Monday, December 15, 2008

Introducing Miss Olive

I know everyone says it about their own child, real or the fur-kind, but don't you think this is one of the most adorable little faces you've ever seen???



That is Miss Olive. She's a puggle mix (that's a beagle/pug crossbreed, if you didn't know) and she's 11 weeks old. We've had her for a couple of weeks now...or should I say we adopted her a couple of weeks ago, the day before Thanksgiving to be exact. She was with us for five days when I got a call from the Animal Rescue League where we adopted her, indicating that one of her littermates came down with a case of Parvovirus. At the time of the call, she was doing just fine. No symptoms whatsoever. Then, two days later, there they were. The diarrhea, the throwing up, no interest in food or water, and complete and total lethargy. It was so sad to see her that way. At least the rescue league took her back into their care and was able to nurse her back to health within a week. It was torture to not be able to see her or really know how she was doing. of course we could call and they would say, "oh she's doing ok, she's eating some and wagging her tail", but you never really know. So I was on pins and needles for five days while she was at the rescue league, but thankfully we were able to go get her last week and bring her home. She's fully recovered and back to being her ornery ornery self. :D We wouldn't have her any other way.




Friday, December 12, 2008

Where's Waldo?

You found me!! I've been MIA in the blogging world for various reasons, but not because Coach extended our break or anything. Oh now, that didn't happen. The honeymoon was over after three short weeks, my friend. We've been back to the grindstone for a few weeks now, slowly ramping back into full swing. I have been warned, however, that everything will change on January 1. Oh boy! Bring. It. On.

So, what have I been up to?? Let's see, in somewhat of an order:

1. Took time to let my IT band heal
2. Got a tattoo (I'll devote a post to that, so stay tuned)
3. Started master's swim (at 5:30am in the morning. UGH!)
4. Started a kick-ass strength regimen (CrossFit!!)
5. Started Yoga (uh, A LOT harder than it looks!)
6. Work, work, work, work
7. Purchased a set of Zipp 404s (Suh-weet!)
8. Enjoyed Turkey Day...twice
9. Spent quality time with Gabriel (and other family, of course!)
10. Got a puppy (her name is Olive...she will get her own post)
11. Worried about sick puppy (see above)
12. Got healthy puppy back
13. Work, work, work, work
14. Started Christmas shopping...but nowhere near done yet!

...and I think that is about it. Tomorrow night I'm taking Greyt out for some sushi and some bar hopping for her big 3-0! Should be a blast!

I'll be back again soon, I promise! I know you are on the edge of your seat waiting to meet Olive!

Monday, October 20, 2008

We Are Officially On A Break

My coach and I are on a break. No talking triathlon, no training for triathlon, no thinking about triathlon. I wasn't supposed to cheat, but I did. I signed up for the Spirit of Racine HIM today. That's it, coach, I promise! No more cheating!!!

My 2008 racing season is now officially over. It ended yesterday with the Des Moines Half Marathon. I will spare everyone the details and just say it - I DNF'd. I got to a point I couldn't fight through the IT band pain and walked off the course at mile 8. It sucked. I hated having to do it, but there was just no way I could even walk myself in. I don't know why it happened or how it happened. It just did. And I'm not going to waste my time trying to figure it out. It's done, it's over, moving on.

Time to rest now. We'll be back at it soon enough, but for now I'm becoming a couch potato. For a week at least. ;)

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Iron Girl!

Just sharing a few more pictures from the big finale.





Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iron Girl - The second time around

This past weekend brought my final multi-sport event for 2008. This event just happened to be one of my favorite races, the Iron Girl Duathlon in Bloomington, MN. There are lots of things I love about this race. First, it's a duathlon, so there's no swimming involved. Second, it's a women only race. I don't have issues racing with men or anything like that. I just think it's really cool to see almost 1,000 women out on the race course, enjoying the sport and encouraging everyone they see. Third, I love the challenge of a duathlon and I really enjoy the distance (2-22-2) and course at Iron Girl. The runs are fairly short and the bike is hilly as all get out, but it's just the right combination to make it fun. And lastly, this year I had the chance to spend the weekend and race with my two best friends - Gwen and Greyt. And that is just awesome.

I'm not sure if it's more exciting for me to talk about the race, or to show off what I bought the day BEFORE the race. Who am I kidding?? I was so excited about my purchase, I couldn't even wait till the race to wear it, so of course I have to talk about it first. I'm really not sure how it happened. Greyt and I took a field trip to Gear West. We looked at clothes, they were having a sale on summer stuff. I got a jersey. I got some new Zoot tri shorts. Then somehow I end up in this back room area looking at helmets. Next thing I know, I have the Giro Advantage 2 helmet on my head and I knew I wasn't leaving there without it. I wasn't the one looking for an aero helmet. Greyt was the one researching them all, reading the reviews, contemplating the purchase. She was the one talking about the advantages of the Rudy Project helmet over the Louis Garneau Rocket or the Spiuk Kronos. I was the supportive friend listening to her evaluations, offering my opinion here or there, and then there I was with a helmet on my head and my hand in my wallet. Funny how that power of suggestion thing works. For the record, I did not allow Greyt to walk out of there without buying her Rudy Project helmet either. That just would not have been fair.

Ok, onto the race. We got to the race around 6:30 or so. Race time was 7:30. Transition racks were assigned this year (or at least each row was assigned a group of #s), so there wasn't as much of a need to be there the second transition opened. After figuring out where the run and bike ins/outs were, I decided to set my bike up on the far end of the rack closer to the bike in/out. For some reason, only one other girl had the same idea I did, and I watched as everyone filled in the spots on the other end of the rack. It was kind of funny to see my bike racked next to hers -a kick ass pink and black Scott tri set up totally pimped out with 808s - then a HUGE gap and several mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes crammed down at the other end. Just interesting to see different strategies at work.

After setting up transition, hitting the porta potties (twice), doing a warm-up run with Greyt, it was game time. The three of us headed to the start to try and get up close to the front, since we were in the first wave.
We're standing in the chute and I look around at the women in front of us. There's Marlo McGaver (3x Iron Girl winner), Sarah Kolpin, Leslie Curley, Jana Severson (local DSM tri/duathlete stud), Julie Hull...an amazing group of really really fast women. It was pretty cool to be standing there with them, chatting it up while we waited for the gun. Er, the Aflac duck, I mean. Yeah, we didn't start to a gun, instead it was a countdown of 3,2,1...AFLAAAAAACCCCC!

Then we were off. I saw Gwen take off on Marlo's heels. I was like, you go girl. I stayed back with the main pack and tried to focus in on my pace. I knew I had to keep myself in check for this first mile. I went out hard, but it didn't feel too hard. First mile was 7:12.
I felt good at the mile 1 marker, so I kept pushing along. I dropped slightly on the second mile, coming into transition along with Gwen at 14:34.

Thanks to my decision to wear use my Pyro Platforms for the duathlon, I didn't have to change shoes so I was out of transition in a pretty fast time. Fourth fastest T1 time in the race, actually. Then it was bike time. Even though I did this race last year, and I knew it was hilly, I had forgotten just HOW hilly. Or maybe I had this crazy idea that I was so much stronger this year than last year that they wouldn't seem as bad, I don't know. But they were bad. And we had to do them all twice. Fun stuff, people. I struggled up the first set of hills a bit. Hitting a whopping 10-13 mph and an HR of about 179. Thankfully it seemed most everyone (the mortals of us in the race, anyway) was having the same issue. Early on I settled into a little "pack" with two other women. For the first loop, the three of us were in our own little world. The fast women were nowhere to be found, and there really wasn't anyone close behind us, so we formed our own little chase pack. We had to keep passing one another to avoid drafting, but it was kind of nice to have a couple other good, strong bikers with me to keep pushing the pace. And despite knowing we were all in the same age group, we actually were very encouraging to each other on those mutha effin' hills.

The second bike loop got a little more congested with the rest of the waves now out on the bike course. Despite the increased traffic, the three of us stuck together the entire second loop as well. We spread out just a bit towards the end of the loop, with one of the women pulling a bit ahead of me and the other falling slightly back. Again, thanks to the pyros, I dismounted the bike already in my running shoes and was ready to rock the run.

I came out of transition side-by-side with one of the girls from our little bike pack. I said "Great bike" we exchanged some knuckles and off we went - she a little faster than I. I knew right away I wasn't going to be able to hang with her. She looked fresh and was running really well right out of transition. My legs felt tired and heavy, and my breathing felt a bit out of control. I made the decision to let her go. I knew I was giving up an AG place, but I also knew I did not have it in me to stay with her. So I focused on getting my legs back and holding on to my race. My goal was to finish the race under 1:40, and as long as I ran fairly well, I would reach that goal. I settled into a good pace, and felt my legs starting to come around. I hit the 1 mile marker and took a quick peek behind me to see if there was anyone coming up. I saw the other girl from our bike pack about 10-15 seconds behind me. Crap. I picked up a bit, trying to hold onto my spot. I did everything I could to hold this girl off, but she was a strong runner. I didn't know it till I looked at the results, but she KILLED that second run. She passed me with about a half mile to go, giving me a "good job" as she cruised by. I could hear the announcer bringing home the finishers on the other side of the trees. I finished as hard as I could, my legs burning like I had just sprinted a sub-60 400m. I came across the line in 1:38.56. Beating my goal time of 1:40, and finishing 5 minutes ahead of my time from last year.

I grabbed some water and cheered Gwen and Greyt in to the finish. They both did awesome jobs! Gwen bettered her time from last year by 5:30. And Greyt finished her first duathlon EVER in kick ass time too! All in all, it was a fantastic day!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Doing the D.O! (-athlon,that is!)

So yesterday was the big team event I so excitedly signed Greyt and I up for. I learned one very important lesson at yesterday's race. Never, EVER, under any circumstance, sign yourself up for a race based on the post-race food. You will only be disappointed. It was Pancheros, yes, as advertised. And I do love Pancheros. BUT what I do not love is a pre-made beef Pancheros burrito served out of a large igloo cooler. Trust me, folks, it's not good.

Ok, on to the actual race report. It was a fairly chilly morning, but it started out looking like the clouds would burn off and we'd have some sunshine. However, as we spent time getting warmed up and race time grew closer, the clouds never cleared and the wind began to pick up. The park we were in was really wooded, so you couldn't really feel the full impact of the wind, but you could see the tops of the humongous trees really whipping around. So bad, in fact, that you had to dodge falling walnuts. You would just be standing there talking to someone and you'd hear a loud THUD right next to you and a walnut would roll across the ground. Fun stuff. Right before transition closed it felt like it had gotten a little chillier so I made the decision to put on my arm warmers, just in case. I don't like to be cold.

We listened to some pre-race announcements, directions on how to enter/exit transition, then the RD sang the national anthem. Yes, you heard me, the RD actually sang the anthem. He wasn't half bad either. Anyway, all 100 or so participants (minus a few team members like Greyt staying behind to bike) line up at the start line, 5-4-3-2-1. BOOM! This wasn't just a starting gun, it was a freaking mini canon. Scared the crap out of me and I even knew it was coming. It must have also jump started my adrenaline because I took off running like I stole something. At the time I was running with my friend Sarah, and she says to me "so what kind of pace are you wanting to run?" Thinking she was the one pushing the pace and I was just hanging on for dear life, I told her I didn't really have a goal but for her to go ahead and run her race so she could take her age group. Next thing I know, I'm pulling away from her and running strong.

5K #1
Mile 1 - 7:22 - OUCH that was a touch fast, but not really outside of my abilities either, IF I was only running one 5K. But I was running TWO of them in this race, so I needed to make sure I didn't kill my legs for that second one. But I also wanted to push myself and see what I could do, SO I slowed down just a bit to try and conserve a little energy.
Mile 2 - 7:42 - Ok that was a little better. I felt pretty good coming in on the first loop, hearing Greyt, Sinclair and Matt, and Laura giving me some encouragement. They helped push me along, which was awesome. With the two loop course, you could get a good look at the people both ahead and behind you on the run course, which was kind of fun. You could tell who you were gaining ground on or who was gaining ground on you. It would have been a really great set-up if I had been doing this as an individual, but as a team it didn't really tell me much, just that I seemed to be in the top 1/3 of the runners so far.
Mile 3.1 - 8:09 - So I probably picked it up a little bit coming into transition, but I knew I was going to get a little rest while Greyt was out on the bike so I pushed it in. Came into transition, put the chip on Greyt's ankle and she was off. We had her bike stashed on the rack literally 4 feet from the bike in/out, so it worked perfectly. She headed out and I attempted to catch my breath.
Intermission - OK so it wasn't intermission for Greyt (you can read about her bike experience on her blog), but it was for me. I grabbed my water bottle and my gel, then walked with Laura out to the bike course (about 1/4 or so walk) to catch Greyt coming by for her second loop of the course. By this time, the wind had picked up, the clouds had increased, and it was starting to mist a bit. It was getting downright cold. I had a coat on and was stretching and trying to stay loose. It was during this wait that I decided I needed to go out a little easier on my first mile of the next leg and try to negative split the run. This was something I wanted to work on and this was as good of a time as any. We saw Greyt come by about 20 mins later then headed back to transition to wait for her to come in. Back in transition I decided to put a long sleeved shirt on under my short sleeved one for the second run. I was considerably colder than before the race and thought the extra warmth on my core would be good.
5K #2
Greyt comes running up to transition, racks her bike as I take the chip from her and take off on the last part of the race. Remembering my goal of going out a tad easier and negative splitting the run, I consciously reminded myself to just take it somewhat easy on the first mile.
Mile 1 - 8:29 - Turned out I didn't really need to consciously remind myself to do that because my lovely IT band did it for me. Loud and clear. Within the first quarter mile I felt that all to familiar stabbing pain on the side of my right knee. Not good. All I could think about was how long it took me to recover from this last year and how I had IronGirl next weekend and the half marathon in a month...I really couldn't afford to have this take me out of commission again. So I tried to just keep my legs as loose as possible, not push anything, and just ride it out. The pain did start to lessen the more I warmed up, so not all hope was lost on my goal of negative splitting this run.
Mile 2 - 7:59 - I managed to pick up the pace a little bit on mile 2, keeping pace with a girl who had passed me about half a mile in. I couldn't quite hang with her, but I kept her fairly close throughout mile 2 and into the last mile.
Mile 3.1 - 7:29 - Yeah so I don't quite know what happened here. I guess I found my second wind. I know I was trying to gain ground on a couple of people in front of me, but I didn't realize I had picked it up that much. I came around the cones to the finish line and just tried to finish hard.

After I finished I immediately started trying to stretch my IT band. I could feel it tightening up once I stopped moving. I headed right over to the osteopathic table and signed up for a treatment. I needed some good stretching and I needed it soon. I got some water, a banana and then about 10 mins later went for the aforementioned burrito. Blech. Luckily they called my name for the treatment and I headed in to the shelter to get stretched, massaged and flexed by a 2nd year med student. About 20 mins later they announced the awards and much to Greyt and my surprise, we ended up 3rd out of 6 teams. Not to shabby considering the #1 and #2 teams were totally stacked with super fast guys. I'd say we had a pretty good day!

Monday update - The IT band is still sore, but noticeably better. High hopes for IronGirl on Sunday!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Do NOT Want to do an Ironman

Sometimes you just need to remind yourself of statements you have made in the past, and the reasons for making them. Especially when Ironman is in the air, and everyone is talking about a race they just did or one they signed up for next year. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, in the emotion of all things Ironman. So, in an effort to quiet those tiny little voices in my head, I'm here to remind myself of the reasons I do NOT want to do an Ironman:

1. 2.4 mile swim - I'm lucky I finished the 1.5K Oly swim at Hy-Vee.
2. Time commitment - I know a lot of other people who have trained and completed an IM have a lot more on their plate than I do. But I sometimes have a hard time fitting in my 8-11 hours/week training as it is. How could I possibly fit in IM training???
3. The marathon - I've never run a marathon. In fact, I've never run anything longer than 12.4 miles (although I will be doing a half-marathon in October). A marathon itself is a scary thought, but doing it AFTER 112 miles on the bike?? Boy, I don't know...
4. 2.4 mile swim - Did I mention that most of these IM races are in very large bodies of water with currents and waves and stuff? I swim in small Iowa lakes. Some could be confused for farm ponds. There are no currents, there are no fish larger than my foot (or lower leg perhaps), and there certainly are no jellyfish!!
5. Attention span - I have some serious issues with my attention span in longer races. I tend to get bored very easily, then I start staring at my watch praying I'll be done soon. This could be very bad in a 140.6 mile race.
6. I "race" - I think one of my bigger challenges would be changing my mindset from racing to finishing. I am a fairly competitive person and I'm not sure I even know how to go into a "race" without trying to finish high or beat my goal. I'm afraid that mentality would make it difficult for me to race Ironman.
7. 2.4 mile swim - A little less than two years ago, I couldn't even swim a 25 yard length with my head in the water. And when I reached the other side I was gasping for breath like I'd just finished an all out sprint. I've come a long way in that time, even this summer, but man that's a long ass swim.
8. My nutrition sucks - Yes, Jen, I'm admitting this for you and all others to hear. I really truly suck at maintaining a good diet. I'd have to get A LOT more disciplined and A LOT more creative in my meal planning.
9. I'd have to learn to pee on the bike - This relates back to #6. IF I ever did an IM race, it would drive me INSANE to have to stop and pee all the time. So, I'd have to learn to pee on my bike as others have mentioned doing. This would take some serious practice considering I STILL cannot pee in my wetsuit during the swim. I just cannot do it.
10. 2.4 mile swim - Enough said.

Ok, so that helped! The voices are now quiet. Thank god. They were getting a little annoying here as of late. I'm sure they will attempt to pipe up again as Greyt begins her journey towards IM Cozumel '09, but I will be sure to revisit this blog entry before I do anything rash.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Season 2 Triathlon Finale...Cy-Man Sprint

It's official. My second triathlon season has come to an end. But that doesn't mean I'm done racing! This weekend I have a duathlon which I'm doing as a team with Greyt, and next weekend I have another duathlon which I am doing on my own. You would think the team duathlon this weekend would be the "easier" of the two events, but I'm thinking not. For this team event, I run a 5K, Greyt bikes 20K (that's ONLY 12.4 miles, people), then I run another 5K. So I run HALF the distance she bikes. With somewhere around 37-38 minutes of "rest" between those 5Ks to let my legs tighten up. Hmmmm...whose idea was this again? Oh yeah, it was mine. I got sucked in by the post race food menu. Pancheros Burritos. Gotta love that.

Ok, so I'm just going to do a quick report on the race from Sunday. There really isn't a whole lot to tell. It was fairly uneventful, which I suppose is a good thing. Greyt and I went to the race venue on Saturday morning to do a little pre-race brick workout and we were greeted with this:

Yes, that is the beach, but where is the water you ask? Good question. It's SOMEWHERE out there. We just weren't sure where. So we walked down to the water's edge, to see if there was any chance of swimming that morning. We thought if we could see the swim buoys, we could do it. Can you see the buoy?

It's there, I promise. Look again. Here, I'll help:

See! I told you it was there! After spending about 5 minutes staring into the grey abyss and deciding we really weren't much into playing a game of "Marco? Polo?" out there, we gave up. Luckily race morning was NOTHING like this.

Race morning went pretty well. Got there plenty early, set up in a sweet transition spot, got in a couple good trips to the porta potty, warmed up (See, Jen, I do follow orders!!), and was ready to go.

Swim went ok, about 1/2 way out I got a cramp in my right calf. I stopped briefly to try and stretch it out, then got back to swimming. Tried once again to stretch it out at the turnaround, but that didn't help either. Greyt happened to be swimming by me and stopped to see if I was ok. After telling her she needed to get swimming instead of worrying about me, she told me to stop kicking and then took off. So, I took her advice and swam the rest of the way in with a dead right leg.

Bike went well. I was trying out some new wheels for the race, and could feel a difference in the way I was riding. I was riding fast speeds and felt really light on the hills. How can you not feel fast when your bike looks like this:

After the race, when I saw the initial results, I was even more impressed by the wheels. They had me at an average of 22mph. BUT, after doing a few calculations a day later, I realized they were using the wrong distance for the average calculation. But even after the correction, I posted a strong bike split. Fastest in my age group. That felt good.

The run was typical, although, unlike at Hickory Grove, no female runners passed me. I had a girl in my sights from the beginning of the run and managed to reel her in with about half a mile left. As I passed she said, "It's about time! I was waiting for you to pass me so I didn't have to sprint you to the end." Nice. She did try to pull a little sprint out at the end and pass me, but it didn't happen. I held her off by about 4 seconds. That always feels good.

After a couple of hours of waiting around for the race officials to figure out all the timing issues they had, the awards were finally presented. The good news is that I managed another 2nd place AG finish. The bad news is that the same girl who beat me at Hickory Grove, beat me again here. Darn it! Next season, my friend...next season.

So to wrap up my post, here's a picture of me, Greyt and another TRI friend, Vick. Don't we all look so happy to be done??

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hickory Grove Race Report

I know, I know, it’s about time! I know you have ALL been stalking my blog, on the edge of your seats, waiting for this post. Well wait no longer, my friends. And get comfy…you’re gonna be here for awhile.

Hickory Grove was race #7 in my 2008 season. Granted, I started my season in February, and include road races in that total, so while that seems like a big number it’s really not. It’s actually only triathlon #4. Anyway, Hickory Grove is a sprint distance (500yd/15.5 mi/3.1mi), and the bike/run courses are interesting, to say the least. The swim is an out-and-back swim (buoys on the right), with a monster grassy hill leading to the transition area. The bike is a 3 loop course starting off with a big downhill and a 90 degree turn at the bottom, a set of hills/plateaus up the backside, a flat/rolling hill section; turn around on a hill then a flat/rolling hill return to the start. The run consists of about 75% grass trail running, with a couple of very short, yet very steep, inclines covered with fresh, loose mulch. The part of the run NOT on grass is on the same hill/plateau section of the bike course so we could experience that fun for a fourth time. But because Greyt and I had done some training up on the course in preparation for the race, I knew exactly what to expect and how I wanted to attack the course. I like knowing exactly what I will see on the course, no surprises. It gives me loads of confidence going into the race, so I was ready to go.

The morning started off fine, got up, ate my cinnamon toast waffles, picked up Greyt and headed to the race. Once we got there, we unloaded our bikes and our gear and headed to transition to set up. We weren’t allowed in transition yet because we hadn’t been body marked so we parked our stuff outside the fence and headed over to body marking. Greyt had picked up her packet the night before so she only had to get her timing chip and get marked. I, on the other hand, had to stand in line to pick up my packet. In my head I could hear the clock ticking down to race time. I was getting nervous because I didn’t even have my bike racked yet. Finally I get my packet, my chip and wonderful magic marker tattoos, and head back to the transition area to get set up. I get into transition and there aren’t a lot of ideal rack spots left, so I found an area that had a somewhat decent shortcut through the racks to the bike exit, threw down my bag, racked my bike and high-tailed it to the porta potties. I had to go. Like NOW. Of course the line was ridiculously long. And who chooses to only rent 3 porta potties for a race with 400 entrants??? @#$%^&*!!! I’m standing in line, starting to feel REALLY nervous that I haven’t set up my transition yet and time was just ticking away. And I still had a warm-up to do! YIKES! After finally making it through the line, I rushed back to transition just as I heard the announcer saying they would be closing transition in 15 minutes. CRAP! I am ALWAYS set up way early and usually just walking around, warming up, chatting with people before the race. Not this time! The warm-up was now officially out of the question (sorry, Jen!) but I knew I HAD to get in the water and swim for at least 5 minutes before the start. That was non-negotiable. So I quickly arranged my transition area, struggled into my wetsuit and headed down to the water with Greyt.

THE SWIM – The water was officially 77 degrees, so wetsuit legal (obviously if I put the darn thing on in transition). A lot of people chose not to wear one, but I decided the extra time in transition would be worth the additional speed and confidence I’d have in the water. Down at the swim start, Greyt and I head right into the water. It felt really warm given the air temperature was pretty cool. I slid into the water and swam out to the second buoy and back. I felt GREAT. I know that I need that little reassurance before the race that when I put my face in the water, I would be ok. I’ve raced before without doing this (Hy-Vee) and paid dearly for it. Lesson learned. I floated in the water a bit looking out at the swim course so I could find a good landmark to sight, since the buoys were on my right and I breathe only to my left. Luckily there was a gigantic Morton building on the other shore that just happened to be right in line with the last buoy. SCORE!

I got out of the water and stood on the beach with Greyt and some other people from our TRI club, waiting for the race to start. They sent the waves off 6 minutes apart to help relieve some of the congestion on the bike course. We were in the 4th wave, so we waited for what seemed like forever. As we were waiting, I just kept feeling like my legs were getting really tight, and I was mentally chewing myself out for not getting my warm-up in. I was starting to get worried that this might be a sign that I wouldn’t have a good race. Then I remembered a blog I read about writing the ending to a workout (or race in this case) that hasn’t even started. Why was I already making excuses for why I wouldn’t have a good race? I needed an attitude adjustment, and fast.

As I watched the first wave of swimmers go off, I started thinking that I just need to take the race one step at a time and stay focused on MY race. Not who is in front of me, or where I’ll finish. Just run my race. So I started thinking about my swim. I was going to have a good swim. I was going to stay calm and focus on a nice long stroke and just swim. It didn’t matter what my time was, I had made the choice to race without a watch so I could focus on just racing hard and having fun. Time didn’t matter. My goal for the swim was to make it through the entire 500 yards without a single panic attack and without having to flip over on my back to catch my breath. If I could do that, it would be a great swim. It would be the best swim I have had to date. So that was my goal.

The announcer called out 3 minutes till our wave. Then one minute. Then 10 seconds. Then we were running into the water. For some reason the two girls in front of me were not getting going very quickly as I had assumed they would. I knew one of them and she’s always one of the overall winners of the race, so I thought getting behind her would be ok. But she just seemed to take her time getting into the water. I finally spotted some open water to the left of them, so I did a little sideways dive and finally took off. Our wave was fairly small, only about 25 women, so there wasn’t a ton of congestion. Of course there was the initial thrashing, kicking and splashing, but I was able to work through it fairly quickly. And I got through it without experiencing a significant amount of anxiety. I found a smooth stroke early on, and was able to slide over closer to the buoys pretty easily. I was sighting the buoys well, didn’t even need to use the Morton building as my landmark like I had thought I would. I felt really good, very under control. And for the first time EVER, I felt someone tapping my toes. Someone was actually drafting ME! I don’t know who it was, but I felt her early on in the race, and around the turn around, then I must have dropped her a bit because I didn’t feel another tap the rest of the way in. I remember thinking about 2/3 of the way through the swim, “This is a GREAT swim, you are having a GREAT swim”. I was beyond happy. I was going to get through this swim without panicking, and without flipping onto my back. My race was won right then and there.

Out of the water and up the massive hill to transition. Thank you Laura, Sarah, Steve and Sherry for cheering me into transition!

THE BIKE – I came out of transition with a few other women, but quickly lost them within the first couple of minutes. It really pays to know the course. I was able to get out and down that hill FAST, make the 90 degree turn in aero and attack the hills without losing momentum. I passed quite a few people struggling up the hills. I love that. Not that they are struggling, but that I am strong enough to pass people on the hills. I still have some work to do, I know I could get my speed up some more on the hills, but I like that I’m still able to attack the hills and not lose a ton of time. Or energy.

The first lap of the bike course wasn’t terribly congested as there were still some people swimming and some who started their first lap after I did. Greyt says she saw me after the turnaround on the first lap, but I didn’t see her. The second lap was much more congested. A lot more people out on the road and a lot of people not following race etiquette. I passed at least five people on the right because they were riding way out to the left even when they weren’t passing someone. Then there were those people who just took forever to pass other riders so I either had to slow to wait for them to pass and get back over OR I had to swing way out to the left to get around both them and the person they were passing. It made for a very interesting ride, to say the least. I saw several of the Big Wheels slam on their brakes because someone didn’t get over when they should have. You never get in the way of a Big Wheel. Bad, bad idea. I did actually see Greyt on this lap, after the turnaround. It was nice to hear her cheering as we passed. I gave her a little “Hey, Girl!” and kept pushing on.


The third lap of the bike was more like the first, with a lot of the early waves already out on the run course. Coming up the hills on the back I passed the lead runners as they were about a mile into their run. Those guys are fast. Finished up the third lap, came into transition smoothly, and headed out on the run.

THE RUN – Off on the run, I started out a little slow. I was breathing pretty hard and could already feel the now familiar tightening of the cramp in my abdomen. I was NOT about to let that thing get out of control this time. I kept my pace fairly easy at the start, taking some deep breaths to help with the cramp. Right away on the run you have to go up this pretty steep incline covered with loose woodchips. I understand they were trying to even out the terrain so no one twisted an ankle or anything, but I swear those woodchips felt like marbles. When I came up to the second, longer incline with more woodchips, I made the decision to run off to the right side of the path in the grass. Turned out to be a much better option. I started settling into the run when I heard some footsteps behind me. This chick came up from behind me and just blew by. I resisted the urge to try to hang on to her. She was booking.

I hit the first aid station, took a little bit of water, then came out onto the road section of the course. I was starting to feel pretty good, was picking up my pace, and still controlling my breathing pretty well. I passed a couple of women then came up on a 15 year old boy who looked like he was struggling a little bit. When I got beside him I said something like “You doing alright?” and he responded he was doing ok and that this was his first triathlon. I congratulated him on his first race and told him he was doing a great job and that he was almost done. We probably had about 1.5 miles to go. He picked up his pace a bit and stayed with me. For a bit, all I could hear was his footsteps and mine. Then I could hear another set of footsteps. Like RIGHT behind us. I took a little glance to my left and saw that the third set of footsteps came from woman in a DSM TRI kit. Ok, now it was on. This chick was NOT going to pass us. Enough of this “I’m running my own race” crap I was feeding myself earlier on. Game on.

We rounded the corner and started up the hill to the last turn into a grassy field. I knew if I was going to have a chance to pull away from her, it would have to be on the hill. So I dug down and pushed the pace up the hill. The boy stayed with me. This kid was a champ. (He's in the red in the picture. I'm to his right in the white jersey kinda in the background) I could tell he was going to hang with me till the end. At the top of the hill we took a left into the field so I took the chance to glance back down the hill to see how far back she dropped. It looked like she had dropped back about 10 seconds or so, but not enough for me to relax. The boy and I kept our pace through the grass and onto the gravel road. When we hit the gravel road, I heard footsteps behind me again. I glanced over my shoulder again and saw that it wasn’t the DSM Tri chick, instead it was some dude. Actually there were two of them behind us. I have NO idea where they came from, but there they were. So now there are four of us running together and no sign of the chick. We ran as a little pack for awhile, until we hit the pavement going back towards the finish line. The kid got a second wind and took off, then the two guys picked up their pace as well. I hung with them a bit, and then started to fall back. I saw another girl ahead of me, so I set my sights on her. I passed her just before we turned toward the finish line. I took one more look behind me just to make sure that DSM Tri chick wasn’t sneaking up on me with some crazy last second sprint to the finish. She was nowhere to be found. Wahoo! I pushed it through the finish line where the kid was waiting for me. He reached out to give me a high five then all of a sudden he hugged me and said thanks for helping him on the run. It was sweet. Even his mom came up to me and thanked me for helping him out. That was cool.

POST-RACE - After I finished, I had no clue what my time was or where I could possibly stand in my age group, and I didn’t care. I was happy with my race. I walked back down the stretch to where my cheering squad was hanging out so I could watch Greyt come in. It was only then that I heard my first time of the day. 9 minutes. That was my approximate swim split. Sarah had been wearing a watch so she and Laura kept an eye on the time when I started and came out of the swim. When they told me it was 9 minutes, I was shocked. I had no idea. I mean, I knew I had a great swim, but I had no clue it was that fast. As I was standing there still bewildered by my swim time, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was that DSM Tri chick! She stuck out her hand introduced herself, then said she tried so hard to stay with me during the race but she couldn’t. She said I had a heck of a second half of the run. I thought that was pretty cool of her to seek me out like that.

Greyt came in shortly thereafter, looking strong through the finish. She had a great first race back. She killed the bike, which was her big goal for this race. I was really proud of her and how well she did for her first race back from her summer hiatus. We stood around for a bit chatting then decided to head over and check out the results. My final time was 1:23:16. The preliminary results had me 4/26 in my AG. I knew one girl would be in the overall, she always is. So, it was looking like I would probably get 3rd. Then as we were waiting around for the awards ceremony this other TRI Racer told us that some woman got DQ’d because she only did 2 laps of the bike course. Just so happens this woman was also in my age group, so that put me up to 2nd in my AG. Suh-weet!

All in all it was an absolutely FABULOUS day. We had awesome weather, I had a kick-ass swim, a strong bike, a good run, and walked away with a 2nd place AG finish. Oh AND I won a Spinerval DVD in the drawing! Greyt had an awesome race, PRing the bike by something like 6 minutes! Incredible! And to top it all off…we stuffed ourselves silly at Piggy Park (I mean Hickory Park!)!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hardware!!

Another race down. Yesterday was the Iowa Games sprint triathlon. A nice little short race. I haven't done a sprint yet this year, so it was kind of nice to get back to the short short distance. I did Iowa Games last year as my first OW race, so I was looking forward to racing the same course and seeing my progress since last year.

Getting ready for this race, I had a nice little email chat with Jen about my race plan. Her words, "I want you to suffer." And she wasn't joking. The truth is, my intention for this race was to go out and race as hard as I possibly could, to see how far I could really push myself. So my goals going in were to race hard, beat my time from last year, and if I was lucky break 1:15.

The swim went OK. I didn't have my normal panic attack, which is a good thing. But I did go out hard, and as a result had to flip over and backstroke a little bit to catch my breath. After having to stop a couple of times because people were crossing the buoy line and running headfirst into me, I pushed to the swim exit and came out in 9:15. That's a little over 4 minutes faster than my swim there last year. I know I have improved my swimming, so seeing that improvement really boosted my confidence. Slowly but surely I just might be turning into a little bit of a swimmer.

After what felt like a really slow T1 (0:55), I was finally out on the bike. Because of my swim time, I knew I was probably behind quite a few women. And seeing as my swim wave was the first female wave and included all women from 20-39, I figured there were A LOT ahead of me. So, I get onto my bike and just start hammering. It was an out and back course with some rolling hills. Nothing major. We had a slight headwind going out, so my speed wasn't quite where I wanted it, but I was pushing hard. I was passing people like crazy. I passed a lot of men (the men 20-39 went off 4 mins ahead of my wave), and was passing quite a few women too. There was one woman ahead of me (a fellow TRI member)and I kept her in my sights. We were going approximately the same speed, and I could see her looking back every so often to check in on where I was. Finally, about 2 miles before the turn around, I caught her and never looked back. Made the turn, picked up the tailwind, put my head down and hammered. Passed a few more women on the way home, but not many. The people were thinning out at this point. I came into T2 very happy with my bike. It felt good. I knew I made up a lot of ground and was in good shape to push on the run.

Came out of T2 and right away there was a water station. As I went through the station, one of the guys working it says to me, "You're the 4th woman." I was like What? Huh? Did he just say I am the 4th woman? No freaking way, had to be a mistake. But...what if it wasn't? So, I started my run knowing I was in the top 5, and I could see one woman a little ways up ahead. I thought to myself, if I could just catch her, and not let any women pass me, I just might be in the top 3. Then it happened. Less than 1/4 mile into the run I got this extremely painful cramp in the center of my midsection, near the bottom of my rib cage. It almost doubled me over. It hung on for a few minutes, then subsided for a bit. I was able to pick my pace back up some when it subsided. But then it hit again. And it felt worse. I had to stop running for a few seconds to stretch my arms above my head and try to loosen things up. That didn't really help. I started thinking that I might have to completely stop for a bit. But I could NOT quit being in 4th place. I still could see the woman ahead of me, I knew I could catch her. So I just kept pushing. And wincing. And pressing my fingers into the cramp to make it stop. Again it subsided and again it returned. Then I saw Nicole (yet another TRI racer) coming up behind me at a turn around. She was looking strong. DAMN IT! She was going to pass me. When she did, I tried so hard to stick with her. But then the cramp hit again and I just couldn't. That was really frustrating. I was pissed. Luckily right after Nicole passed me, I was able to pass the woman I had been chasing since the beginning of the run. So, I was still in 4th. And I had noticed that she was in my age group, so this gave me a little extra push as well. I knew the first two women were in the age group above me, and Nicole was in the age group below me, so at this point I knew I was not only 4th overall, but I was first in my age group. I was NOT going to let that slip away just because of this damn cramp. So I kept pushing. I used the hill to put more distance between me and the woman I had passed. Nicole was putting distance on me, and there was no way I could run harder to catch her. I was doing all I could. Finally I came around the last corner and I heard Greyt and her cowbell. I was close. I picked it up as much as I could (which wasn't much) and finished hard. I had no idea what my time was, but I did know I how I placed. And that was pretty cool.

So, all in all...I reached my goals. 1) I finished 5 minutes faster than my time last year. 2) I finished under 1:15, by all of 2 seconds! and 3) I raced hard, and SUFFERED! I would have liked to have suffered because I ran 7:30/mile rather than because I had that stupid cramp, but I still feel like I gave this race everything I had. And ended up with some hardware, and as Jen says, my name in lights. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hy-Vee Race Report

Well, I was right. It wasn’t a GREAT race. But I think I’m finally at the point I can look back and say it was at least a GOOD race. I had a goal, I didn’t reach it. And for awhile after the race, I beat up on myself a little bit. Ok I beat up on myself a lot. But I’m over it now. Cuz you know what? It doesn’t change a thing to sit here and throw a pity party for myself. It is what it is. I can only try to work harder and be better next time.

Everything about this race was a little bit odd. First it was a triathlon, then the floods hit and it became a duathlon, then four days before race day it was back to a triathlon again. I felt a little relieved when it became a duathlon because of my history with the swim, but in some ways I was disappointed too. The swim was going to be a big challenge for me and one I felt ready to finally conquer. But I came to terms with that rather quickly and began thinking about my strategy for the du. Just about the time I thought I had a strategy down for the du, they changed it back to a tri. So it was back to the original plan.

Pre-Race

This was the first race I’ve done where I haven’t had my mental coach with me. Greyt was not racing Hy-Vee, so I was on my own. It was a weird feeling to not have her there to talk through my swim strategy or to hang out with in transition. But I really felt like I was doing ok. I felt strong on race morning. I felt prepared and ready. For once, I felt confident in the swim. I wasn’t my normal panicky, anxious self. So without Greyt there, I spent the hour or so before race time getting my bike transition all squared away, stretching and warming up, and also talking to some of the gals racked around me. It was a little intimidating to be standing there in the middle of some pretty tough competitors. I had Cathy Yndestad on my left, Tess Taintor on my right, Jana Severson about three bikes down, Jane Riessen across the aisle…man that was intimidating! And I just KNOW that the one open spot beside Tess was the spot Jen would have occupied had she raced this weekend. Now THAT would have been interesting!!! ;)

The Swim

With the flooding situation it was a bit sketchy to get into open water before the race. But, I really felt ready for the swim so I didn’t sweat this as much as I have in the past. As we all moved towards the swim start, I felt excited to start. Anxious, yes, but not nervous or panicky. I looked confidently out at the water, eyed up the buoys, and just said “You got this.” I stood in the pack of white caps and chatted with a friend of mine while we waited for the other heats to go off. Even as I carefully waded into the water to avoid falling on the concrete drop-off or nailing one of the limestone boulders that used to line the walkway (which was now under water), I still did not have that oh-my-god-what-am-I-doing feeling that I normally get right before the horn sounds. I was ready to go. Or so I thought.

The horn sounded and we all took off running into the water. I took my time with this because I had absolutely NO REASON to get myself caught up in the pack of swimmers I mentioned above. Then when I had some open space, I dove in. And then it hit. PANIC CITY! The water was so dark it was like putting your face down into a mud puddle. I immediately jerked my head up and gasped. Then put my head down again and tried to swim. Then another gasp. Then the doggie paddling started. My heart was beating out of my chest. I could not control my breathing. It was a nightmare. I struggled with this half crawl /half doggie paddle stroke for a minute or so then rolled over onto my back and tried to regain my composure, but being on my back made me feel dizzy so I turned back over and tried it again. Same thing. I just could not believe this was happening. It was worse than it was in Galveston, by far. And I think, the worst I’ve felt since my first tri last June. I was struggling. Big time. I felt so defeated. So mislead by my own over-confidence. I wanted to quit, I didn’t see how I could possibly finish the swim like this.

I got to the first turn buoy, and I grabbed onto it to rest. I was so angry with myself, so completely and totally mad that I felt this way AGAIN. And I decided it was enough. I had me a little pep talk at that buoy. I shared a few choice words with myself, said there was no way in hell I was going to quit, and finally took off again. I found some open space along the buoy line and finally got into some semblance of a rhythm. I started catching up to and passing white caps. I caught a couple purple caps too, then a couple of orange ones. It was about damn time. I got to the last turn buoy and felt pretty good. Turned and headed home. I just knew the time out of the water was going to be around 40-45 minutes. That stretch to the first turn buoy felt like it took forever. As I came closer to the swim exit, I resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to reach my goal time. I felt extremely disappointed in myself. But, at least I was going to finish the swim. I wasn’t so sure of that when I started. Summary: Sucky, sucky swim. (and dirty! that is NOT a 5 o'clock shadow!!)



The Bike

When I hit the timing mat for T1, I looked down and hit the lap timer on my watch. I was very surprised to see the time on my watch was much faster than I had anticipated. This gave me a little bit of hope for salvaging a respectable race time, but I still couldn’t quite shake the disappointment. I got through transition fine, and was finally out on the bike. What a relief.

The first part of the bike was a little challenging given there was a pretty big hill in the first 2 miles. But I knew once I got up that hill and turned onto the road by the school that I would finally see some supporting faces in the crowd. And, man, did I need that. I pushed up the hill and put the hammer down. My legs felt ready to go, and I was determined to make up some time on the bike. As I passed the school I heard the best sound ever – “GO KRISTEN!!”. There was Laura and Greyt cheering me on. I gave them a little thumbs up sign and just kept hammering. A little further down the road I heard another familiar voice and my friend Deb was there cheering me on too. It was so great to have people on the course, especially at the beginning of the bike, to encourage me and get me going. I needed that so much.

The bike felt really really good. I passed a lot of people. The only people who passed me had those funky helmets and disc wheels. I was ok with that. We hit the Booneville stretch and all of a sudden I was working REALLY hard to maintain a pace that was about 4-5 mph slower than I had maintained through the first 7 or 8 miles of the bike. I was like what the hell is going on? Am I losing my legs already? Then I realized we were riding into a headwind so I didn’t feel quite so bad. I turned around and used the tailwind to my advantage and passed a ton more people on the way home. Summary: Good, hard bike.



The Run
Got through transition in good time and headed out on the run. My legs felt GREAT right away. About halfway through the first mile, I started to pace myself with this woman I had raced against last summer. She is a little faster of a runner than me, so I thought, let’s just see if you can hang with her. I stayed with her for a mile and felt pretty good doing it. Then when I looked at my split and my HR, I thought it would be wise to maybe back off a little and let her go. I didn’t want to push too hard and not be able to handle the hills that were coming up.

The run was set up in such a way that you could always see people coming back from various turn arounds. That was pretty cool. I saw a TON of TRI Racers on the course, and even though I only knew a handful of them, almost every single one of them gave me some kind of GO TRI shout or other acknowledgement. That was pretty awesome.

I felt really good on the run. My pace was right where I wanted it. My heart rate wasn’t getting too out of control. When I got to the hilly section there were a lot of people walking up the hills. Including that woman I tried to hang with at the beginning of the run. Not me. No way in hell I was going to walk ANY of this course. Even that last killer hill was not going to make me walk. Coming up the final hill there were all kinds of people around cheering us to the finish. I passed a few people coming up the hill, turned the corner and made my way through the maze of spectators to the finish line. The finish was set up with grandstands on three sides, and that sweet blue carpet lining the final 25 yards. What a cool way to finish a race. Summary: Good, solid run.



All in all, I’m happy with my race. Even though the swim did not go as I had hoped, it’s quite an accomplishment for me to even have completed a swim of that length. A year and a half ago, I couldn’t swim 25 yards in the pool. I flat out did not know how to swim. And here I was on Sunday gutting out a 1.5K open water swim. I am proud of the fact that I did it, and also proud of the fact that I didn’t allow myself to quit.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So very cool...

I just had one of the coolest experiences EVER! Hy-Vee (the local grocery chain sponsoring this weekend's BIG triathlon) hosted a meet and greet session today with last year's triathlon winner and 2008 Olympian, Laura Bennett. I thought, well, I'll go over there and maybe get a chance to introduce myself. Even though it was corny, I thought maybe she would even sign my helment. So I get there and there is NO ONE else around her. She's just sitting at a table with Frosted Flakes boxes all around her (she's on the box with Tony!). So I walk up to her and she smiles and I introduce myself. We shake hands. I ask her if she would sign my helmet, and she was like "SURE!".




Then we proceeded to just chit chat about triathlon stuff for like 20 minutes!!! It was AWESOME! I felt really bad that there weren't others there wanting to meet her, but it was also really cool to get that much time to just talk to her one on one. She's a pretty cool chick!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I know, I know...It's about time!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'm a bad blogger. But that's not because I'm just lazy or don't have anything to blog about. I'm just busy! Who isn't, though, right? Maybe if I made it a point to blog each and every time I sat in an airport, I'd be better at it. This post is coming to you from Newark, at 6:00am. UGH. Have I mentioned I LOVE traveling?

Ok so where do I start? How about the most obvious - Hy-Vee is 12 days away! YIKES! Just typing that made my heart start racing. I'm a bit anxious. A bit nervous. But I'm actually starting to feel ready for it. A year ago, I would have been sitting here sweating bullets, in all-out panic mode. I'm not terrified of the swim...maybe slightly nervous...ok, ok, more than slightly, but definitely not terrified. I'm feeling pretty good about my training on the bike and the run too. Do I feel like I'm completely and totally ready to have the kind of race I would like to have? No. (Don't choke on your M&Ms, Jen!) But I do feel like I have trained hard and well enough to have a good race and improve on my time/effort from Galveston. So that is good. I am progressing. Patience, Daniel-son.

Why don't you feel like you're ready to have that break-through race, you ask? Well it’s all about timing. And coincidence. And, dare I say it? Destiny? Just a little over a month ago I made a pretty big series of decisions related to my training. I had a coach, then didn't have a coach, tried to train on my own, didn't do so well with that, then IT happened. IT happened at the precise moment IT needed to happen. And IT happened in such a purely quiet and coincidental way, that if IT hadn't been at the precisely right time, I probably wouldn't have given IT a second thought. But that's the thing...IT did happen at the exact right time. Interesting how that happens sometimes. IT was just a little note. Just a comment to one of my blogs about racing. And a link. Had IT just been a nice comment in passing, without the link, I wouldn't be sitting here talking about IT and driving you all crazy with my repeated capitalization of IT. But the link was there. I had to follow it, I had to know who this person was. I mean someone, a complete stranger, had read my blog! And commented! That just didn't happen! So, I went to the site. And that's where IT finally happened. I found Jen.

To make a long story short, I read every little piece of information on her site. And, as odd as it sounds, she fired me up without ever having spoken a word to me. My first thought was, whoa, this chick is INTENSE. And I liked that. I also liked the passion she has for triathlons and for her own training and racing. Then I started thinking about coaching. I just had this feeling deep down that she would be a really good fit for me, but I honestly didn’t think it could work. First of all I figured she probably already coached a full roster of athletes and wouldn’t have capacity. Second I thought that someone with those kinds of credentials would surely not be interested in coaching a fairly new, slow triathlete like myself. And third, she lives in another state. How would that work exactly? But, despite all those questions, I couldn’t quite put the thought of working with her out of my mind. So I emailed her. She immediately emailed me back. We traded messages. I debated. She encouraged me to take my time and think about what I wanted/needed in a coach. We talked on the phone. I debated. All the while, Dam to Dam and Hy-Vee were fast approaching and my training was not going well. So, I did it. I sent her an email. “Let’s do this.” And she’s been kicking my @$$ ever since.

I’ve been working with Jen for about a month now and it’s been all I thought it would be. Intense, hard, tiring, and fun. I can already see a difference in my fitness level over the past few weeks. But it has only been a few weeks…and that is why I don’t feel like I’m going to go into Hy-Vee and have the race of my life. I’m not there yet. But I will be. She’s still trying to figure me out. I’m still trying to figure out the workouts she gives me. We’ve made progress already in one month. I can’t wait to see what happens when we figure each other out.

Friday, May 9, 2008

And the GOLD medal goes to....

ME!!!! Yep, I did it. I met all three challenges in a 24 hour period! (thanks, Steve, for the medal graphic!). It was pretty tough, and tiring, but it felt so good to do it. Especially the 3 mile swim. I had to break that into two separate sessions because I actually had to work yesterday too, but it felt awesome to be able to get that many miles in. A year ago there was no way I could have done that. So, needless to say, I'm pretty proud of myself.

In keeping with the tradition of the B-Fit Bday Challenge, I attempted to document my progress with pictures. The only thing I missed was a picture from the bike ride on Wednesday evening. But, I do have a witness, and Greyt has already attested to my completion of the bike leg of the challenge. ;)

So here is the picture from the start of the first part of my swim. The only other person in the pool at 6:30am was the lifeguard...who gave me a really weird look when I asked her to take my picture before getting into the pool. But she did it for me. I had to do a little editing of the picture before posting it...she got more of a full body shot than I had hoped, so I had to crop my butt off. Trust me, no one wants to see that. And, yes, that is my heart rate monitor, not some funky weird swimsuit strap. Some of the others who have completed the challenge have shared their times for each leg of the challenge, but I'm not going to do that. Primarily because I honestly didn't keep track. I knew how far I had to go, and my goal was to just get it done in the 24 hour period so I could claim the gold. And that's what I did. The Bike started at 4:30pm on Wednesday, Swim Part One began at 6:30am Thursday, Swim Part Deux commenced at 11:45am Thursday, and I wrapped the whole thing up with the quick little 1 mile run. And here's what I looked like when it was all said and done:

Nice hair, huh? I know, I know...I cropped my butt out of the swim picture, but I posted this horrendous thing? And yes, I had to take the picture myself because there wasn't anyone around to take the picture, and no I do not know how to set the self-timer on my camera. I take that back, there was one other woman in the locker room, but she was stark naked when I was trying to take the picture so I opted not to ask her.

As for the aftermath of the challenge...I was pretty tired last night. Especially after my birthday dinner, which included some fabulous portobello fries, a tasty steak and potatoes, two martinis and free birthday creme brulee! I think I more than earned that meal. ;) Today I feel pretty good. My triceps are a tad sore and my neck is just a little stiff, but otherwise I feel awesome.

Thanks to everyone who supported me in my crazy challenge and who sent me birthday wishes. It was a great birthday...one I will remember for a long time!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I think I just might be crazy...

Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 31. And what do I decide to give myself? A shot at the gold medal in the B-Fit Bday Challenge! (Thanks, Steve in a Speedo for putting this crazy idea into my head). What is this challenge you say? Here are the "rules":

Take your age and in any order:
1) Swim the number of miles in the first number
2) Run the number of miles in the second number,and
3) Bike the number of miles in the combined number.

So, for me, turning 31 would mean:
1) Swim 3 miles (HOLY CRAP!)
2) Run 1 mile (cake)
3) Bike 31 miles (somewhere between cake and holy crap)

Of course you know there has to be some kind of award for doing this. So, by accepting this challenge I must:

Bronze: Do all three (swim/bike/run) during the week of your Birthday.
Silver: Do all three (swim/bike/run) in the three days before, after, or on your B-Day. OR
Gold: Do all three (swim/bike/run) in 24-hours to celebrate your B-Day!

At first this seemed pretty daunting...but then I did a 36 mile bike ride tonight and that knocked out over half of the challenge already. Greyt can attest that I did this ride. And pretty hard at that! The swim scares the hell out of me, I will admit it. But I can do it. It might take me forever, and I will most certainly have to break it up into a couple different sessions in the pool, but I can do it. And the run...well, I can do that in my sleep practically. So....I've made my decision...I'm going for the gold!! I have less than 24 hours to get this mammoth swim and itty bitty run done. Check in tomorrow for the update!! Wish me luck! (I need it)

Spring in Iowa

So I complain all winter long about the snow and the cold, just wishing it'd warm up enough to ride and run outside. Then spring comes along and it warms up, and now I complain about the wind and the rain. I spend more time looking at the weather channel than anything else it seems. Take tonight for example. There's a 20ish mile group ride tonight that I am probably going to do. I've looked at the weather channel twice already this morning (and it's only 9am) to see if there's going to be any threat of rain/storms and if the wind will die down or not. Well the good news is it doesn't look like it'll storm, but the wind will be atrocious. AGAIN. And the second half of this route is hilly too. UGH. I'll suck it up and do the ride, but I'm putting Greyt on notice that I will complain about it. ;)

Training is going ok right now...I'm a little bit in the twilight zone with work being so busy right now. I'm spending a lot of time out of town and it just takes a toll on my training. I'm working hard to get things back on track, though. Sunday I joined my TRI cronies for a duathlon-type workout. My goal for this was to treat it as an endurance workout and not really push too hard (this is not a race, this is not a race). The first 6 mile run was ok...it felt like the entire route was uphill and into the wind both ways, but not terrible. Then we got on the bike. Smooth sailing out of the park. I could tell we were riding a tailwind, but wasn't sure how much until we turned the corner. HOLY BUCKETS! The force of the tail/cross wind turning full on head wind about knocked me into oncoming traffic. I should have slowed down more for that turn. Mental note for next time. Going into this headwind was brutal. I was on a road bike, so I was trying to lower myself down into a bit more of an aerodynamic position to try and take some of the bite out of the wind. I don't think it accomplished much, except making me look like a total goofball, which is nothing new. I was very happy to turn around and ride that tailwind again, even if it wasn't for very long. We had to ride the head/cross wind back into the park. I was pretty happy to have that over with.

We were supposed to finish the workout with a 3 mile run...but I didn't do it. I should have...I'm kind of kicking myself for not doing it. But I wimped out. I was a little leery of pushing too much in one day, seeing as I haven't been able to train for several days. I just didn't want to flare up my IT band or anything like that. I know, these are great excuses aren't they? I gotta stop with the excuses...Dam to Dam is like 3 weeks away. Good times.

So I can't end this post without sharing updated photos of my favorite little man, my nephew Gabe. He just had his little 3 month pictures taken, and he's just so darned cute don't you think??



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Want Motivation? RACE

I've had a few days now to reflect on my race Sunday and let me tell ya, all it's done is gotten me way fired up! I had a great race, it was a great time for me, I reached some personal goals, I finished fairly high in my age group...but all of that was just enough to get me nice and motivated to get back to hitting the training. HARD.

For those of you who don't know me well, I'm kinda sort a little bit like a perfectionist. It's taken me years to be able to admit that! Combine that with my very competitive nature and, well, you get someone who always wants more. My race was great for me and where I am right now...but it's time to step it up.

Originally my plan for this season was to get in more races than in my first season (3 total, 2 sprint tris and one du), and to do some longer course races as well. I even set my sights on doing a half ironman in August. But that plan has changed a little bit since Sunday (this will happen when you have an 18 hour drive to stew over things). I've decided to cut out the HIM for this season. I want to focus on getting fast at the shorter distances. I want to improve my times, especially in the swim, and build up more confidence before I take on that HIM distance. And I want some hardware. That's going to take some serious work. I need to cut time in all the disciplines. I need to do strength training. I need to focus more on nutrition and Eat to Train instead of Train to Eat. But I'm fired up. Hy-Vee is next in line. I am going to train my butt off for that race. You can count on it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lonestar Race Report - the Long and the Short of it

Maybe I should have titled it the short and the long of it...cuz I'm gonna give you the short race report first. For those of you who want to cut to the chase and see how I did. WARNING to those of you reading on for the long part...it's gonna be long, so find a comfy chair.

Before the race, I had mentally set a stretch goal time of 2:45. I guess I shouldn't even call it a stretch goal, because I didn't set any other goals..so it would be my only goal. I have a tendency to do that...set my sights on something that is a wee bit out of my comfort zone and try like hell to reach it. I was pretty close today. I had broken my stretch goal down to a 21 minute swim, an average of 18.5 mph on the bike, and a run pace of 8:30/mile. Add in a couple transitions and that worked out to a stretch goal of 2:45. As you can see above, the only part that fell short of those goals was the swim. And darn it, I knew that was a possibility. The swim was the only part that I allowed myself to have a couple of other goals in mind. 20 was a great swim, 23 was a good swim, and 25+ was a not so great swim. So, I was right on with a good swim. I'll take it. Given my constant battle with the swim, I was pretty darn excited with that swim time. More excited by how it felt and how I got through it than anything. I have to give a lot of credit to Greyt for helping me, though. She spent time last night walking me through the swim course (mentally, of course) and talking me through my objectives for each part of it. What was my strategy, what would I be focusing on, etc. I couldn't have done it without her support...she's the Greyt-est!

The Swim - I had a long wait between the time transition closed and the time my swim wave went off. Since Greyt and our fellow TRI Racers were doing the HIM, I had to wait all alone for my swim. It kinda sucked, but I think it also gave me the chance to focus on what I needed to do. About 45 mins before my wave was to take off, I put on my wetsuit and went for a quick warm-up swim off the beach. This was a very good idea. I got in the water and started to swim out a ways and started to feel that panicky, omg-I-can't-do-this feeling. So I stopped and just let myself float in the water for a bit, reassuring myself that the combination of the wetsuit and the salt water would keep me afloat with zero effort. That helped calm me down. Then I started to swim again. And I felt good. That gave me the confidence I needed. I got out of the water and proceeded to stand on the dock for another 30 minutes till my wave started. All the while repeating in my head, "I can do this, I've done it in practice, I can do this."

Finally it was time for our wave. We all jumped off the dock and swam to the start (yes, it was a deep water start). The start of the swim was hectic, as it always is. I had to stop a few times to figure out where I could go without getting kicked. I found a little space and started to swim. Battled a little anxiety at first, but just kept focused on the things Greyt and I talked about. After the first turn, I settled in and found some relatively open space to swim. Got my stroke going, my breathing was under control. I was good. Made the last turn and saw the swim exit ahead. I was HOME FREE! Man did that feel good. I had no idea what my time was, but I knew I had passed some people (including a few from the wave before us!!) and I was gonna make it in. I was completely stoked!

T1 - The wetsuit strippers ROCKED. I had my top part of the wetsuit off by the time I reached them, made eye contact with one of the strippers who pointed at me then to the ground in front of him. I flopped my butt down, lifted up my legs and that dude had my suit off before I could say please. It was sweet. Got to my bike, threw my wetsuit over the rack, put on my sunglasses and my helmet, remembered to send off a quick text to someone anxiously awaiting word that I had not drowned, grabbed my bike and I was off. I mounted my bike with my shoes already clipped into the pedals, and that went off without a hitch. Bring on the bike!

The Bike - It felt awesome to be on the bike. I think I was riding a lot of adrenaline from finishing that swim so I was flying. Once we got out on Seawall and had a lot of open road ahead, I was hitting 20-21 mph easily. My legs felt awesome. The wind was sort of a cross-wind, so I felt it against me but it wasn't bad. I passed A LOT of people on the bike. Some of them were quarter iron people, some were half iron. I got passed by a couple of those guys with the disc wheels and funky teardrop helmets, but I figured that was ok. I paid attention to how much tech drink I was taking in. My coach wanted me to finish off two bottles of tech drink on the bike, with the majority of it in the first half. So I worked my aerodrink bottle and kept the hammer down. Hit the turn around hoping for a little tailwind, but it was nowhere to be found. It was pretty much the same wind I had the entire way out. I let my speed slip a bit down to 19-19.5 for the second half. Still passing quite a few people along the way. I got the chance to see the fellow TRI Racers out on the course and yelled out encouraging words when I saw them. That made me happy I got to see them. It was a good bike.

T2 - I took my feet out of my shoes as we approached Moody Gardens so I was ready to dismount my bike without my shoes. Pulled into transition and got off very easily. Ran in my bare feet to my area, racked my bike, threw off the helmet, sat down and put on my sock biscuits, slid on my shoes, grabbed my hat, race belt and power gel and I was off and running. Quick and easy transition. Sweet!

The Run - The beginning of the run is always tough till you get your legs back. Once I did, I still felt very slow. I thought I had a chance at my 2:45 goal, but I just felt like I couldn't quite pick it up enough to get it. The first two miles of the run felt like they took forever. I was starting to question my ability to get through this run without walking. But I got through a couple aid stations, had some water, and started to feel better. I picked up the pace a bit, even though the course seemed to be dragging on forever. I came around the turn to come into Moody Gardens and I could hear the announcer at the finish line calling out names as the finishers crossed the line. I was almost there. Then I started to smile. And I smiled the whole way in. Gave it a little extra rounding the corner to the finish line (had to beat the chick in front of me, of course) and then it was over. 2:46:10. Only a minute shy of my stretch goal. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. ;)

After I finished I took advantage of the free massages offered to the athletes then went and got some food and a monster drink. I saw Greyt coming in to start her first loop of the run and got to cheer her on and give her a high five. That was awesome. When I saw her come through to start her second loop the race officials were starting to allow some people into the transition area to get their stuff so I ran over there and got in line. They were only letting a few people in at a time as there were still some HIM cyclists out on the course. After waiting about 30 minutes, they opened transition to everyone and I was able to run in and get all my gear, including the camera!! I was able to get some awesome finishing shots of all four of the girls.

All in all, it was a great race today. Not only for me, but also for Greyt. Check out her race report. She rocked the bike and got that monkey off her back. Way to go, girl. Tomorrow we're vacationing, then we're headed back to Iowa with the trailer on Tuesday. Yeehaw!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Armadillo Hunting

FINALLY! 19 hours later, we are here. We had a brief stayover just south of Dallas, but have pretty much been driving the entire time. It's been a really fun road trip. Greyt tells the story in her latest blog. Check it out.

We got to swim some in the bay today. The water was C-H-I-L-L-Y. But not as bad as I had expected. 67 degrees is by no means warm water, but it felt good given we were wearing wetsuits. I felt OK in the water. A little panicky at first because I haven't been in open water yet this season, but I settled in and did about a 500 yard swim or so. Maybe a little less. I would like to get in tomorrow again if I can, but if not I think I'll still be ok. Just gotta keep swimming.

Ok so the one thing I have to see before I leave Texas is an Armadillo. Yes, a true LIVE armadilla (quesadilla). Greyt claims there was a dead one on the road in Oklahoma, but I don't believe her. Everything down here has an armadillo mascot. Billboard after billboard, armadillo this armadillo that. Even our race logo features an armadillo. If these darn things are popular enough down here to be the only thing Texans want to use as a mascot, then where the heck are they hiding?? Shouldn't they be running around the streets like stray cats and dogs???

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Road Trip!!

Our journey starts at 5am tomorrow morning. Greyt has the trailer all loaded up with everyone's bikes, I'm all packed, got some good audiobooks downloaded...we are ready to roll. Hopefully all goes smoothly...but if it doesn't, you'll hear about it! Check back here for pictures and updates throughout the weekend!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Race Day Dilemma

So the race is officially single digit days away. Last night I got an email from the race director with the swim wave times. They have the half iron participants go off first, then the quarter racers go off 30 minutes after the last half iron wave. I'm assuming that is so the majority of people can get past the point where the quarter racers merge with the half iron swim course.

My dilemma is this. Transition opens at 5:30am. I'm kind of anal and like to be there when transition opens for a race. I like to have the freedom to choose my transition area rather than being forced to find an open spot or squeeze in where I can. The transition area closes at 7:45. So that's 2 hrs and 15 minutes of set up time, warm up time, freak out time, whatever. I can usually handle that much time. But here's the deal. My swim wave doesn't go off until 9:00am! And everyone else including Greyt, goes off earlier at like 8:00am. So I have another whole hour and 15 minutes, BY MYSELF, to wait before my race starts. Ugh.

So, do I go to transition later to cut down on the waiting time? Or do I go to transition early, then go back to the hotel and relax for awhile before going back to the race start to warm up? Or do I just hang out at transition, supporting my fellow TRI Racers and just deal with 3 hours of waiting? Most likely it will be the third option, because I want to be there for Greyt and the others. But 3+ hours is an AWFULLY long time for me to sit and stew. And use the kybo. And stew. And use the kybo.

The good thing about this entire situation, though, is that I most likely will get the chance to cheer on Greyt as she comes out of her swim. I know she'll be out in plenty of time before my wave starts, so that will be cool. But still...three and a half hours is a heck of a long time to wait for a race...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time flies....

....when you are having fun, right? Then these past few months have been one big party for me because Galveston is all of a sudden right around the corner. 10 days. Wow. Part of me wants to panic. That's what I do before a race, I panic. About the swim, about not being prepared for the swim, about not finishing the swim, about possibly drowning. Yeah, can you tell what part of triathlons are the most challenging for me?

But not this time. I'm not panicky. I think I'm actually kind of excited. I KNOW I can do this swim. I am comfortable with the distance, I've done it several times in practice (and in pretty good time for me!). I am comfortable that I will not drown (thanks to the fact that this race is wetsuit legal!). For the first time, I am ready for the swim. Completely ready.

Bring it on, Galveston. Bring. It. On.

Friday, February 29, 2008

No Such Thing As A Good Excuse

Ok, well maybe a severe injury or a life threatening disease could be a good excuse for missing a workout, but most of the time you really just have a plain old excuse. And there’s really nothing good about it, it just is what it is. So here’s my story, my excuse, my whatever, for missing last night’s long run.

It snowed for most of the day, but nothing heavy and it wasn’t sticking to the roads. I am NOT going to run an hour on the rat wheel, I can run outside. Coach Mike says not to unless I have some kind of traction device on my shoes. Which I don’t have. I call the local running store, “we only have YakTrax in a size medium.” Too big. What to do. Looking out my window at the street below, the roads just look wet, it’s not icy. If I bust my butt home and get ready fast, I can get my run in before the temp drops and it does get slick.

Ok, leaving work as planned…on time…cruising home through minimal traffic, yep the roads are only wet not icy. At home, I go in the house, let out the dog, and begin the process of getting dressed in my cold weather gear. Tights, wind resistant pants, base layer top, wicking layer, illuminite jacket, vest, stocking cap and gloves. And socks and shoes of course. All dressed ready to go. Darn it, I forgot to put on the chest strap for my heart rate monitor. Back upstairs, grab the strap, go to the sink, turn on the warm water, wet the sensors, put on the strap, pull down and tuck in my shirts, zip up my jacket, zip up my vest, put on my watch. Hit the start button…waiting, waiting, waiting for it to register my HR…. ‘00’! UGH! Ok the sensors didn’t get damp enough. Repeat process. Waiting, waiting, waiting…’00’. ARGH! This thing drives me nuts. Third time’s a charm, right? This time I literally run the sensors under the faucet to wet them. Snap it on and BEFORE putting myself back together, tested the connection again. ‘00’. FORGET IT. I’m wasting time. I’m running without the data, I don’t care.

In the garage, stretching…getting ready to go. Step out into the driveway, feel the wind draft around my neck…hmmm, I need my balaclava. Back inside, up the stairs…searching, searching…where did I leave that darn thing? Finally! (under a pile of clothes on the floor in the closet that I have yet to put away. From a week ago. But whatever.) Balaclava on, out into the garage, stretch a little more, hit start on my watch …waiting…waiting…waiting…79! Score, ready to roll. Shut the garage door with the keypad, start my watch and I’m off! Step, step, step, SLIP, step, SLIP, SLIP, step, SLIP. This is not going to work, it’s too icy. *SIGH* Fine, I’ll just go run on the darn rat wheel.

Back in the garage, I see the bag of ice melt leaning against the wall. I should probably put some of that on the driveway. But I can’t put it down with my running gloves on, I have to change them. Inside the house, swap gloves, close the door to the house, back in the garage, spread the ice melt. Done. Ok, time to go change and get to the Y. Up the steps, turn the knob and PUSH…what the?? Turn the knob…not turning! How can that be? Is it stuck? Wait…what? Locked? How could THAT be? I didn’t lock it. Darn it! (Ok, so this isn’t exactly the same words I chose last night, but I’m keeping this G rated. Remember my 1 month old nephew reads this!) No key either. Now what? Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t lock the back door when I let Sunny out earlier. Run around the house, through the snow drifts, up the steps to the back door. Turn the handle and push….no dice. Locked too. Ok, last option, door #3. Back through the snow, around the house, up the steps to the front door. Grab the knob… it turns!! YESSSS! Push…yeah, nice try. The dead bolt is locked. *commence loud and obnoxious swearing*

So now I'm locked out of the house, sitting in the garage on the steps fuming mad. Laura isn’t planning to be home for at least another hour and a half. The garage isn’t heated, and I’m getting cold very quickly. Luckily I have my cell (always a safety precaution when I go on long runs). Dialed the office….”Um, yeah…I locked myself out of the house.” “So what are you doing now?” “Sitting in the garage.” *loud laugh* *grumble from me* “I’ll leave now and come home.” “Thanks.”

Now I'm sitting in my car waiting for Laura to arrive. Since I had just gotten home it was still warm from having my heat on. Good thing I have an emergency blanket in my car...I need it to stop the shivers. So, I’m mad, embarrassed and suddenly starving. Literally, as soon as Laura opens the door, I grab my car keys and do what any mad, starving athlete would do in this situation. I head to Taco John’s . Nothing like calming yourself with a meat and potato burrito and some potato oles. So I drown my irritation in wonderful greasy fast food, and look at the clock. Almost 9pm. UGH, I have to teach kickboxing at 6am and I still need to figure out what I’m going to do. *grumble* I give up, this run just ain’t happening.

And there it is folks…my excuse for last night’s missed workout. Sounds a lot like my dog ate my homework, huh???