Sunday, April 13, 2014

Strong Swimmer?? Me?!

Today after church, I met BJ at the lake so we could get in an open water swim practice. She and I are both doing an Olympic distance triathlon 2 weeks from today. We were meeting this amazing friend of BJ's who is an Ironman. Like the real deal, full Ironman. And did I mention she's 68 years old? Yesterday she did the full century ride. Today, she was paddling in a kayak while we swim. Just because she's so nice like that! And obviously very, very strong!

So we got to the lake and put on our wetsuits. BJ brought Trislide and it really helped a lot. I definitely need to get some of my own. I didn't use much of hers so as not to use it up, but I think I could have put it on a couple of other places and it would have helped with the mild chafing. Also, it went on and off easier in the places where I used it. Today it only took me about 5 minutes to get that thing on! Good progress! LOL

We get into the water and it's very, very cold. I thought I'd be better prepared for it this time, but it was still pretty cold! The plan was to swim out to a buoy (we were in a cove) then over to another buoy, and then back to shore. This route is 1/4 mile. I wore my new Garmin 310XT to keep track of the time. I had heard that the GPS is not very accurate even during OWS, but that didn't matter to me. I could keep track of "laps" like I do at the pool. I have heard that you can put the watch inside your swim cap and that helps the GPS, but there is too much hair in my swim cap to have room for anything else! :)

Garmin's map of my route! Don't you love it when I swam up on the shore? :D

You can sort of see how it was the basic route, though it added a lot - almost doubled our workout. It doesn't bother me, though. I'm still digging the watch!

I did really well with spotting on the way out to the buoys and around them, but coming back to shore was hysterical. I kept going way, way off to the right. I was trying to spot BJs pink bag on the shore and just couldn't see it. Thank goodness the buoys during a tri are nice and big! :)

The first lap felt like forEVER. Literally, I got back to the shore and thought I'd surely been swimming 30 minutes or more (I didn't yet know the distance LOL). But the second and third laps went much, much better!

And here is the best part... my new Ironman friend called me a "Strong Swimmer"! Me!! I was beyond excited and tried my best not to be giddy and look like a complete dork! It's quite an honor when an Ironman tells you you are a strong swimmer. Or at least it is to me! :D I mean, I felt strong (after that first lap) so for her to tell me that I'm strong just reinforced it!

My first Olympic distance tri is two weeks from today. I may have already mentioned that! I am really, really getting excited! I'm starting to think the hardest part is going to be getting up super early to make the long drive down there! LOL

One final picture from my Garmin's report of this swim - notice about halfway down, where it shows my "Max Speed"? Who knew I could swim 48 mph!!! LOL
Might be easier to SWIM down to the race at those speeds! :)
Hope all of your workouts this week leave you feeling strong, too!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Race/Ride Report: 2014 Tony Serrano Century Ride

Ok, so technically speaking it isn't a "race" so I can't call it a race report, but it was a special event and a milestone, so I'm going to do it! Because it's my blog! :)

Lots of anxiety this morning. When the alarm went off, I actually said a cuss word. That's so unlike me! But I got up and got moving anyway. Because that's what I do! I got the car packed up and the bike on the back and left around 7 AM and arrived at 7:40 (stopped by the bank to get some cash).

Since I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to do, I asked the guy next to me. He directed me down the alley and around the building. I got my wristband, which was the access to the goodies at the rest stops. Then while I was picking up a cue sheet, a man told me to put one of the sticker dots that matches my route (green = 62 miler) on my wristband so that when I forget which color arrows on the road to follow, I can look at my wristband. I did so, but thought to myself that I wasn't so stupid as to forget which color to follow! [Tidbit of info: I DID forget, right around mile 35! So glad for the dot at that point! LOL]

At this moment, before the ride started, I questioned my sanity!
I got everything ready to go, and headed to the start. As I was passing by on my bike, my FB friend and Tough Chik team mate Karen said hello to me! I stopped and talked to her for a bit and that really helped to settle my nerves! I saw her once on the course as she flew by me, and that was it!

I found my friend BJ, who I was planning to ride with, and met her husband. We saw our friend who is training for Ironman Chattanooga and was going to be doing the 100 miler. We also saw some Witness Through Fitness folks! I cannot wait to get my team jersey so I can represent at these events!

Everyone gathered at the start line and I've never seen so many bikes in one place in all my life!
Official start line!

I thought this was so many bikes... there were SO many more yet to come!

BJ and I waiting to start!
The ride started on time and we were all led by police escort on a mass start through the town of Monroe. That was so cool, but I was a bit (LOT) intimidated by it! I've never ridden with so many bikes so close to me. I still feel so wobbly, but I made it through!

BJ and I rode together for the whole race. She and I are pretty similar in pacing, and it made the time pass by so quickly! Before long, we were at the first rest stop. Despite the fact that I'd been told this race is famous for its rest stops/food, I was unprepared for what I saw!

Rest stop signs! :)

More rest stop signs!

Bikes everywhere!!

The entrance to Rest Stop #1
The line for the amazing homemade food!
After rest stop #1, it was hard to get the legs moving again. And my left hamstring started acting up. It was so strange because it hadn't bothered me at all before that point. I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. But I just kept pedaling! :)

Rest Stop #2 wasn't very far away! It wasn't quite as busy as the first one, probably because the field was starting to spread out by that point. I hit the porta-potty and then got some yummy goodies!

Yes, those are homemade cookies!

But there are also strawberries and bananas! Look at all this food?!?

And there was hummus, and wraps, and veggies! Everything you could possibly need to fuel your ride! And all so delicious!
We got back on our bikes and took off. And my hamstring was magically fine and never bothered me again! So strange!

This section was incredibly hilly. Not huge hills, but just hills that went on forever and ever and ever! Up until this point we had been averaging pretty close to 15mph (and my Garmin recorded a 20mph mile!!), but those hills really slowed us down.

As I was going up one of these crazy long hills, a vehicle pulled up next to me. It was the SAG van. He asked me if I was OK, and if I was doing the 62 or 100. I said I was fine and I was doing the 62, and he said that was great and that the next rest stop was less than 4 miles away. Then he moved on. I was REALLY freaked out. I was feeling fine, actually feeling sort of strong on this hill. Did I look bad? Was he going to pull me from the course? I found out later that he had stopped and checked on everyone, so that made me feel better. But in the moment it was very unnerving!

We got to the Rest Stop #3 and it was very welcome after all of the hills! This was the last rest stop for the metric century folks, and we had less than 10 miles to go!

Even fewer people... we are bringing up the rear with style and class!

Brownies! Don't you wish you had done this ride now??

Peanut butter/Granola balls. These are little drops of heaven!

10 miles to go and feeling great!

The rest of the miles were on busier roads so we rode single file and kept our concentration focused on the roads. But the time went by quickly! I was really feeling great, but I was also really ready to be done. I think I could physically do a century (100 miles) with the proper training, but I'd have to do it with a friend so I wouldn't be incredibly bored! LOL

We crossed the finish line and I put my bike up and went to get my race swag!

Water bottle, "Jersey Bin", and tee shirt! (I paid extra to get the shirt, because I had chosen the bottle/bin option!)

Lunch was provided with our registration ($35 registration, by the way... pay attention Race Directors! LOL) but it was pre-made wraps with stuff on them that I won't eat. Which is OK! But I hadn't really prepared and I was SO hungry! I ate my peanut butter sandwich that I had made for my racing fuel but didn't end up needing. That took the edge off, but I still texted my husband and told him that I was going to need some red meat as soon as I got home! :D He did so and grilled me an awesome hamburger. YUM!

So my overall reaction to my first Metric Century, the Tony Serrano Century Ride? Two Thumbs WAY, WAY up!! I had so much fun! The rest stops were amazing (granted, I don't have anything to compare it to LOL), and the course was really great (with the minor exception of those unending hills - but hills are good for us, right??).

Will I be there next year? Lord willing and the creek don't rise!

Will I do the full century next year? Hmmm..... 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The day before your first Metric Century you should...

1. Rest up, hydrate, eat lots of carbs, plan your fueling strategy, and become familiar with the course.

2. Go to a rock concert, stand on your feet for hours, don't drink any water so you don't have to leave your prime spot on the barricade to use the bathroom, get home at 3 AM, and then proceed to take apart your bike for the first time ever.

I'll let you guess which one is the right answer and which one is the one I did.

Here are a few pictures to help you in your decision-making:

Broken Presta valve = a tire that will not hold air! I shall fix it!

I really, really, really need to clean my chain. This is disgusting, and embarrassing.

Woo-hoo! Gonna change my tire! I have the wheel off... rocking it upside down! I am awesome!
20 minutes later, I still can't even get the tire off the rim. I pulled up a youtube video and it looked so easy! I was on the verge of tears.

I loaded up the tire and drove to the closest bike shop. The kid working there had a really, really hard time getting the tire off so that made me feel better. So I insisted on finishing it myself, and it was SO hard. I don't have the hand strength that I need to make this work easily. Finally, the bike shop owner helped me, and I was on merry way to put the wheel back on the bike.

Except I couldn't. It would not go back on and when I did get it on, it would fall off. And if it stayed on, the chain was in the wrong place. It was horrible - and I started to cry. I would like to think that if I had not been out until 3 AM this morning then I wouldn't have cried.

But I'm not so sure.

And then my son tells me he has to be someplace in 30 minutes. And I cried some more.

So I throw the bike on the rack, put the wheel in the back seat, my son in the front seat and we rush to the bike shop. Son texts his peeps to tell them he will be late. He probably added, "My mom is losing her mind!" He wouldn't have been wrong!

Bike shop kid does not laugh at me at all. He just shows me how to get the wheel back on, and it's just not easy, folks. I'm just saying it - it's NOT easy! Then he tells me where I can clean my very dirty hands. And I do. And then my cadence sensor falls off. And he helps me put it back on.

I did buy a new tube for my saddle bag. I should also make them cookies. Maybe I will do that next week!

Got the son to his meeting. Came home and tested out the bike. Because I am riding my first metric century tomorrow and it would be bad for the bike to fall apart underneath me. Everything seem a little loopy at first but after a few shifting passes on both the front and back, it's back to normal. I put the sensor back where it can actually sense the things it's supposed to sense, because I am now an expert at that, sort of.

And now it's 9 PM and I don't know what to wear. And I only sort of know what to take to eat and drink. And I'm feeling quite a bit of anxiety. I'm hoping it's related to the lack of sleep. That part I can take care of, though, so I'm going to!

Check back tomorrow for my (hopefully) exciting report of my (hopefully) first successful Metric Century bike ride! :) 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My birthday present!

I'm not sure if I posted here or not, but a few weeks ago, my Garmin fell off the trainer - the strap had completely split apart. I attempted to put a new strap on it, and my husband tried, and my Dad tried. Finally, I just decided to ask for a new watch for my birthday! I am really ready to move up to a triathlon watch that I can use in the water.

Now, there is the grand-daddy of triathlon watches out there: the Garmin 910XT. But at the moment, it costs $400. And that's a lot of money for someone like me who doesn't NEED all of the swim data. And I do NEED a few other triathlon-related things, so I decided to ask for the much more reasonable Garmin 310XT.

Here is where I'll note that my mom told me that I didn't have to ask for something triathlon-related for my birthday. I was confused by her statement. ;)

On Thursday, two days before my birthday, this little beauty arrived -

Mom gave me permission to try it out before my birthday, but I decided it would be great to actually use it for the first time ON my birthday for the Half Marathon.

It is very lightweight and comfortable on my wrist. I absolutely LOVE the function where it vibrates for the intervals! I didn't have any annoying beeping going on, and didn't have to worry about getting my intervals confused with anyone else's!

Yesterday I used it on the trainer for my bike ride and that was also cool. I actually have a "Speed" display! LOL I have 4 display fields set up for running and biking - but I may need to go to fewer fields and have the screens alternate. No, not because I can't see the smaller font with 4 fields. No, that wouldn't be it at all. It confuses my brain to have all the data fields. Yeah, that's it!

Today, I got to test it out in the pool! The first thing I noticed was that, in the water, this thing feels like it's a 200 pound anchor! ROFL I'm not sure what the heck that was all about but it was freaky. A couple of tri-folks who also have this same watch tell me that that feeling will go away in a couple of weeks, so that's good! Since the GPS doesn't work indoors, I did what another tri-friend suggested and hit the lap button at the end of each lap and then I went in after the workout and manually entered my distance (which I could get from the number of laps I completed). This was really cool and it allowed me to see which of the strokes are slowing me down. And now I have some sort of 'standard' by which to judge my swimming. Am I slow? Or am I absolutely, completely, ridiculously slow? (Really? It doesn't matter! It is what it is! As my swim coach told me when I first started: the triathlon isn't won or lost in the swim. I just need to be able to finish before the cut-off time!)

Needless to say, I am very happy with my new toy!! Thank you, Mom! :D

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The day my husband called me stupid

3 weeks from today I have my first Olympic distance triathlon! It has not been a very warm early spring (except for a few days this past week) and the winter was super cold, so the water is really cold. And this is an early triathlon (at least it is in my opinion). It will likely be wetsuit legal, which is great because I can practice for the Half Ironman! :) But there is a problem.

I haven't worn my wetsuit in over a year. Not at all. I haven't even tried it on! And I certainly haven't tried it in the lake.

But that's not all.

The water is COLD. And I am not good in the cold at all. I remember reading on Swim Bike Mom's blog how she hyperventilated and freaked out when she put her face in the cold lake water for the first time. I can so see that happening to me! So I NEED to practice my open water swim, but it's hard to get it done. I can't go out alone because that's not safe, but my husband works early during the week!

So yesterday after the half marathon, when he asked me what else I wanted to do for my birthday, I broke the news to him: I want to try out my Wetsuit. At the lake. And I need him to come watch me for safety. (He was a lifeguard in high school. It doesn't matter how many years ago that was ----> 27). Because he loves me, and it was my birthday, he agreed!

We drove out to the park and I started the huge task of putting on the wetsuit. This, my friends, is a workout unto itself! Luckily, my husband took pictures!

This is going to be fun!! Right?!?!
Trying to get it up to my crotch! LOL 
10 minutes later and it's almost on. I'm glad this part doesn't count toward my total time!

Ta DAH!!!!

It was finally time to hit the water. Some folks were coming up to the parking lot as we were heading down.

"Is she going to get in the WATER???"
My husband took a picture of them and their expressions. This was the first time of many that he called me STUPID during this adventure! LOLOL

At this point, I'm realizing how cold the water truly is!

I'm in the water! The wetsuit truly helps!

Getting my arms wet - that was when I squealed because I was so cold! LOL
At this point my husband told me to stop wasting time and just get it over with! :) He was probably right, but I was picturing myself hyperventilating and freaking out. Luckily, that didn't happen.

I put my face in and while it was very cold, I adapted quickly. Really the only problem I had was that my goggles were leaking, probably due to my hair being up in a different way (2 braids instead of one). Once I got the goggle problem taken care of, I was swimming away!

The wetsuit was very buoyant, which was good and bad. Good that I didn't have to really focus on staying afloat, but bad because I felt weird and it was hard to get my stroke working the way it's supposed to. But I'm sure that will come with more practice. Hopefully I'll be able to get back out to the lake next weekend so get some real practice in. I hope that the buoyancy of the suit will make me faster - I felt really slow and awkward, and I don't have much of a speed cushion in the triathlon's cut off times.

Nice to know that he's watching over me while I swim! LOL

All done and heading back to the shore!

Not sure why, but I LOVE this picture!
Someone thinks I've lost my mind! :D
So I finished a few laps back and forth and then I had to take the wetsuit OFF (which was another workout LOL) and change into some dry clothes for the ride home. I was SO cold! Wow! But my leg muscles actually felt great - I guess it's an alternative to the ice bath!

So I'm feeling much, much, much more confident in my wetsuit and in the triathlon! Yes, it's going to be cold and it will feel awkward, but I can overcome it! That's a great feeling!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Race Report: Chick Fil A Inaugural Half Marathon 2014

Today was my birthday Half Marathon and it was a FANTASTIC race! The weather was absolutely perfect - low 50s at the start but it didn't get super warm, either. We'd been having a heat wave this past week with highs in the 80s and I was concerned that it would continue today, but it didn't! There was a little bit of cloud cover which made the weather even more conducive to running.

Since today was my birthday, I didn't want to push anything. I knew the course was going to be a bit hilly and I haven't trained on hills due to time constraints. Also, I need to practice keeping my pacing under control since I'm technically still on the base-building phase. So while I knew I wasn't shooting for a PR, I still had a goal in mind!

My friend, Crystal, made a special shirt for me to wear in honor of my birthday - it is sparkly and fantastic!!!

Flat Niffercoo

The back of the shirt

Before the race this morning!
I met up with some of my friends from Moms Run This Town, including another Birthday Girl! :D We took pictures, had a potty break, and then went to the corrals - or, as they are called, Cow Pens.

Only 3 "Cow Pens" - the slowest one being 2:30 pace, for a race with a 4:30 time limit. There was a lot of crowding back here!
The race started on time (and the drive/traffic was uneventful as well - surprising for an inaugural event!) and we took off. I didn't start my walk intervals immediately due to the crowding on the course. But that was OK since I wasn't breaking any land speed records anyway. I just went with the flow and enjoyed myself, especially with folks constantly wishing me a Happy Birthday!

We wound through the city of Athens, starting in downtown and going all over the place, including the University of GA campus and past the football stadium (which seems smaller in person). My husband swears it holds more people than the one on my own University's campus and that it just looks smaller at UGA due to its location. Who knows! It was neat to see it though since so many of my friends are UGA fans.

I loved the course and how pretty of a city Athens is. There were a couple of significant hills which I mostly walked. I am the birthday girl, after all, so I can walk the hills if I want to! :D I'm glad I didn't wear any headphones because I got to really interact on the course and take in my surroundings! I definitely want to race in Athens again because it's so beautiful!

Overall, the race was good! The medal is very generic with no date or anything else on it. Nothing is even noted about it being the Inaugural event. They could easily use the leftovers for next year's race. That is No Bueno. But I loved the location of the start line and expo - it sure was nice to be able to use actual bathrooms before the race instead of portapotties. The finish line was inside the same location, where the Expo was held and that was different but interesting. And we got a Chicken Biscuit as part of our finisher's food which is a great way to get the protein back into our bodies! :D

I don't have a picture of me in the finisher's shirt because I came home from the race and immediately went back out to practice in the open water with my wetsuit. And I've been super lazy the rest of the day! :D I am wearing the shirt, but just too lazy to get makeup on and do by hair! LOL

Tomorrow I'll write up the wetsuit practice and post the pictures!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I survived!

I made it through my first Dance Picture Day! And unlike Open Water Swim, nobody tried to drown me! :)

Here I am in my costume with my girls in their tap costumes (we did a Mother/Daughter picture):

Having my hair up in a bun with all those pins pushing into my head was horrible! I'd rather run a full marathon again! And it felt like my eyelids weighed 10 pounds each with all the makeup I was wearing!

But I made it through! It was touch and go there for awhile! ;)