Sunday, July 27, 2014

Open Water Surfing

Today was Open Water Swim day at the lake. But with the breeze blowing and some active boat traffic, it felt more like Open Water Surfing on top of the waves (and under the waves as they crashed over my head!). It was hard work and felt like being in a washing machine, but I did a great job... managed to do each lap out to The Point and back in right under 30 minutes. I know that my time was aided in part by the waves giving me a push to the shore on the way back in, but it's nice to see that I came in under 30 minutes on both laps. Last time, I was only able to do that one time. I'm getting stronger at the lake, and that's a great feeling! I'm anxious to try it out when the lake is nice and calm - maybe I could beat 25 minutes??

9 weeks from today is race day! I'm feeling very, very ready! I know that the next few weeks of training are going to be more important from a mental standpoint. Physically, my body will be able to do the distances. To mentally put it all together is going to be what I will focus on these next few weeks. I am improving my stamina and keeping my focus mentally and practicing my hydration and nutrition plans.

August is a busy month with lots of great workouts, my tri training camp, and starting back to school and dance schedules. It's going to be a big balancing act, but that's part of life, isn't it? I'm hoping not to let it get to me and overwhelm me! Just do what I can do - and enjoy the process!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Follow me! I know the way!

The other day I mentioned to a friend that I'm having trouble finding time to blog, even though I really want to because I'd like to get my "readership" up. She replied that when she (who has a huge internet following) tries to write for an audience, it was harder to get the words to come. So I have decided I'm just going to go back to the mindset I used to have: this is a little journal for me to write what my training is looking/feeling like. I hope you enjoy reading about these things, but if not, that's OK! It's better than writing nothing, I suppose. And there go my dreams of earning extra money for races via my blog! LOL

OK, so today I met my training buddies to do a ride that we've never done before. I printed out the cue sheet, and I'm glad I did because the folks who organize the ride were super fast and we had no hope of keeping up. I put the cue sheet into a baggie and then used the clip that I got for Christmas. It worked perfectly and looked pretty cool!

Cue Clip holder
It fit easily on my bike via velco and the baggie kept it from flopping around or getting wet from my sweat. I was able to reach under it and access my bento box.

Since I had my handy dandy little clip, I was in charge of navigation for our ride. That was a bit stressful! We missed one turn, but the street sign was blocked by a tree, so I don't think anyone held that against me.

This was not my favorite route. We rode on a couple of very busy highways, including one steep down hill with a semi truck right behind us. Then we rode up a long, long hill on a very bumpy road. But other than that, this was a different route to keep things interesting. And this route seemed hillier, but Garmin doesn't indicate that the elevation gain was greater. I think these hills were steeper.

The biggest moment for me was when we were coming back to the park where we started. You see, this park is very close to my house and I have run and cycled there before. I have also, a long time ago, cycled near this park with a friend - it was my very first time on the roads. There is a hill leading to the park that is long and steep and I remember thinking to myself, "There is no way on earth I would ever be able to ride up that hill."

See that hill way off in the distance?? That's the hill!

But today, I did that. And I didn't just ride up that hill, I rode up that hill at the end of a 51 mile bike ride! It wasn't fast, but I felt strong. And to do something that I thought a few years ago was impossible for me - that was incredible!!

I also had another first today and that was to run off the bike after a long bike ride. I've done bricks where I've ridden 25 miles and then run a few miles but I have never done that after a longer ride. So today I brought my new shoes (different color, but the same model - Brooks Ghost 6) and I ran the one mile loop around the park. Since I've run at this park before I knew this mile was a bit hilly, so I just took it slowly... and did a really good job! It wasn't until after I stopped running that my legs were like "WHOA! What the heck did you do to me?!?" LOL (I ran 14 miles yesterday, so that's probably one of the reasons they were not very happy!)

It was also really hot, and I wish there were a water feature at this park like there is at the one where I usually do my long runs. My feet feel so good after dipping in the cold water. But there isn't anything like that at this park so I just had to suffer. I took off my shoes and socks, though, and wore my sandals home.

The race is 63 days from tomorrow! Simply incredible!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I did it! I survived!!

It took a lot out of me.

I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

I've never been so tired before.

I wanted to give up many times.

But in the end, I did it!

I lived through my daughter's Summer Intensive at her new dance studio! :) It was two weeks of driving her every day over to the studio and either occupying myself (and my youngest daughter) in that area, or driving home and then driving there and back again. I drove 600 miles just that first week! And my car doesn't have air conditioning right now. And remember I live in Atlanta. And it's July??

It also meant that my workouts had to end by 8 AM, or start after 11 AM, to allow for my drive time. I had to skip my group bike rides during the week and hit the trainer instead. And I had to cut some of my runs short to allow for the time to get back home and shower. I was able to get in my swim workouts.

In between those weeks, I went to Augusta to train. I ended up taking Monday as a rest day. And I took another one today, skipping an Open Water Swim. I was just too tired - and we start back to school in only 2 weeks!

This week I have scheduled a cut back week of sorts. My run and bike yesterday and the day before were shorter due to the aforementioned craziness, so I will count the cut back as having started then. This week, I have to have some work done on my car (yes, the A/C is on that list, but it may have to wait for next week... the more important stuff has to be done first! So, you know, the car will actually stay running! LOL). I'm hoping that I can get that done tomorrow, and then run in the afternoon or evening, and not have to be without my car for more than a day. I really want to ride on the roads on Tuesday (assuming that the weather gets better).

I should have more time to post now that I won't be running around like a crazy person - at least for a few weeks, until we start back to school and the new dance year.

Only 10 weeks until my first Half Ironman!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Confidence Boosting Training!

This weekend afforded me a wonderful opportunity - to train on the actual Half Ironman course in Augusta! I had already planned to attend the TriCoachGeorgia Training Camp in August (it was my birthday present from my mom!), but a friend arranged for us to have this preview weekend! She hired kayakers, and some wonderful folks from the TriAugusta Triathlon Club volunteered their time and talents to take us on the swim, bike, and run courses and show us the ropes! They are a truly remarkable group of folks!

I arrived late Friday night and found our hotel. This is the same one we'll be staying at for Camp and for the actual race. I was anxious to see how it looked since it's brand new, and find out if it's in a great location for my mom (and dad - he's probably coming now!) to be able to get to everything she wants to see on the course. It did not disappoint! Yes, Augusta is pretty shady downtown, but I never felt unsafe. We were in bed most evenings by 9, though! LOL

Hotel as seen from the run course!

Saturday morning we got to the river at 7 AM to meet up with the gang and carpool to the swim start. I hadn't worn my wetsuit in a long, long time and I was nervous that the river would be 'fast and wild'. I guess what I was picturing was more like White Water Rapids. Instead, this is the sight that greeted me when I arrived.

Early morning at the river!
The water was pretty cold but I got used to it quickly. And my wetsuit felt tight around my neck but I also got used to that quickly. My goal was to complete the distance and relax. The current was swift and it was hard not to set off down the river while we waited for everyone to get into the water. I ended up hanging on to the end of a kayak and putting my feet on a bridge brace.

We set off and I was pleasantly surprised that the water wasn't as dirty as I expected. There was lots of talk of "river grass" and in my head, I was expecting something like Harry Potter battled in the lake during the TriWizard Challenge! ;) I did see some of the grass but it didn't bother me. I was able to relax and sight fairly well. I wasn't pushing hard at all, and my heart rate didn't go up at all until the very end when I saw the faster guys in our group on the dock. I had to make a right turn and try to swim to the dock and the current was fighting against me! That was the hardest part of the entire swim. I fish-flopped onto the dock and took a look at my Garmin - 25:04! Seriously, that distance would take me an hour in the pool or lake! LOL I quickly became a fan of river swimming!

Jeff, a member of TriAugusta who came to swim with us, took this picture from the place where we finished. On the left you can see the dock where we stopped. During the race, we will come around and exit at the boat ramp which is just off this picture to the left. It can be rocky and sharp so we weren't supposed to use that this weekend, but during the race, the ramp will be covered with astroturf.

Yes, I swam this river - you can't even see where we started from here!
After a rather extended "T1" where we thanked our new friends profusely, we took off for one loop of the run course. I had the turn-by-turn directions with me, but it's basically up one street and down and back another in historic Augusta. And then you do that twice. It it completely, 100% flat. Not this sort of thing where it's advertised as flat but it isn't. No, this is truly flat! The area reminded me a good deal of running in Savannah!

We returned back to the Boathouse and drove back to the hotel for a soak in the pool to help with muscle recovery, and then to take showers! Then we took our hungry bodies out to lunch at a restaurant we had passed on the run course: Farmhaus Burgers.

Double-patty burger (because I didn't read the menu carefully LOL), fries, and an Oreo milkshake!
This was the best food I think I've ever eaten in my entire life! I looked at this tray and thought there was no way I could eat it all. Well, I did - leaving only half the milkshake. Oh yeah! ;) I said I will be eating there after the race on Sunday, but in getting the link to post here, I realized they aren't open on Sundays or Mondays. Hopefully they will make an exception for race day. I may call/write and beg.

After this much yummy goodness, all we could do was go back to the room for a nap! Zzzzzzzz....

We had plans to meet our TriAugusta friends at another local favorite restaurant: Nacho Mamas. I wasn't very hungry due to such a big lunch, and I was a bit apprehensive about eating Mexican food that I'd never tried before the night before I ride 56 miles in the heat and sun! So I stuck with the very safe cheese dip and a frozen Strawberry margarita. Both were delicious!

More yumminess!!
Despite the naps, we hit the bed early again for our 5 AM wake up for the ride this morning. This was the part I was really concerned about. I am not a strong cyclist yet and I've heard mixed reports about the course. Some folks say it's hilly and others say it's pretty flat or rolling. Last weekend, my group did a 48 mile ride that was new to me and they said if I could do that one, I'd have no trouble with Augusta. And I had no trouble, so I was encouraged!

We arrived back at The Boathouse (which is the location for transition on race day - not sure I mentioned that already??) and got the bikes out. I wanted to get on mine to just check it out. On Friday I had taken Mike to the bike shop for some adjustments and they took great care of me. But I wanted to make sure that when he said he tightened my rear brakes that it didn't mean that I'd fly over my handlebars! LOL I noticed quickly that there were lots of fancy bikes around me. Tri bikes. Road bikes with aero bars and refill bottle systems. I felt way out of my league. A lady walked up with a pretty regular bike like mine, so I asked her if she does triathlons, too. She said she did and that Augusta had been HER first Half Ironman. I explained the reason for my question and she told me she was more of a "minimalist" and doesn't even own a Garmin! (I do question her sanity with that, though. How does she get credit for her workouts without a Garmin?? LOL). That made me feel much better!

We took off and I was towards the back, as I knew I would be. The lady, Shannan, who was leading our ride (which she did as part of her own 100 mile ride to train for Ironman Chattanooga!) would tell us each segment that we were going to do, up to the next meeting point. She would tell us what to expect with traffic, road conditions, and the hills, etc. It was fantastic!! I was able to focus on what my potential strategy would be for each section, as well as focusing on my hydration and nutrition intake.

The ride was fantastic! I averaged 14.5mph and I wasn't really pushing hard! My "goal" has been 14mph while leaving enough in my legs for the run after. I think that is definitely do-able! And when I got back after the ride, my "minimalist" friend told me, "You don't need a tri bike! You're strong!" WOOHOO!

After the ride, several of us walked down the boat ramp into the water to let the chilly water serve as an "ice bath" to help with the swelling! It was SO cold, but it felt SO good! I could have stayed there for a very long time, but we had to get back for our late check-out (and a couple wanted to put their boat in on the boat ramp! LOL).

I drove home full of confidence and excitement! I really feel like this goal of completing my first Half Ironman will be possible! This course is fantastic and I am really looking forward to racing it and experiencing all of the energy on race day. I am also quite excited about Camp next month, too! I will be able to test out some of my strategies and see how they play out.

Hope training is going well for all of my readers! Stay hydrated this summer during (and before and after) your training and don't forget the sunscreen!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cut Back Week - sort of!

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but last week (including the race) was part of my Cut Back Week. I had to modify it a bit and make it a Friday-Thursday cut back due to life and the availability of my training buddies! If they can ride long this Saturday, then so will I! :D (Did I mention how much I love these folks? They are simply the best! So supportive and encouraging and they kick my butt!!)

Monday I ended up resting. Not because the race was physically draining, but because I had gotten only about 4 hours of sleep before driving over there, doing the race, and then driving home (in my car with no air conditioning). I should have napped when I came home, but I didn't. Bad move. But my adrenaline was in full effect and I was on such a tri-high! Later on that afternoon, my period started (sorry to any males who read my blog LOL) and then I knew why I was so completely exhausted. And by that point, I was so deep into the fatigue, that it was a struggle to get back out of it.

I did a brick on Tuesday, and then I ran on Wednesday morning. Thursday I rode again in the morning and swam laps in the afternoon. My energy level was coming back, finally! I never used to have this sort of issue with my periods - a side effect of being an older woman, I suppose?

And then yesterday arrived - Independence Day - and with it came a huge change in the weather pattern in Georgia. It had been unbelievably hot and humid for the last week at least, but when we woke up on the morning of the 4th of July, we were greeted with temps in the mid 60s and humidity around 64%!! Shocking for July in Georgia! I had planned 14 miles to run - 12 miles at a slow LSD pace, and then the last 2 miles at "race pace". The run went beautifully and I felt fantastic!

This is AFTER the 14 mile run. Looking and feeling strong!

Dipping my toes in the cold water! It's like an instant ice bath for the tootsies!

This morning, we were greeted with more of the same fantastic weather! I had wanted to do 55-60 miles, but my group wanted to do a ride that was closer to 50. Fine by me! My Ironman Friend told me that if I could do this ride comfortably, I would "crush" Augusta (her words! LOL). Now, I know the weather this day was much better than it's likely to be in Augusta at the end of September, but I had such a wonderful ride! There were a few decent hills and lots of rolling hills. But I felt strong! We averaged about 13.7mph and that felt EASY if you can believe it! I've been hoping that I'd be able to average 14mph during the race. So if this is my 'test course' so to speak and nearly 14mph seems pretty easy, I think I'm in good shape! I could have easily ridden for another 30 minutes. I had brought my running shoes to get in a quick mile or so after the ride, but I forgot my lock for my bike. I know that I could have run, though. I felt strong enough.

So my Cut Back Week is done, and I'm feeling good. Once again, I didn't do enough stretching and rolling and I actually did NO strength training. I managed one pathetic abs workout. But that's OK. My body needed the rest and I listened to my body! That is never a bad idea. :D

Have a wonderful weekend, folks! Be safe out there and enjoy the ride (or swim or run - or walk! LOL).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Race Report: Allatoona Sprint Triathlon

Before I even start this post, I want to thank my friend Nancy for all of the great pictures she took today at the race. She came with me because she will be competing in her first ever triathlon in August, and it just so happens to be at this same venue. So I invited her along so she could see a triathlon and how it all works! This will put her ahead of the game come her race day! And while she was there learning all she could, she took lots of pictures of me!

This venue is an hour from my house, and I wanted to get there right when transition opened at 5:30, so you do the math. I woke up at 3:30 and Nancy and I pulled out of my driveway at 4:20! We found the location with no trouble even though one street downtown was already blocked off for the finish line. It was pitch-black when we got parked, and I had forgotten that my friend BJ had brought a headlamp with her when we did the Olympic tri in April. I really need to remember that next time. A lady let me borrow her flashlight in transition so I could show Nancy how I packed my bag (since she was given the same bag). Thankfully, I hadn't needed light to get from the car to packet pick up and transition but that won't always be the case. Not to self: bring a light (I have a clip on visor light, so I just need to get batteries for it and remember to bring it).

Ready to walk the short distance from the car to packet pick-up!

It's nice to see that I'm very "glowy"!

Walked right up to packet pick up and timing chip pick up. Then got body-marked!

She did a very good job with my body-marking! I was pleased!

Check out my race number!
I felt like my race number today was one of those little whispers from God. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13! It seemed that today was destined to be special!

Got my transition area set up, showing Nancy all along the way how to set up her area.

The High School Musical towel has become the official "transition mat"!
After getting set up, it was time to eat, hit the bathroom, and check out the water. I tried to give Nancy enough information without overwhelming her. But that's hard to do because there's so much time to remember. We saw a few folks I know, and took pictures, but they are still on Nancy's phone. I'll have to share them later.

I got to test out my Old Navy flip flops (and they were even there at the end of the race so I got to bring them back home with me)! The water felt fabulous!! I was so very thrilled to be able to get in the water and feel comfortable doing so. The goggles felt good, didn't fog up, and the ground leaving the water at the Swim Out was free from debris.

Striking a pose!
At last, it was time to start the race! My swim wave was the 2nd to last. I lined up toward the back of the wave but didn't wait until everyone else had gone before I took off, like I usually do.

SWIM GOAL: Remain calm, swim without getting my heart rate up 

I swam with ease, even with people around me. I felt comfortable and confident, swam in a pretty straight line, and sighted with ease. I circled the buoys easily, thanks to all of the practice I have at the lake during my OWS practice. The water was a bit choppy due to all the people around me, but I had absolutely no trouble with it. Towards the end, when the speedy folks from the wave after mine began to pass me, I was able to maintain my own pace, and not let their speed and the choppiness they were kicking up bother me at all.

Swim time - 16:11 (500 meters)
Goal achieved 

BIKE GOAL: Balance speed with keeping enough in the legs to power the run

T1 went well. Didn't need to rinse off my feet, so I just dried them off a bit, put on my socks and everything, and walked to the mount line. No, I don't run to the mount line. I'm a wimp. Have you ever run in cycling shoes? It's not easy!

The bike course was advertised and flat and fast, and for the most part, it was. But there were a few rollers, and one pretty significant hill. I was actually able to get into the drops of my handle bars for the first time ever in a race! That felt very cool! I took it easy going up the hills. I tried to be mindful of relaxing my hands, but my thumb has still been bothering me a little bit this afternoon.

Bike time - 1:00:21 (16 miles)
Goal achieved

RUN GOAL: Start out slower than it feels, not letting my mind mess with me

T2  was probably slower than it needed to be, but I wanted to make sure I was completely ready to face the hill out of transition and the growing heat. I remembered to blow my nose this time. Not sure why on earth my nose runs so badly after the swim/bike.

I had been warned about the hills in the first mile of the run, but I don't think I really realized how steep it was at the beginning. When you're still feeling wobbly and awkward off the bike, that wasn't good. My mind tried to play a few games with me, especially, "If you can't run 3 miles now, how will you run 13.1 in 3 months?" Whatever. I didn't feel like playing that game so I was able to squash it! The first mile really sucked on the run, but by the end of the 2nd mile, my running legs had come back. The hills and all of the turns did annoy me, though. For some reason, I thought the run was advertised as being flat. It wasn't. And it was through residential areas and we must have turned 800 times. Or maybe not that much, but it was still annoying. We turned left twice in the last 1/10 of the mile!! @@

I crossed the finish with my arms in the air, which garnered a comment from the announcer who called me out by name! And then I was handed a medal and a cold bottle of water by a volunteer who removed my timing chip for me (even having to undo my safety pin)! 

Run time - 32:00 (5K/3.1 miles)
Goal achieved

7th triathlon complete!

Official result
Overall time - 1:53:38
Division place - 20/28
Overall place - 366/453

Fantastic race and I'm feeling great (with the exception of my thumb, which didn't bother me on the ride or run and only annoys me when I accidentally touch the place that is tender)!

13 weeks until Augusta!! It's time to kick the training into high gear!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Race ready?

Nothing like a relaxing day before a race, right?

Ha. Ha.

This morning I met a friend at the park and we started our 25 mile ride at 7 AM. The reason for the early start was the heat and humidity, plus I had a brunch with my homeschool group to get to at 10:30.  I was nervous because I was going to be leading the ride, so last night's dreams involved riding ALL NIGHT LONG. But everything went smoothly. We made it back in plenty of time, and had there not been a train and a tractor trailer blocking the roads, I would not have been 5 minutes late to the brunch! LOL

After brunch (which was delicious... I highly recommend going for a long bike ride before you go out to brunch), since I was at the mall area, I did my hydration/fueling shopping for the month of July.

 My first stop was REI to get my Skratch electrolyte powder for my bike. I also picked up some single serve packets to carry with me on the bike for the super-long bike rides. I can add it to some water, and continue on my way. There are the requisite Honey Stinger Chews, which I am not using a frequently anymore (in lieu of the much less expensive peanut butter on a sandwich skinny). The blue socks were a great clearance find - less than $5 and they are my favorite color!

REI goodies
 My next stop was the local running store, Classic City Running, to pick up some Cherry Limeade Nuun and some more of the electrolyte popsicles. While I was in there, I learned that my current running shoes were on clearance because the new model has arrived. They had ONE pair left in my size. I'm not due for new shoes until the beginning of August, but I'm concerned that the new model won't work well for me (though the guy at the store said that folks are transitioning with ease) and I'll be stuck right before the peak of my training. The guy convinced me to go ahead and get them by letting me know that this pair would put me closer to my $25 loyalty reward, which I could then use for my NEXT new pair, which will be the new model. So I saved $30 immediately, and I'll save $25 later. Win-Win!

Go in to get hydrated and come out with shoes!
My last stop was to go into the mall (on a Saturday, no less!) to get $1 flip flops from Old Navy. I do not like flip flops at all because I don't like the strap between my toes, but I also do not like walking from transition to the swim start on dirt, gravel, grass, or asphalt. I figure I can wear these to the start, take them off, and if they are there when the race is over, then I'll bring them home. If not, then they were only $1. I could have used a size bigger than I bought, but they will work just fine for what I need them for. I got the blue ones and red ones for me, since they match my kit. The black ones are for my hubby, the pink ones for my baby girl, and the silver for my bigger girl. Can't tell there is a difference in sizes? There really isn't much. This is what happens when you let children grow up. They get big feet.
$5 worth of flip flops! Wish they would have let me get another 5 pair!
I came home and chilled out for a bit. Then made my homemade pizza for my traditional "pre-race" meal. But I screwed up the dough (not enough flour... I guess I lost count @@) so my hubby went to pick up a cheese pizza for me from the local place.

Then it was time to pack. My brain is a little "Eh" tonight - thinking it's PMS (sorry to any males reading). As I age, I have this PMCraziness where I think I'm awful and worthless and horrible. As soon as my period starts, it goes away. At least I can recognize it now. But also, my left hand started bothering me today - didn't hurt during my ride and only hurts around my thumb joint, and only when I touch the spot. It's happened before and it's due to my maintaining a death grip on my handlebar, so I need to work on relaxing again. That will be something good to work on during the race - relaxing all of my body, including the thumb.

Getting pretty good at packing up for these things!
This is the first time I've done 3 triathlons in one season, and I'm very excited. Also, tomorrow marks 13 weeks until Augusta! I've got some big training coming up here in the next couple of months and I'm looking forward to it eagerly! I'm actually going to making 2 trips to Augusta this summer to train - including one trip for "camp"! :D

But first, there is a triathlon to race tomorrow - 500 yard swim, 16 mile bike, and 5K run. If you're looking for me tomorrow at the PTS Allatoona Triathlon, I will be wearing my Witness Through Fitness kit, with a vintage Swim Bike Mom shirt over it until I'm done in transition!