Monday, November 24, 2014

Is it SPRING?!?!

In typical Georgia weather fashion, we have a miniature heat wave going on today! Thankfully, it's Thanksgiving week and we are off school for the week in preparation for the 7 Nutcracker shows in 3 days (plus 2 more mini shows on a 4th day and 14 hours of rehearsals over 2 more days).

So I did what I do: I went to the park for a run!!

It was a tad bit windy!
It was really a shame that this is a Cut-Back Week! I think I could have run for a few more miles in this gorgeous weather!! It is surely easy to be Thankful when it's 70 degrees and sunny at the end of November!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I skipped a workout! And it's OK!

Yes, I know it's shocking, but today I did the unthinkable - I took an unplanned rest day!

It's been so cold this week, and I still managed to get out and get my workouts done, even though it meant rushing around like a mad woman to get it all in between lessons and housework and taxi mom duty!

I could have done the same today. But I didn't. The alarm went off for me to go to the pre-dawn swim, and I decided instead to make muffins for breakfast.

And that's OK!

And then we went on a field trip this morning and I had told myself I could ride on the trainer after we got home. But I was sort of tired. So I decided to put up my feet for awhile and rest before taxi mom duty today.

And that's OK!

The holiday season is fast approaching and I've always prided myself at being able to keep up with my workouts amidst all the hustle and bustle. But this year "hustle and bustle" is being taken to a whole new level! And it's the off-season. I love, love, love my workouts! They help to freshen my mind and rejuvenate my spirit! So when it's  causing me to stress me out even more, it's time to re-evaluate my plans. And today, that meant that I needed to skip a workout (or two! LOL).

And that's OK!

Tomorrow I will wake up - hopefully refreshed - and take my first ever pair of "running tights" out for their very first miles!

Because one (or two) skipped workouts doesn't mean that I'm slipping off the wagon! It just means that I need a break either in the number of workouts or the duration during this particularly busy season!

And that's OK!

Remember to enjoy your holidays! Enjoy your off-season! Enjoy your family! And enjoy your workouts!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Did we skip over autumn??

My lack of posting this past week was not a reflection of a bad week, but rather a good week where I could fit everything in I wanted to do - except blogging! I think sometimes I get caught up in feeling like I need to write a long, meaningful post when all I need to do is write down what's been going on. I have been slacking off in my training journal, too, which is annoying. I need to document everything so I can reflect on it later. I've learned such valuable information from my previous training logs! I don't want to miss this post 70.3 time when I will need it again later!

This past week my toe was still feeling fine (a random twinge now and then) so I increased mileage and I even got out to ride on the real roads with my training buddies! The group ride has moved to after lunch now that the weather is cooler, and it works out perfectly with our schooling and activities schedule. Of course, since that one gorgeous ride last Tuesday, the bottom has fallen out of our weather so the chance to ride on the roads has not come up on me again.

It appears that we have skipped over fall and gone directly into winter. This morning I hit the gym for the first time in around 6 months! I don't like using the treadmill, and I have a trainer for my bike now (obviously), but I keep a low-cost gym membership for days like today when it's too cold AND wet (I can usually do one or the other in a non-race situation). I also plan to go there to use the free weights when I 'grow out' of these 8 pounders I'm currently using. Though it's really a drag to have to go somewhere to do weights when I don't have much free time. Still, $12 a month is worth it to me for the winter (or for summer thunderstorm running).

Why, yes, I did wear my 70.3 gear. Otherwise how would anyone at the gym know I did a Half Ironman?!?!
You may remember I got this gym membership back in 2011 when my ITB injury occurred and I needed to be able to use a stationary bike and the elliptical. When I was allowed to start running again it was using intervals on the treadmill and it was simply torture. Until today I had never done anything but intervals on the treadmill - and since I'm technologically challenged, I would have to manually watch the time and change the speed. It was dreadful. But today I ran straight through except for one 30 second break halfway through to wipe myself off with the towel seen above. It actually wasn't all that bad! I started off more slowly that I would average normally and increased the speed every few minutes. I was sweating like crazy but I wasn't as bored as while doing intervals! I could just run. I wonder if that's how Forrest Gump felt??

So tomorrow is my swim and bike day. The bike ride has already been cancelled since our HIGH temperature for tomorrow will be in the mid 30s. In Georgia. In November. We don't have average highs in the 30s EVER. I will hit the trainer at some point. The pool is iffy. 20 degrees with wind chills in the low teens or single digits?? I'm just not sure I can do that. Maybe if I promise myself a nice hot cup of tea when I get home?? I'll be sure to keep you posted if I make it out or not! ;)

Stay bundled up wherever you are working out this week! Seems like it's unseasonably cold everywhere in the US!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

6 weeks ago tomorrow!

I simply cannot believe that 6 weeks ago tomorrow I was doing this:

Swimming 1.2 miles in a river!

Biking 56 miles - apparently with a crooked helmet!
Running 13.1 miles to cross under the best finish line ever!

Augusta 70.3 was only 6 weeks ago?!? It seems like an eternity! How am I doing since then?

Well, I'm pretty sure my toe was sprained. I ended up taking off from running and biking for an entire week. I did swim and did upper body and ab workouts and the ITB rehab routine to strengthen my hips, glutes, and hamstrings without putting pressure on the pinky toe. I also soaked my foot/feet in Epsom Salts which was positively amazing! I noticed so much more range of motion after these 15 minute soaks. I did it 3 times a day for 4-5 days before dropping back to twice a day and then once a day.

Halloween night I dressed up as a ballerina and wore ballet slippers (my vanity run amok - I could fit into my 15 year old's recital costume. Just because one CAN wear something doesn't mean one SHOULD. I was freezing and then I had to walk around with the parents. On roads. In ballet slippers. My toe was not happy with me). I took Motrin for 2 days and that also made a big difference.

I started back with running this week and cycling and the toe has felt just fine. My legs? Wow, how quickly we lose our endurance, huh? I ran 8 miles yesterday and biked 30 miles on the trainer today and it was definitely a challenge. I can't believe it, really. Very sad and frustrating.

Yet, I'm happy to be healthy and back in the game. The week I took off coincided to my mother being very sick and in the hospital. I wished so badly that I could work out my emotions with a bike or run, but I couldn't. I had to turn to the only real source of peace and strength in my world - God, of course! And He was faithful to get me through it. And Mom. She is doing much better now!

Speaking of that... I will be making a doctor appointment after the first of the year to get a check up. My mother has diabetes and didn't know it and became very ill - dangerously ill - because of it. This is now 3 generations of women in my family with diabetes. Since I had Gestational Diabetes with my last pregnancy, this puts me at a higher risk. I need to get tested! I'm going to be more carefully watching my diet in the meantime. I think I have the exercise part taken care of, but my genetics might trump it all.

If you haven't been for a check up recently - or in a long, long time - I encourage you to join me in starting 2015 off right with a full check up! :) That way we can all get to our finish lines together!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Three years ago today...

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recovery Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Augusta - Professional pics

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

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Recovery Week #1 Complete!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

So... what's next?!

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

Marathon Maniac.

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

But now? I'm not so sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - After the Finish Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official run time - 2:23:36

Total official time - 7:08:57

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

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

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - Bike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Bike Time - 3:56:02

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

Official T2 time - 7:00

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

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - Race morning and the Swim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ironman 70.3 Race Report - The Day Before the Race (Saturday)

This is the second part of my race report series from my first Half Ironman. You can read the first part by clicking on this link

After a rather restful night's sleep on Friday night, I woke to my alarm at 5 AM. I like to get up early the day before a race to prepare for race morning and so that I will want to sleep early that night. This theoretically works! :)

According to my training schedule, I needed to do a short bike and run the day before the race to loosen up the muscles and check my bike out. I was really feeling uneasy about riding on the roads, though. A local Atlanta man was hit and killed in New Orleans while he was riding his bike the day before his 70.3 and his brother in law with him was hit and severely injured. This was fresh on my mind as the brother in law recently ran again for the first time with a local group. I just didn't feel safe.

So I did the next best thing:

Yes, I know I said pictures would be in another post, but would you have believed me if you hadn't seen it??
Yes, I set up my trainer in the parking lot behind my car right as the sun was coming up in Augusta! Crazy? Yeah, totally! Did I get some weird looks? Oh you bet! LOL But I was safe and that's all that matters!

When I got done with the ride, I put the trainer away, put the bike back in my room, and got my running shoes on. I only had to run a mile so I decided to run up to where the finish line was set up! It was so exciting to see the finish line there - smaller than one at Disney, but so incredible. I had seen these Ironman finish lines in videos before! And I was going to be crossing under it myself!?! Amazing!

Got back to the room, showered, and still had some time to kill before transition opened for bike check in. I went down to the breakfast buffet in the hotel which looked promising but proved disappointing. There were omelets but they had fake cheese on them. There was sausage but it was turkey sausage. And there was a pancake making machine but it was not working while I was there. The orange juice was good, though!

I had decided to walk my bike up to transition so I didn't need to move my car. I was afraid the parking lot was going to fill up quickly with athletes arriving on Saturday. I decided not to ride up there due to my aforementioned fear of injury, so I walked slowly with my bike. I also wanted to time the walk for race morning. It took me about 20 minutes of a slow and easy pace to walk up there. It was fairly empty when I arrived and I got Mike the Bike racked and ready to go. A volunteer was nice enough to ask me if I'd like her to take my picture with my bike! :)

After that, I scoped out the transition area for Swim In, Bike Out, Bike In, and Run Out. I mentally rehearsed my path and my strategy! ;) Then I walked slowly back to the hotel, stopping at the convenience store for a celebratory Pibb and a Snickers for post race! Then I put up my feet, watched chick flicks on TV, and waited for mom and dad to arrive! I even took a power nap which was surprisingly refreshing!

Mom and Dad arrived just in time for us to walk to the finish line area for a meet-up/picture from one of my triathlon Facebook groups! The energy was fantastic and it was so nice to put faces to names! Then we walked the few more blocks to Mellow Mushroom so I could have my traditional cheese pizza for dinner. Since we were there early enough, there was no wait and the noise level was low. Saturday was all about avoiding lots of stress and hype and commotion. Lots of resting and relaxing and focusing mentally! The pizza was delicious, as were the pretzel rolls we had for an appetizer! LOL

With full bellies, we walked slowly back to the hotel room. On the way back, we stopped off at the 5th Street Bridge so Mom and Dad could see where they needed to watch the swim start. The river looked beautiful, and my Dad actually saw an alligator in the water! That was certainly, um, reassuring! I assured myself that the gator would be full before my wave start which was an hour after the first one! ;)

Back at the hotel, I packed up everything for race morning and applied my TriTats! Then I sat down with my Mom's tablet and played Facebook games since the Free Wifi wasn't working! LOL There's no better way to relax before a big even than by Monster Busting.

I set my alarm for 4 AM and did my best to get some sleep!

Click here to go directly to part 3 of this race report series!

Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report - The Days Leading Up to the Race

Waving hello to everyone who thought I fell of the face of the earth!!

I'm back from Augusta and I am a Half Ironman Finisher! Here is a picture my mom took as I approached the finish line!

So excited to be achieving my goal!
I want to get all of my thoughts down before I forget them, so I will be posting a few posts real quick and then I will post some pictures that my mom took - the pictures may have to wait for tomorrow, though. I have less than 2 hours right now to get all of this down, and there is a LOT! LOL

First of all, Taper Madness was horrific. The second week of taper was the worst mentally. I was a basket case and pretty much spent my time crying if I wasn't working out. The fog lifted in the days before the race, but my body was physically a mess. I had pain in my left knee on the inside of the knee that I had never felt before ever. Then I had pain in my right shoulder that, again, I had never felt before. On the way to Augusta, my right elbow was hurting! It was one thing after another.

I kept reminding myself that I needed to trust God - whether I completed this journey at the finish line or not. I kept praying for strength to accept with grace anything that might come my way.

I left for Augusta on Friday morning after I dropped off my daughter at her outside classes. My husband had arranged to take a half day off work so I could get to town a day early. My plan was to get to the expo and get my race number, do my shopping, and attend an athlete's meeting on Friday. Then I was meeting a group of folks to do a river swim/float in the afternoon, followed by dinner out. That would leave Saturday available for a short gear check/workout and bike check in the morning and then I could rest in the hotel the rest of the day until my parents arrived!

Surprisingly enough... it all worked out as planned! I was a little behind schedule getting to Augusta but the expo was practically empty when I arrived. I walked right up and got my bib and swag and then shopped. And shopped. And shopped. I now have Augusta 70.3 gear to wear in just about every season. I hope to be able to fit the few pieces I couldn't afford to purchase at the expo into the budget next month if they are available online in my size! ;)

I stood in line for about 5 minutes to purchase my stuff - big difference from a Disney race! LOL I was expecting that to take over an hour so I was pleased! Next I went to pick up a print I had pre-ordered. The artist is a local to Augusta and a triathlete and she does a painting each year. It is simply stunning! I took a picture of her with the print and I will post than when I do all of the pictures. I can't wait to get it framed and hung up on the wall near all of my other race mementos.

I saw Lisa and Felicia and went attended the athlete's meeting together with a few other friends. Most of the information I was aware of but I'm still glad that I went. After that, I hit up the TriAugusta booth for my TriTats and then headed back to the car. Since I had some time to spare, I made a last-minute decision to hit up Farmhaus Burgers for a bite to eat. The group was going to Nacho Mamas after the swim, but I didn't want to eat mexican so close to race day. I figured I would eat before the swim and then just have a margarita afterward. I'm so glad I ended up going there to eat because they were closed Sunday and Monday and I would have been sad to have missed out altogether.

Hit the hotel to change clothes and wait for Lisa and Felicia to pick me up and drive me to the Boathouse. Once we got to the start, we saw Sher and Sam! It was nice to see these friends again after camp and other training together! We hopped in Jeff's truck along with 10 or so of our closest friends (or soon to be friends) and caravanned up to the start. The floating dock was in place which was simply fantastic! I was eager to get into the water again for several reasons. The most important being that the water temperature was colder than it had been in July or August. And the air temperature was colder, too. I didn't want to experience that for the first time on race morning when nerves were already peaking. Another reason was that I wanted to get out on that floating dock. I have a fear of those things, so I wanted to walk on it ahead of time.

My plan was to swim for 10 minutes and then float the rest of the way. But the current was way down and the air/water combination made me shiver while I wasn't actively moving. So I just did a nice, easy stroke to get to the end. For the first time, I was able to walk up the boat ramp like I would be doing on race day. The ramp is very, very bumpy and I've been told that they would have a carpet in place. There was nothing in place on Friday evening, though, and as I stood up on the ramp, I stubbed my toe so bad that it started to bleed right next to where the nail is. UGH. Again, tried not to freak out. I knew I had neosporin and bandages with me in the hotel room and I would proactively take care of it as soon as I got back to the hotel.

Once everyone was out of the water, the 3 of us went back to my room to change clothes and then headed to Nacho Mamas. They were jam-packed and we waited quite awhile in line. I got to meet my friend Lester's wife and talk with her over dinner which was nice. And, of course, I had one of the best margaritas ever! And some cheese dip. I couldn't resist. :)

They drove me back to my hotel and I went up to my room to get ready for bed. I can't tell you the last time I was in a hotel room by myself. I'm not sure it's ever actually happened before! It was BLISS! I finally turned the TV on to watch the end of the Braves game, but after that was over, I turned it back off and went to sleep. I got a great night's sleep (as was the plan since I usually don't sleep well the night before a big race!).

I'm going to go ahead and post this one, and start working on the post for Saturday! Edited to add: Click Here to go directly to the post about Saturday!

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Taper Week Done... Taper Madness in full effect!

Last week was the first week of the Taper where I did the same workouts, but at 75% of my peak volume. Honestly, that was still a LOT of miles! LOL I think this coming week will be better as far as physical recuperation but my mental craziness is going completely off the top of the charts!

Taper Madness is here.

My poor family!

Of course, none of this craziness was helped by an article shared on the Augusta 70.3 Facebook page indicating that the river was closed to swimming due to an oil spill.

Good gracious! What are they trying to do to me?!

I'm trying my best not to panic. They have plenty of time to clean up. But at the same time I'm thinking what will I do if the swim is cancelled. My hotel is not pre-paid. Would I want to spend over $400 plus gas and food to go to something that's not even a "real" Half Ironman?? Probably not.

But I'm not going to worry myself about it. There is nothing I can do to change anything. I will just have to keep doing my taper/training and let the chips fall where they may!

13 days to go. I hope. ;)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peak Training Week is done!!

Today was the peak week of my Half Ironman training, and despite it being a busy week for my family and a crazy weather week in our area, I was able to get all of my workouts in. Not only did I get them all in, but they all went very well! I don't think I could have asked for anything better!

I was most concerned about my Brick workout yesterday (Saturday). I planned to do around a 50 mile ride followed by a 6 mile run - the longest brick I've ever done. I asked some friends who are also training for 70.3 to join me and we rode out in the country near my house and then came back and ran through town. So not only did I get my longest workout done successfully, but the time went by quickly with the company of good friends!

A smile! What more could anyone ask for after a long, hot brick workout?!

It dawned on me this afternoon that, while triathlon is an individual sport, it would bet a rare person who gets through the training for such an event by themselves. We are supported by friends who train with us. Folks who encourage us. Folks who hold down the fort at home. And folks who do more than one of those at different stages of the journey! I'm so thankful for all of them!

So 3 weeks from today is Race Day and now it's time to taper! My workout frequency remains the same pretty much up until the day I leave for the race, but the duration decreases. I will be working at 75% of my peak volume this coming week. Then the next week will be around 50% of my peak volume. This week won't be too bad, but next week will probably have me going stir crazy! :)

Ready or not, Taper Madness is the name of the game!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MACC One Love Ride - Metric Century

Today was my last super-long bike ride! My intention with this ride was to do one more race simulation, this time to test out my new nutrition plan - Generation UCAN!

Today I ate half a bagel with peanut butter at 5:45, on my way over to my Ironman Friend's house. Last week I had trouble with my belly feeling "empty" and now that I know I will have a few hours between getting up and my wave start, I think I will need to eat breakfast at the hotel before I head over. So my friend and I rode down to the ride together. She was supposed to be doing the 100 miler (century) but with her injury taking her out of her full Ironman and really basically out of training much at all, she chose to do the 30 mile route and then to wait on me to finish. That was SO sweet of her to do that!

We arrived at the venue and it was really jumping! Lots of participants and the volunteers were some of the most helpful I've seen. I registered this morning on site, something I rarely do. But it was a last minute confirmation that I would be able to do the ride, and the registration + active fees would be just about the same as registration on site. I'd rather give that money to the charity rather than to active. They didn't have any small shirts, but I got a medium and I'll wear it today and give it to my hubby to wear after this! :)

I mixed and drank a packet of Vanilla UCAN with protein 30-45 minutes before the ride. I think I like the vanilla better than the chocolate. I suspect that is because I refuel with whole chocolate milk, so anything else tastes watery and my body doesn't like it! 

The ride started and I took off to do my thing. I wanted to come as close to pacing in Augusta as I could without this being the same course. I did a pretty good job, maybe a little faster. I mistakenly tried to power up a hill and my left hamstring started to give me grief. I wasn't sure what was going on since it didn't feel like pain, more like twinging or a pinched nerve or something. It was weird. I was afraid that I would need to drop down to a shorter route. But it never hurt, just twinged, so I kept going. When I stopped at mile 31 for the rest stop/refueling and got back on the bike, everything was fine and continued to be the rest of the ride!

I had had one bottle full of Nuun and another full of water when I started the ride. I finished the entire bottle of the Nuun, but only about 1/4 of the water bottle. I put a packet of Orange UCAN and 10ish oz. of water in the bottle that had had the Nuun, and topped off the water. This turned out to be just enough fluids for this mostly sunny day. I'm really glad it was a sunny and humid day for me to practice with. I was able to drink the UCAN on the bike just like any other drink. But then I was left with an empty water bottle the rest of the ride. I'm wondering about stopping at another rest stop during the race (if there is one??) or if I should practice chugging my UCAN while I'm stopped and refilling my bottle with water/Nuun? Something to think about and practice...

After my rest stop, I noticed there were a lot of people with flat tires. I know there were at least a dozen in a very short distance. One of the last ladies who was changing her tire said something about tacks on the road. I assumed that was some sort of code phrase, but my Ironman friend told me that people do put tacks on the roads before/during bike rides (as well as turning signs like they did at the Covington Century). Not sure what sort of person would do that. They could have really hurt someone.

I felt like there were maybe 4-5 significant hills and then a bunch of hills that looked awful but didn't feel too bad to me. I was surprised when Garmin prompted me that I had set a new elevation gain record of 2519 feet! It was hot, humid, and windy - but the hills didn't seem that bad. Either I'm getting better at them, or my brain was playing some good tricks on me! LOL

I have decided that tomorrow is a rest day. I haven't had one yet in this build cycle (14 days so far) and I'm very, very tired. We usually swim at the lake on Sunday but with this being Labor Day Weekend, my training buddies assure me that the last place we want to be is at the lake trying to swim. I was thinking of hitting the pool instead, but I'm just really, really tired. I think my body will be better served by getting some rest before this last week of PEAK training!

4 weeks to go! And on Monday, I can start saying that I have a Half Ironman "this month!" WOOHOO

Friday, August 29, 2014

Swim Waves are UP!

While I was out on my run this morning, my "partner in crime" (aka tri camp roomie, Lisa) messaged me to tell me that the swim waves for Augusta 70.3 are up!

I am wave 16 at 8:32 AM wearing a red cap.

This is good news for my mom and dad who are coming to watch me race. They can sleep in! LOL I will have about an hour and a half to kill between transition closing and my wave starting. But I'm an experienced Disney racer, so this is nothing I'm not used to. And it's not "Disney Early"!

So here is my estimated timing for the race:

8:32 AM - start swim
9:05 AM - out of the water
9:15 AM - on the bike
1:15 PM - back from bike
1:30 PM - on the run
4:00 PM - finish line!

7.5 hours is my sort of mental goal. Faster or slower matters not to me as long as I finish under 8 1/2 hours, but this is an estimate for my parents (and anyone else who wants to keep track of me on race day!). The course closes at 5:50 PM so that gives me a lot of wiggle room in case of mechanical issues on the bike or a general bonking! ;)

Starting on the run at 1:30 in the afternoon means it's going to be a hot and steamy run for me. I guess all this running in the afternoons is going to be helpful in getting me acclimated to running in the heat of the day.

It's getting real now... the race is 4 weeks from Sunday! Now we just need bib numbers and the Athlete Guide to be posted on the website! Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Long run... Wednesday???

Today I did my long run. Yeah, on a Wednesday. Weird, huh??

A few weeks ago - or maybe it was last week, my days are running into each other - there was a discussion on the Augusta 70.3 FB group about doing the long run before or after the long ride. I've always done my long run the day before my long ride, so that makes it on Friday. I did it before the ride for 2 reasons. The first one is that it's too hard for me to get in a really long ride on Sundays. My friends I've been training with do their rides on Saturday. The second reason is that it's too hard for me to get in a long run on a Sunday. LOL Additionally, I read in The Triathlete's Training Bible that folks who are prone to running injuries should do the long run before the long ride.

Then someone on the message board posted that the best bang for your buck is to separate them out - do one midweek and the other on the weekend. Most folks cannot do this. But I can! I have a number of hours to kill on Wednesdays while my daughter is in dance rehearsal. So far I've done a brick during this day, or a run and a swim. But I could do my long run. And maybe that would improve my long ride performance?? Well, it can't hurt to try.

The only complicating factor is that the least non-boring place to do a long run near the dance studio is Stone Mountain. Hills. Yuck. And it's not the flat terrain I need to train for on race day. But it's really just for a few more weeks, and if doing this helps me with my remaining long rides, then I'll deal with the hills.

I have to admit I was pretty scared. At the last minute, I scrambled to try to find an alternate location but couldn't get the directions to pull up and I didn't want to waste my time. So I went to the Mountain. And it was HOT. 88 degrees. 45 percent humidity, which was nice, but really - almost 90 is hot no matter how humid it is or isn't.

I had to do 3 laps, plus a little more. The first lap was HORRIBLE. Why are all of my runs so awful until the 4th or 5th mile? It's ridiculous! After that lap, the remaining two were actually quite pleasant. I was taking it easy and even walked a little more than my 4/1 intervals. There are a couple of hills in particular that are strenuous, and I didn't want to push it. So I just walked up them! No biggie! When it's cooler and I don't have a huge race coming up in a month (from tomorrow! GASP!!!) then I will tackle those hills!

What cracks me up the most about running at Stone Mountain is that no matter which direction I run around the mountain, or how many miles I am running, I always end up having to finish by going UP a hill like this:

This isn't even one of the bad hills!! Sheesh!!
 I started off this run really apprehensive because I've never run more than 10-11 miles at Stone Mountain and that was almost 2 years ago and we ran lots of the trails instead of just 3 times around the rock. I really wasn't sure I could do it! By the last lap, I was feeling so excited and proud of myself! When I looked at Garmin, I was even prouder! I actually finished this 15 miler TWO minutes FASTER than my 15 miler at my completely flat park!! WOOHOO!

Yes. I took a picture of the Garmin. Because I'm silly like that! Go me!!
I finished just in time to stretch a bit and leave to pick up my daughter. Good thing she was sweaty after dance so neither of us had to gross out the other! I came home and did a cold water soak for my legs. It felt SO good! Also did plenty of stretching and rolling to encourage my legs to recover. Tomorrow I do have a bike ride, but it's 'only' 25 miles... not 50+ like usual after my long runs. I'm so excited to see how my long ride goes on Saturday! I think I'm doing a local ride as another race simulation. I need to experiment a little more with the Generation UCAN before race day!

Race day... a month from tomorrow. In case you missed it!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The last big push...

Last week was taper week and my daughter's first week at her new dance studio. She is taking 10.5 hours of dance classes per week over 5 days, plus rehearsals. This new studio is about 15 miles away from our house which can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to get to, depending on time of day and day of the week.

This week began the last "Build" period before my Half Ironman. It also marked the beginning of my younger daughter's dance and drama classes at our old studio. She is taking 3.5 hours of classes per week over 3 days. This studio is 5 miles away from our house and usually takes 10 minutes to get to.

These studios are in opposite directions. ;)

Next week, my older daughter also starts her outside classes one day per week (Human Anatomy & Physiology, and Speech/Debate). These classes are located approximately 11 miles from our house, in a completely different direction.

This schedule has required changing up my entire routine, and that includes my workouts. I've been working out in the afternoon/evenings while my older daughter dances. It's hot and miserable and requires me to deal with pop-up thunderstorms and different locations and fueling challenges, but so far, so good.

I also received some terrible news this week. My Ironman friend - who has been so inspiring and so helpful to me in my training - is going to have to miss her race (IMChoo) that is the same day as my 70.3. She has suffered an injury that requires her to put her training on hold. I would not be where I am today with my training if it hadn't been for her encouragement and support! Therefore I'm dedicating the rest of my training and my race day to her!

This week I experimented with nutrition, using the samples of Generation UCAN that I got from Tri Camp. The results have been incredible! I'm hoping that I can get more of it to try out in the next 2 weeks so I can decide if I want to try to use it on race day instead of what I've been training with all year! Yikes! And I've known about UCAN since 2012 at least, when my Disney running friends at ROTE started using it. I didn't try it because they said the texture was awful, and I have texture/food issues. But since I had a sample, and since I've been hearing so many incredible things about it, I decided to try. The texture is chalky but not nearly as bad as I had expected. And the results make it worth it! I'll keep you posted on my further tests with it!

Only 2 more big training weekends and then it's time for the taper! I'm SO excited. Race day is 5 weeks from tomorrow!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tri Camp - Sunday Report

To say I was tired on Saturday night would be an understatement! I came back to the hotel and packed everything up because the late checkout of 1:00 wouldn't be late enough for my pacing (though when we came back to the hotel around 2:45, there were still folks checking out. Apparently some folks were told they could have until 2:00 or later). Loaded up the car and headed over to the start of the Ride for a Reason ride put on by Tri Augusta!

Parking and packet pick up were a breeze! This was an inaugural event, but since it's put on by tri peeps, they knew what they were doing. We lined up according to pace (with me in the way back! LOL) and it was time to roll.

I had planned this ride to be a Race Simulation, meaning I was carrying everything I needed on me and I would only stop for water one time. The ride was going to be a little over the 56 mile course due to the start and stop point being on the other side of Downtown Augusta, but I planned to measure my time and ride my game plan pacing and see how I did.

I had no idea how challenging this would be. I have ridden 50+ miles quite a few times and rode this course once before. But always we stopped several times. I didn't realize how big of a difference that makes. Last time I rode the course, we did a total of 40 minutes of stopping - I had to look that up. It's big. And each time I've done a long ride, we take lots of stopping breaks. Not a big deal, but it's not race simulation - at least not for me. I'm not fast enough on the bike to allow for rest breaks.

But the great news is that my racing plan worked just beautifully! My nutrition and hydration worked well and the one stop to refill water is just enough. I have to admit to being a little panicked during the last 1/3 of the course that I was way off my expected pace, but I wasn't. I pulled into the finish and checked Garmin and found out that I'd averaged 14.2 mph and that includes the water stop and any time I had to stop for traffic (since I turned off the auto pause for the day). I was well under the cut-off time, and just above my own minimum expected pace.

Post -ride! Sporting my Covington Century jersey!

Which leads me to one of the best things about this weekend - an adjustment of my expectations!

Before last month, I was very nervous about my first Half Ironman.

Then last month, I went to train on the course  - swam the river once, ran/walked one loop of the run course, and gently previewed the bike course. I felt so confident! In fact, I felt sort of cocky.

This past weekend, during Tri Camp, I was served a dose of reality. It's going to be hot. And humid. And hard. I'm going to be out there for a long, long time and I'm going to get worn out. I'm going to wonder why I did this and I'm going to feel defeated. WHAT A BLESSING that I experienced all of this during Tri Camp and not on Race Day!!!!!! Can you imagine if I'd felt exhausted and slow on the bike course during the race after having felt strong and fast during that preview ride (when we took 40 minutes of stops)? Can you imagine if I had to swim the river with all the debris in it when I swam a beautiful, fast, pristine river in July? Can you imagine two loops of the run course feeling achy and sore and slow when I felt strong and fast in July? I would be dealing with a battle of the mind - and we all know I struggle so badly with that!!

Thanks to Tri Camp weekend, I now have a balance between knowing the course and knowing that I can complete the race and realizing that it's honestly going to be hard work. It's a Half Ironman, after all. Notice the lack of mention of butterflies and rainbows in the title. It's not supposed to be EASY. When I finish this - be it a perfect race where everything falls into place or where I've had to fall back onto a contingency plan - I will have done something amazing at the end of the day!

So there you have it - all the details you ever wanted to know about Tri Camp! If you missed either of the other days, click on these links: Friday's report or Saturday's report. I am so glad I attended this camp and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to complete or compete in Augusta's Half Ironman triathlon!

See you next month, Augusta!! Only 46 days until race day! And I'm more excited than ever!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tri Camp - Saturday Report

So when I last left you, I was zonked out by 9:30 PM in the hotel room on Friday night after a river swim and a harrowing escape from a tornado! :)

The alarm went off around 6 on Saturday morning so we could get ready for a very busy day! The first stop was Peak Performance for a 2.5 hour series of lectures on physiology, injury prevention, and Augusta 70.3 course strategies!

We packed the house!

Wonderful way to start the day!
I was surprised that I did know pretty much everything they talked about, however I picked up 2 pieces of information that will help me SO much in my training!

The first one is the runner's stretch (AKA the calf stretch). I've been doing it WRONG for more than 5 years now! Goodness sakes! Also, the PT that was speaking encouraged us to stretch in all 3 dimensions, not just front and back. That's going to revolutionize my stretching routine (and reinforces why yoga is so good for triathletes!).

The second one is something the other PT said (and I tried to type out the entire quote but didn't get it all down) about understanding your physiological response to each individual sport. I think that's part of why I still struggle so much with cycling. I don't know what I FEEL like well enough when I'm cycling. When I run and when I swim, I know exactly how long I can keep on going with how I'm currently feeling. I know that I start off slowly and feel miserable, but as I keep going I feel better and stronger. I know my body so well with running that I can pretty much tell you the exact mileage where it all falls into place. But I don't know myself that well with cycling yet. I guess it will simply take time to get to that point.

After the seminars were over, we drove back over to the transition area and carpooled up to the swim start again. This time there were well over 100 of us in the water, and the river was full of debris from the previous night's storm! But they were very prepared for us! There were at least 10 kayakers and a dive team in place to keep us safe!

I'm not sure I'm actually in this picture, but I was out there!

Hmm, now I'm wondering if this particular picture is from Friday night? Regardless, it's awesome so enjoy it!
I was glad to get to practice with such a large group of folks swimming out. It was nearly like the number of people we'll have in our start wave. I jumped in from the dock again, knowing full well how much debris was in the water (because we could see it all piled up next to a pontoon boat that was tied up at the dock). As I was swimming, I kept getting covered in leaves and weeds and sticks. I was afraid I'd come out of the water looking like Swamp Thing! My time was a couple of minutes faster than Friday night, but still not as fast as last month. It doesn't matter, because I felt great in the water. As much as I could, I was making this a race simulation so my goal was to sight well and keep my heart rate down.

Came out of the water and got ready for the run. We were all taking off together so it wasn't a true brick, but that was OK. I was planning to do a race simulation on the run so I had my hydration belt all ready to go. I took 2 bottles of Nuun, a spare Nuun tablet to refill with, 2 packages of Honey Stinger Chews, and a tube of chapstick. The course had water and I planned to refill as necessary. I also set out for the 4/1 intervals I have been practicing (pretty sure I'm giving up on the 10/1 intervals). I did not pause my Garmin during stop lights or the water stops because I won't be able to pause the clock on race day!

There I am messing with my Garmin!
And, we're off! I was towards the front for about 90 seconds! :D
 I started off slowly, and quickly noticed how humid it was at 11:30. I'm not yet sure what time I'll be on the run course, but that is pretty close. The skies were overcast, but I can tell it's going to be a hot run especially if the sun is out on race day. I need to start preparing for that by running in the afternoons/evenings. The hydration and nutrition plan worked fine. The only surprise I got was when I was refilling the bottles with water, I would drop a half a Nuun tablet in there and put on the lid. Well, my iFitness bottles have some sort of special top that is no-spill. Apparently the carbonation coming out with the tablet dissolving combined with the bouncing around of me running would set off a miniature explosion up my back every now and then! It startled me the first few times it did it! I learned that if I take a small sip, it will release some of the pressure, and then once it's fully dissolved, it never happens again.

I had done the course last month, but this time I was going to do both loops so I could mentally prepare myself. Yeah, it's boring and it's going to be sort of hard and hot. But I understand the course is lined with folks on race day and my parents will be there to cheer me on, so I think the adrenaline will power me along.

During the 2nd lap, I noticed that a lot of folk had dropped out and gone back to transition. Thankfully, a local friend (who I'd only really known on Facebook by seeing her name around LOL) was right behind me. At the water stop, we realized we were pretty much the last ones out on the course, so we decided to stick together. It made the end of the run go by much more quickly to have some company - so thanks, Amy! :)

We got back to the transition area and I convinced Amy to get in the water with me to cool down our legs (and the rest of our bodies) in the makeshift ice bath! Oh, that felt SO good! I need to do that at home more, I suppose.

Headed back to the hotel to meet up with my roomie and get cleaned up for the club social and dinner. My appetite had not yet kicked in despite it being nearly 3 PM. It was a little unnerving so I took some Gatorade with me to sip on. I was afraid I was dehydrated. I ate a little of the food at the social, and then we went to a fun local restaurant in Augusta where I had chicken tenders and fries that didn't even taste good to me. Not sure if it was the restaurant, or if the workout had sucked it all out of me. I'm not one for thinking that my food was "too bland"! LOL

Back to the hotel early, and thankful we missed out on the round of thunderstorms that threatened to cut our workouts short. But the forecast for Sunday's ride was NOT looking good. I just kept my fingers crossed and prepared to ride in iffy conditions on Sunday.

That story will have to wait for later tonight or tomorrow! :)

Click here for Sunday's story!