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 hair...it 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 though...next 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 pool...so 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!!!