I feel like it's okay to really push hard on the bike and then go for it on the run.  When you know you're going to be out on the course for 7 hours, that's definitely not the way to go.

I'll admit, I had some doubts along the way regarding my ability to conquer this distance.  However, I remember reading something that a coach from another group posted (thanks Adrienne!) - focus on what can go right, instead of what could go wrong.  I made a list of what a perfect race day would look like for the swim, bike and run.  Also, knowing that the open water swim was a challenge for me, I came up with little mantras with a word for each stroke and breath - "I'm an - awesome - swimmer" or "I'm incredibly calm" or "I am freaking strong".  And, I mentioned before that I wrote the word "Strong" on one hand and had DH write "Calm" on the other.  I also wrote "Keep Moving Forward" on my aero bottle.  I know it sounds hokey, but it helped! 


While I wouldn't change the volume of training I did, I would change one itty bitty thing...I'd ride the course more!  I really think that not getting in more time on the hills hurt my bike time.  I suck at the uphill.  Seriously.  My goal is to get out on the hillier roads more often and to learn to get up those hills faster!

Bike Maintenance
Even though I didn't have any equipment malfunctions on the bike, in the back of my mind I was worried about this.  I need to take a bike maintenance clinic (or two), so that I know the basics.  Sure, I could struggle my way through a tire change, but it probably cost me 30 minutes.  Heaven forbid anything more serious go wrong!

I am one of those people who likes to stay busy.  I have trouble sitting still.  In the future, I intend to make more of an attempt to rest after those really long workouts.  You know, sit on the couch and watch football instead of insist on cleaning something around the house.  It's all about balance!

Honestly, there wasn't much I would change at all.  I had fun (even with the hills), I finished slightly better than I hoped, and I really enjoyed the journey.  The training did make for some crazy-busy weeks, but it was completely worth it!

Do you take a "look back"at your races?  Are there usually significant changes, or not so much?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Oilman Texas 70.3 Race Report

It's official...I survived!  This race report is long, but then again, so is a half-ironman! :-)

My alarm was set for 3:45 on Sunday. Yes, that's early, but I like to eat breakfast, plus the race was about an hour drive.  My plan was to leave the house no later than 4:30 am.  For some reason, I woke up around 2:45 and could not go back to sleep.  Maybe it was pre-race jitters, maybe it was the hubby's snoring and the dog's restlessness. Either way, it didn't matter - due to the "Fall Back" of Daylight Savings Time, I managed to get a sufficient amount of sleep.  I ate my usual eggs and steel cut oats, then proceeded to get dressed.  I had on my tri top and shorts, but added a warm fleece jacket and comfy sweat pants.  We left the house around 4:40, but made great time getting to the race start.

I wrote this on my hand to look at while on the bike...later, I had the Hubs write "Calm" on the other hand for the swim.

I was extremely happy to see that there was absolutely no wind as we were driving to the race.  It was about 56 degrees, so once I set up my transition area, the Hubs and I headed to into the resort where the race was located so we could stay nice and warm.  I visited the restrooms a couple of times, as I think the butterflies were finally getting to my stomach.  We hung out in the hotel and chatted with different people for awhile.  Then, about 30 minutes before the race was scheduled to start, I put on my wetsuit and checked my transition area one final time.  That was when I noticed that the wind had picked up a bit...not horrible, but certainly not what I wanted to see!

The Hubs and I headed to the start and met up with several friends, including fellow blogger, Brittney, from The Fit Formula (check out her blog!)  We had actually met briefly the day before at packet pick-up.  It was great to pass the time with friends and just take my mind of the task ahead of me for a few minutes.  I also took a minute to eat a few Honey Stinger Chews. Finally, the race was starting!  The men started first, so the Hubs and I watched as they ran from the beach and dove into the water.  This was my first beach start, so I was a little nervous about just jumping right in...especially since I have had such annoying anxiety issues in the open water!  Before I knew it, it was time for me to start making my way to the start.

Me and the Hubs before the race.  At top, me and training friend, Lea. Middle, me and fellow blogger, Brittney.  Bottom, me and long-time running friend, Kay.
Trying to stay warm before the race....calm on the outside, skeered on the inside!

The Swim
When my wave started, I walked (not ran) into the water.  As the water grew deeper, I felt the coldness and even though it wasn't freezing cold (around 70 degrees), it still made me catch my breath a little.  I had a momentary bit of anxiety and stood there for a second before finally taking off.  I think knowing that my wetsuit would allow me to just lay there if I started to freak out gave me the confidence I needed to get going.  Thankfully, I never had a freak out!  I just kept swimming, taking it one buoy at a time.  I occasionally chanted the mantras in my head that I had used in OWS practice - "I'm an awesome swimmer" and "I'm incredibly calm".  It worked, I was calm. 

A little bit after the first turn, I noticed that the water seemed to be in there were waves.  I don't know if it was from the wind or from the boats and jet skis that were in the water, but I didn't like it!  There is a reason why I chose this race as my first 70.3 - nice, calm waters!  I tried to take a breath and managed to get slapped in the face with a wave.  I stopped swimming for just a moment to cough and catch my breath.  I quickly figured out that I should breathe from the other side.  (Thank goodness I've been using bi-lateral breathing!)  About the time I figured this out, I felt the faster swimmers from the next wave swimming past.  I managed to get sandwiched between a couple of swimmers a few times - getting hit with an arm on one side and kicked with a leg on the other.  Thankfully, they passed and I only had the waves to worry about.  I ended up needing to sight more often, because the current kept pushing me off.  I also noticed and had to laugh (on the inside, of course), because I burped a couple of it tasted like cherry blossum Honey Stinger Chews!

Surprisingly, the swim seemed to go relatively quickly.  In other words, it didn't feel like forever before I was making the final turn.  I almost didn't believe that I was heading to shore!  The waves were pretty bad as I made my way in, but at that point I didn't really care...I was almost done!  I had to stop and cough again, as I managed to get slapped in the face with yet another wave.  Finally, I could hear the crowds and I was climbing onto the shore!  The wetsuit strippers almost had me out of my wetsuit before I even finished sitting down...they were awesome!  I saw the Hubs and gave him a quick kiss before heading into transition.

Coming out of the water!!!

I took way too long in T1.  I had decided the day before to wear arm warmers, gloves and a light windbreaker on the bike.  I also had my toe warmers on my bike shoes (they've been on since that cold ride on the course a couple of weeks before).  I used a small towel to dry off as much as I could.  I hesitated, because I thought maybe the windbreaker would be too warm.  I went ahead and put it on, but decided against the gloves.

The Bike
To be honest, the bike was one area that I was concerned about. First of all, I did not do enough training on the hills.  Second, the possibility of a mechanical failure on the bike worries me.  Something like a flat tire is pretty much out of my control..and I am a control freak.  And then there was the wind.  I headed out and immediately wished I had not worn my windbreaker.  I also needed to pee, but didn't want to take the time back in T1.  Around mile 10, I saw my friend, Kay.  We chatted a bit until I stopped at the first aid station to use the porta potty.  I also asked what would happen to items left behind (thinking of dropping the jacket).  The volunteers assured me that they would take everything back to the resort after they were done, so I tossed the jacket and made my way back onto the course.  (And can I just say that the volunteers were phenomenal!!!)

Heading out on the glad I tossed the jacket later!

There was really nothing out of the ordinary on the bike.  I followed my nutrition plan - drinking Perform every 5 miles and alternating between Hammer Gel and Honey Stinger Waffles every 45 minutes.  I encountered a head wind or cross wind at several different fact, it seemed like no matter which way we were traveling, there was a cross wind or head wind.  "Where was the freaking tail wind?", I wondered.  But, there was also quite a bit of wind when we rode the course a few weeks before, so I just assumed this was the norm.  I had a few stretches where I could not seem to go any faster than 12 or 13 miles per hour, but I also had some great, fast stretches and some amazing downhills.  Around mile 38, I was feeling tired and just ready to get off the bike.  I was on a slow stretch and just getting annoyed with the hills.  It's about that time that I starting thinking, "Why the hell am I doing this?"  or "I think a 1/2 is enough...maybe I don't want to do a full!"   Luckily, I got excited once I was beginning to realize that I was almost done.  I pushed out the negative thoughts and found a little more pep.  Another cyclist behind me was whooping and encouraging people, so that helped as well.  She passed me, so I rode behind her for awhile.  When we turned onto the road leading back to the resort, I let out "Woohoo, almost there!" and she let out a few whoops of her own.  I may or may not have let out a "F*CK YEAH!" as I headed down one last down hill going 31 mph. 

 I saw the Hubs cheering as I was about to get off the bike...I've never been so happy to be done with a ride!

T2 was much easier than T1.  I stripped off the arm warmers, sprayed on some sunscreen, traded the bike shoes for running shoes, put on my visor, grabbed my race number and headed out of T2.  I needed to use the bathroom again, but there were two people waiting, so I decided to wait.

The Run
I was so happy to be running.  This is the one area that I have no issues with whatsoever.  Sure I was tired and the temps had warmed up, but it was pleasant and there was a breeze (not great for the bike, but awesome for the run!).  The run route winds its way all through the resort, going past the pool area, through a residential section, on and off sidewalks, over grass and even over some rocky areas.  I made my way around the first loop.  By that time, my parents had arrived with the kids, so I made my way past them.  I stopped at the first aid station to use the porta potty and of course, there was someone inside.  I ended up waiting for what felt like an eternity before finally getting my turn.

Waving to the helped immensely to see them out there!

Once I was on my way again, I noticed that my stomach felt a little weird.  Fortunately, I had put some Pepto tablets in my Spi Belt (thanks to Coach Karen for the tip!), so I took two and kept on going.  I was able to see the family again before starting my second loop - this time I was close enough for some kisses from the kids and high-fives from some friends.  I can't begin to describe how awesome the spectators were!  It didn't matter which club they were affiliated with, they cheered for everyone.  The volunteers were amazing as well and encouraged everyone the entire way.  It was phenomenal!  On the first lap, I also met a woman who was running about the same pace - we chatted for a few miles until I decided to take a quick walk break.

On the second lap, I walked through two aid stations and noticed that my pace was slowing down.  Since there were so many out and back sections, I was able to say hello to friends, including my new friend who I had just run with earlier in the race.  There were tons of people from our local running and tri groups out cheering, so that helped so much with the motivation when I was starting to feel tired.  Again, I passed my family twice more before beginning my third and final lap.

I think this is my "Holla!!! I'm almost done!!!" look!

The final lap was definitely the hardest for me.  I felt my energy levels start to dwindle towards the end of the 2nd lap despite the gels and energy drinks I had consumed throughout the run.  I was sick of the turns in and out of the neighborhood and just tired of running.  I was just tired.  I walked much more than I intended on the final lap.  In a regular half marathon, I've managed to have some really nice negative splits.  In a 70.3, the 13.1 final miles are a whole different ballgame.  A negative split was not happening for me.  I saw one of my friends right before the final turn and she gave me a quick hug and some encouraging words before I moved on.  Finally, I was heading along the final stretch!  Even though I was having the most amazing experience ever, I was ready to be done.  I ran in that final bit.  There were finishers heading to their cars in the opposite direction and I think that every single one gave me a cheer or encouraging words.  Like I said, the people were amazing!  I saw my family one more time.  As I passed the OutRival tent, Courtney cheered and asked if it was my final lap...I let out a "Yes!!!! Thank God!!!" as I ran past and entered the finisher's chute.  I must have been smiling like a mad woman, because the announcer even commented on it before announcing my name.  I gave my friend Nancy a high five and then gave the Hubs a huge hug.

Heading through the finisher's chute...finally done!!!

I did it!  I finished a half-ironman!

Done!  Giving Nancy a high-five!

My splits....the good, the bad and the ugly!
The BLING!!!

Afterwards, I saw lots of friends.  We all congratulated each other and shared race stories.  It was good to hear that others thought the water was rough and there was too much wind on the was good validation that I wasn't just a big wimp!

Top:  Julie and me...she is the one who talked me into this in the first place!  Middle: Nancy and me, Nancy was a great cheerleader during the race.  Bottom:  Me and Lea...Lea was a great training partner for this race!  She will be racing IMTX 2014!

The Thank Yous
So that was my first 70.3 experience.  I have to say it was an amazing day!  I have to give a huge thanks to the Hubs for being such a great supporter throughout the training, my bad OWS experiences and the good workouts.  He knew that I was capable of doing this, even when I wasn't quite so sure.  He always picked up the slack at home, so that I could focus on training.  He was absolutely amazing! I also want to say thanks to my parents. Anytime we were in a pinch, they were always willing to take care of the kids for us.  They rock!  And thanks to the friends who were so encouraging...there are too many to name!  Of course a big thanks to Michelle and Karen at OutRival Racing.  I often wondered why in the hell I was doing the volume I was doing, but I know their programs are tried and true.  I made it to the start knowing without a doubt that I was physically capable of completing the distance!  And thanks to all the spectators and volunteers out there on race day...regardless of who they were there for, which tri group they were with or how long of a day it had been, they cheered.  They cheered for everyone and they were amazing.  I hope to be out there returning the favor one day!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Let the Freak Outs Begin!!!!

Welp, the big race is tomorrow.  Physically, I know I am ready.  Mentally, well, there is some freaking out going on.  Most of the anxiety is due to the air temp...42 at the start, high of 64.  Sounds awesome if I was just running, but getting out of the water an onto the bike is the challenge.
I've gone through the possibilities in my head:
  • Arm warmers and gloves?
  • Arm warmers and a wind breaker?
  • Just a wind breaker?
  • Just a long sleeved dri-fit shirt?
  • A long sleeved dri-fit shirt with arm warmers underneath?
  • A thicker half-zip dri-fit shirt?
See?  The possibilities are endless!  Ugh!

Jeeze, running is so much less complicated!!!

So, the good news is that if I don't freeze on the bike, it will be awesome weather for a run!

Tri Peep, Shannon, and me...this shiznit is about to get real!  Ack!

And a quick thank you to my awesome co-workers who sent the gorgeous good luck flowers to me on Thursday! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekend O'Fun

This weekend was the 1st official weekend of taper.  Woohoo!  What did this mean?   It means I only had a 1 hour run, a 2 hour bike and a 2,000 swim! Woohoo!

Saturday, I started with my regular Woodlands Fit crew.  The group had 8 miles on the schedule, so I turned around and headed back after 30 minutes.  I typically have been running whatever long run is on the Woodlands Fit schedule, but I thought that for once, I should stick to my 70.3 training schedule.  The best part is that I was actually able to head to the Munchkin's football practice afterwards.  I missed the first 3 weeks due to bike rides and the Ten for Texas.  It was awesome to see my little dude out there having fun on the football field!

My cute Munchkin with his medal from the game for "Determination"
After football, I met up with a friend out at the lake.   I was happy to have one more chance to put on the wetsuit and swim in the open water!  The swim went well.  We had a .3 mile warm-up (and more freak out with the hydrilla), then we swam about 1.3 miles pretty much continuously (with an occasional stop to navigate away from the hydrilla).  With that out of the way, I was able to spend the rest of the day with the family.

Another gorgeous day for a swim!

On Sunday, I had planned to meet up at 7 am with a fellow OutRival friend, Lea, for our 2 hour ride.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not being nice - we woke up at 5 am to crazy storms.  By 6 am, the storms had not subsided, so Lea and I decided that a trainer ride might be the only option.  By 7 am, I had pretty much given up on an outdoor ride.  I selected an entertaining movie that was on cable and started my ride.  The rain had pretty much become nothing more than a drizzle and the winds had calmed, but for some reason, our power decided to go out 25 minutes into my 2 hour ride. 


No movie, an almost dead iPhone and no a/c.  It was going to be a boring ride!  Luckily, I remembered the laptop and was able to watch "Spirit of the Marathon" while I rode.  Needless to say, this was pretty boring compared to riding outdoors.  I am thankful that I've rarely had to use the trainer!  As for the power, it was out for about 3 hours.  Sigh.

The view from the trainer...boring, but necessary!

We spent the remainder of the day at my Sister-in-Law's house with the Hub's family.  We're looking forward to Halloween this week -  carving pumpkins, trick or treating, getting the kid's all dressed up.  Fun times!
How was your weekend?  Are you looking forward to Halloween?

Monday, October 28, 2013


I see you!

I just checked my stat counter for the first time in well, a long time.  What I discovered is that this blog gets about 100 views per day.  I am assuming that most of these are accidental and the viewer quickly realizes that this is not the site they were searching for and leaves.  However, some of you are actually reading this rambling stuff. 

While I like to ramble write for both therapy and tracking reasons, I do like to hear what you have to say!  So please, leave me note.  Say hello, or better yet, let me know what you're training for and how your training is going.  If you have a blog, I promise to visit you and leave comments for you!

Okay, back to the regular posting!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Random Fact Friday - You Might be Training for a 70.3 When...

  1.  You are using more Fuelbelt bottles and bike bottles than regular dishes in your house.  Yep, this is what my kitchen counter typically looks like...especially after a weekend of long runs and rides.
    Aerobottles, fuelbelt bottles and bike bottles, oh my!
  2. You have a constant need to do laundry just to have a clean sports bra.  And your laundry room almost always looks like this...yes, maybe I should just invest in more sports bras?                                                                                                        
    I hate doing laundry!  So why am I creating so much of it???

  3. You give up on looking cute and do what you said you would never do...wear a visor.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against visors, but with my short hair and well, ears that kinda stick out, I swore that I would never, ever wear them or a baseball cap.  Well, screw that!  I've seen my triathlon pics - after getting out of the water, taken off my swim cap, put on my helmet,  taken off a helmet, I look like total and complete crap!  This is an attempt to cover up the bad has worked for all those brick workouts. 

    You gotta do what you gotta do..not my best look, but better than the tri-hair!!!

  4. You miss your friends.  Hey, no offense friends, but if you aren't riding, swimming or running with me, I am probably not seeing much of you!  Seriously, I feel like I barely see my Hubby and kids, so when I am not training, my time is spent with them first!  Heck, I spend time during the week missing my family, too.  I am looking forward to being able to come straight home after work and doing the normal stuff - helping with homework, helping with dinner, etc. and some girls nights out, too!    
    Can't wait to have time for this again!
  5. You could buy stock in Epsom salt!  Nothing like a warm bath with some epsom salt to relax and soothe those sore muscles...  
    How do you spell relief? E-P-S-O-M!
  6. You could also by stock in certain nutrition products.  For me, it's Hammer Gel, Honey Bee Stinger Waffles, Power Bar Perform and Nuun.
    This should last awhile. Maybe.
  7. You counteract all that hydrating with caffeine just so you can make it through the work day.  Yes, waking up at 4:15 am, working out, then working all day can be tiring.  Sorry, but I for one need some assistance in staying on top of my game...I could probably also invest in Starbucks stock! 
    A girl-in-training's BFF!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Exactly Where I'm Meant to Be

It’s funny.  I have a running/tri friend, who I have now known for over 7 years.  She cracks me up with her witty, sarcastic humor.  We are both training for this crazy 70.3 and one day our conversation turned to why we do triathlons.  I mean, WTH? Waking up at insane hours only to run or ride for hours on end? 


We joked, why couldn’t we be the women who play bunco?  Why not give up tri and join a book club?  You know, women sitting around someone’s living room or dining room?  Sipping wine and snacking on the new Tastefully Simple dip?  Gossiping and sharing stories about the kids?  Those types of activities seem far more sane than the early hours, the sore muscles, the sweat, the tears, the gels, the muscle cramps, GI issues.

But wait! I realized something...

I realized I’d miss out on riding 40 hilly miles with an awesome group of athletes, then commiserating afterwards about how slow we went up that final, shitty hill.  I’d miss the feel of speeding downhill at 30 mph with the wind in my face and the feeling of freedom that comes along with it.  I’d miss cracking up laughing as my friends and I step into a freaking cold lake, squealing like a bunch of school girls.  Or, cracking up laughing as we hit a nasty patch of Hydrilla in the lake and freak out mid-stroke.  I’d miss out on the gory details of someone’s GI issue during a 22-mile run…because trust me,  when you run with a group of women for 5 months, you cover pretty much every topic during those hours and miles.  I’d miss the sense of satisfaction that comes along with accomplishing a new goal – that longest run, the most miles ever on a bike, the calm open water swim.  I’d miss the confidence and the feeling of “Hey! If I can do that, I can do pretty much anything!” after running a marathon (I can only imagine how much more amazing it would feel after an Ironman or Ultra). I’d miss out on the nutrition discussions - what is better pre-race, a bagel and almond butter, steel cut oats or Pop-Tarts?   And I’d miss out on the fashion discussions centering around the best compression socks, instead of Jimmy-Choos.

And sure, I’d miss out on the lack of sleep, the sore muscles, the nagging aches, the Gu-induced tummy issues.

I’d miss out on feeling tough. Strong.

I don’t mean to be critical of women who are in book clubs or have bunco groups, I’ve actually wanted to attend the ones in my neighborhood.  I love any kind of girl time!  (Of course, a workout of some kind always gets in the way.)  But then I realized something else - I am exactly where I want to be. 
Challenging myself to be a little faster, to go a little farther, to be a little stronger. 

I love it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

T minus 11 days!

Last week was my final high volume week of training...~13 1/2 hours.  I have to admit, I am glad that those weeks are over.

Hallelujah, taper has begun!  This week's schedule has a mere 8 1/4 hours of training and next week requires only 4 1/2 hours leading up to the race. 

Last week's schedule left me tired, but at the same time it left me feeling optimistic about race day. 

The Running
Saturday, I ran with Woodlands Fit.  We had 14 miles on the schedule and I was a bit nervous, because I missed the 13 miler from two weeks before.  Also, I haven't run more than 13.1 since 2011 before the great hip blip of 2011/2012.  Thankfully, Mother Nature felt she had punished us enough the week before, because she graced us with temps in the 60s at the start!  As an added bonus, a cool front came through during the run which dropped the temps by about 10 degrees.  It was heavenly!  And, it was an awesome run!

The Biking
I have been nervous about the hills on the 70.3 course for awhile now.  Even though I survived our hilly ride in Chappell Hill a few weeks ago, I still wanted to ride the course and know exactly what to expect.  I put out a call via Facebook, text messages and email to some of my tri peeps to see if anyone else wanted to ride the course.  Not only did I have 3 friends who wanted to come, but they also had friends who wanted to join in the fun.    We ended up having about 8 women ride the course!  It was freaking cold...around 48 degrees.  Yes, I am a pansy.

Bikes, bikes and more bikes!

Most of the group decided to ride 40 miles of the 56 mile course, leaving out an out and back section (according to the Hubs, that section is pretty flat).  Yes, the hills sucked - they seemed like more of a gradual incline that took forever to get up!  But, they were definitely do-able.  While I don't think my ride will be fast by any means, I know I can survive the hills. I told the Hubs that the course wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be....thank God! 

Most of us had a brick workout on the schedule, so we needed a place to run.  Unfortunately, there really wasn't an awesome place to run nearby, so we headed over the the parking lot of the shopping center across the street and did laps.  There was no traffic, since none of the businesses were open yet.  Still, I'm sure we looked like a bunch of goofballs lapping that lot!

The Swimming
Later on the same day, a few of us went out to Lake 288.  I've been there many times, but it's been about 2 years since my last visit.  The lake is used for triathlon training, paddle boarding, and scuba practice. It's a bit of a drive, but well worth it!  The only downside....the vegetation!

When we arrived, the person working the entrance explained that there was quite a bit of hydrilla in the water and pointed out the areas to avoid.  Our first question, "Ummmm, what's hydrilla?".

This, my friends, is Hydrilla...and it is not my friend. (source)

A Plant.  That's what hydrilla is, a plant.  We figured a plant wouldn't harm us, so we donned our wetsuits and entered the lake.  There were already a handful of people swimming and a few people on paddle boards.  I was trying out a new wetsuit and hoped that this one would work better for me than the one I had been trying to use.  And, I had borrowed a friend's wetsuit just in case the one I bought didn't work out....gotta be prepared!  The wetsuit was a bit tight in certain areas, but it felt pretty good overall.  I started to swim and was happy to not feel any of the anxiety I felt during my last open water swim attempt.  None.  I proceeded to make my way across the lake.  I felt comfortable swimming and comfortable in the wetsuit. 

Until I found the hydrilla!


Looks peaceful and pretty, right?

It turns out that hydrilla is an annoying plant.  It was growing in patches all over the lake and reached all the way to the surface.  It was not easy to swim through and just touching it made me freak out.  It wrapped around my hands, touched my face and neck...I tried to speed up to get through it faster, but that didn't work. Finally, I turned over and backstroked my way out of it.  When everyone made it back to shore, we strategized about the path of least resistance hydrilla...we swam it and didn't deviate from that path.  Overall, we swam about 1,300 meters.  And other than the hydrilla encounter, there was no freakout at all!  Wooohoo!

See?  We're smiling...even after the hydrilla!
So here I am, almost to the big day.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was scared shitless a little nervous.  But, what's life without some big hairy audacious goals (a.k.a. BHAGs) thrown in?  And it it wasn't a lot little scary, then the goal might not be big enough, right?

What is your next BHAG?  What are some BHAGs from the past?

Monday, October 14, 2013

2013 Ten for Texas Race Report

I wasn't exactly sure the best way to run this weekend's Ten for Texas.  One one hand, I wanted to at least attempt a PR.  I haven't PRed this race since 2010 (1:44:41)!  In 2011, a friend and I ran 10 miles before  the race in order to get in our 20 miler while training for the NYC Marathon.  We finished in 1:53:56...respectable, considering it was warm and this was miles 11 - 20 for us.  In 2012, I was just happy to be running this race at all...after the hip blip of 2011/2012, I was pretty much just run/walking and hoping not to make my hip angry.  I finished in 1:47:17 and was pretty pleased.

On the other hand, it was my recovery week and my scheduled run was only 1:30.  I know I have bigger races on my plate right now and it sorta made sense to just treat this as another training run.  And, I also wanted to run the race with the Hubs, who was running the Ten for Texas for the first time.  The Hubs had already decided to run the race as a training run.  And let's face it...I haven't exactly been training to PR this race.

The problem?

It's hard to run an actual race, without actually "racing" or attempting a PR.  Is it like that for everyone, or am I just a weirdo?

We met up with the Woodlands Fit peeps before the race and took our annual group picture.  For some reason, right as we were heading to the start, I really needed to visit the porta-potties...even though I had just gone in Luke's Locker.  So, the Hubs patiently waited for me while I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity.  We finally made it to the start as the national anthem was starting and we were off!  When I say it was warm and humid, I mean it was WARM and EXTREMELY HUMID! We're talking around 75 at the start, with 187% humidity.  Nasty!

The Woodlands Fit crew, ready to race

At the start I still hadn't committed to a strategy - race or training run?  I started out as if I was going for the PR for the first few miles.  At mile 4, the Hubs wanted a walk break to get his heart rate down.  At that point, I thought I was going to keep up the race pace.  I took a couple more walk breaks with the Hubs and then got going again.  But, about midway between mile 5 and 6, I decided to hang back and run with the Hubs.  To be honest, this made the race much more fun.  The conditions were just plain ugly.  I remember seeing the sun break through the clouds and seeing the hazy, foggy look in the air.  It was more like swimming that running.

The hubs and I took a walk break at the mile markers / aid stations.  I knew that the conditions were rough when we saw a runner on the ground with a volunteer helping stretch out a leg cramp.  The miles ticked off pretty quickly and before I knew it, we were heading over the bridge at Northshore park...less than a mile to go!  Before the bridge, we saw a runner lying on the ground with people around her trying to render aid...another victim of the crappy conditions.  We made it back to Market Street and rounded the corner to the finish.   As we crossed the finish line, the runner in front of us collapsed into the arms of a volunteer.  I knew it was warm, but jeeze it was worse than I thought.

After the race, the Hubs and I made our way to the food tent, followed by a stop at the beverage tent.  (Yes, this race has an option for the non-beer drinkers like me....Mike's Hard Lemonade in assorted flavors!!!!)  As much as I've hated the weather at this race for the past few years, the post race party makes it almost worth it.  The race is practically in our backyard, so it tends to be a mini-reunion of running friends every year.  We ran into friends from running groups, tri clubs, work friends, childhood friends, etc.  This is why I love this race!
The Hubs with his new ride!  (He wishes!)

Me with Rachel, friend and Woodlands Fit Coordinator

So no, it was not a PR.  Not even close.  But, it was fun and I was happy to spend the morning running with the Hubs...something we rarely get to do!  Watch out year, we're going for a big PR!

Me and the Hubs post race...we're a hot mess, but still having fun!

How was your weekend?  Any workouts or races?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall down seven times...

...get up eight. 
~ Japanese Proverb

No, I haven't literally fallen down.  However, there have been some humbling moments along the way in my recent training.  As a result, I am pulling out all the inspirational sayings I can find and working on having lots of positive thoughts.

One of my favorites...
The Hubs and I drove the bike course of my upcoming 70.3.  Sure, the Hubs had commented a few times on the "rolling hills", but didn't make it sound too terrible.  Driving the course provided me with a lot of "Holy Crap!" moments.  Yes, there are HILLS on the course.  As in ONE AFTER THE OTHER HILLS.  Needless to say, I became less afraid of the swim and scared shitless more concerned about the bike.  Up until that drive, I had only been training in the safety of a nice, flat neighborhood near my house.

In order to get some time on hills, I participated in a supported  bike ride sponsored by my tri group and another local tri group.  Since it was a "recovery week" on the schedule, my training friend and I opted for the 30-mile route.  (There were 50 and 70-mile options as well.)  Since I hadn't been on a hilly route in well, a couple of years, this was probably a wise decision.  The route was on country roads and was very hilly.  On the way out, I felt pretty good.  The wind was minimal and the downhills were fun.  Climbing uphill was challenging, but I survived. On the way back, it sucked was not as fun.  Coming back, the route was a net uphill and we had a headwind.  The downhills were slower, resulting in not as much momentum when heading back uphill.  Getting uphill was frustrating at times.

They don't call it Chappell HILL for nothing!

I learned all about using my small ring (something I've never had to use before) and I learned quickly that yes, you can run out of gears!  I headed downhill at almost 30 mph at times and uphill at a humiliating 7 mph (toward the end of the route). The route ended up being a little over 39 and left me wondering how in the hell I was going to add an additional 17 miles to that on race day.  Because of this experience, I will probably be riding less in the flat neighborhood near my house and riding more on a somewhat more challenging course until race day.  I did feel better after talking to a few other riders...they confirmed that yes, it had been a challenging ride.  Whew, and I thought I was just being a wuss!

I have been growing more confident in my swim abilities.  I'm still slow and have a lot of room for improvement, but considering where I came from when I started this triathlon craziness, I've come a long way!  I have been swimming longer distances than ever before, swimming more days per week and even had a very calm open water swim at my last tri.  Awesome, right?

Maybe not.  My tri group was going to be participating in the Snapping Tortuga swim race.  Even though I had reservations and anxiety about signing up for a swim race, I decided to go for it.  I needed open water swim practice.  The distances to choose from were 500m, 2.5k and 5k.  Since there was also going to be a swim clinic right after the race and an opportunity to swim more, I only signed up for the 500m. 


A cool front blew through the night before, so it was quite windy, causing very choppy conditions on race day.  I rode to the race with a friend I made through my tri group.  When we arrived, the athletes swimming the 2.5k and 5k distances were already swimming.  Not long after we arrived, a woman was being brought back to shore on a boat.  I heard her comment on the horrible conditions.  Still, plenty of people were swimming the distance and thought, "how bad could it really be?"  I felt my heart rate go up just looking out at the white caps in the water.  On a happier note, I did run into some friends while waiting for my race to start.  Chatting with everyone helped keep my mind off the choppy water for awhile.

Don't let the pretty water and blue skies fool you...

Finally, after some uncertainty about where to check in and finally getting signed in, it was time for  us to start.  There were only about 15 of us swimming the 500 meter race.  I felt fairly calm when we started, but after only a few minutes, I got my first slap of water in the face. And in my nose. And in my mouth.  The result?  A lot of coughing and a lot of freak out.  A man in a kayak made his way over and I held on for a minute.  I tried to start swimming again, but the damage had been done - my heart rate was out of control and mentally, I just could not remain calm.  I clung to the kayak again.  Finally, I started forward - swimming, side stroking, back stroking, whatever.  A single thought came into my head - "I can't!" 

After feeling like I was getting nowhere, I made my way back towards the shore.  This part should have been much easier, because I was now going with the current and chop.  But I just could not pull it together!  The man in the kayak stayed close the entire time, telling me that I was doing fine and that I only had only x number of meters to go.  He even reassured me that I was not alone, there were a few others out there...even a couple behind me.  I saw a woman ahead of me with a kayak staying close.  Ugh, I think I was doing pretty much everything BUT swimming.  When I finally made it to shore (and I cut the course short), I felt pretty terrible.  Embarrassed.  Humiliated.  Frustrated.  I turned around to see another woman holding onto a kayak that was bringing her to shore.  They say that misery loves company and I'll be honest in saying that I felt better knowing that I wasn't the only one who had major issues in the water.

The swim clinic had started, so I listened to the information and then donned my wetsuit.  I really wanted to cry or better yet, leave! But I managed to suck it up...and I had a friend riding with me, so I couldn't exacly bail.  :-)  I kept thinking, "Why in the hell is this so freaking hard for me?".  But nonetheless, I was going to try this again dammit!  The course for the clinic was only 300 meters...surely, I could handle that. 

Right off, I knew the wetsuit was not going to work for me.  I've hated it from day one and suspected that it was a size too small.  I ended up getting out of the water and taking the wetsuit off. 

I swam 300. 

It wasn't pretty and I stopped a couple of times on the way out to compose myself.  I'm sure my coaches were wondering what the hell I was doing and how I was going to survive race day!  Luckily, coming in was easier, since we were going with the current.  Whew, not great but better. 

After a short rest, I did it again.  On this one, the chop bothered me more on the way out, but coming back in was better.  I had decided not to try another loop, but then changed my mind.  (Big thanks to my tri-friend who was there with me. She was very encouraging and was having an awesome swim.) I did one more loop - still not great, but a million times better than the other ones.  At least the day had ended on a more positive note.  I still left feeling a bit defeated, but also happy that I had not given up.  I know that I am more than capable of covering the half-ironman swim distance.  It's just a matter of getting my brain to believe it!  Stupid brain.

As you can see, the past couple of weeks have been interesting. I keep telling myself to learn from these experiences, that they are making me stronger both mentally and physically.  I will definitely be working on visualizing race day for all three components and working on more positive self-talk over the next few weeks!  The words "I can't" will be removed from my vocabulary from here on out.  They have to be.

Have you had any "I can't" moments in your race training?  What did you do to overcome them?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Blogging Slacker

Well, here I am again with several weeks between posts.  I apologize for not posting more regularly, but quite honestly this 70.3 training is kicking my ass.

Okay, so maybe it's not just the 70.3 training alone, but a combination of that and juggling all the other stuff, too.  You know, working an 8 - 5 pm office job (with an hour commute each way) and trying to get in quality family time.  I know people do it...I just think they do it way better than I do!  And time with friends? Unless they are biking or running with me, I probably have not seen much of them. 

Hello friends, I miss you!!!

But, I think that training for a 70.3 has made me get more creative with how I squeeze in the workouts.  For example, I get to work at a client site every other week and sometimes a little more often.  This client site is not far from my home. Score!  I don't have the hour commute, so I get my run or bike out of the way at my normal time (remember "stupid thirty"?) and then use that commute time to go to the neighborhood pool and get my swim done after I've dropped off the kids at daycare.  It still gives me enough time to be showered and working by 8 am. I love knowing my swim workout is done before the work day has begun, rather than leaving work knowing I have to go to the dreaded pool!  Of course, as the temperatures grew cooler this week with our first official cool front, utilizing the neighborhood pool was not an option!  Yeah, I'm not a fan of goosebumps and purple lips.

Loving the neighborhood much better than the indoor pool at the gym!

Also, I went to my local bike shop and bought a headlight and tail light for my bike. Do they call them head and tail lights on bikes?  I dunno, but you get the idea.  The guy at the shop was extremely helpful.  "Do you want to see or be seen?", he asked.  "Be seen!" was my answer.  So, my bike is now equipped with a snazzy new headlight and a bright, blinking tail light.  This means that I have the ability to ride my bike at 4 am!  Don't worry, I only ride my on my neighborhood 3-mile loop where the cars are few and far between.

Meet new best friend #1....

Meet new best friend #2....

I almost always get my running out of the way in the mornings, so that's never been an issue. 

The goal here is to get as much accomplished while the family is still asleep.  Of course, this can make for a long day and I am usually on the verge of falling asleep when the Hubs and I are putting the kids to bed.  But, I keep telling myself that there's less than one month until my race!

And I want to train for an Ironman?

Hmmmm, I may have to really think that one over!

Tell me what you're training for and how it's going!!! 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Random Fact Friday - Really Random Ramblings....

I couldn't think of a theme here, so these are pretty random!

Random Fact #1 - I may or may not have an addiction...

I cleaned out my purse a couple of weeks ago and found this collection of lip balm.  I love me some lip balm.  And why actually by it, when it comes in your race packets and you can pick up a tube at almost any race expo???

Seriously, I have almost completely stopped wearing my actual lip liner/lipstick combo and only wear the balm.  (Shocking, I know!)

Is this a sign of a problem, or just a sign of soft lips? :-)

Random Fact #2 - Okay, so I might have two addictions...

I have started drinking coffee...real coffee.  And, I love it.  I have been drinking the fru-fru coffee for years. It started with mochas in college at the local coffee house (way before Starbucks made it to Aggieland).  Later, I progressed to the skinny vanilla latte and the occasional cinnamon dolce lattes.  And for the past year or so, I have converted almost completely to coffee-flavored, coffee.  Sure, I try the flavored creamers, but coffee with skim or half & half is a-okay, too.

Yes, yes you do!

Randon Fact #3 - I am loving trail running!

Yes, you have to look out for roots.  Yes, you will get dirty.  Ahhhh, but yes you will enjoy nature! 

Dirty shoes...clean is boring!
And really, how often do you see this on the sidewalks?

So true!
Random Fact #4 - I may or may not be a hoarder
Okay, so it isn't as bad as what you see on the television show...seriously, I've only watched a few seconds of the show and it was disturbing!  But, I do get sentimental about certain things.  One thing I love to hold onto is my race bibs.  The hubs and I have all of our race bibs and finally figured out something to do with them...garage decor!  The Hubs has recently started a home brewing hobby, so the garage is slowly becoming his man cave.  We needed something on the walls and why not incorporate the other hobby? 
Part of the new garage decor...poster frame & bibs, easy peasy!
And, I am very sentimental about the kid's art work.  At one time, I had a few Rubbermaid containers of stuff that the Kiddo had created.  Then of course the Muchkin came along and I had even more art work!  I finally went through all of it and kept only the most special (to me) pieces.  Now, each kid has a Rubbermaid container with their name on it and I place the extra special stuff in there and toss the rest.
How could a parent NOT be sentimental about something like this??? Awwwww!

Random Fact #5 - I am NOT a beer drinker
To be honest, training for a 70.3 does not leave much time for alcohol.  Between training in the wee hours of the morning in the heat and watching my nutrition, I don't partake very much.  But since the Hubs is very into his brewing hobby and is always trying new beers, I figure I could try some new ciders.  I do like cider!  (and Mike's Hard Lemonade.  and Margaritas.)  So here are a couple I tried recently...

Branching out and trying new things...

I have to admit, I was not a fan of the Woodchuck Fall Cider...I love fall spices and I like to eat pumpkin pie, but I don't like to drink it. Seriously, I don't even drink the Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Now, the Hornsby's Hard Crisp Cider, I loved!  But on that note, I don't care for their Pear cider.  I dunno, it's just not my thing.

So that's it for this week.  This weekend will be full of training fun - a 9 mile run on Saturday and a 3 hour bike followed by a 30 minute run on Sunday.  Most of all, I am looking forward to hanging out with the family and chillaxin'!
Are you racing this weekend?  Any big plans for weekend fun?  Give me the deets!