Saturday, December 28, 2013

New gear makes even the worst ride better!

This morning I set out for the Silver Comet trail to ride 40 miles. The Channel 2 Weather guy predicted a high of 55 with some sun through mid-day but rain starting at 2:30. Well, he got it HALF right. @@

I was so excited to try out my new Christmas gear! Not only would I be wearing my new cycling jersey and using the top tube bag on the bike to carry my fuel, but I would also be using the leg warmers that I bought myself as a treat!

Don't I look cute? I mean tough?? :D

I didn't want to wear a jacket because I wanted my jersey to show. Sure, it was going to be chilly at the start, but with sun and 55 by the time I was finishing, I figured it would all work out.


For one thing, it was not sunny, and that makes a big difference. And it was 41 degrees when I started. And that is really, really cold on the bike. But I was expecting that big warm-up, right? Yeah, right. When I got back to the car 3+ hours later, it was a balmy 44 degrees. Yep, 3 whole degrees. And it wasn't sunny at all. I was literally freezing. I couldn't feel my toes at all. My bottom felt like it was made of ice cubes.

The ride itself was miserable. I was cold, as we have already determined, but I was also feeling crummy. I think it was the later start time and the fueling involved with it. I had the same problem yesterday with my long run. By the time I finished each of them, I was starving and feeling awful. I guess I need to figure out how to fuel long workouts that don't end before lunch.

I did finish, however, and there are a couple of silver linings with the workout. The first is that I found out that less than half a mile from my usual turn-around point, the place where it feels so isolated and somewhat scary, is a trail head with a bathroom and a clear view of a divided highway! LOL Who knew?!? And the second is that this ride turned into 43.4 miles, which is officially my longest ride ever. I decided that since it was going to suck, I wanted it to at least suck with a PR.

The new gear worked out pretty well. The leg warmers fell down about 15 miles in. I fixed them, and then at my turn-around I pulled them up much higher and they didn't fall down again. The bike jersey fits perfectly and I really love it. Having the big pockets in the back was a big help. I carried my cycling gloves in case my hands got too hot in my regular running gloves (Ha Ha) and later I put my Honey Stingers chews in another pocket for easy access. The top tub bag is pretty cool but not nearly as easy to open as I was expecting. I cannot open it with one hand, which means I can't open it while I'm riding. I hope that it will open easier the more I use it. I also bumped it with my legs a few times at first, but later I didn't even notice it. I'm not sure if that's because I didn't bump it, it didn't bother me, or perhaps I'd lost all feeling in my legs. LOL I did learn that it is NOT water-proof as it was full of water after the long drive home in the rain. So if it starts to rain, my phone will have to come out and go into a baggie or something to keep it safe.

During the ride, I was pretty much thinking that doing the Half Ironman was not going to happen. How could I go 16 more miles feeling so crummy, and then run a half marathon after that?? But I guess I shouldn't make decisions based on one bad ride.

It sure would be nice to make a decision, though! ;)

Last long bike ride of 2013 is done! I never would have thought I'd be able to ride 43.4 miles on the bike by the end of the year! I'm so pleased with how well my base-building is going!! Just a few more workouts left, and one nice rest day tomorrow, and then it's 2014!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Triathlete Christmas!

So last year, I purposely avoided asking for anything to do with training. That just wasn't where I was at the time, and that's OK!

This year? Not so much! LOL

I must have been a very good girl because Santa brought me everything on my wish list! :D

In case you can't tell what some of the things are, I will start at the top and work clockwise to tell you about all of my goodies!

1. Mizuno Wave Rider 16s in bright orange! I have been dying for some really bright shoes and these are so awesome!

2. TYR lap swimsuit from the grab bag section at Swim Outlet. My old suits (also from the grab bag section) are getting really worn out. But I'm not sure there is anything worse than putting on a new swimsuit that isn't all stretched out! Wow, did I feel squished!!

3. A top tube bag for my bike. Now I can carry all of my stuff and not have to wear the Spi Belt!

4. A special clip for a cue sheet for long bike rides!

5. Seriously the softest hoodie on the planet! And I have a LOT of hoodies, so I should know! (This runs a bit big so if you like a snug fit, size down. I ordered a small and it's roomy on me, but I like my hoodies to be nice and big.)

6. My very first cycling jersey! I can't tell you how completely psyched I am about having a cycling jersey now. I feel like I'm part of "the club" now. :D I chose to get a medium, and it's plenty long and not too snug. I wanted to be able to wear a long sleeve shirt underneath if it's cold, but I didn't want it to be too big and be flapping in the breeze. I think it's perfect!

I am looking forward to my long bike ride this weekend! It's going to be cold, I think, but I don't care! I have to use my new stuff!

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Triathlon-induced Schizophrenia

I think I have developed this mental illness. It may not be in the DSM manual, but it should be! Allow me to describe how it worked during my workouts this morning. (And yes, workouts - as in plural. The pool is closed tomorrow so I had to bump my swim back to today. I ran first, then I swam.)

Mile 1 of run - talk myself out of Ironman 70.3 Augusta, it's too expensive and we could use the money for other things

*** I should note here that I had woken up this morning determined not to do IM because of the comments on a triathlon board I frequent to my question about the unexpected expenses involved with a HIM. But then when I checked the board, someone else had posted that you don't HAVE to do it that way, and it's perfectly reasonable to do a HIM fairly reasonably. So that put me back on the, "I could do this!" bandwagon.

And now, back to the run.

Mile 2 of run - decide that I should do Augusta.

Mile 3 of run - daydream about doing the Ironman, and wondering if I could finish before the cutoff

Mile 4 of run - convince myself that I would barely make the cutoff because my cycling is still slow, so maybe it would be better to wait until 2015, once I'm trained up properly

Mile 5 of run - thought about something else besides triathlon! No, I'm not kidding!

Mile 6 of run - it's back! Remembering what my mother said about not knowing what a couple of years might hold. Decide that I should do Augusta in 2014.

There was some stretching and while I stretched I debated staying at my mom's house vs. getting a hotel in Augusta. Also wondered if I should ask Mom to go with me. She hasn't been to one of my triathlons yet. Then started to remember how my first marathon went, and how much pain I was in. My aunt and uncle were there, and I was able to keep from them exactly how bad it was. Could I do that with Mom? And if I couldn't, what would that do to me, or to her?

Drove to the pool during this time. By the time I'm in the water, I have decided yet again not to do Augusta. I will do Olympic distance this year and do a Half Ironman in 2015 or 2016. It's not like I'm not going to fall out of love with triathlon!

I did several sets of laps today for my swim. My warm-up set consisted of me thinking not a lot about triathlon and more about the fact that the pool is set up for yards on Mondays which always freaks me out. I go when it's set up for meters. Not really a big difference, but enough to make me feel off for the warm up.

My next set was breast stroke and back stroke. While I was doing these, I started thinking about the current in the river at the Augusta 70.3 and how cool that must be to be going down river in a wetsuit! And it isn't in the ocean, although a river is pretty freaky. I remembered how people are telling me that Augusta is the perfect HIM for a beginner. I decide that I'm going to go for it.

The next set was my endurance set where I practice long, smooth strokes while only taking breaths every 5 strokes. I decided to try to put a little OOMPH into these today. Because I need to really get my swim up to par for a HIM. I've been sort of slacking on the swim mileage. I start trying to calculate how long it will be until I get home, and wonder if the kids are even awake yet, since it's their first day of Christmas break. Then I get this horrible reminder that my son wrecked his vehicle and we haven't yet found out how much it will cost to fix it. I decide I should not be spending any money on me. My kid needs a driveable car! What kind of a mother am I that I would dream of spending money on me and not on him. I am ashamed.

The last set before the cool down was my speed practice and where I practice breathing on one side only (I do a bilateral breathing techniques most of the time). I am mad at myself for being a selfish mother, which makes the speed come easier. And I start thinking of how strong I have gotten over the last year with my swim, and although I am not totally pleased that I am developing swimmer's shoulders and back, it's cool that I'm feeling strong. And it's not that much money to spend on Ironman. I just won't do any of the 5Ks or 10Ks I usually do that eat up so much money. I could swing this all on my race budget if I'm careful - and I'd spend that money on me anyway, so it wouldn't be taking money away from my son's car repairs.

The cool down was spent thinking about the fact that I was going to be completing 2000 yards in the pool for the first time. That's almost the distance for the HIM swim, and I've still got 9 months to go. I am feeling awesome! And boy, do I have to pee!

OK, so that's basically how my brain worked this morning. It's been like this since Saturday. It's actually giving me a headache! What do I do?!?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Decisions... or "Do you believe in coincidences?"

My planned post for today was about the problem I am having with deciding on which races I want to do in 2014. I have so many wonderful options, but there is the problem of limited time and money. That's nothing new and nothing unique to me! I don't know any runner/triathlete who is able to do every race/activity they want to do all the time!

These have been my main options, in order of their appearance in my mind:

1. Sprint tri in the spring, Olympic distance tri in the fall
2. Olympic distance in the spring and fall
3. Olympic distance in the spring and metric century bike ride with my uncle in the fall

About 2 weeks ago, things started changing. I went to an informational meeting of a local triathlon club. We had to go around and tell about ourselves and our plans for 2014, and then they talked about triathlon for the first timer. When one of the head guys (whose name I can't remember) started talking about himself he mentioned that he is signed up for the Augusta Half Ironman in 2014. And then he added the strangest comment, "Ms. Cooper is doing that, too - she just doesn't know it yet." I was like, "This dude is nutso!"

But then my 40 mile ride on the trainer was the next day and I found myself wondering what the exact distances are for a half ironman. I chalked it up to the a delirium induced by a 3 hour trainer ride. I actually almost blogged about it because it was so funny, but I never had time.

Then this morning, I was at the trail for a 40 mile ride and it was raining. As I was getting my stuff pulled together, a man/woman couple came in off their bikes and said they were calling it a day and they were off to run instead. I laughed that I had no choice because I ran yesterday. The man asked how many miles I was planning and I said 40. He then asked me what I am training for. I told him I'm laying down my base for the 2014 tri season. He asked which race and I told him I wasn't sure, but I am looking at a couple of Olympic distances. He said, "Already riding 40 miles? You should do Augusta Half Ironman!"

So for the 2nd time in as many weeks, some stranger is telling me I should do Augusta? And since he tells me about this right before I head out on a 3 hour ride, my mind is rolling it over in my head like crazy the entire time. In fact, I even changed up my fueling schedule because there is only one fuel stop in a HIM. (And I don't even know if that's true! @@)

Being the logic-minded person that I am, my mind also takes me through the pros and cons. The first and biggest con is that the Augusta HIM is the same day as the metric century ride I want to do with my uncle. In a normal year, they would have been a week apart, but this coming year the ride date conflicted with Rosh Hashana so they moved it back a week. Not a big deal, until the idea of Augusta was implanted into my subconscious.

The next biggest con is the money, but since it would be about the same amount of money I would pay for transportation to the bike ride, that's not a complete deal breaker. I would need to get a hotel in Augusta, I think, but my mom only lives about an hour away so I could avoid that expense if I needed to.

As for pros... that is a bit trickier. While a HIM wasn't on my immediate radar, I had been thinking that it would be neat to do in 2015 when my son graduates. He will be my first homeschool graduate and I was thinking that could be my graduation present to myself. But then, 2015 is going to be a huge year for $$ because of that graduation and my daughters turn 13 and 16. Since I'm apparently already trained up with a good base, it might be more practical to do it this year.

Another reason a HIM wasn't on my immediate radar was the time necessary to train and could I do the kind of mileage required to complete it. According to folks who know these things, my base is good and I'd still have 9 months to train. And we are already taking off June and July from school next year so I'd be able to get in some really intensive training without having to worry about school. 

I really don't believe in coincidences. I say that all the time. So two different people (complete strangers) bringing up the same race has me really, really intrigued. Oh, what to do!?!?!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Little bits of cycling joy!

Yesterday I was going to attempt to do something I haven't done since August - a brick workout! I was a little intimidated, especially because I was going to have to run off the trainer, which I had never done before.

I had a bit of bicycle maintenance to do before I could do the workout. I may have mentioned before that I thought my tire pump was dead. I have been having a hard time with it, but assumed it was user error. Then I thought there was something wrong with my tire, until I watched the guy from Apalachee Cycle fill up my tires in mere seconds before the One Can Ride. Since the pump had been given to me when I got Frankenbike, and it looked pretty well-used when I got it, I figured it was time for a new pump.

Have you ever priced tire pumps? It's like most gear for triathlon - bargain basement prices all the way up to the amount I paid for my first car. And since I had just managed to wipe out my fitness budget with Black Friday orders, I was working on a limited budget. I finally gave up and went into the bike store next to the Game Stop (I was Christmas shopping with the girls LOL) and they had pumps on sale. I bought the least expensive one they had! I know, that was scientific, huh?

And while I was there, I got some more lube for my chain. I had noticed during recent rides (even on the trainer) that my chain was starting to make some noise. Since I put my old bottle of lube somewhere safe (@@), I haven't been able to find it. I figure that I will be able to find it now, since I replaced it!

So yesterday, before the big brick - it was time to love on my bike! Now, the last time that I tried to lube the chain, it wasn't pretty. In fact, it was annoyingly messy. But this time I was smart - I watched You Tube videos on both chain lubrication and tire filling! And it must have helped because I lubed that chain like I'd been doing it my whole life! And while the tire pumping didn't go as smoothly, it was much better than with the old pump. I felt like an absolute pro!

As for the brick, that also went very well! One of the hardest things for me with a brick is that feeling when you start running that you're going SO SLOWLY. After being so fast on a bike, it feels like you're crawling. But since I had done my 20 miles sitting in place, actually moving through the neighborhood felt like I was flying! I only did one lap, which is about 1.6 miles. It worked perfectly because I'm running about 16 miles a week right now, so increasing by 10% is exactly 1.6 - love it when the math works perfectly! :D

 So yesterday's workout started with a lovely ride on the trainer in the garage, with my full tires and well-oiled chain (that sounded so lovely and really felt easier to pedal), and ended with a lovely run around the neighborhood on a gorgeous sunny but cool day! Man, I love triathlon! :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Jingle Jog for Autism 5K

So sorry for the delay in this post. Saturday through Tuesday proved to be such a busy time for us! I was barely home during my waking hours on every single one of those days. I apologize for the delay!

You already saw what I was planning to wear! The weather forecast was calling for a 100% chance of rain and highs in the upper 40s. It wasn't going to be a very pretty day at all. But I couldn't just not go. This race means so much to me, not only because it was my first ever 5K, but also because the money raised goes to support the summer camp programs for kids with autism in Walton County.

I got dressed in my adorable outfit. You know, I really felt that I looked so cute! :) This was probably my favorite costume for any race. It was so sassy!

Gonna Jingle All the Way!

I got to the race location (where they had set up under the bleachers in an attempt to keep us all dry while we waited for the start) and picked up my shirt and bib. I was supposed to meet some folks from my Moms Run This Town chapter, so walked back to the car to put my stuff away before it was time for the group picture.

On the way back to the car, a lady and a guy were walking in front of me. The lady stopped and turned around and said, "Are you going to wear those bells through the entire race?" I said, "Yeah," and giggled. She said, "Well, stay away from me. It's going to mess up my cadence." I was a bit shocked and tried to laugh it off with her, but really?? This is a JINGLE jog. Wow.

I made it back to the area under the bleachers and talked with some friends while we waited for picture time. Just about the time we did the picture, the sky opened up and the rain just started pouring down in sheets! And then the wind picked up and the rain was blowing sideways (and under the bleachers). I have to admit, I was feeling a little freaked out at the prospect of running in that mess!

MRTT Group Pic #1
MRTT Group Pic #2

We did two pics because some folks missed the first one! :) Santa was happy to oblige us!

About 5 minutes before the race start, the rain subsided. It was very welcomed. This was a new course and it started downhill so I was not looking forward to sliding down the hill in the crowd. The race started a bit late, but not too bad. I didn't wear my Garmin because of the heavy rain, so I really had no idea how fast or slow I was going. I wasn't out for a PR, anyway.

I took off at a pretty good clip, literally jingling all the way! I wanted louder bells and I got them! LOL I wonder how many people ran PRs in an attempt to escape my jingling?? The course was similar to last year's course, just not running up to the high school. It was out and back and then out and back a different road, and then out and back the same road to the finish. I was thinking it would be horribly boring but it really wasn't too bad. One of the benefits of the out and back was seeing the winners. The guy who won was literally 3 minutes (at least) ahead of the next person behind him! It's inspiring to watch all of those fast people, especially since I know some of those very fast people!

My legs were absolute lead. I mean, completely dead. It was 12:30 and I'd been standing around for an hour - not stretching, not warming up, nothing. Just BAM - RUN! Not a smart thing. I really should have warmed up or something. The weather held out pretty well. During the 2nd mile there was some rain but it wasn't too terribly bad. I didn't even realize how wet I was until after the race was over! ;)

I was so not prepared for the speed at which I took this race. I hadn't fueled properly, and there was the aforementioned lack of warming up. I ended up walking up one hill just to catch my breath. I was getting very over-heated in all of my layers! I remembered thinking at one point that if I didn't end up with a sub-30, I was going to be really upset because I felt like crud! And then I remember wondering why on earth I was doing this because I wasn't setting out to do a PR or anything. I really should have slowed down a little so I could enjoy myself! Oh well.

As I pushed to the finish I saw the finish line clock ticking away in the 28:xx range and I started kicking myself for that bit of walking! I had had a chance for a PR and I blew it! ARGH! I ended up crossing the finish at 29:07 which was good considering the conditions and my lack of preparation. I headed straight for the results board. I turned in my card and watched them put my card in the 3rd place slot for my age group. There was a 2 minute difference between me and 2nd place, though, so I was wondering if someone hadn't turned in their card yet.

I got so cold waiting around watching the results board. I hadn't really felt that cold during the race, or even beforehand. But I guess sweat and cotton shirts/Santa hat/socks do not work well together! I debated going back to the car for my jacket (and my phone so I could take pictures of the awards and the results board) but I was afraid they would start the awards and I'd miss it! So I stood there and shivered.

I really shouldn't have waited because I had such a busy afternoon and evening ahead of me, but I simply had to get my award! It doesn't happen very often that I win an age group award! LOL It took awhile to start the awards but once they started, it moved very quickly! I knew several people who won their age groups, and one of my friend/s husband's won the Masters Overall award! I can thank the female Masters Overall winner for my 3rd place award because she was in my age group! Her win bumped me from 4th to 3rd, although the posted results don't reflect that - her name still shows as 1st in the age group as well as Masters, which makes me want to pout! LOL But she finished in 20:41. Join me in my awe of her speediness!

The first place winners in age group got a cute little mug. 2nd and 3rd got medals, which are cool, but not nearly as cool as a cute mug!

Me and my 3rd place medal - my frozen red nose makes me look even more festive, don't you think?

The back of the medal
My 6th Jingle Jog for Autism was fun-filled and rewarding! The worst of the rain held off for the 5K and the course more enjoyable than I expected. I'm so glad I didn't let the weather keep me from participating.

I did learn some bad news about the Jingle Jog's future. The person behind the race is moving away and the race is being taken over by the Council for Exceptional Children, an organization for special education teachers.  So next year it will be called the Jingle Jog for Exceptional Children. I don't know if the proceeds will be going to fund the summer camps anymore, or if it will be going to the CEC to fund their own projects. If the money isn't going to help local autism parents, there is really no reason for me to participate. I will have to wait and see next year, and ask the folks running it then. I hope they will continue to support LOCAL parents of children with AUTISM, as this race has always done!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Flat Niffercoo: Jingle Jog for Autism 5K

I may look like a drowned rat by the end of the race, but I'll be a cute drowned rat! :D

'Twas the Night Before Jingle Jog...

'Twas the Night Before Jingle Jog
When all through the house...

OK, I really did try most of the afternoon to come up with a cute poem in the style of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. But in the end, it just didn't happen. I'm either not that creative, or my brain has just shut down for the year. Maybe inspiration will strike later and I can come back and edit this post! ;)

So, it really is the night before Jingle Jog, that is the 8th annual Jingle Jog for Autism 5K. You may, or may not, remember that this race was my very first race EVER back in 2008! In the strange way that race dating works, that's 5 years ago but this will be my 6th time participating! I have tackled this race in so many different ways.

In 2008, it was my first 5K and I was hoping to just run the entire thing. And I did!

In 2009, I was running with my then 10 year old daughter!

In 2010, I heavy into the miles and ran 7 miles that morning before I came to run the Jingle Jog!

In 2011, I was injured and walked the whole thing.

In 2012, I was still recovering but also trying to prepare to run/walk a half marathon in a few weeks (and it was almost 70 degrees at race time! LOL)

So far, 2013 is looking to be a wash out. The forecast is calling for a 100% chance of rain and race time temps around 48 degrees. Bums me out because I had big plans for dressing up. I'm still going to dress up, but I'm going to end up being soaking wet, so it won't be as much fun! ;)

It's funny how my perspective has changed in these last 5 years. This night in 2008, I was so afraid. I didn't know if I was going to be able to run the whole 5K and I really wanted to. Tonight, I'm thinking that it's 'only a 5K' so I can wear my cute stuff and deal with being wet for that brief bit of time! Pretty cool, huh?

Stay tuned tomorrow evening for the race report! If you're running or racing tomorrow (anywhere but Florida @@), stay warm and be safe! :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kick-butt training!!

This was a great week of training! The weather was quite uncooperative, and my schedule was a bit crazy, but I still managed to fit in all of my planned workouts!

Today I had a 40 mile bike ride on the schedule, and the temperature stayed in the low 40s with a 'feels like' in the high 30s, with off and on rain all day. Back to the trainer again!! I don't think I've been on the roads or a trail on the bike in over a month! It's awful! But I am grateful to have the trainer, and a space in the garage to ride it where it doesn't disturb the family.

To combat the craziness of 40 miles on the trainer, I broke it up into 3 segments, two 15 milers and a 10 miler. I took a break after each of the 15 milers and came in to stretch my legs and have a snack (peanut butter on a sandwich thin). I was really surprised at how quickly the time passed. I don't know if it was taking the breaks that made the difference, or if it was my intensity (low resistance/gear, high RPMs), or maybe it was both. Either way, it was successful!

Averaged a little over 14mph!! And right around 90 RPMs! Goal achieved!
 I came inside and put my feet up to rest like my Uncle, who is a cyclist, had taught me to do.

It's not a chair rail - it's a foot rest!
So this marks the end of this 3-week segment of training and it's time for another Cut-Back Week! The last one I took was when we went to Disney World, so that wasn't really a lot of relaxation and recovery going on. This coming week I will enjoy cutting back on the intensity and volume of my training, and I get to cap off the week with the Jingle Jog for Autism 5K, the very first race I ever did, back in 2008!! I'm very excited!

My goals for this upcoming week are to keep the intensity under control (since I have a tendency to up the intensity during the Cut-back Week when I decrease my volume), get in ALL of my planned stretching and yoga (hard in the busy-ness of the holiday season), and to have a complete blast at the Jingle Jog! :D

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Long FAST run!! :)

I had to get my long run in this morning - so weird to be doing a long run on a Wednesday. But the weekend ahead is completely crazy, in a fun "It's almost Christmas!" sort of way. And since next week is a cut-back week, I really wanted to get in another 10 miler. My last one the week before Thanksgiving was sort of an accident. I was running at the hilly park and I could either walk the mile back to the car or run it... so I ran it, and that made 10 miles! LOL

So this time I wanted to set out to run 10 miles. It was a mild but foggy morning. Like pea soup fog. And damp from all of the rain we've had recently. Despite the weather, the park was busy!

I started out like I always do, feeling sort of blah - especially since last night was my tap class and we did our dance a bunch of times! But soon enough, I fell into an amazing groove! I felt great and I let myself go with it. I knew I was going to be faster than my usual 10 mile time, but it wasn't until I got done that I realized how fast I truly went!

An average of 9:48?? Over 10 miles! And look at my splits:

I came SO close to running negative splits! Mile 4 was off because I got a text and since I'd left the kids at home sleeping, I wanted to check it, so I walked while I checked. (It was my son telling me he was up and doing his school work - such a good kid, er, almost adult! LOL)

I have to admit, I've had the Garmin Connect page up all day, just so I can stare at it... especially that 9:05 mile 10! :D I'm so vain!

I'm going to spend today in compression socks, rolling and stretching as often as I can! Hopefully I won't have too many bad affects from the speed I put my body through this morning! I can't blame anyone but myself if I do, though! :D