Sunday, October 26, 2014

Three years ago today...

It seems like just about everyone I know was racing this weekend! And today was the Marine Corps Marathon, the 3 year anniversary of when I ran it while injured back in 2011. I had to dig out some of the pictures and remember that bitterly cold day!

I wasn't sure I was even going to get to this point after being in pain for the 3 weeks prior to MCM!

 It's funny that I remember the pain, but I don't remember the heartbreaking feeling and agony so much anymore. I guess time does heal all wounds.

Getting that medal put over my neck, and having a poor Marine ask me if I was OK because I was simply sobbing, was one of the top moments in my athletic endeavors over these last 6 years!

I think I was in so much pain and fatigue here that I didn't get to flash the smile that I should have done after such an amazing feat!
I think I'm going to give the Marine Corps Marathon another visit in 2015. It's a lottery entry now, so I think I am going to register for the lottery and leave the rest up to God. If I can get in, then that is the sign that it's meant to be. If not, then I'll find a local marathon to run instead! :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recovery Report

The beginning of Recovery Week #2 was going well... until Wednesday! That was the day I slammed my left foot into my daughter's dresser. I'm not exactly sure what I did to the pinky toe and the area between it and the toe next to it, but it got black and blue and painful quite quickly! I didn't run that night, and since I had been up late the night before, I waited until the evening to try to swim. It was very hard to walk or even to put on shoes. Standing wasn't a problem, so I am pretty sure it wasn't broken, but it was nearly impossible to bend my pinky toe.

Thursday night I was able to swim, and then Friday I rode on the trainer without any pain. Saturday morning I decided to try to get in an 8 mile run, but as I was getting ready in the dark so as not to wake up my husband, I rammed that same pinky toe into the corner of my bed frame. There is a chance I may have said a few bad words! ;) I took my workout into the neighborhood just in case I wasn't able to walk or run - but surprisingly I didn't have pain once I started running.

I kept up like this through the weekend and into Recovery Week #3. The black and blue area migrated from the underneath of the pinky toe to the top of my foot under the 3rd and 4th toes. I could walk, but wearing some shoes was still a problem as was bending my toe. But I could run and bike and swim with no problem. Wednesday was a beautiful day and I took my run to the mountain and enjoyed a glorious hour of running.

Thursday morning I woke up and my toe was more noticeably sore. After my swim I decided it was time to take a few days off and rest the foot and toe. So that's what I've been doing this weekend. I have done my upper body and core workouts still (using an oldie but a goody DVD: Tamilee Webb's Tight on Time! I forgot how much I enjoy it!). In the meantime, I've been doing Epsom Salt soaks 3 times a day, which have been absolutely the best thing! And I've also been icing the area of my foot 2-3 times a day. I have much more range of motion in my toe now and it's only moderately sore now and then. I wore a shoe last night and today that I had not been able to wear last week!

I am planning to take off again tomorrow and evaluate come Monday. I don't want to push it, so I may just start with shorter runs. Next week was planned to be a Cut Back Week, but if I do try to workout again, I will make the workouts even shorter than that.

Is it annoying? Yes. Is it frustrating? Yes. Am I dying to be out in the gorgeous late October weather we are having? YES! But in the long run, I know that taking care of this little injury now is more important. I have no races on the calendar with the exception of a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. It is a free race that has a number of distances available, so there is no pressure for me to run long if I don't feel like my toe/foot is 100%.

I am so glad that this did not happen before Augusta. SO glad! I'm very fortunate that I didn't experience any real injury or down time due to sickness or overuse during the 12 months that I was building up and training for the Half Ironman! This is my off-season, after all, so a little more down time won't kill me. Starting back from the beginning will be a pain, but it might end up making me stronger. And it's a good time to work on this strength training and yoga as well! :)

Happy Training, everyone! Or Happy Recovering, if you're clumsy like me! LOL

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Augusta - Professional pics

The professional pictures from my Half Ironman are in! Here are a few of my favorites!
Coming out of the water! So excited that I forgot to start taking off my cap, goggles, and wetsuit! But mostly I'm just happy that I am coming out alongside another person in my own wave!

I'm only in the left hand corner of this picture, but it shows the beautiful Savannah River behind me! And, look - another red cap!!
Heading out on the bike right after T1 - I was so nervous. The bike was my most intimidating part and I was unsure how it was going to go at this point!
Obviously more relaxed on the bike by this point! I think this is around mile 35?
Focused on the run - I think this was the first lap! I like that I look so strong here!
Pushing it in the finisher's chute! Almost to the finish line!
The finish line! I made it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Recovery Week #1 Complete!

So my plan to start back to gentle workouts last Monday was foiled last Sunday by what my husband called "a perfect day for running"! He actually told me that he couldn't believe I wasn't out running because it was so beautiful out there. So I did the only thing I could do - I donned my running gear, including my new Augusta 70.3 visor - and went for a short run!

Hubby was right!!
So I didn't take 7 complete days off, but more like 6 1/2! I'm sure that's not going to hurt anything!

The rest of the week I did 30 minute workouts - 2 swims, 2 bikes - and then this weekend I did a "long run" and a "long bike" of 60 minutes each. I made sure to take it nice and easy, though I did run at Stone Mountain yesterday so the hills were a nice challenge.

Everything seems to feel really good physically, and my energy level is pretty much back to normal, I think. And in all my new free time I'm able to get caught up on my long-neglected housework and really focus on getting my high schooler's transcripts in order! LOL

This coming week I will be upping my weekday workouts to 45 minutes, and my weekend workouts to 90 minutes. Again, I'm keeping it nice and easy. I am adding strength training back in as well. If that feels comfortable, then I will up it one more time the following week - 60 minutes and 2 hours. And that's where I'll stay through the end of the year, with a cutback week every 4th week.

So that will be the sum of my off-season, and then in January I'll start working on my goals for next season - speed!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

So... what's next?!

I've been thinking about writing this post for the last couple of months, believe it or not. However, the post I am writing now is very different from the one I had intended to write. Many people have asked me what I would tackle next once the Half Ironman was finish. And though my goal was to live in the moment of the Half Ironman, which I really did and I'm proud of that, I did have a goal tucked away in the back of my mind.

Marathon Maniac.

So, my original intention when I was planning this post was to announce that I would be completing a full marathon in early November as part of my goal of doing 3 fulls in 90 days to become a Marathon Maniac.

But now? I'm not so sure.

I can't pinpoint one particular reason for my change of heart. And perhaps 4 days after completing a race of the magnitude of a 70.3 is not the best time to be making these decisions? But there are a number of reasons why I'm not so sure this is the time to tackle this goal, if I tackle it at all.

The first reason is that the Half Ironman took a lot out of me - physically, mentally, financially. And why I think that physically I could tackle another Full Marathon next month, mentally and financially, I'm not sure if that would be the best idea. My husband is one of the few people who knew I was considering this and he was/is on board, but that's a given. So it's not any outside pressure one way or the other. This is all internal.

You see, the reason I want to try another full marathon in the first place is that it remains the one goal that I set out to accomplish that I am not pleased with how it all turned out. And seeing how Augusta turned out when I had that one singular focus makes me want to try that for the full marathon, too. When I signed up for my first full, I did so to attain Marathon Maniac status. And then I also threw my first sprint triathlon in there as well. I wasn't simply training for my 'first' full marathon... I was training for 2 in one week as well as the Goofy Challenge. Which leaves me to wonder what it would be like to just train for ONE full marathon, and have that be my singular goal? Would the results turn out better? Would I enjoy the process more? Isn't that the whole point? Then if I enjoy that race, I could look for 2 more to complete if I wish to pursue Marathon Maniac status.

Additionally, this school year has proven to be much more stressful and expensive than I thought it would be. I knew that 2015 would need to be a step back in my racing, but I think I underestimated how busy this year would be. After the dance season is over in May and my son graduates from high school that same month, my time will open up. So, to me it sort of makes sense to delay any big goals until that time.

I have several other goals that I have in mind for the future besides just completing a full marathon. I would like to do a century ride (100 miles). I would like do a Full Ironman (140.6). I would like to improve my cycling speed before I do either of those, though. And after training for a Half Ironman and realizing the time and money involved, I know that I need to wait until the kids are ALL out of high school before I double that effort for the Full Ironman! LOL

So, right immediate goals remain uncertain. Woohoo, isn't that an exciting announcement!?!

I might just swim, bike, and run for however long and however far I feel like for however many weeks I feel like doing it. ;)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - After the Finish Line

This is the last part of a series of posts about the 2014 Augusta Half Ironman. Click here to start with the first post! 

So I had made it through the finish line, collected my medal and finisher's cap, and became - officially - a Half Ironman!

Not looking too bad, I think!
I made my way to the food tent and picked up a piece of pizza and a can of Coke, a bottle of water and a banana, then took it to a nearby table to eat. I took one bite of the pizza and one drink of the soda and nearly gagged. Apparently, my body was not yet ready for this kind of food. I dumped them and ate the banana and drank the water. I looked over at the massage tent to see about getting a free 10 minute massage on my left hip and lower back (can't remember if I posted about my lower back bothering me for a good bit of the run - never had that happen before in training @@) but the line was very long. I just wanted to find my parents and get my stuff out of transition!

I stopped to pick up my Morning Clothes Bag and stretch a little bit, then I found Mom and Dad and we started walking back to the hotel! It was about a half mile walk, but we took it nice and slowly and I shared my initial thoughts about the race. We stopped off at the room to drop off my bag and race belt - but I wanted to go ahead and get my stuff. I was looking forward to an ice bath and getting off my feet, but I knew once I did that I would not want to get back up. Mom had already sat down and had her shoes off, so my dad offered to walk with me. I assured him is was only about a half mile. Yeah, I was pretty wrong. I should have known better since it took me 20 minutes to walk there slowly... dad estimated it to be around 1 1/4 miles there (and then another 1 1/4 miles back! LOL I guess I did 72.8 on Sunday, at least!). It was a nice walk, though, since I don't get much chance to hang out with my Dad. I had taken a Luna bar with me to eat so I could have a little bit of protein. I think next time I do any sort of endurance event, I need to have a small bottle of TruMoo chocolate milk in the room waiting for me. That is really the best post-race recovery food for me.

We got to transition and they wouldn't let Dad in, so I headed over to pack up all my stuff and grab my bike. It was almost 12 hours since I had arrived there that morning, and still very surreal! I walked back out of transition and Dad grabbed my bags from me and tried to push my bike, but he is too tall so he was having to hunch over. I took over the bike and pushed it myself. We made the slow, slow walk back to the hotel.

I had planned to eat at Farmhaus Burgers after the race, but as I ran past them during the run, I realized that they are closed on Sunday and Monday. To the owners of this place: NOT SMART! I think you could have done a brisk business with all the hungry athletes and spectators!

I did find that I wasn't terribly hungry, though. And the idea of getting cleaned up and driving or walking somewhere was not pleasant. Since Mom had to work on Monday morning, and it was already getting to be in the evening, I told Mom and Dad they could go ahead and leave. Mom was very unsure about this. I had food with me in the room (best thing I did was to bring food with me!) but she was afraid I would get ravenous and the food I had would not be enough. I assured her that it would be, and if it weren't, I could go buy something in the lobby of the hotel (small assortment of convenience foods) or call for delivery. I was just going to get my ice bath, then shower, and put on jammies and compression socks and put my feet up!

Reluctantly they left and I got to tending to my body. The outer part of my left knee started to hurt as soon as I got back to the hotel and stopped moving. I knew immediately what that was all about - my IT Band was not happy with me. Since it hadn't bothered me during the run or immediately afterward, I decided it was just some inflammation after the long workout and I set out to roll and stretch it out. In our swag bags we were given a sample of an cool wrap so I put that on my knee for a few hours. I cleaned off my toe and put some more neosporin on it and a clean bandage - it hadn't bothered me at all during the race! I inspected my feet and didn't find a single blister or hot spot! Incredible!

I made myself a peanut butter sandwich and ate some goldfish crackers. After having some Gatorade, I had a cup of my Pibb and my little pumpkin shaped Snickers. My appetite never did kick in that night. I stayed up a little later than planned so I could catch up and respond to all of the FB messages and emails I received both while I was on the course and after the news spread that I had finished! That was simply incredible and I felt so loved that so many people had tracked me and were thinking of me while I was out on the course! Your energy and prayers and thoughts carried me through, for sure!

I found a sample pack of Advil that I carry in my purse and took those before bed. I figured it would help the inflammation on my IT band and elsewhere. When I woke up the next morning shortly before 7, I was pleased to see that my knee felt much better. The tightness had returned to the hip/groin/quad area of my left leg, so I'm sure that was related. I rolled and stretched and took a nice, long shower. I packed up my stuff much more quickly than expected and took a load down to the car and then checked out the breakfast buffet. Nothing looked good. Apparently my appetite was not back yet. Weird. I decided to go ahead and get on the road since there was a lot of rain in my way. I stopped at McDonald's to pick up some breakfast but only ate about half of it.

The drive home went smoothly, even with the rain! I didn't have any cramping issues at all! I got home to my girls (my son was asleep - he works 3rd shift) and offered to take them to lunch once I got everything unpacked. Finally, something sounded good: Sweet Tomatoes! This is a salad buffet, for those who don't know what it is! It's delicious and the girls and I love it, but I was shocked that of all the things that would sound good, it would be a nice, big salad and a strawberry lemonade. Why couldn't I have had cravings like that during my training?!?! LOL Even though it tasted really good, I didn't go crazy like I thought I would. In fact, I probably ate less than I usually do.

I've been assured that my appetite will kick in and that I will likely experience some form of letdown or depression in the next couple of days! And I'm sure it will. But for now, I feel great! I woke up this morning (Monday) with most of the hip pain completely gone. My legs are still pretty tired, though, But that is to be expected! My upper back and shoulders are tight but not sore. I wish I could get a massage or something, but that's OK! ;) I'm fatigued but not exhausted. Overall I'm really pleased with how my recovery is going.

 So now, we've come to the end of my race report. If you read all 6 parts, I think you deserve a medal of your own! Thanks to everyone for being a part of this journey with me! I sincerely appreciated all of the encouragement and support over the last 9 months! Triathlon may be an individual sport, but not a single athlete out there on that course on Sunday made it through without the help and support of their family and friends! I am incredibly blessed to have all of you in my life! :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - Run

This is part 5 of a series of posts about the 2014 Augusta Half Ironman. Click here to start with the first post! 

So I have my running shoes on now and I make my way out of transition and out onto the run course. I had done this course before, obviously, and knew this was going to be a challenge because it was a double loop. But I also knew that it was going to great to see my Mom and Dad near our hotel! And since it was a double loop, the chances of seeing folks I knew was high!

I knew that once I got off the bike, I was going to finish this race one way or another - even if I had to walk most of it! Thankfully the sky was still overcast and the temps were relatively low, but it was starting to warm up.

And I was tired. I don't think I've ever felt that tired before. But as my dear friend (also named Lisa LOL) likes to tell me, "Feelings are liars!" You see, I transferred the data from my Garmin today and noticed something very interesting about my run pace and my cadence.

The numbers don't lie.
Despite the fact that I was FEELING like I was losing power and speed and strength, I was pretty much consistent in run pace and cadence through the entire 13.1 miles!! The only time I deviated much at all was when I stopped to walk for a bit with my friend Lisa because I caught up with her and I wanted to touch base (and congratulate her because she knew by then that she would be a finisher!). So if what I was feeling were accurate, one would see a decrease in my performance - at least a slowing down of my foot turnover.

This data provides me with new insight into the feelings I was experiencing on the run course. I was tired, yes. I had never been on my feet for so long giving that sort of effort! I was absolutely tired. And it was going on mid afternoon and I had not had solid food in my belly since 4 AM! My body started to cry out for something with substance to it - bananas! I was shocked since I'm not a huge fan of them! But I ate them and they tasted good. I also had a few of the honey stinger chews I had carried with me for emergencies.

I also took advantage of the ice water sponges at certain aid stations. I would squeeze the water down my back and down my front! It was fantastic and cooled me off quickly! BTW, aid station #4 near the fire station was THE BEST out of all of them! Those folks were incredible!

I saw so many folks that I knew on the course - not just my parents! I saw my friend Amanda from my local Moms Run This Town chapter. I also saw several folks from Witness Through Fitness. As I was passing the finish line one of the FOUR times I had to pass it before I could actually turn to cross it, I heard Felicia's name being called out as a finisher! That was so exciting - such great timing!

Turning the corner for the second lap was so exciting! I knew I just had a few more passes up and down the street and I would be done! I wanted to take it all in and I was really trying! I started up little conversations with folks to pass the time. By this point, my left hip/groin/quad was really starting to make some noise. It wasn't hurting, per se, but it was certainly tight and causing me discomfort when I ran. I tried to focus on form to see if that would help. It didn't get worse anyway. So that was good.

It was somewhere around mile 10 that I decided that I am nowhere near ready for a Full Ironman! LOL I guess it's a good thing I wasn't thinking of doing one for another 6 years or so! Gotta get all of these kiddos finished with high school first!

Over and over I counted down how much longer I had to go, telling myself, "I can do anything for 20 minutes! I can do anything for 15 minutes." and reminding myself that my Ironman friend would give anything to be out on this course instead of on the sidelines with an injury! So I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Like I said before, it felt like each step was getting harder and that my legs were getting increasingly heavier, but apparently that just wasn't the case.

At long last, I turned the corner for the finish line! And then I turned the next corner for the finish line! LOL And I could see it ahead of me and knew that I was going to make it! It was an incredible feeling! I was looking for my Mom and Dad so I could make sure to get some great pictures of me coming down the chute! I did spot them and that made it perfect! I crossed the finish with my arms raised (I think)! The medal was placed around my neck, and someone asked if I was OK. I was more than OK! I was thrilled - mostly to be done! ;)

Official run time - 2:23:36

Total official time - 7:08:57

And just like that, after a mere 7 hours of continual movement... I'm a Half Ironman Finisher! ;)

Always earned. Never given.
Check back tomorrow for my post about the hours after the race, and my recovery so far! Click here to read the final installment of my race report on the Augusta Half Ironman!