Friday, July 24, 2015

MCM 2015 Training - Week #4... and #5... and #6... and #7

So, I fell a bit behind on my weekly training reports. Since this weekend is the end of Week #7, I thought I'd just give a brief overview for the previous 3 weeks of training.

I swam.

I biked.

I ran.

I raced. Twice. (You read those race reports already!)

All of it has gone well, overall. I am nursing some tightness in my left shoulder/arm that I think developed in my attempts to increase my swimming speed without paying good attention to stretching said muscles. It doesn't hurt and I only notice it now and then, and not at all while I'm swimming, biking, or running. It's weird. But I am being more diligent about stretching and rolling the muscles in my shoulders and back. Now that I'm out of triathlon mode and only using swimming for cross-training, I can cut back on my distance and intensity or cut it out altogether and let my shoulder rest if need be.

It has been challenging to get the training in with the schedules my daughters have this summer. Lots of dancing and lots of working - and they don't drive yet. I'm so glad that I didn't try for a Half Ironman this year! And it's been so humid this summer that training hasn't been pleasant. But it's all worth it for those fall marathons!

This is a cut back week of sorts (Week #7) and then I start into the double-digit long runs next week! I am actually very, very excited! It seems like everyone else has been in the double-digits for awhile and I'd been getting a little nervous. But I'm going to trust my training plan.

MCM2015 is THREE MONTHS from tomorrow!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Race Report: Chopped Oak Sprint Triathlon

Today was my last triathlon of this season. It's time to focus on my fall marathons, but I'm so glad I was able to compete in 2 sprint triathlons this season. I am so pleased with my performance in each triathlon and I'm very glad I did them! I'm especially glad that I got to share today's triathlon with my friend, BJ!

She and I met at the crazy hour of 5:30 AM at the gas station! The plan was to caravan the 70 miles to the race start. But to my surprise, BJ had her bike rack on the back of her car (and her own bike inside her car) and offered to drive us both up there together! Since I have driven 1400 miles in the last 2 weeks (now do you see why I haven't posted? LOL), I was thrilled to be relieved of driving duties. And the time always passes by so quickly when you're catching up with a friend! The hardest part about this year has been missing my long rides with my friends and all the talking that we would do along the way! I truly, truly miss the hours and hours on the bike with my buddies! 

We arrived with plenty of time to get set up and check out the area. This Sprint triathlon was held in conjunction with a Super Sprint and some Kid triathlons but it was a small turnout so we could set up wherever we wanted. We picked up our race numbers and got our bodies marked. I set up transition next to BJ right outside the door where we would leave the pool. I think our transition area was in the perfect location! 

Mike (on the right) enjoyed seeing his buddy, BJs nameless bike. Mike is envious of the new aero bars that his friend has now!
We checked out the race course as best we could. This company is small and their races are laid-back. That's not a bad thing at all! And this is my 3rd triathlon with this company and they are improving each and every time! We took our obligatory pre-race selfie and then went inside. 

The pool was an 8 lane, 25 yard pool, which explains the fact that the Sprint swim was 400 yards when the Super Sprint was 250 yards. The lanes were wide and the water felt good. This entire facility was top-notch! I was impressed since it wasn't a YMCA but is owned by Habersham County! 

Swim 500 yards - 9:49 (2:27/100 yards avg)
Since this was a pool swim, we lined up in order of anticipated swim time. This is especially important because a swimmer takes off when the previous swimmer makes it to the end of the lane. If everyone is honest about their time, then nobody bumps into each other. But not everyone is honest about their time - they either under or over estimate and then it gets a little dicey. And in this pool, we had to go from left to right which is pretty much opposite of how most pools work. So we would go down a lane on the left side, turn around and come back the same lane on the left side, and then at the end of that lane you duck under the rope and go down the left of the next lane! I saw one collision when a person was swimming on the right side. I'm sure she was just falling into the pattern of how she normally swims in her home pool. She was OK, and kept on swimming! 

As for me, my swim went very well. I had timed a practice swim last week in the pool near the dance studio which is set up in yards. I did one set pushing very hard and finished in 9:30, then I did a second set taking it very easy and finished in 10:30. So I estimated my time as 10:00. I finished in 9:49 according to my Garmin and that was pretty close, I think! And, I actually passed someone in the last lap! That probably wasn't very nice, but I didn't want to hang behind him. I hope it didn't ruin his day. 

T1 - 2:26
I was determined not to sit down this time. And I didn't! I did dry off my feet a little because we had run through grass and I didn't want to have grass in my shoes. Transition was a small area so I didn't have too far to run. 

Bike 16.59 miles - 1:03:41 (15.6 mph avg)
This bike route was a double loop. When I took off on my first loop, the officer wasn't yet directing the traffic so I had to pretty much stop coming out of the aquatic center grounds. That was annoying. We were on a 2 lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit, which made me nervous but the traffic wasn't heavy and the cars were, for the most part, careful. The course was small rolling hills which was good considering we were close to the mountains. In fact, when we made the one and only turn I could see the beautiful mountains in the distance. I didn't get to enjoy them for long because the turn-around point was at the bottom of the hill. Yes, turning around at the bottom of a hill to go back up said hill. That was the only part of the course that I did not like at all. When I got back to the aquatic center, I was directed to turn around in the parking lot and head back out for my 2nd lap. I definitely didn't feel as strong on the 2nd lap but my cycling has been lacking recently so I wasn't surprised. And I probably went out a little too fast on the 1st lap. But that's the beauty of a sprint - you can screw up and it won't ruin your race! I have to check but I think my average speed may be close to a record in a race! 

T2 - 1:13
I was going to rock this transition. Kept it simple! Shoes off, shoes on, grab visor and bottle of Nuun and take off! 

Run 2.04 miles (supposed to be 5K) - 19:59 (9:49/mile avg)
This route was also a double loop, and a little bit different from the loop the Super Sprint had to do. I'm not exactly sure what happened but it was nowhere close to the 3.1 miles we were supposed to do. I'm not sure if the volunteers were calling out wrong directions for us or what exactly happened, but I did what I was told to do and ran the same distance as everyone else. My only complaint was that I was pacing myself for a 5K, and if I had known it was going to be so short I would have adjusted accordingly! LOL In the end, it's really OK. I felt strong. I had fun. That's all that matters! 

Overall time - 1:37:09 (Garmin)

Since it was such a small race, BJ and I decided to wait around for the awards. I figured we would each pick up an age group award. Well, imagine my surprise when BJ's name is called for 1st place OVERALL Master's female and my name is called for 2nd place OVERALL Master's female! That was such a shock and very unexpected! What a way to end my triathlon season for 2015! And apparently I qualified for the Five Star triathlon championships in October, but it's the same weekend as my 20 miler for MCM so I will have to miss it! I guess this means I will have to qualify again next year then! ;) 

In my cute race shirt and sporting my 2nd place OVERALL Master's female award! I couldn't be more thrilled! 
Overall, I would recommend this race but I do hope they are able to figure out what happened on the run course and get that straightened out! Five Star NTP is a small company and I'm not sure they are triathletes so they may not understand the importance of these small details. But they are nice folks and they are constantly working to improve - this year there are even chip timers for the triathlons and I know that had to be an expensive investment! I like supporting small race companies as long as they are working to improve the experience for their athletes. So for this race, they need to fix the run mileage for the Sprint and make sure there is more/better food post race. Not a deal breaker for me as I always bring my own food since I'm so picky! LOL I will keep this race on my radar for next season!

This seems to be a pretty busy weekend for races. If you've raced this weekend, please comment and share your race report! I love reading other people's stories!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Race Report: Peachtree Road Race 2015

After 3 years away from the largest 10K in the world that happens right in my own backyard, I decided that 2015 was the year I had to join pretty much everyone I know and take part in this Atlanta tradition!

The fun started yesterday when I had to go to the Expo to pick up my race bib. My husband had to day off so he joined me. He has taken up running to help with his high blood pressure, and he is the kind of runner who needs a race to train for to keep him motivated. We decided to join the Atlanta Track Club at the Expo because they offered a special deal where you paid the fee, but got the rest of this year and all of next year - and that includes the guaranteed slots for 2016's Peachtree Road Race plus a shirt for each member! We also purchased member hats while we were there because they look cool! I had wanted to buy a singlet to wear in the race today but they were sold out of my size.

After picking up my bib and joining the ATC, we did a little shopping, tried some samples, and picked up a couple of coupon codes for races I've been looking at entering! It was so much fun and I'm very glad I went. I was able to pick up some of my nutrition/hydration supplies at a discount and they gave me free water bottles, which is cool. Because you can never have enough water bottles!

Last night I took my girls to our local fireworks show and got home around 10:30. I still had no idea what I was going to wear to the race. I wouldn't make that decision until this morning! So strange for me. I couldn't do a Flat Runner picture! LOL

I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep, but I woke up with my alarm. It was a comedy of errors this morning. My kitties demand to be fed at the first sign of 'awake' from me (only me @@) so I tried to feed them but ended up spilling kitty kibble all over the bathroom floor. They will not eat off the floor, so I grabbed the broom and swept it up. Then I checked the weather app to find out that it was raining hard and would be for most of the race. That helped me decide upon the Nuu Muu dress with Sparkle Shorts underneath and my Moms Run This Town visor to keep the rain out of my eyes. I knew I needed to wear Injinji toe socks today instead of my new favorite Thorlos just to avoid blisters from toes rubbing together. I would also want to pack a change of clothes and towels in the car for when I got back. And I needed my Tri Slide. Couldn't find it. And I needed a poncho. Couldn't find it. So it's 4:45 in the morning and I'm trying to quietly hunt down stuff that is always exactly where it always is, except on the one day that I need it. Finally, I found the Tri Slide in my pool bag (huh??) and I found a non-Disney but still not a cheap ponco and decided to make it work. By the time I was pulling out of the driveway it was about 15-20 minutes later than I wanted.

When we went to the Expo the day before, we parked at the Marta station nearest to my husband's work. I usually park at the one at the end of the line, but it's kind of harder to get to. Since I was running late, I decided to go ahead and go to the one near hubby's work in case the parking lot was full. I figured I could park at his office and then walk to the station. I need not have worried. The lots were basically empty! The rain had stopped so I was able to apply the Tri Slide in all the strategic places. And then I took the obligatory Pre Race Selfie.

Selfie in the dark!
I walked up to the station, and started on the escalator when I heard a train pulling in! I ran up the escalator and onto the train. A lady laughed at me and hollered, "The race hasn't started yet!" :) The train was mostly empty so I was able to sit down! Woohoo! Got off at the Lenox station and located the place where the MRTT picture was to be taken. I set off to find a porta-potty and didn't have to wait in line for that, either. But while I was inside the potty, I heard the rain begin. Hard. I got out and put on my poncho and went to see how far away was my corral for my wave.

Wave E - my highest wave ever for PRR!
The rain continued and I found my crew of volunteers huddling at the LA Fitness building, so I joined them. I ended up missing the MRTT picture due to not wanting to get out in the rain. Had I known it was going to rain the entire race anyway, I think I would have gone back for the picture! LOL Oh, well!

The rain did clear out around 7 AM so I went in search of another potty. I was standing in line when a lady stopped and said that there was a whole row of bathrooms around the corner with no line. I was pleasantly shocked!

Incredible! No line for 60K people??
I went back to my previous spot to wait for my friend, J, to text that she had arrived. I figured I may as well sit down as much as I could!

You can see the start line - where the flag is - from my spot!

I was sitting right behind this guy - LOVE his tattoo! 

I stood up to start loosening up and by the time I finished I received the text from J that she had arrived. I went to find her in the corral but thankfully she found me - thanks to my red braid! :) The time in the corral went by really quickly. I ditched my poncho because it was too hot to run with and too bulky to carry. (I really could have used it after the race, though. But who could have known!?) Soon we were at the start line and heading down Peachtree Street!

J and I hadn't planned ahead of time to run together, but we had talked about doing some training runs together as she will be with me for both of my Maniac Qualifier marathons this fall! I have been training to run the first 2 miles (instead of doing the run/walk intervals) when the course is most crowded so I'm stopping to walk in such crazy conditions. So J and I started talking and running, and running and talking, and enjoying the drizzle and rain and all that is the Peachtree Road Race.

We were almost to Mile 2 when J mentioned that if this is my "slow training pace" then she wouldn't be running with me at the marathon - I don't have current pace showing on my watch so I had to wait for the Mile 2 split to come on. Since I don't have my glasses on me, I could only vaguely make out that it said 8:XX. I said, "Does that say 8??" LOL Yeah, I'm going to have to practice not being so into the talking and experience that I forget about my pace. We slowed down a bit and I started with the walk intervals. I had neglected to turn the alerts on for them at the start, so I had to keep watching for them which is annoying. Still we were keeping a pace right around 10 minute miles, even with the walk breaks and even going up Cardiac Hill! But it didn't feel like a challenge, I assume due to the cooling rain that was pouring on us.

We did see lightning one time on the course and I think that was around mile 3 or 4. I wasn't sure if they would make us get off the course. I was hoping they wouldn't! I was enjoy my race and feeling strong! I don't have any pictures on the course - not even a selfie with J and the other friends of hers that were in our corral! The rain stopped me from pics on the course and the selfie just slipped my mind.

When the last mile hit, we stopped the walk breaks and just ran it in. That last part of the race from where the photographers are located until the finish line feels SO long! I had forgotten about that! It made me laugh this time! The whole race went so well - I was really pleased! I'm not sure if it was due to the rain/cool temperatures or if I'm just a stronger athlete since the last time I did this race in 2011. Whatever the reason, I had an absolute blast! And running with J made it feel like it was absolutely no time at all - I was constantly shocked when it was time for another walk break! The miles flew by!

Check this out - a course PR with a sub 1 hour 10K! I missed a distance PR by only 45 seconds or so! And I wasn't even trying!
We got to Piedmont Park and got our shirts, which are absolutely adorable - and incredibly huge! I ordered a small and wanted to trade for an XS but wasn't allowed to do so.

It was still really raining after we finished, so we headed over to the ATC's private party area. I had access to this area because I joined at the expo. I almost didn't pick up the wrist band because I thought it was just going to be a beer tent. But there was food and drink and, most importantly, shelter from the rain with real bathrooms! It was fabulous!

J and I were waiting for her friend to finish so they could ride home together. She was in a later wave, and some of the waves starting with M had to be held up at the start due to the lightning we had seen earlier. We were pretty sure she was on her way when I got a text from BJ saying that she was finished and was I still there. So I got to see BJ today, too! YAY! She was waiting in the ATC member area with us while her husband finished up his race.

I was really, really hoping there would be a break in the rain before I had to make the 1.3 mile walk back to the Marta station. I was freezing and drenched to the bone, but I didn't want to put on my dry PRR shirt because I wanted to wear it when I got home! Yeah, I'm crazy that way! I realized that there would be no break in the rain anytime soon - and J's friend finished, and BJ's husband finished - so I decided to start making my way to Marta.

The walk actually wasn't terrible and if it had been a typically hot and sunny day it would have been very nice to walk this tree-lined street. But I was just cold, so I tried to keep a fairly brisk pace. When I got to Marta, I hit the porta potties one more time (it sucks getting old LOL) and then headed down to the train. Yet again, as I was going down the stairs my train pulled up and I walked right on AND actually got a seat! How lucky was I today?!?

Got back to the Marta station and got out my towels and change of clothes and discreetly (I hope) changed clothes in the back of my car. There are no bathrooms at the Marta stations, that I'm aware of. I made the drive home and immediately jumped in the hot shower and just stood there. It helped a little but not too much. I put on my PRR shirt, sweat pants, and warm, fuzzy socks and I have been in them all day long!

My 2015 PRR shirt/dress! 
I am so glad I decided to give the Peachtree another try! I had a wonderful experience from the beginning to the end, even with the heavy rain. I'm very excited to be an Atlanta Track Club member now and I look forward to running in the Peachtree with my husband next year! (Or running and waiting for him at the end! hee hee)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

That time I thought I finished last...

As I mentioned in my race report for the Hartwell YMCA Sprint Triathlon, when I checked the preliminary race results that were posted soon after I finished, I thought I had come in Dead Last.

The results list, posted on the table where the awards were located. 

There's my name... at the bottom...
It was the most interesting experience I've had at a race. I thought it deserved some attention of its own so that's why I'm writing this post now!

I'm not sure how clearly it came across in my race report, but I had a great race on Saturday. I felt sure and strong and confident the entire way. The notoriously negative voice in my head was easily tamed and I pushed myself in a smart way since this wasn't my "A" race. I had a significant sprint triathlon PR, though I wasn't sure exactly how big it was until I got home. I was feeling fantastic!

When the race director announced that the results were posted, I hustled over to see if I made the podium. With it being such a small turnout, I figured I had a chance. I walked confidently up to the table.

My name was at the bottom. 36 out of 36. I thought there were 37 on the participants list that I looked at the day before. So that it didn't seem unreasonable.

Dead Last.

My first thought was a saying that is popular in the running community:

"Dead ***** Last is greater than Did Not Finish which is greater than Did Not Start"

But all the while I was thinking that, I felt myself starting to get shaky. I kept looking at the results. Last. But I felt so good! Last? I saw lots of people out there still on the course. Granted, there was an Oly going on at the same time so they could have been doing the longer course. 


I took a few shaky, deep breaths. I walked away from the results table, and headed back to my car. My intention was to go ahead and change clothes so I could make the drive home. 

And that's when it happened. 

Somewhere between the results table and the car, that usually negative voice in my head told me, "What difference does it make?" 

"Huh?" I replied to myself. (Hopefully silently, lest I be known as the last-place triathlete who needs to ask herself to repeat herself! LOL)

"You had the best race experience you've ever had in a triathlon! You beat your previous best time by a lot! You feel great! What difference does it make if you finished last!?"

She/I had a good point! The fact that other people were faster than I am on that particular day did nothing to negate the fantastic job I did personally! When I crossed that finish line I felt strong and happy and positive. The order in which I did so was inconsequential! 

By the time I got to the car, I was texting my family and friends and leting them know that I had the best race ever AND I was dead last! I was "LOLing" and really meaning it! 

AND once I learned that my presence was not immediately required back at home (thanks to my son driving my daughter to work while Daddy had to go in to the office unexpectedly) I decided to stick around for the awards ceremony and watch the folks who did win! I noticed that the overall female finisher was in my age group, so I thought perhaps that would open it up for me to get on the podium after all. Even though I finished last. 

Well, you know how that all ended up, right? 

There I am - #2 in my age group! 
I did end up on the podium and it turned out that I wasn't last after all. But by that point, I was really and truly OK with it anyway. And I don't think I'm going to be nearly as wrapped up in "not wanting to be last" as I have been in the past. Because as long as I am doing the best that I can - not just having the best race ever as in this case, but even if things have gone terribly wrong but I'm doing my best on that day by not giving up - then that's all that matters in the long run! 

Just do what you can and have a good time doing it! :) 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

MCM 2015 Training - Week #3

It's hard to believe week #3 is already done! Time is moving by so quickly and the Marine Corps Marathon weekend will be here before I know it!

I had to get a little creative with training this week due to signing up for a triathlon only 9 days before the event! I needed to get some bricks done to prepare myself for race day and to acclimate myself to the heat in the time of day I would be running. Mostly I run around dawn but that won't cut it when your triathlon pace has you starting to run around 9:45 AM. And the last couple of weeks in my area have found temps in the high 80s to low 90s already by that time.

Since the marathon training is still my main focus, I looked at my overall training volume for Week #3 and divided it among the week, being sure to keep the frequency of running days the same. I did adjust the volume for running a bit, however, because I was scheduled for a 7 mile long run on Saturday. I contemplated running it on Friday like I did last week before the 5K on Saturday. That worked out well since I needed a 30-40 minute run one day and a long run the next. However, in this case, that would put me with a long run on Friday and a triathlon on Saturday and that would increase my overall volume too much. I also knew that the effort and duration I would put in on Saturday would actually be longer than the time and effort I would have put in for a 7 mile run, so I decided to replace it. I obviously cannot make a habit of that, but since we're still so early in the training plan, I figured it would be OK.

This is what my training schedule usually looks like:
Monday - run, strength training
Tuesday - bike, swim
Wednesday - run, strength training
Thursday - bike, swim
Friday - run, strength training (upper body and core only)
Saturday - long run
Sunday - rest or open water swim 

Here is how I switched everything around for this week:
Monday - bike/run brick
Tuesday - pool swim, strength training
Wednesday - bike/run brick
Thursday - open water swim, strength training
Friday - run
Saturday - triathlon
Sunday - rest 

It worked out well so I will use it again in 3 weeks when I have my second and last triathlon for 2015. I am also going to move Friday's run to Thursday and make it a bike/run brick and then swim on Friday instead, just until that triathlon. After that, I'll be sticking to the schedule as much as possible. I know I will have to move the long run to Friday or Sunday on occasion due to my family's schedule, but I'm going to guard my training schedule as best as I can in the last few months leading up to MCM2015! We are less than 4 months away from race day now!

Training went very well this week. All of the twinges in my feet are gone now. I am being diligent about rolling and stretching as well as keeping up with my strength training. I think those things will be vital in keeping me healthy for the race. I am also continuing the heart rate zone training to make sure I'm not pushing too hard in my easy runs. That is such a challenge.

This coming week I'll be looking forward to the Peachtree Road Race - the world's largest 10K race! It was meant to be because I am scheduled for a 6 mile run that day! :) I am so excited! I haven't done the Peachtree since 2011!

Enjoy your training this week! Check back (or the Facebook page) for that post I'm going to write about finishing last!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Race Report: Hartwell YMCA Sprint Triathlon

There are days when everything falls into place and you have a practically perfect race. Today was one of those days for me! I wasn't exceptionally prepared for this race - that happens when you register 10 days before race day! But I prepared as well as I had time for (except for transitions, but more on that later) so my main goal was to have the most fun I could have!

I left the house this morning at 4:45 to make the 90 minute drive to Lake Hartwell. Setting an alarm for 4 AM is always the time where I question my sanity. The drive was actually pretty nice, despite trying to read directions in the dark. I probably should have just used my phone's GPS app!

I arrived right on time and found a close place to park. I knew there weren't too many folks signed up for these races. Right between 65-70 were showing up as pre-registered on the website as of last night, pretty much evenly divided between the Sprint and the Oly. I picked up my race numbers and chip, hit the restroom which was a real park restroom (yay!), and then took my gear over to set up transition.

There were no numbers on the racks so I assumed it was free for all. I chose a spot next to the outer wall so I could easily find my bike and have a place to put my tri bag. I set up transition fairly quickly and then went to check out the area.

Mike was happy to be back on a rack for a race! It's been such a long time for him!

Swim start -  in the water. The sprint used the orange buoys and the olympic did the yellow buoys. 

Swim finish - looks worse that it is, really. 

The Finish Line! Apparently the race company just got it - it's very nice!

The sprint swim course with all 3 buoys in place. 
What I like to do after I set up transition is find the swim start and finish and walk through the route I will take for the race. I go out from the water and up to transition to my bike. Then I walk from my bike to the Bike Out. Then I come in Bike In and walk back to my bike. Then I walk to the Run Out. This rehearsal allows me to visualize the race and look for anything on the ground that I will need to be aware of.

It was a long wait between setting up and our race starting. The Olympic started at 8 and we started at 8:30. Actually, because they started the men first, my wave started at 8:33. I was able to use the bathroom an unnatural number of times which is always a good thing! Never had to wait, either, which is one of the benefits of a smaller race!

SWIM - 500 meters (Garmin time 12:36/Official 12:34)
There weren't that many of us ladies doing the sprint so I just lined up with everyone else, not in the back and didn't wait for everyone else to take off. This is the first time I've done that. I know that I'm a slower swimmer so if there were more people then I would have lined up more towards the back, but I figured with this small number I could definitely hold my own until everyone left me!

There is a good chance that I'm going crazy because when I saw all 3 buoys in place my first reaction was, "Wow, that's not too bad!" And, sure enough, the buoys kept coming up quickly! I swam well and I felt strong. I didn't have any issues with sighting or going off course. My strategy to go out with everyone else also paid off because I didn't have to dodge many people at all. And I passed someone from the previous wave. Yes. Me. I almost shouted for joy. But there was all that water. So I didn't!

Made it to the boat ramp/swim exit and carefully walked up the ramp. The concrete was bumpy and hard (as I noticed during my walk through) and I didn't want to stub my toe. Once I got onto the pavement, I started to jog. I realized about halfway through my bike ride that I hadn't even paid attention to my swim time when I hit my lap button on my watch!

T1 (Garmin time 1:48/Official 1:49)
Transitions were the only thing that concerned me going into this race. I had not practiced. At all. And transitions are always my weak spot anyway because I spend too much time thinking. I need to learn to just grab the stuff and go. Today my mantra was, "Grab it and go!" It's a sprint, not a Disney trip (I tend to over pack for Disney trips! LOL). Aside from my shoes and helmet there really wasn't anything that I couldn't live without for 14 miles. I was pleasantly surprised to see my best transition times ever!

BIKE- 14 miles (Garmin time 54:38/Official 54:51)
The bike is my weakest. We all know that. And this course was advertised as rolling hills, which usually means "Crazy hilly". But this race director was actually correct. The hills were rollers and I think there was only one on the way out and one on the way back that required me to go into the granny gears. The rest of them were nice and easy and I was able to pedal through them even on the downhills. My average cadence was 89! This was an out and back and there was a 180 turn-around on a two lane road. I was not looking forward to this at all. I am not good with tight turns. Thankfully I was by myself for it and I unclipped in case I started to fall, but I didn't need to put my foot down! On the way back, since I knew the route now, I focused balancing between pushing myself and leaving enough in my legs for the run. I came in to the dismount line feeling good!

T2 (Garmin time 1:08/Official 1:09)
Seriously? A one minute T2?? I should go to Kona now with that sort of transition time! ;) Or maybe not. But hey, it's my fastest T2 by half! I wonder what I could do if I actually practiced next time?

RUN - 5K (Garmin time 30:34/Official 30:35)
I was a little unsure about my run because my legs felt pretty tired. I wondered for a moment if I had pushed too hard on the bike. But I knew the run was "mostly flat" so I decided to just handle whatever pace I needed to maintain. But in the end, it must have been the brick effect because my pace ended up being really good. The hardest part came in mile 2 when we got off the highway and ran up a pretty significant hill to the dam. I knew that I would be able to make up the time on the flat dam, so I shifted to a 1/1 interval for the duration of the hill. I got up to the dam and realized that the wind tunnel principle was in full effect on this dam and I was running right into the wind. I managed to do a 9:24 pace for the 3rd mile even with the wind, so I am pleased with that. The best part of all was that I managed to quiet the negative voice that tends to take over my triathlon run!

Once I could see the finish line, I tried to reach down and speed up a little bit but I realized I didn't really have more to give. That made me feel fantastic! I had truly "left it all on the course"! Not in a bad way like I was going to pass out, but in a healthy and strong way. I knew that this effort I had given today was the best I had in me for today - and that's always a good thing!

Total time - 1:40:44 Garmin/1:40:57 Official

As I was putting up my gear, they made an announcement that preliminary results for the sprint were posted at the table near the finish line. So I locked up my bike and put my gear in the car and headed to the finish to check it out!

Not sure if you can see it but there is my name - at the very bottom!
 Dead Last?!?! But I felt so good about my performance! This was the best I had ever done on a sprint tri by a long shot! I've never even broken 1:45 before! In fact, my previous best time was 1:47 and that was on a much shorter swim and bike! I felt sort of weird for a few minutes. But then I put it all into perspective: if this was my best effort for today and I came in last, that doesn't matter! I think I'm going to do a whole blog post about this because I think it's very, very important and deserves more than just a brief mention. Anyway, I texted my family and posted a few pictures while I waited for the awards. (The overall female winner was in my age group, so I thought maybe I had a chance to win an AG award even though I was last. That's another benefit to a small race! LOL)

When the awards started, they were announcing the finish times for the winners and I realized that I wasn't last at all because I started hearing times that were after mine! I know there were at least 3 who came in after me. Not that it really matters, but I guess they posted those results before everyone had finished. The awards started after the last finisher came in which was nice. Also, the announcer would encourage us to cheer for Oly distance athletes as they were coming across the finish during the sprint awards. I love that and they earned brownie points for me for doing so!

I was thrilled that I was announced as 2nd place finisher in my age group (and there was a 3rd place, too - one of the few age groups that had a full podium of finishers). I was SO excited to stand on a real podium for the first time! I saw an employee of the race company taking pictures so I hope they will post them soon! Here is my award:

A glass beer glass! 
My official placement:
     Overall 36 out of 41 (plus 2 who DNF)
     Age Group 2 out of 3
     Swim 33rd overall/2nd AG
     T1 37th overall/2nd AG
     Bike 38th overall/3rd AG (by 1:25, not too bad!)
     T2 35th overall/1st AG (WOOHOO)
     Run 31st overall/2nd AG

And then I got cleaned up and drove home. Yeah, that part isn't too exciting, is it? LOL

But the race was AMAZING! I am very impressed with Go Race Productions - everything was well organized and well marked. I emailed the race director with 3 questions yesterday and heard back quickly. Both races started right on time!The course had plenty of volunteers and aid stations were frequent and stocked. They handed out ice towels, too, which is always a great thing in GA in the summer! The awards ceremony started on time. When I got ready to leave, I walked by the food table and there was still tons of food and lots of cold water, cokes, and powerade. And this was after the sprint was done and there was still another 45 minutes or so before the Oly course closed. That is rare, indeed. I wish I could have stayed around to see if they kept the finish line intact for the last finisher, but I suspected that they did. There were still plenty of volunteers out on the run course when I was leaving and the 2 girls that gave me a water and medal at the finish and took off my chip were still there. Those are just a few of the things I look for when I am evaluating a race company. I won't hesitate to sign up for another Go Race Productions event - and I'm putting the Hartwell YMCA Oly on my short list for next year!

Thanks for reading this rather long race report filled with excessive exclamation points! :) Please check back tomorrow for a recap of Week 3 in my Marathon Training!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week #2 - Week in review

Well, you already read about my weekend - the Braves Country 5K with my husband. We went back that evening and enjoyed taking part in a parade around Turner Field, and then watched an exciting game against the Mets that we won! Sunday was Father's Day and a planned rest day for me. Now let me see if I can go backwards and recap the week overall.

I'm actually having to get out my calendar and looking at my Garmin Dashboard so I can even remember. Last week was another of those crazy weeks that had me wondering when summer is actually going to begin for our family. I know part of it was related to the fact that my Grandma passed away on Sunday evening. I learned about it on Monday morning. In a way I guess it was a blessing to have such a busy week - and I am always grateful for the time I have to train because it allows me time inside my own head. I do not train with music anymore for the most part, not even on the trainer, since I can't have music during a triathlon. At first I missed it. But now I have come to enjoy the silence and how it affords me the quiet to process and think things through. Also on Monday I had to deal with the fact that my car had broken down at Stone Mountain Park on Sunday night when we were leaving after the laser show. Riley and I had gone up there to hike to the top of the mountain with her friend and her friend's mom - and then we stayed for the laser show. Had a wonderful time... until the car conked out on the way home. I counted the hike up the Mountain as my workout for Monday and used Monday as a rest/deal with the car day.

My older daughter had work and a dance workshop on Tuesday and Thursday so I was unable to go to my regular cycling group. Since it has been so hot here in Georgia, I decided to do my trainer ride in the garage before the sun was up too high. Then I borrowed my son's truck and went to the pool for some laps after the swim lessons were done. Apparently everyone else in the area had the same idea. I have never seen the lap lanes so crowded! But I got my workouts done and it was good to have some folks in the lane with me to help me work on people swimming closely to me.

By Wednesday I had my car back and did my run at my regular park since it was close to home and we had a lot to get done. Older daughter leaves in a few weeks for ballet intensive and the packing list is 2 pages long! We made a good dent in it that day! Just have to go back shopping for a few more things next week (when nobody has dance! LOL).

Thursday was another trainer and pool day - though this one also revolved around two trips to Dunwoody to take my dancing queen to a jazz workshop. It was totally worth it because he had a wonderful time!

Friday I did my long run at my old "regular park" since I knew I was going to have the 5K the next day. To be honest, it did not go well but I think by that point in the week I was mentally and physically drained - not from exercise but just from the emotions and pace of the week. Good thing it was only 6 miles! ;)

And therein lies the training for Week 2. I have no more lingering pains or tweaks in my feet, which is very good. I am vowing to be consistent with stretching, rolling, and strength training especially in this early part of training when my actual run volume is reduced from what I had been doing all spring.

If you read my Facebook page this week then you know I had a little registration frenzy! I have done a half marathon every year since my first one in 2010. And I have done a triathlon every year since my first one in 2011. Streaks are very important to me, for some odd reason, and it was making me very sad not to have either of those on the books. Thankfully, the budget and timing worked out and I was able to sign up for both - a half marathon in August (aptly named the Hotlanta Half Marathon) and a sprint triathlon, um, this Saturday! LOL Hey, my favorite coaching company/team is a sponsor and promoted a $25 coupon code. How can I resist that?!? There is also an Oly that same day, but I decided on the Sprint because I do not have the volume on the swim especially (and on the bike as well) to be successful in an Oly without potentially injuring myself. The goal is to have fun and keep up my streak! And if this sprint is fun, then I will put the Oly on my calendar for next year because that distance is hard to find.

This week ahead is not nearly as busy as the previous few have been so I will be able to catch up on my housework and school prep for next school year which starts in a mere 6 weeks from this Wednesday. Ugh. Hopefully, I'll get another chance to post, but if not then look for my race report on Saturday afternoon or evening!

Train safely and enjoy your journey!