Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Report: Lake Lanier Islands Sprint Triathlon

If you have been reading my blog in the last month then you know that I was afraid this race wasn't going to happen. That feeling only intensified Friday and Saturday. I prayed a lot, and tried to rest in the knowledge that I would like through whatever happened, but I was so incredibly nervous. My parents wanted to come cheer me on with my youngest child but I asked them not to. I didn't think I'd be able to face them if I couldn't finish. That's not a reflection on them - they certainly aren't like that. But I didn't think I could face the embarrassment with them there.

So at 4:45 this morning, I pulled out of my driveway alone and made the long drive up to the lake. Mom and Dad got up to say goodbye, wish me good luck, and to take a couple of pictures. Packet pick-up and Bike drop-off had been on Saturday so I only had to take my backpack with my transition stuff. Frank spent the night racked - alone and outside for the first time ever. It was very hard to leave him... doesn't he look quite lonely?

So I made it up to the lake by 5:20. Transition was about 3/4 of a mile away and didn't open until 5:30 so I sat in the car and ate my granola bar while listening to Praise Music. I hit the real bathrooms in this parking area before I headed out - only portapotties at transition. I didn't see anyone with their tire pump, so I left mine in the car. I would regret that later.

I made the dark walk alone to transition with lots of other folks. Everyone was very quiet. I am not sure any of us were awake. LOL The transition area itself was more energetic with music playing and the announcer broadcasting warnings about bike-racking penalties and drafting penalties and helmet penalties and headphone penalties. Honestly, he had me quite freaked out. He kept talking about getting disqualified if you got 3 penalties and that really worried me. Not a good way to start my morning when I was already so nervous.

I got my transition area set up rather quickly and had a lot of time to hang out and worry myself.

I looked for two people who I knew were participating in the race and eventually I found both of them, which gave me something to do. LOL Also I hit the portapotties 3 times. I was too nervous to strike up a conversation with anyone near me, which is not really like me. Truly it's hard to describe how worried I was. And then everyone was putting air in their tires. Everyone. It looked as if everyone had brought their tire pump. And mine was in the car. I probably had time to go back and get it, but that was going to add another mile and a half to my legs and I didn't want to do that. Finally, the girl with the bike next to mine asked if I had any sunscreen, so I let her have some. When she gave it back, I asked if I could borrow her tire pump. She was glad to let me use it, and I put a little air in my tires. I don't think they needed it, but I felt better knowing I had done it. Next time, I will bring my pump.

Transition closed and everyone made their way down to the water. I stopped by the bathroom (AGAIN) on the way. Down at the water, I put my toes in and found to my surprise that the water was quite warm. This race was wetsuit legal with a water temp of 74, but it felt nice enough to me. I was afraid I would be the only one without a wetsuit but the folks wearing them were in the minority. The air temp was in the low to mid 60s. I had almost an hour before my wave would get in the water so I cheered for the other waves as they took off.

Once down at the water I started feeling strangely calmer. I don't know if it was seeing the swim course finally and realizing that it wasn't overwhelmingly challenging. Or if God was speaking to my soul, or what. But I felt more and more relaxed as my wave time came. Soon it was time for the purple caps to get in the water.

The horn went off and we were on our way. I lined up at the back and tried to stay out of the way of the flailing arms and legs, but that was a bit challenging. There seemed to be arms and legs everywhere! LOL The water was a bit chilly when I was fully submerged but I warmed up quickly. My goggles did not fog up even a little bit which made the swim go so much better than in my first tri. Also, the sky was overcast so I didn't have the added glare to worry about. Sighting went very, very well. I had to do it more than I had practiced because apparently I do not swim in a straight line, ever. LOL I found myself going much faster than I wanted instead of doing a nice, slow swim. I tried very hard to relax after I passed the second buoy and that worked pretty well because the field had started to spread out. My heart was racing and my breathing was not as even as it is during my lap swims but I don't know if that was from exertion or nerves or excitement.

My official swim time was 10:39 which is more than 5 minutes better than my first tri!

I approached the Swim Finish and made my way over the dock and up the very, very long steep hill to transition. In transition I had to sit down and pull my compression socks on and that was very challenging with damp legs. I spent 6:41 in transition! LOL

I headed out on the bike and I was still really nervous. The bike is my weakest event and I was afraid of the "drafting penalty." I was pleasantly surprised by how less crowded this course was than during my first tri. That really set me at ease since I was worried about crashing on the uphills like I nearly did at my first one. I got up that big hill where the crash happened right in front of me and once I put that behind me, I felt better. My shin started to bother me which reinforces my suspicion that my bike seat is raised too high and that's contributing to the shin problems I am experiencing. The wind was whipping around a bit during a long stretch on what I think was Peachtree Industrial Blvd. but it wasn't overwhelming.

We turned back onto Lanier Islands Parkway and I was pleased to see the road traffic was quite light. At the last tri, there was a lot of traffic on the parkway going into the lake and it was very frightening. Once I hit the 11 mile marker I was feeling great because I figured I could walk with my bike and make it in in time! LOL

As I approached the very steep hill leading back to transition, I heard the beginning of "Crazy Train" playing. That's the song that Chipper Jones (of the Atlanta Braves) comes to bat to... so now I know how Chipper feels. That was positively the best song to come back to! I was feeling a lot more positive now!

Transition time was 2:37, but I wasn't hurrying as much as I could have.

Now it was time to run and while I was nervous about my shins, I knew that I could walk and still finish. I didn't want to do that, but I knew I could if I had to. I really expected the course to be flatter than it was, but we ran on a part of the lake that I hadn't run on before. And they were pretty steep. I walked a little more on those uphills so as not to mess up my shins. The skies were still cloudy and I wasn't getting too hot at all.

I walked for a little while but then saw the finish line and had to run it in, even though there was another darn steep hill! I pushed it out at the end as I made the last push for the finish! I was so excited to have finished! No medal, though, which was sad - but the awesome long sleeve tee shirt sort of makes up for it! LOL

My overall time was 1:49:02 which is less than 2 minutes greater than My First Tri when I was in prime physical condition. In fact, if I hadn't spent so long in T1 battling with the compression socks, I would have beat my previous time completely, which is amazing!  It is encouraging to see that I am as strong, or even maybe stronger than I was before these injuries happened last year. So often these days I feel like I'm starting completely over and I'll never be the same. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll be better!?!

I took a cheesy self-portrait and headed home. :)

I will definitely do this race again next year! It was well-organized and the course was pretty good overall - especially for the lake area. But why they had to put all the parking lots at the top of hills, I will never know. LOL Hasn't anyone ever heard of plows to flatten things out?!?

I am pleased with my swim progress and now I'd like to focus on improving my cycling. I'm not sure how to go about that, but I have plenty of time. I am planning to spend the winter on the stationary bike at the gym once a week and possibly an afternoon ride now and then while it's warm enough. I definitely want to get a professional bike fitting and see if that helps with the shin issues I'm having. :)

Still can't believe I really did it! Having a medal probably would have helped that. :X LOL

Woohoo! I did it!!

I am a Lake Lanier Islands Sprint Triathlon finisher! Race report will come tonight or tomorrow! :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Two days out...

Workouts have gone pretty well this week. I'm still feeling discomfort in my left shin, but it's not horrible. I'm wearing compression socks when I run and that seems to be helping.

I'm feeling sort of "blah" about the race on Sunday. Not really sure what's wrong. Maybe it's nerves? Maybe it's the injury stuff? Who knows! I'm hoping when I go for packet pickup tomorrow that I'll get more excited. My emotions go up and own a lot lately when it comes to training and racing, so perhaps I'm just on a "down" right now. :)

Whatever happens at the race on Sunday, it will be OK!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend workout update

Yesterday I did a 13 mile bike ride at the park (which is the distance for next week's tri). I was supposed to do a 75 minute ride but my daughter had an activity so I had to cut my workout short. My main goal was to get in the 13 miles to prove to myself that I could do it. It was very slow going because of the numbers of people at the park, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I wore compression socks to see how that would feel while biking and it felt just fine.

This morning was the workout that I was the most worried about - a 6 mile run. Again I wore compression socks. Again my kids had activities this morning, so I had to run in the dark to get back before my babysitters hit the road to go to church. LOL But it was very pretty outside. My legs were pretty tired, which still surprises me. I'm not sure why - especially since I had skipped 4 workouts last week! @@ Yeah, I'm gonna be tired! Anyway, it was slow going. My left leg bothered me now and then but never anything that made me feel like I should stop. And there were several times when I didn't feel anything at all.

I came back in and iced my shins and put on compression socks to help keep the blood flowing while I was sitting at church. It's not feeling 100% but definitely feeling better than it did before.

Unless something changes for the worse during this upcoming taper week, I think I should be able to start the triathlon next Sunday!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Keepin' on keepin' on...

A nasty cold kept me out of action all weekend, which was probably a good thing. I had some pain still yesterday during my brick, but today I wore some compression socks during my run and the pain seemed to be less during and after the run. I'm going to keep plugging away at training and see how I'm feeling next weekend. If I can complete the tri, then I can. If I can't, then I can't.

I think I used to assume that if I did everything "right" I would never get injured. And that's just not how it goes. Injuries happen. I'm going to have to understand that. I can do everything I'm supposed to do and sometimes things still go wrong. It's just life as athlete. Nobody wants to be injured and sidelined, but that doesn't mean I have to give up. Yeah, I'm tired of fighting back. But I need to stay active for my health (and sanity), so I just have to learn to deal with the good and the bad. And all of the bad will make me really appreciate the good when it happens.

On a side note, this was waiting for me in the mail today:

I am a card-carrying triathlete now. I don't think I can turn back. At least not until September 2013. LOL

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crossroads

I feel like I've come to a crossroads of sorts. This current "injury" (left lower leg - shin splints?) that's got me taking a few rest days combined with a cold/allergies thing that is making me exhausted and feeling icky has me re-evaluating my life. And I've come to a conclusion.

This isn't fun anymore.

Running (swimming, biking) used to be something I could feel good about. It was a sense of accomplishment. It was stress-relieving and fun!

Not it's the opposite - the seemingly unending cycle of injury this last year  (IT Band, Shoulder Impingement, Blisters from He**, now this shin stuff) has taken a toll. I think I have had a total of 8 WEEKS of pain-free running in the last 12 MONTHS - and not consecutive!!!! It's HARD WORK to recover from injury. Not to mention time-consuming and expensive. And I just don't know if it's worth it anymore. The training time is also really hard to accomplish with homeschooling. I can manage the swimming because the pool opens early enough, but the sun isn't coming up until after 7 now so I have to wait to do the biking/bricks until then. Running I can usually do in the dark with a headlamp. Anyway, by the time I add in all the stretching and rolling that's supposed to prevent/treat injuries, we start our school day way behind. Evenings are impossible for training during the school year because of my kids' activities and my husband's second job. It's just piling on more stress to my already stressful life.

The triathlon is in 2 weeks. I went to the massage therapist yesterday and she worked on  my leg, and boy did it hurt. She said it was releasing, though, so that's good. I am going back next week ($$$ since it isn't part of my membership plan ::sigh::) and hopefully that will be enough to get me through. It's too bad if it isn't because I don't have any money to pay for another visit. I have completely lost my enthusiasm for this race. I really don't even know if I want to attempt it now. This is supposed to be the peak week of training and I missed two workouts - swimming because I was sick and running because of the leg. I'm supposed to do the longest bike ride tomorrow but I'm not sure I'll be able to because I'm all congested. And the long run on Sunday just may not happen if my leg doesn't feel better.

Aren't you glad you stopped by to read my blog? LOL I'm sorry, but this is just how it is right now. I'm not sure the benefits outweigh the challenges anymore. I'm not sure I WANT to fight for it anymore. There are so many other things in my life that I have no choice but to fight against - autism, epilepsy - that I just don't know if I want to hang on to an optional one.




Sunday, September 9, 2012

FALL, glorious FALL!

The temps hit 60s for the morning low and all of Georgia rejoices! Today we had our lowest temperature since early June! Coupled with the low humidity and sunny skies and it was absolutely perfect. I rode my bike this morning at the park and I actually wore a jacket! It was awesome! :)

Of course, the temps will rise again - usually we have one more week of hot weather in the 3rd week of September - but it sure is nice to get this sneak peak into fall!

The bike ride went well. My hamstrings were quite sore, though, which was troublesome. This coming week is the peak of training - the tri is only 3 weeks away! I need to be strong!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Same lesson? Sure, let's repeat it again...

This morning on my run, my leg started bothering me right from the beginning. I was frustrated, and then I decided to pray. Yeah, it feels really embarrassing to pray, "God, can you please make my leg stop hurting? It's OK if you don't and I will learn whatever I'm supposed to learn through the experience, but I've had a rough week and I could really use a break here." People are praying for real, serious problems - like a loved one with cancer, or being unemployed, or wanting to have a baby... and here I am praying for my leg to feel better.

But God is big enough for all of it. He is big enough to hear those big prayers and the little ones like mine at the park this morning. And while I know that He isn't a magic genie where you put in a prayer and get out what you want, I do know that it's OK to ask for what I want.

I learned that during the Goofy Challenge in January.

Sometimes I forget. Or, not that I forget, but rather I get to thinking that it's through my own power that I'm doing anything. And that's worse than forgetting.

But God is also patient and He won't mind me repeating some lessons over and over until they are automatic. LOL So I am trusting in Him, every day. Through pain and injury and whatever. He will get me through!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Embracing Niffercoo2012

I took off Wednesday to rest my aching leg, which I mentioned in my last post. On Thursday I did my brick, and it was just a baby one - 20ish minutes if cycling, 2 miles of running. The cycling part went just fine - nice and slow because the park was busy, and this is the park that has all the curvy path at the back. The run was harder. My leg started feeling off right away and I couldn't really get a good feel for my form. My pace was fine, but it just felt sloppy and bad.

I think the leg is a result of tightness in my glutes, so I have been stretching and rolling a lot. Been rolling on the tennis ball more and it really hurts, which is what screams, "Your glutes are too tight!". It's probably a result of the Stone Mountain ride and the 8 mile run. I took another rest day today (but this one was planned) and hopefully that will help. I will run tomorrow - just 4.5 miles - and then I won't run again until Wednesday's brick. So that should be good for my legs. Also I have a massage scheduled for next Thursday and I hope she can work some magic on my legs.

I am still kicking myself for upping the mileage on Sunday, but it may be that it's not the only cause of the aches in my legs. I mean, I'm nearly to the peak of this triathlon training. That's nothing to take lightly. I hadn't cycled or swum in months before I took this on at the end of July! This has been a big undertaking and I think I underestimated the effects on my body - or maybe I overestimated my fitness. I keep thinking I'm still "Niffercoo2011." And I'm just not. I'm "Niffercoo2012." And she is different.

"Niffercoo2011" was in half-marathon condition when she started tri training. She had been cycling and swimming regularly for 15 months. In addition, she was regularly running 15-20 miles a week and had been for a over a year. She was at least 10 pounds lighter. This body that I'm currently training has had a rough 11 months.

Not to say that "Niffercoo2012" doesn't have some great upgrades. She is much more flexible. She can touch her toes and do the triangle pose without needed a block. She also has more muscle strength, too. She has real definition in her leg muscles, and she actually has visible chest and back muscles. She has a stronger core... there is even some definition starting to pop out around the abs! And those are all good things!

So I've got to learn how to work within the limits of "Niffercoo2012" and stop longing for the good ole days of "Niffercoo2011" and remembering only the things she could do. I need to embrace "Niffercoo2012" and appreciate her strength and flexibility instead of constantly lamenting all the ways she is not the previous version. If I don't, then I'm never going to get back to experiencing peace and enjoyment with my training.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cut-back Week is HERE!

And it couldn't have come at a better time!

I did an 8 miler on Sunday - after having done 16.59 miles on the bike on Saturday. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake. Even though I took it nice and slow and did a 3/2 interval, I am still pretty sore two days later. I did a short run this morning (thanks to cut-back week) and my lower left leg is feeling pretty tight. The one 'good' thing is that the discomfort is moving around. This morning it was in the calf, right now it's the shin. In my experience with my body, that tells me that it's fatigue and not "injury", and I need to stretch and roll and maybe rest a bit.

I know I shouldn't have tried to up the mileage at this point, but I really thought it would be OK. I'm not freaked out or anything (not yet LOL), but I may re-evaluate my desire to do two more 8 milers during tri training. There will be plenty of them to do after the triathlon is over. I was hoping to do a half at the end of October, but I think now if I do anything it will just be the 10K.

I really wish the pool wasn't closed this week. They close twice a year for a week to do maintenance... once before summer, and once at the end of summer. This would be a really nice time to swim when my legs are feeling sore. But I can't. I had planned to run today, do a baby brick tomorrow, and cycle on Thursday - then do a medium long run and cycle over the weekend. I may end up taking tomorrow off and move the brick to Thursday instead. It sure can't hurt. I will see how I feel in the morning and decide then!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ready... Set... Tri!! :D

Well, I did it! I finally registered for the triathlon this morning when I got home from my bike ride!! :)

And, my husband told me to go ahead and sign up for an annual membership from USAT so that I will be encouraged to do at least 3 more tris before next year! LOL

I'm very excited!