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!

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - Bike

This is part 4 of a series of posts about the 2014 Augusta Half Ironman. Click here to start with the first post! 

My mom asked me on Saturday which part of the Half Ironman I was the most worried about. That was hard to answer because I wasn't really worried. I had done my training. I was well-prepared. There were some things, however, that I could not control - getting a flat tire or crashing on the bike. Those were the things I was the most concerned about. However, I had prayed over the previous few days that God would protect me from any mechanical issues on the bike. But I also prayed that if there were any issues, He would help me get through them with calm and peace.

So the bike was my area of greatest concern. It's my weakest event overall. But I had cycled the course twice before, once in a race simulation, so I knew what I needed to do. I just had to do it! I had to stick to the plan!

And I did, for the most part. Almost immediately, a wrench got thrown into The Plan when I had to go pee right out of the river. I usually feel that way after I swim, so I didn't think much about it. Most of the time I can just get on the bike and keep going and the feeling fades away. But this time it didn't. It just got worse and worse. I knew the first aid stop was around mile 17 and there would be porta potties. I hadn't planned to stop until the 2nd aid station for fueling and hydration, but it was not comfortable to ride like that. And then once we got onto the Savannah River Site and the bumpy roads in there, I KNEW I had to stop! LOL

I was nervous about stopping because these are aid stations where you slow down and are handed a water bottle to swap out. And I've heard there can be lots of crashes. So I just moved over the best I could and, well in advance of my stop (right past the hand off location and near the porta potties), I announced loudly, "Stopping!!" And I stopped and nobody crashed! Yay! There was no line for the potties and I was in and out as quickly as I could. Felt MUCH better afterward!

This area also marks the end of the mostly flat first segment of the course and into the middle part which is the hilly part. None of the hills are terrible, but there are a good many of them especially if you took it too hard on the flat part. But I didn't. I maintained a good cadence and speed in the beginning so I wouldn't kill my legs. It was fairly windy, but not anything terrible.

The second stop - where I was going to prepare more UCAN - was supposed to be at mile 35 but it was more like mile 37. I also managed to navigate this aid station with no incidents, and a volunteer actually brought me the water bottle so I didn't even have to find a place to put my bike! That was super! I had planned my fueling for it to be around mile 30 like the athlete's guide had told us. I was happy when I learned it was moved to 37, but I think in the long run, it was bad for my body to have to wait that extra 30ish minutes for more fuel. I would like to compare the mile splits for this race versus my simulation and see if there was any marked decrease in performance right before the aid station. Once I started taking in the UCAN I felt much better! But I was also getting to the point in the course where I always feel "blah". This stretch of road is usually windy and just annoying. And then there is the short, steep hill followed by the dreadful 4 lane highway. But this is another example of how beneficial it was to ride the course ahead of time! I knew that this part sucks. So when it sucked, I didn't feel like anything was wrong. I just knew this was that part of the ride and to deal with it and think about something else!

Once we get off the 4 lane highway and onto the flat road that returns us over the river and to the transition area, my spirits lifted. I knew that I was almost there! And once I hit 2 miles to go, I figured I could carry my bike that far if I needed to! ;) I was so relieved that nothing mechanical had happened, and that I didn't crash!

Stopping at the dismount like, I walked my bike back to to transition.

Official Bike Time - 3:56:02

In transition, I changed socks and shoes and got my run stuff pulled together. Very uneventful!

Official T2 time - 7:00

Click here to go straight to the 5th part of this series - the Run!

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - Race morning and the Swim

This is part 3 of a series of posts about the 2014 Augusta Half Ironman. Click here to start with the first post!

Surprisingly, I slept quite well on Saturday night! I was shocked! I usually toss and turn, so I spend that time praying, going over my race plan, and meditating on being calm. I didn't even have time to do that because I only woke up twice, and fell right back to sleep each time! I did wake up about 5 minutes before the alarm so I turned it off so as not to wake up Mom and Dad too early. I went into the bathroom to spread peanut butter on my bagel so I could start trying to eat it while I rolled out my muscles and did some light yoga. My left knee was feeling much better, as was my shoulder, but the outer part of my right foot was bugging me from wearing flip flops so long on Friday afternoon. Also, the toe that had gotten stubbed was giving me a little bit of trouble. Nothing I could do about that now, though.

I rolled, ate, and got dressed rather quickly so I decided to leave a bit early knowing that I could walk slowly. It was dark at 5 AM, of course, but I had remembered to bring my visor head lamp to provide some light. My friend, BJ, had showed me that little secret at our Oly Tri back in April! As I neared transition, I crossed the street and walked down a side street - right past Sher and Sam sitting in their car! It was so nice to see them before the race! I got to transition and set up my stuff. The bike next to me was racked incorrectly and I wasn't sure what to do. I asked the official and he said to see if a volunteer would move it, or just wait for the person to arrive and tell them. I opted for the latter. In fact, I introduced myself to everyone on my rack. I figured that we were more likely to look out for each others space if we all knew each other at least by name. Turns out that most of us were first-timers! My neighbor showed up shortly before I was ready to leave to take the shuttle to the start. Whew! She was friendly and moved her bike around with no issues. I found Lisa so we could go to the start together, and we waited for Felicia. While I was over there I saw a friend, Cathy, from the Witness Through Fitness group and said hi to her.

I had decided to take the shuttle to the start instead of walking, and I'm glad I did. It was nice to sit down. Once we arrived at the start, we decided to go over to St. Paul's church. They had opened a room to triathletes. They were so incredibly nice! They had tables and chairs set up and coffee and cookies and other snacks. They allowed us to use their nice, clean bathrooms - and they allowed us to go into the sanctuary to pray. This church is historic and it's absolutely incredible! I was so glad to have some time to get on my knees and thank God for His many blessings. I prayed for my safety and the safety of all participants. And I prayed that if I did have problems, that He would give me the grace to handle them in a calm manner.

We got out to the start right as the first wave of pros was taking off. I hadn't realized that there would be pre-race festivities going on at the river! When I saw my mom's pictures, I saw there were parachutists bringing a flag to the bridge and everything! Missed all of that! :( It was also much more crowded and much further away than we realized since the most direct way to the water was blocked off. Lisa passed off her Morning Clothes Bag to me and took off for her start. I dropped off both of our bags, drank my UCAN while waiting for Lisa's wave to take off, and then hopped in the porta potty line once her group had passed me. After that, I ran into Jennifer from Witness Through Fitness and we did a quick picture!

Then I headed to the start and got in the line with my wave! I saw Felicia who was in the wave behind mine, and I also saw Shawna who was in my wave! The atmosphere was so exciting! I was focused and did my best to control my breathing and relax! No sense in getting worked up. I had been in this river a bunch of times! I knew what to do!

I wore my flip flops right up until the docks - the rocky pavement at the start is hard on my feet. I left them at the start and I hope someone who needs them took them home. Once we were allowed on the dock I walked to the far end and got in the water right away. I wanted to hang onto the dock so I wouldn't waste my energy treading water. We weren't there long before it was time to start!
Look over to the far right - I'm in the white goggles pushing Start on my Garmin!

I had gotten far over to the left in an attempt to take advantage of the current, but it didn't dawn on me until I was actually caught up in a traffic jam that the left side was where all of the buoys and floating pads were stationed for folks to hold on to. I kept getting stopped up by people who were hanging on to stuff. That was not good planning on my part. Other than that, the swim went by uneventfully! I didn't have any trouble with the river grass that tried to cover me like Swamp Thing, and I didn't see any signs of the gator from the day before! :D I only had a few issues with people swimming over me and that was mostly when the speedy folks from the previous wave caught up to me!

My official Swim Time was 34:18. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed because that was 10 minutes slower than my fastest river swim. But it's still amazing for 1.2 miles! :)

I approached the boat ramp carefully and was pleasantly surprised to see the carpet was in place. I walked up the big hill but then started to run the very long way back to transition from the water. Felicia past me coming out of the water and back to transition! So great to see her!

I dried off my feet, put on my socks, and got myself ready for the bike! I didn't rush but I didn't dawdle, either. My official T1 time was 7:51 but that includes the long walk/run from the river!

It looks like the bike and the run will have to be another post! I will have to work on it when I get home from picking up my daughter from dance!

Click here to read about the bike portion of my Half Ironman!