Tuesday, July 30, 2013


This morning the weatherman greeted me with news that tomorrow is going to be a complete washout - not a good thing when the BIG BRICK is scheduled. Sure, I could do the ride on the trainer in the garage and then go run the neighborhood in the rain, but is that really what I want to do? I've been looking forward to this BIG BRICK for the last 10 weeks! Not only that, but weatherman told me how gorgeous it was outside (low to mid 60s and humidity in the unthinkable-for-Georgia 60%).

It made the decision clear.

Today - I BRICK.

Now, last night my car decided that it didn't particularly like going into reverse or park anymore, so I had to get the bike rack rearranged for the van. And then I also had to attach the 2nd water bottle cage to my bike. I was not even close to being prepared to Brick today. But I managed to get out of the house around 8:30 and took the long drive over to the Greenway.

Truly the weather was incredible. I was actually a bit chilly starting out on the bike in my tri top and tri shorts! Yeah, at the end of July! Amazing!

I felt so ON today - just like last week's Brick at the Greenway. I've decided that I would like to do the triathlon at the Greenway because I do well there! LOL I wonder if it's safe to swim in the Big Creek? I flew on the bike - averaged over 14 mph for the 72 minute ride, with my cadence at 86rpm, right where I want it to be! I practiced drinking more, but it was hard. I took one bottle of Nuun and one bottle of water. Drinking out of the new bottle was weird because it's on the stem of the bike - the part that is straight up and down - and it was tricky for me to pull it out and put it back. Will have to practice.

Got back to the car, switched everything out, finished off the other half of the granola bar I ate on the way over (since I forgot my sport beans) and took off on the run. Just like last week, I didn't have that "dead legs" feeling. I'm not sure if it's the Magic of the Greenway, or if it's because I've done so many Bricks this time, or what. Regardless, I felt good. I purposely took it slow because I haven't really had a day off since last week, and I did my strength training last night. Still, I managed to pull all negative splits during the 35 minute run! I took my handheld bottle with me and drank the whole thing - despite the lack of heat and humidity. I was really thirsty and didn't realize it until I was running. I've really got to figure out how to drink more effectively on the bike.

During the run, I watched my Garmin like a hawk, waiting for it to be over. But then, once it was done, I found myself thinking that I could probably have done more.  Oh yeah, I've been bitten by the Triathlon bug something fierce this summer! LOL

All in all, I feel really good. I'm sore, but not in a bad way. And I'm so grateful for that! I pray that it continues! It would be so nice to go into the triathlon feeling strong and healthy!

I have no picture to share for this post because I'm pretty sure I've used up my quota of selfies recently! But if you could see me, you'd see that I've been wearing a big grin all day - and I haven't been able to stop looking at the Garmin Connect website where I am obsessively looking at the data from today's BIG BRICK!

Next week I have a Still-Big-But-Slightly-Smaller brick to do, and I will probably be doing it near home. We are starting back to school on Monday, so that will once again take priority over my training. And I'm OK with that! I planned this triathlon training to fit within our school schedule and it has worked nicely. I'll be able to work out in the mornings as long as the sunrise will let me - and I can always bring the bike onto the trainer for the days when the sun doesn't come up in time for me to get to the park and back!

Just 2.5 weeks until PTC!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Triathlon Training: Week 9

This is going to be a very brief post since I outlined the training in-depth in other posts. I felt strong through this entire week of "peak" phase training. Waking up this morning, the first day of Week 10 - the Peak of the "peak" - was a little different. LOL

I was sore. I was tired - actually slept until 8:30, but felt like I could sleep much longer. And my morning started off with some bad news, and it kept going downhill from there. It culminated with the transmission going out on my car this evening on the way home. Bad, bad day.

I took my girls to the pool today, hoping to brighten things up a bit. It helped a little, and I went ahead and did tomorrow's swim workout since I was there. I was incredibly tired but just swam through it, and even was able to push it a little bit towards the end.

This evening I did the strength training that I skipped this morning. Only one more of these sessions before I drop the strength training during the 2 week Taper. Since I've never trained this hard for a triathlon before, I wonder if I will experience Taper Madness like I did during half marathon training?

This evening, to put a smile on my face, I tried on my tap shoes. Did I mention that I'm taking the adult tap class at the dance studio where my girls dance? And I'll be in the recital in the spring? Today I took the girls to get new dance shoes for this coming year and my teen's old tap shoes (which were too big for her) are officially mine!

Don't I look cute? Maybe the teacher can have me stand like this during the recital, and the rest of the class (all experienced tappers) can just dance around me!
Yeah, I'm probably in a little over my head this coming year with starting tap, but it's been something I've wanted to do for a long time! I miss my adult ballet class, too, and would love it if they would start another one - but this will have to do for now!

I have a busy week ahead, not just in terms of training, but I will try to keep updates coming! Sometimes I just post a blurb here or there, or a picture, on Facebook, so be sure to like me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Race Report: Happy Birthday, Harry Potter Virtual 10K

The Happy Birthday, Harry Potter Virtual 5K/10K is the 2nd race in the Nerd Herd Race Series. I was planning to do the 5K again, and to do it on Wednesday (which is Harry's actual birthday!). But it would have to be part of my BIG BRICK, and I wanted it to be something special on its own. And today, I had 55 minutes on my schedule, so I figured by the time I added the warm-up and cool down, I'd be pretty close to 10K. And my Aunt lost one of her best friends to cancer this week so it seemed appropriate to push myself a little bit in her honor.

It was somewhat cooler and less humid this morning (meaning that it was 68 degrees with 93% humidity! LOL). I wore my iFitness belt with water in the bottles because I was trying out the Huma Chia gel. I'll do a more in-depth report in a separate post about that.

After yesterday's long bike ride, my legs were quite tired this morning. My warm-up and first mile definitely showed that. But once I got going, everything felt much better and my pace picked up nicely. I felt a twinge here and there but nothing bad and nothing that stuck around to annoy me.

Shortly into the run, I decided if was going to run 55 minutes nonstop, I may as well go ahead and do  a full hour! I have that on the schedule for next week anyway! This would mark the first time since my ITB injury in 2011 that I would run for an hour without stopping! Not that I have anything against run/walk intervals because they definitely enabled me to do many, many races since my injury that I never would have been able to do. And I absolutely think I'll be returning to intervals at some point in the future. But running for an hour without stopping again has been a milestone that I've been looking forward to attempting. I remember how excited I was to do that back in 2009. Would I be able to do it again?

And I did it! And my pacing was really, really good, I think!

This includes my 5:00 warm-up. So in the hour that I ran nonstop, I ran 5.92 miles! Sweet!

Post-run! Feeling strong!
Here is my actual race bib. I chose Ravenclaw as my House! :)

My printer wouldn't work, but here I am with my bib. I look a little scary! LOL
Now I think I will go watch a couple of the Harry Potter movies in honor of the Birthday Boy!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

25 MILES!!!

I am so completely psyched by my new cycling record! 25.01 miles - 1:49:29! This is the longest I've ever ridden, both in terms of distance and time! It's SO exciting! And while it was not the best of workouts (lots of highs and lows), I think I am learning a lot about cycling and I'm definitely getting more comfortable in the saddle.

My pretty Garmin looks right at home on Mike! :)

Post-25 miler! Feeling proud!

The biggest thing I need to work on with my cycling right now is my fueling and hydration. I asked my friends on the MRTT Triathlon group what I should be doing for a ride of this distance and it was much, much more than I expected. I know that I never took in as much fuel on long distance runs as was recommended, but I need a place to start and see what works for me. And since cycling continues to be a struggle, perhaps a better fueling strategy will help!

The first 25 minutes of this ride were really bad, just like the last time I rode at this trail. I'm not sure what it is! My legs felt so tired and sore, and I could hardly pedal even in an easy gear. Around 30 minutes into the ride, I felt great! There were off and on periods when I felt awful, but my fastest mile ended up being the 22nd one! It was such a strange feeling at mile 15 to think I wasn't going to be able to make it back, but then spend miles 22-24 going faster than usual. I'm not sure what's up with that!

It's hard to be a newbie in a sport! I'm trying not to get too discouraged with my lack of progress (despite my upgraded gear! LOL). I'm definitely going to keep up my cycling over the winter (even if it's on the trainer - ugh).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weekend fueling!

I have my longest bike ride EVER tomorrow, as well as my longest nonstop run in over 2 years on Sunday! I am EXCITED! But there are some fueling questions I have, especially for the bike. I don't think I'm fueling right, since all I do is drink Gatorade. And honestly, I usually end up with this icky taste in my mouth by the end. I tried the nuun as an alternative to Gatorade and I really love it, so now I'm replacing it with this and tomorrow I'll see how it goes.

I am trying two new things this weekend: 

Cherry Limeade Nuun - tried it today and it's SO GOOD! Also trying my first ever gel - Huma! Gonna try that on the run in case it doesn't work well! LOL

I realize I probably should have tried all of this new fueling sooner than 3 weeks out from the triathlon! LOL Oh well! I know I can fall back on Gatorade if I need to - but after using the Nuun this week, I tried the Gatorade again and the taste was overwhelming.

Check back this weekend for updates! And remember to like my Facebook page so you can see when I've posted!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Tri Bucket

A few weeks ago on my Moms Run This Town triathlon subgroup, someone posted a picture of their Tri Bucket. I was, needless to say, confused. What does one need a bucket for in triathlon?

Apparently, you carry all of your stuff in your bucket (instead of a backpack) and then you lay out your transition area, turn the bucket over, and voila! You can sit on the bucket while you put on/take off your shoes! Isn't that amazing? So simple, and yet, who would have thought??

Immediately, I turned to my dear husband and said, "I need a 5 gallon bucket for the triathlon next month." He must be getting used to strange requests because he didn't even blink an eye before he told me that we have a couple of buckets in the garage that were used for baseballs. Then I remembered the one from our favorite beach, St. George Island, FL.

"Can I use the SGI bucket?"

"Um... well... sure, I guess." Someone loves their bucket! I promise to take good care of it! So I cleaned it up and bought a seat/lid for it and here it is! My Tri Bucket!

I'm trying to decide if it needs triathlon stickers on it, which I have from Cindy. Somewhere. In the House. Somewhere. LOL
Now I have to put my stuff in it and see how it works. I still have my very nice, but very bulky backpack which I'm not ready to part with just yet. Not until I've tried the bucket out to see how it works for me. I am concerned that it might be heavy to carry to the transition site while I'm rolling my bike. If it's a tri where you do bike drop the night before then obviously that won't be as much of a concern. I suppose I could always carry the empty bucket, and the backpack, and then put the backpack inside the bucket during the race.

I feel so strangely cool now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


This morning I had another "big brick" on the training plan. But not the "BIG brick" - that comes next Wednesday! Instead of sticking close to home, since we're out of school for another 10 days or so, I decided to go somewhere else and do my brick. Once school starts, I won't have the freedom to do this, so it is now or never!

It almost became never really quick!

From the moment I woke up this morning, it felt like the world was conspiring against my getting this workout in.

First off, I decided to fuel up before I left the house this morning so I wouldn't have the potty problems that I did on my last really long ride. When I bought the Nuun and the new socks, I also bought a "Bonk Breaker" bar. Ugh. I took one bite and decided there was no way. It's Gluten and Dairy free, so for some folks who need this kind of diet, it might be right up your alley. I let my teen daughter (who usually likes all this stuff) try it later and she had the same reaction. So instead I drank my water and ate half of a Nature Valley Chocolate Pretzel Nut bar.

Then I went out to load my bike on the rack and use my new strap that I bought so my front wheel will stop moving back and forth hitting the car. I purchased a Rok Strap from amazon - and when I took it out of the package I learned that it is not like a regular strap. It is two complete pieces with a loop on each end. Each of the pieces has a part of the clip. I stood there dumbfounded for a few minutes. And then I started playing with it - trying desperately to get it to work. After 10-15 minutes, I finally got it to do something, but not really what I wanted it to do. I was annoyed.

Got into the car much later than I had planned, and about 15 minutes down the road, I realized I'd left my SPIbelt at home. I usually put my phone in it. I felt the back of my top (my very first Skirt Sports Multi Sport top) and saw there was a pocket back there. Kept my fingers crossed that it would fit my phone because my 2XU shorts do not have any pockets.

I got about halfway to my destination when I ran smack-dab into rush hour traffic. I guess my time fiddling with the strap messed up my grand plan. So I started inching along, wondering how anyone does that day in and day out without going insane. By this time, I realize I need to pee. Not a surprise as I've been in the car almost an hour.

I got to my destination, and walked up to the bathrooms - closed during the week. Really? I stared at the door for a few minutes and tried to decide if I wanted to go back out and find a gas station. Could I hold out for the 70 minutes+ that I had to work out? I was going to find out.

I got my water bottle (filled with Nuun - which tasted surprisingly MUCH better than Gatorade on the bike! Sometimes I end up thirstier drinking Gatorade nonstop on the bike) out and put it on my bike and that's when I realized that I did not bring my post-workout snack with me. Lovely.

Once I got on the bike, though, everything fell into place! The trail was practically empty and that allowed me to maintain a really good cadence/pace! I didn't run anyone over and I only got "lost" one time - which actually took me to where there is a bathroom that appeared to be open. I didn't use it because by that time, I didn't have to go anymore. But it's nice to know where one is for the next time!

When I got back towards the car, there was a group of summer camp kids blocking the path, so I turned a different direction and headed up a hill. I shifted into a lower gear (an easier one- can't remember if that's low or high) and tried to spin up the hill. Slowly. Ugh, I still suck at hills. But I really can't complain because I haven't done the hill training I had planned to do this season. Maybe after the race I will get back out to Stone Mountain!

I put my bike on my rack and put the lock around everything. Switched into my running shoes, said a quick prayer that the bike would still be there when I returned, and took off. I felt amazing!! No rubber legs or shin pains, not even a peep out of my right heel. During the bike I had really focused on spinning easily and not mashing the pedals. It seems like it helped!

Today was only a 10 minute run, so I was back quickly - and Mike was still there attached to my car! YAY!

I felt phenomenal by the end of this workout! Strong and not the least bit tired - really could have run longer, which is good! I did a little over 14 miles, which is the distance of the bike segment during the PTC triathlon - of course, it won't be on a flat course! LOL But I can only do what I can do... mother nature messed up my hill training plans.

I stopped off at a gas station on the way home to potty finally and change out of my wet clothes. Not a good idea to drive for an hour in wet stuff. I picked up some "refueling products" for the ride home:

This brick brought to you by TruMoo and a banana - the stuff triathlon champions are made of!

And while I was in the restroom, I came up with an idea for the strap on the bike. I'm not sure if this is how it's supposed to be used, but it seemed to work better than the other way I had it on the way to the trail.

Rok Strap holding Mike in place!
Basically I hooked the two loop parts together in what is probably some sort of boy scout knot-tying thing. Then I used it like a regular strap. Whatever. It seemed to work! LOL

I wish I could bottle up that feeling I had right when the workout was over. I felt so strong and energized and truly grateful that the workout had gone that smoothly! I know that can't all go that way, and I've experienced enough really bad ones to take the time to savor that great feeling when it all falls into place! It would be nice to be able to call on that feeling, though, when things aren't going so well. But I supposed that's why God gives us the really great workouts - and the really bad ones - so we can learn to appreciate them! The good ones for the feeling of success and pride, and the bad ones so we can learn perseverance!

One more quick thing - if you like my Running Through the Castle page on Facebook (and if you haven't, why not?? Click here to remedy your mistake!) you saw that I linked to a free app from the RoadID folks that allows you to send tracking information (called an eCrumb - how cute!!) to your loved ones while you are working out. It will also alert them if you have not moved in 5 minutes. I used the app for the first time on Sunday, but today was the first day that my family was going to test it out and track me live. I sent the eCrumbs to my husband and my mom. They both LOVED it! My husband especially loves being able to see that I'm safe during my workouts! This app does not replace your RoadID that you wear on your wrist or ankle, but it adds another way to keep you safe. Remember how I was so freaked out on that really long bike ride about my husband not knowing where I am if something were to happen? Well, no more need to fear! With this app, he can tell exactly where I am! What a relief for both of us!

I guess if I learned nothing else on this workout today, it's that sometimes the hardest part of working out really is just getting out the door!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gear Report: Nuun hydration tablets and Feetures Elite socks

For Sunday's run, since it was cut back week and therefore a shorter long run, I decided to try out a couple of new things that I bought at our new locally owned running store, Classic City Running.

This first thing I tried were Nuun hydration tablets. You just drop the tablet into your water bottle and it fizzes around and does its thing and you have a low-calorie, no sugar, hydration drink. I have been looking for something to replace Gatorade for a number of years but can't find anything that fits me for taste. I actually tried Nuun lemon-lime a couple of years ago but didn't like it. However, after trying Nuun grape this time around (as well as Nuun All-Day Blueberry Pomegranate) and actually liking it, I think the problem before was that my taste buds were so desensitized from years of drinking soda and eating candy, that anything without a rush of sugar didn't taste good.

I used to the Nuun grape during my run in my hand-held bottle and it was very refreshing! I had no tummy issues from it, so I'm looking forward to trying it on my brick tomorrow and on my long run on Sunday. I don't think it has any carbs, though, for energy so I'm going to have to figure out how to do that without the sport bean/water combination that I usually use. I would like to try Huma gels, even though I am afraid the texture will gross me out. Or I may also try Honey Stinger Chews, which I have tasted before and liked. I am really trying to use more natural products while I swim/bike/run.

The only thing that bothered me was that the "grape" flavored Nuun is a pale green in color. Maybe for green grapes? Anyway, it was really disturbing at first - though I managed to get over it! 

I also ran in my new Feetures socks. I like the Swiftwick socks that I've been running in for the last year, but I saw this color and went nuts! I've never had any color sock except white, and these are a brilliant blue - literally, that's the name! LOL

They are so ME, aren't they?!?
They have a little bit of compression, like the Swiftwick, and they felt great on my feet. I didn't have any blister problems for this shorter run so I will try to take them for a longer run this weekend! I never would have thought I would like a sock that isn't thick. Go figure!

Disclaimer: I bought all of this stuff with my hard-earned money. I was not compensated for this review in any way and all of my opinions are my own! ;)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Triathlon Training: Week 8

This cut-back week was perfectly timed! I needed a little bit of rest and the shorter workouts to give me time to recover. I'm feeling tired, but I usually feel that way during a cut back week. It's almost like my body can tell that it's time to rest and instead of being "on point" for the stress of working out, I just kind of let go.

Now I'm looking ahead to the peak of training. The triathlon is 4 weeks away (27 days to be precise). I'm growing more nervous. I'm not even so nervous about the actual triathlon (though I am a bit nervous about the bike course being hilly and I haven't been able to do the hill training that I wanted to do). I am most nervous about getting injured again. So far, the only thing that feels like it is giving me any trouble is the bottom of my right heel. It doesn't hurt to run on or when I bike, but I just feel that it's there. I'm aware of it. I bought new shoes. I have been doing extra stretching in case the cause is related to tight calves/achilles. And, of course, I'm keeping up with my strength training program. So I've done everything in my power to avoid injury - the rest is out of my control!

I'm going to do my very best not to let fear dominate me in this training. I want to enjoy myself and make some wonderful memories! I can't do that if I'm scared. It will suck the life out of me and the joy out of my days!

I think it's a blessing that I'm aware of this fear. Now I can focus on hope and joy instead of fear. I am going to pray that God will take away the fear and replace it with contentment in any circumstance! I am going to trust God that He will carry me through this training and triathlon! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I'm gonna make a few particular people upset with the post I'm about to write. No, I'm not going off on another soap box, don't worry!

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about my next half marathon being my 10th half-marathon? No? That's okay... you can click here to read it.

I've been thinking long and hard since then about half-marathon training and what that would involve. I've been thinking about costs to get to Florida to do either the Gasparilla Half or the Princess Half. I have great friends who I would get to share either experience with me. So really, it would be a win-win situation.

But slowly, thoughts began creeping into my mind:

"My half-marathon training plan has only 2 days of cross-training per week. I don't want to go back to only cycling one day and swimming one day. I will lose all the endurance I've built up. I wonder if I can add another day of running while I continue to do the others?"

"I really feel so good when I'm training for a tri!"

"If I spend the money on a travel trip, then I won't be able to get the things for my bike that I want for next year."

It has slowly become obvious to me that I'm just not feeling the overwhelming excitement over a 10th half-marathon trip - at least, not at the expense of the things I want to be able to do next year to prepare for my triathlon goals in 2014. Ultimately, I would rather spend my money in that way - for my bike/triathlon gear.

I guess my priorities really are shifting. I want a new saddle for my bike, and I want to get a professional triathlon-specific fitting for my bike! Those are pretty expensive, and they are the next two things that are crucial for me to be able to move forward in my cycling (which is necessary for my goals).

So it appears that I will still build up my running to the 9-10 mile point (perfect for the olympic distance triathlon AND the half-marathon), but any half-marathon race I may do for my 10th will have to be a local race if I am to do it in the next 12 months. And really, at this point, I'm not sure I will be shooting for a half-marathon entry this winter. I guess I will wait and see how the distance goes and if I am feeling good, then maybe I'll register. I'm not going to put that pressure on me right now. 

I thought it was so important for me to do another half-marathon ASAP - without walking intervals - to prove to myself that I am "back". And I think it was... 6 months ago. Tink seems so long ago. Princess seems so long ago. That desperate need I had to prove to myself that I was "healed" is just not there anymore.

It's amazing to me how changed I am inside. And I'm not disappointed by that!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Numbers back on my arm!

Last weekend, I got a message from my friend, Cindy (who did the Coast-to-Coast challenge with me this year - wait, that was THIS YEAR?? Hard to believe that Tink was one 6 months ago this weekend!). She offered to lend me her Garmin Forerunner 410, since she is now using a Polar watch and HRM! For free! I was overcome by her generosity!

The watch arrived yesterday - yes, she sent it THAT FAST! - and I spent an hour or so figuring it out. It has the bezel on it, which my old 305 did not have. It wasn't as difficult to use as I had feared, but certainly not as easy as just using buttons! LOL

Of course, the watch arrived after my workout yesterday, and it was everything I could do not to go for a quick run and ride to test it out. Thankfully, I have a run scheduled for today and a ride for tomorrow (my homeschool group is having a New Members Brunch on Saturday morning so I won't have time to workout, so I bumped my workouts back a day and did some combining).

I did a short swim first, and then went straight to my run. It was awesome! It was SO NICE to have numbers back on my wrist.

Doesn't it look perfect on me?!?
(OK, part of me wants to comment that the display includes my 5 minute cool-down walk, which is why the lap pace is 15:45. And then I'm wondering to myself why it matters so much? Who cares if I walked and that my time is reflective of that? Ugh! Vanity is a horrible thing!)

When I got home, the Garmin automatically and wirelessly transmitted the information from today's run to my laptop via the ANT stick that is plugged in. Then my laptop popped up a little message which I clicked on to take me to the Garmin Connect website. There waiting for me was oodles of data, and a map, and the weather details! I played around on it for awhile and was as giddy as a little girl on Christmas morning!

Tomorrow, I get to try it out for a ride. It has already paired up with my bike sensor once so I hope that it will find it again easily tomorrow. In fact, if you look at the picture, on the bottom under the distance you'll see a little "X" which is where the bike sensor is - that's letting me know it's not finding my sensor today! Now I'll have data for my rides on the trainer this fall and winter!! That's sure to make them go by faster! :)

Thank you so much, Cindy! You really made my day (week/month!)!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Peak cycle strength training - having a BALL?!

I have an appointment with a ball tomorrow morning!

For some reason, the Peak cycle strength training revolves around the exercise ball! This should be interesting to say the least! I have modified the previous workout routines since I didn't have the ball, but the Peak cycle uses the ball for just about everything! So this should be an interesting experience, to say the least! :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Triathlon Training: Week #7

Well, I am SO glad that this segment of training is complete! It was hard, but I did it... and my body is ready for the rest of a cut back week! I don't even have Zumba this week so it will definitely be restful!

Yesterday's bike ride went pretty well, overall. I finally made it to the Silver Comet Trail, a place I have wanted to ride for over a year! The weather held out and I battled construction traffic on my route, and I got there I did it! It was a great trail, busy at the trailheads but fairly empty in places. I was not expecting to have to cross actual roads, but it gave me practice in clipping out. I was also not expecting to be riding over high bridges - I don't know how high exactly because I would not let myself look down for fear I'd fall over. I was very intimidated by the large groups of cyclists that would fly by me, not even moving over an inch so I felt I had to hug the side. Cyclists don't seem to be very friendly people.

Mentally, this was a tough ride and that surprised me. My legs were already dreadfully tired. 15 minutes in to a 90 minute ride, I was thinking that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it. My plan was to ride out 45 minutes, then turn around (ha ha!) and then come back. Just about 45 minutes in, I came to a detour. I followed it into a parking lot, and then there were no further directions, so I turned around (without falling) and headed back. I was thinking it would be such an easy place to ride since it's flat, but my legs were not used to moving nonstop for all that time. I get a little break on the downhills in the parks, I guess. I had to stop at once of the roads, and it actually felt really good!

My brain also started playing games about me being "in the middle of nowhere" and what if someone happened, and I was very far from home. How would I tell my husband where I am and how to find me. When I came home and looked at the map, I realized that I was not in the middle of nowhere. In fact, in many places I was only a few blocks from stores and hotels and stuff. That made me feel better and I'm sure I won't have such worries next time. I mean, I was freaking out about getting a flat, and I swore I heard some weird noise in the front of my bike like it was going to fall apart. I had to work really hard not to get scared and discouraged.

When I got back to my car and got off my bike, I was surprised that I didn't feel awful. Yes, my legs were even more tired, but nothing hurt or felt terribly uncomfortable. That was awesome! I thought I had accomplished a personal longest ride, but the Run Keeper was off. In the end, according to the maps, I was about the same mileage as my last 90 minute ride in 2011. In 2 weeks, I have a 100 minute ride, so I will definitely be setting a personal record that day!

Today's long run was a personal record, though! I had to do a 50 minute run, and that was the first time since 2011 than I ran that far without taking walk breaks! I decided to work today on slowing down my pacing, which has been a lot faster than usual, even with the heat and humidity of summer. Just because I apparently CAN do it, doesn't mean I SHOULD be doing it, especially as the distances/times are increasing. I am doing more cycling than I ever have, and I need to make sure my legs are OK. I am definitely feeling like my muscles are tighter and that can easily lead to injury.

According to Run Keeper, which did a much better job of measuring the distances today, I was running around 10:40 miles, which is reasonable for a long run in the humidity. Everything felt pretty good, though I am still feeling some soreness on the bottom of my right heel, and now and then on my left shin - in other words, my usual spots. This is the perfect time for a cut back week. I can focus on hydration this week and doing lots of lots of stretching. Nothing feels injured, but rather just some soreness occasionally, and mostly after exercise, which is telling me it's a tightness thing.

Now, I think I'm off to take a nap! It's been a very busy week for our family, not just in triathlon training! And rest is every bit as important as a workout is!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gear Report: Cruiser Bike Girl Skirt

Last week, I won a contest on the Skirt Sports website for a Cruiser Bike Girl Skirt. Until seeing this contest announcement, I didn't even realize that Skirt Sports had cycling skirts, which is a little embarrassing considering that I've been running in their Gym Girl Ultra skirts for years, and I wore their triathlon gear in my first two triathlons! I'm not sure how I overlooked it!

Anyway, I got to choose my favorite print, so I went with the Paradise Print. There was a "special fit" note on this skirt which indicated that the shorts are more compressive and the back rise lower this spring, so if you're between sizes you may want to go up. I usually wear an XS in the Gym Girl Ultra, though the last two I got seemed to have different elastic in the waist, so I sent them back for S. Since I have larger thighs, I decided to go up to the S in the Cruiser Bike Girl. I'm glad I did, because I couldn't have handled a more compressive short. The waist is a little big (and it is lower in the back like they said) but since I'm sitting the entire time, I don't have to worry about it falling down.

I took a chance and wore it the first time today on a 90 minute ride! I normally wouldn't try out something new on such a long workout (I haven't cycled this long in over two years! LOL) but my other cycling workout during the week is a brick and I can't attempt that with the padding in this skirt.

My hubby was nice enough to wake up early on a Saturday morning to take a picture of me before I left!

Ignore the lack of makeup and instead focus on the adorable skirt!!
The first thing I noticed was how comfortable this skirt is. I have one other pair of cycling shorts and they are very low-waisted and the waist is not at all comfortable. This skirt fits nicely. I had a little struggle getting it on the first time, and ended up getting the shorts positioned and then put the skirt down over it - but didn't have any issues today, not even during the two potty breaks I took before my ride. It felt great during the ride and was very comfortable. I don't have any issues from wearing the new gear on a long workout!!

After the ride, I didn't feel sweaty or icky, but I still changed out of my workout clothes for the nearly hour drive home. When I got home and hung up my gear, it was most definitely sweaty! How nice that it didn't feel heavy and wet on me while I was working out.

The one thing I liked the best about this skirt was that I didn't feel conspicuous walking around with "bike shorts" on. I always hate walking around with skin-tight shorts on and especially with cycling shorts because of the padding. I didn't feel that way at all with this skirt! It was awesome. I would have felt comfortable going into the store in my workout gear!

So, as you may have guessed, I'm sold on this skirt! I have actually been looking for cycling capris and tights for the fall and winter riding, so I will be watching Skirt Sports actively (ok, obsessively! LOL) waiting for the Cruiser Bike Girl Knicker Skirt and the Cruisin' Tights to go on sale!

And here is my first time for a disclosure!! How exciting! I did win this skirt in a contest on the Skirt Sports Facebook page, but all of my opinions are my own. I was not asked to do a review of this item by the company. How was that? :D

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"...and boy were my legs tired!"

I'm not exactly sure why I thought today would be a good day for a hill workout. It was 72 degrees and 10000% humidity when I left the house. Lots of fog again. I was going to go run a soft trail path today but decided against it because of the storms last night. Instead I put on my new shoes and hit the hilly park.

Mizuno Wave Rider 16 - my first pair of black running shoes! Running Warehouse has a pair in bright orange, and I think that will be my next color! :D
I stuck with the Mizunos this time. Back in December, I bought a pair of these and a another pair of Brooks Ghosts. But I'm finding that I prefer the feel of the Mizuno on my feet, so I went with those. I still hold out hope that the Brooks Launch will be released again like I heard was coming in 2013!

The run itself went well, and I was glad to have my handheld water bottle with me. By the end of the run, I was literally dripping sweat, which just doesn't happen to me. I'm not a heavy sweater, but apparently I have been this summer. I need to remember to start carrying a towel to wipe myself down after my workouts.

Post-run: the shoes are cool but the legs are TIRED!
Just 3 more workouts until the cut-back week next week! WOOHOO!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bricks and Fog

As seems to be the norm this spring/summer, the weather messed with my training plans AGAIN! I had wanted to do my brick workout today on the Greenway, but we got MORE rain. I was afraid the easily-flooded out Greenway would be closed in portions, and it's a long way to get there. I didn't want to do Stone Mountain today either because my legs were still really sore from Zumba last night. My only options were the park near my house, or the trainer. Needless to say, the park won out!

This morning I woke to find a thick layer of fog everywhere. I waited and waited and finally decided to go ahead and deal with it. There were plenty of people at the park so it wasn't as creepy as I was afraid it would be, but my goodness it was humid!

This was my bike when I got to the park! And no, it didn't rain during the 3 mile drive to the park - that's how humid it was!

I was getting everything ready for my workout when I realized that I had forgotten my running shoes. I loaded the bike back onto the rack, and drove home. Thankfully, I had chosen the close option. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson to always double-check for running shoes. So I came back and tried it again!

The ride was good, and the clouds and fog persisted until right before I started the run. Then, of course, the sun came out bright and clear (and hot!).


and after!
The other direction - before...

... and after!
I wish I could figure out how to get those next to each other so you could compare more easily! Anyway, I think you can get a feel for how thick the fog was.

The workout went well overall. Today I had to ride 70 minutes, and the run for 10 minutes. In my previous training plans the longest I ever rode before a brick was 45 minutes. So this was quite a bit of a longer ride, which is really good for me since my ride in the tri will be longer than 45 minutes! I feel like these longer bricks will go a long way to better preparing me for race day!

I am trying to implement some of the techniques that I learned in Every Woman's Guide to Cycling! The two things I'm working on the most are keeping my body relaxed when I'm going up hills. I'm practicing on the small hills at the park, so that when I go to Stone Mountain again it will be natural. I'm also working on my cornering, which slows me down a lot, using techniques from the book. I've gotten really good about braking lightly before the turn, and then pedaling through the turn.

The run was completely freaky coming off such a long bike ride. My left shin/ankle was acting like it didn't want to have any weight on it at all. And my right heel bothered me for a few minutes. But both of those things went away in a matter of minutes. It was hard to adjust to the sun beating down on me after it being so cloudy. And I was dripping sweat from the humidity and it being already near 80 degrees.

Run Keeper says that I averaged 14.03 MPH. I'm going to take that with a grain of salt. But perhaps the improved cornering helped to keep my speed from dipping so much at all of the corners? My run pace was 9:43 which sounds right on.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that the weather won't derail my weekend workout plans! :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The big 1-0!?

Despite the fact that I'm only halfway through the training for my triathlon next month, I'm already looking ahead to my next goal. Long-term I want to do an Olympic distance triathlon next summer, so I would like to build my running endurance back up to 9-10 miles. Since 10 miles is my long run for a half-marathon, and since I'd like to be able to do a half again without taking walk breaks, I am looking at doing a half this winter (or late fall).

There are a plethora of half marathon options in the southeast in the cooler months! This should be a piece of cake, right?


According to my calculations, my next half marathon will be Number 10!!!

That requires more thought, don't you think?

Does a milestone race require a NEW race or do you go back to the first one and run it again? In this case, the Princess Half Marathon. My friend Jan, who started this whole running thing, is doing the 10K with her daughter so I could ride and stay with them, which would cut my costs. I could also skip going to the parks and I could bring my food with me, so that would also save money.

Or should I pick something new like Gasparilla (Pirate themed) which is that same weekend? It would be more expensive because I would have to fly down there and get a hotel/rental car myself.

Or should I just pick my favorite of the local races that are so in abundance in my area? (Cheapest option!!!)

How do I make this decision? And the Princess is 87% full, and the price goes up in August if it's not already sold out. So I kind of need to decide.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Triathlon Training: Week #6

HALFWAY DONE!! YAY!! I am so glad to have reached the halfway point of training!

We have been having a lot of wet weather in Georgia the last week or two, but I managed to get my workouts in. I had to ride on the trainer for Wednesday's bike ride which was disappointing since it was my last "non-brick" middle of the week ride and I really wanted to ride at Stone Mountain. But I'm glad that I have a trainer now so I am able to get the ride in when I need to.

I stopped by the gym on the way home Wednesday night to see what their hours would be for the 4th in case it poured non-stop like they indicated it would, but I didn't end up needing to use the treadmill. I was able to get a nice run in at the park.

For my long ride on Saturday, I had hoped to go to the Silver Comet Trail, but again the weather called for lots of rain. When I woke up that morning, there were only hit or miss showers, and the idea of doing 80 minutes on the trainer did not appeal to me, so I decided to go hit the park near my house. I got sprinkled on a couple of times, but it didn't pour until the very end. 80 minutes and that worked out to about 18 miles. I'm getting close to my longest time on the bike (90 minutes) and longest distance (which I will have to verify but I think it's around 21 miles).

Mike had never been in the rain before, so I dried him off well when I got home, but I though the chain might require a little lubing. I'd never done that before, even though I bought some lube 2 years ago! LOL I watched a couple of youtube videos to see how to do it - and then I tried it out on Frank first. I'm still a bit nervous since the video said that "too much lube is worse than too little"! Hopefully I didn't do anything that would ruin my bike.

Yesterday morning I was able to get my long run in at the park. It was humid and nasty, so I wore my iFitness belt again. I ordered replacement bottles and another bottle holder (though the one I got was bigger than the original one. Still, the bottles fit in pretty well - better than the Fuel Bottle ones did). No bouncing and I only dropped a bottle once!

Run Keeper was having some satellite issues - probably due to the heavy cloud cover. I started out with my 5 minute walking warm up, then started to run. Shortly after, RK announced my first mile split and that I was running a current pace of 6:19. That was comical! I stopped, assuming that I had forgotten to switch it out of cycling mode, and reset the workout. I continued to have intermittent issues, especially when I was on the part of the trail that winds through the woods. When I looked at the map, it showed me doing strange loops and some odd out-an-backs, so I am assuming that was when the app was having GPS issues and was adding mileage to my run. I had a 9:30 mile, and an 8:45 which actually sound reasonable - but there was another 6:30 and an 8:04 which just do not make sense. So I'm not exactly sure how far I ran during my 45 minute run (with an additional 10 minutes of walking), but that's OK. I will survive (hopefully LOL).

I am definitely tired from this week's workouts. The bottom of my right heel is sore, too. I remembered this morning that my shoes are 7 months old and were used for both half marathons earlier this year. So even though I haven't been running lots of miles recently, they are probably at that 300 mile limit that I seem to be able to get out of a pair of running shoes. I went ahead and ordered a new pair (just one this time since that's all I can afford), and hopefully that will help the soreness.

Just one more week in this training cycle and then next week I get a glorious cutback week! I am actually very much looking forward to it! LOL

Week 7 here I come - let's get through this without any additional aches and pains! :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding balance - and keeping it!

I'm about to write about something that might not be received very well. In fact, I have been hesitant to write about it because I don't want to upset anyone, but it is something that I feel very strongly about so I'm going to go ahead and speak my mind. Because this is my blog and I can.

What prompted the decision to finally write this post is a new picture I saw come across Facebook that says something along the lines of, "Mommy going for a run isn't Mommy being selfish, it's Mommy being awesome." 

I cannot begin to describe how annoyed that statement makes me. On so many levels.

I posted back in 2010 about finding balance in my life with training and the responsibilities of being a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom. I wrote that right before some things changed in my world with regards to running and racing that took me far off the road of "balance." The important thing to note, though, is that I didn't realize it when it was happening. It was only once my daughter (then 12) pointed it out to me and then I was sidelined with my injury that I could look back and see what happened.

In my pursuit of becoming a Half Fanatic, and later my failed attempt at becoming a Marathon Maniac, I found myself getting involved with a lot of people who run races on a regular basis. And I started running a lot of races. And I started training A LOT. And when I wasn't training, I was exhausted from training.

As my daughter pointed out, I was gone every single holiday morning. And in 2010-early 2012, I took many, many expensive out-of-town/state races, 3 in a two month period. It was when I left for that last trip that my youngest daughter, then 9, sobbed and begged me not to leave again.

My household suffered. My kids' education suffered. My relationship with my husband suffered. And I didn't even realize it was happening. Everyone was wanting to be supportive of me, so they weren't putting any limits on my racing or training (beyond what our finances would hold, and my husband took many extra gigs to allow ME to do these trips! WOW!).

I'm going to emphasize this point again - I didn't even realize I was going down this path. I didn't see the difference between the training that started out as "Mommy needs to take care of herself" and had morphed into "Mommy only cares about herself." It didn't happen on purpose. I didn't set out to do it. If you had asked me if I was training or racing too much I would have said, "No way!" because I knew plenty of people who raced/trained much more than I did. And besides, I needed the time away. I deserved to take care of myself. Right?

So how does this happen? How does a loving, caring, devoted Mom fall off that fine line that balances her family and her own needs? Bit by bit. Race by race. I don't think ANY mom does it on purpose. Really. Most of us mom - especially stay-at-home, and/or homeschooling, and/or special needs moms - are crazy about our families! Motherhood is not a career that will result in lots of tangible rewards. Unfortunately, it's easier than I think any of us would realize to get wrapped up in something else that will give us those tangible benefits.

Remember, especially for those of you with little kids, that this season of high-needs motherhood will not last forever. There will be lots of time for you to pursue all of your amazing goals when your kids are a little bit older. That 12 year old who was crushed about me racing every holiday and swore that I loved running more than I loved her is now a 14 year old who is rarely awake before I get in from my weekend long runs or bike rides. She also swears she never said that about my running, so I don't think there was any permanent damage done to our relationship. ;) The intensive years of parenting are really quite short, though they feel so long when you are in the thick of it. For me, I really have only 7 more years of homeschooling to go. And the intensive years of parenting are behind me (though the emotionally draining ones are here in a big way LOL). Even though I have special needs kids who might be living at home for some or all of their adulthood, the hardest years of parenting are over. And it happened in a flash!

Don't forget, there is someone else in the family who deserves to think about himself, too - your husband. Mine has been working 2 jobs for the last 13 years to allow me to stay home and homeschool. He has worked doubly hard to allow me to take these trips and pursue these goals. In the last few weeks, we have learned that he has some serious health problems of his own. In fact, it is only by the grace of God that I did not lose him to stroke or heart attack. He had no symptoms, and the only reason we found out about it is that he went to the ER for a tetanus shot after stepping on a rusty nail in our yard. His blood pressure was so dangerously high that they wouldn't let him leave. And now he has testing on Monday to determine how much damage there is to his heart. My husband is NOT obese or even overweight, but he is sedentary and eats (or rather, ate - before the ER visit) an unhealthy diet. He needs to make some changes and I'm excited to put aside some of my goals to help him get healthier!

The purpose of my post today is not to point fingers or judge or announce that MY way is the RIGHT WAY and the number of races or whatever I do is the "perfect" number to maintain balance. NO WAY. My purpose is to encourage all of us to be cautious and to check in with our loved ones and make sure that the balance still exists (because this balance is going to look different for each family so the only way you can know if you're doing it is by checking in with your family regularly).

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend of training AND family time! :)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day!

Today is Independence Day for those of us in the United States of America! And for those of us in Atlanta, that means the Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10K in the world! I did that one twice and decided it wasn't for me, but I think if you live in the Atlanta area, you should do it at least once!

Since it's Thursday, my training schedule calls for a short run. We have been under a Flash Flood watch since yesterday morning, and the rain at times has come down in buckets. I had to do my bike ride yesterday on the trainer due to the storms. I drove by the gym yesterday to see the hours for today just in case I needed to hit the treadmill due to thunder (I will run outside if it's just raining). I even considered if it was raining that I'd go ahead and do tomorrow's swim workout today and run immediately afterward, since I'd already be wet! But to my surprise, when I woke up this morning it wasn't raining! I headed out to the park and took my chances.

Today I tried out a new piece of gear: a handheld Fuel Belt bottle. I have previously tried a Nathan handheld and didn't like how it made me feel off-balance. I did not have that problem with the Fuel Belt bottle, I think because of the way it's shaped. It allowed me to keep my natural hand positioning. The only thing I didn't like was how my hand got sweaty next to the bottle, but I hadn't chilled my water first this morning. I think perhaps if the bottle was chilled, not only would it not make me sweaty but it might also cool me off. I will have to try that next time. I got the handheld to use during the run portion of the tri when I wouldn't want to use my iFitness belt.

The run this morning went pretty well overall, except for the third mile. I started getting a stitch in my side, and I wasn't sure why. It wasn't sunny, and not terribly warm. I was hydrating every mile. I was glad when that mile was over and I only had about a minute left to run before the cool down walk.

When I looked at Run Keeper, I was shocked to see my splits (Mile 1 includes the 5 minute walk):

8:18?? Wowsers!!
I guess that explains the side stitch in Mile 3, huh? If this app is correct, I was really pushing it. I need to find a race ASAP so I can try out the app and compare it to an official course. I may also try to get to a marked trail so I can compare the accuracy of the distance. For now, I'll take the 8:18 with a grain of salt - realizing that even if it's not totally accurate, it was faster compared to my previous runs so I was definitely pushing harder.

I was feeling mighty tough with my 8:18 on the way home. Feeling pretty tough overall, recently, because my workouts have been going well and I feel so strong and energetic. Then I got a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror:

Poppin' tags?
Yes, I ran the entire run with the tag of my visor sticking out. That's a charming look, isn't it? And due to the side it was on, that means every person coming the opposite way saw it. ::shaking head:: Oh, well. It's the run that counts, right?? LOL

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Triathlon Training: Week #5

This may be the shortest post ever on my blog, but since I posted practically every day last week, there isn't much to add for this week's official report.

So today begins Week #6 which is the halfway point! That's hard to believe, really. This time next week I'll be starting the last half of training for my triathlon in August! Wow!

I did my Strength Training this morning and then took my 17 year old son to have his wisdom teeth removed. Poor guy!

Yep, that's about all I've got for today. :) Aren't you glad you stopped by? LOL