Monday, June 22, 2009

A Whole Lotta Catchin' Up To Do

Sorry I've been so delinquent on my blog, but it's Facebook's fault. Darn thing makes it way too easy to update loads of people with one or two sentences. So, anyway...lots of stuff went down since my last blog post. Two races came and went with a little 12K time trial stuck in between, a bunch of major training hit the books, a BIG BIG BIG break-through occurred, and the first of my three MAJOR races is right around the corner. Like this weekend. How did that happen??? Sorry if this gets kinda long...I'll try to keep it short. And next time I'll try to blog a bit more often. :D

Bluff Creek Triathlon Race Report - Two weeks after the pin came out of my hand, I took the plunge and raced the sprint tri at Bluff Creek. I had like four or five swims under my belt, and I knew it was going to be rough. And rough it was. I got kicked in my recovering hand no less than 8 times in the swim, and came out of the water with it throbbing like crazy and me behind about 35 other women. I hopped on the bike and pushed as best I could, moving up to about 11th female. The run reflected my lack of training, and I was slow. Lost a couple of places, but I finished. Not a great race, but it got me into race mode and helped me along my path towards the break-through.

Two weeks of Solid Training - After Bluff Creek, Jen put the hurt on me. I trained hard. And I made the point to get into open water as often as I could. Hy-Vee was coming up fast, and I was determined to NOT have a repeat of last year's swim at that race.

12K Time Trial - I've been wanting to do this, just to see what happened if I went in and pushed as hard as possible on the bike. Well, folks, it hurts. Plain and simple. But it was fun. :D Although next time I won't do it two days before a sprint triathlon.

Holiday Lake Triathlon - I decided I needed another race under my belt before Hy-Vee so I entered this new race in eastern Iowa. With Copper Creek being held the same weekend and Ironman Kansas 70.3 also the same weekend, I had a feeling this race would be fairly small. And it was. Not even 150 people, 38 of them women. The weather was crappy, raining all night and right up until race start. The race went better than Bluff Creek. My training in OW paid off and I had a great swim for me. Got on the bike and hammered through the 18 miles of hills, wind, and light rain. Came into transition feeling pretty good and ready to run. Then proceeded to suffer my way through the hilliest 3.5 mile course EVER. They weren't big hills, they were the short, steep kind that hurt on the way up and on the way down. And they were relentless. I think I remember one stretch of maybe 200 yards that was flat, the rest was either up or down. And it was on a pavement/gravel mixture that made for unsure footing. Not the most fun I've ever had running. A woman at the last water stop told me I was the 3rd female. I checked back over my shoulder and saw no other female in sight, so I allowed myself to cruise into the finish. No need to push harder at that point, I was already feeling tightness and pain in my left hip flexor/quad. The race as a whole was stronger than Bluff Creek, I could tell my training was coming back. Slowly, but definitely coming back. OH! And I also had a chance to hang out with Maria at this race. It was awesome to get to know her a bit and see her kick some serious butt out there!

More training - Right after the race, Jen again put the hurt on me. Long run, long ride, swims, swims, swims. I saw some paces on my runs that I haven't seen for awhile, so things are looking good. The process is working. But the biggest thing of all happened less than a week ago...

THE BIG BIG BREAK-THROUGH - For any of you who have been following my blog for awhile, or just know me in general, know that I struggle with swimming. I have come a long ways since that first tri in Colorado where I couldn't even swim 25 yards without having to stop and hang on the side of the pool. But, I do still have my issues, especially in open water. This season I made the decision to get into open water as much as possible, as early as possible, so I could avoid the disaster that was the Hy-Vee triathlon last year. I had been going out to Big Creek every Tuesday with Greyt, and other TRI Racers, and doing pretty well at being comfortable in the water and doing a lap of the buoys before stopping. After Holiday Lake, I felt the need to make sure I could swim the distance of the Hy-Vee course (.9 miles). A fellow TRI Racer had done some work to figure out the distance around the buoys out at Big Creek so I knew that one mile equaled swimming out to the first buoy, completing three laps of the five buoys, then swimming back to shore. That was A LOT more than I had been doing continuously, so it was a bit intimidating. But last Wednesday night I told myself I was going to swim that one mile distance without stopping, no matter how slow I went.

I met Sarah at Big Creek, Greyt was going to be joining us a little later, so Sarah and I went ahead to get started. The water was really choppy. There were quite a few boats out on the water, sending some good chop back to the shore. At first, I got a little freaked...I wasn't planning on choppy water. But then I just put in my mind that I needed to do this, and that the chop was a bonus because it would help prepare me for a possibly rough swim at Racine. So, Sarah and I get in and take off. I focused on staying smooth, long strokes, easy breathing, rotating fully, and riding the little waves from the boats. It almost felt like I was body surfing at times. And for the first time ever, it felt FUN. I was actually having FUN swimming in open water. The first lap came and went. Then on the second I see Greyt swimming towards me, stopped only briefly to let her know I was doing ok and I was actually having fun (I knew she would be wondering)then went on my way. I started the third lap thinking "Oh. My. God. I am doing this. I am going to do this mile." And I wasn't even tired. Sarah and I came to a stop after the third lap at the buoy and I told her I was going again. That's right, folks, I was going for a 4th LOOP! Coach had a 50 minute swim on the books and I wanted to hit that 50 minutes. It would be the first time I did it continuous without breaks. And I did it. The fourth loop went just as well as the previous three. As I came into shore, I saw Greyt standing in the water waiting for us. When I could stand, I got up and did a really stupid looking happy dance and fell back into the water with the biggest smile on my face. I had done it. I swam OVER a mile without stopping. Without one single panic attack. And I did it in some rougher water than I was used to. I was ecstatic. At that point, I felt this HUGE relief wash over me. I knew I could do Hy-Vee. And I also knew I could do Racine. For the first time, I believed that I could actually do it without struggling the entire way. I was pretty damn excited. I even had to call Jen on my way home from the lake to tell her about it. Not just because I had a breakthrough, but also because I wanted to call her with some GOOD news for once. It's been a tough year...just wanted her to share in the first GOOD thing to happen in awhile.

So, that is that. We're all caught up now. :D I promise I won't wait so long to get a report up from Hy-Vee.