Sunday, June 29, 2014

Race Report: Allatoona Sprint Triathlon

Before I even start this post, I want to thank my friend Nancy for all of the great pictures she took today at the race. She came with me because she will be competing in her first ever triathlon in August, and it just so happens to be at this same venue. So I invited her along so she could see a triathlon and how it all works! This will put her ahead of the game come her race day! And while she was there learning all she could, she took lots of pictures of me!

This venue is an hour from my house, and I wanted to get there right when transition opened at 5:30, so you do the math. I woke up at 3:30 and Nancy and I pulled out of my driveway at 4:20! We found the location with no trouble even though one street downtown was already blocked off for the finish line. It was pitch-black when we got parked, and I had forgotten that my friend BJ had brought a headlamp with her when we did the Olympic tri in April. I really need to remember that next time. A lady let me borrow her flashlight in transition so I could show Nancy how I packed my bag (since she was given the same bag). Thankfully, I hadn't needed light to get from the car to packet pick up and transition but that won't always be the case. Not to self: bring a light (I have a clip on visor light, so I just need to get batteries for it and remember to bring it).

Ready to walk the short distance from the car to packet pick-up!

It's nice to see that I'm very "glowy"!

Walked right up to packet pick up and timing chip pick up. Then got body-marked!

She did a very good job with my body-marking! I was pleased!

Check out my race number!
I felt like my race number today was one of those little whispers from God. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13! It seemed that today was destined to be special!

Got my transition area set up, showing Nancy all along the way how to set up her area.

The High School Musical towel has become the official "transition mat"!
After getting set up, it was time to eat, hit the bathroom, and check out the water. I tried to give Nancy enough information without overwhelming her. But that's hard to do because there's so much time to remember. We saw a few folks I know, and took pictures, but they are still on Nancy's phone. I'll have to share them later.

I got to test out my Old Navy flip flops (and they were even there at the end of the race so I got to bring them back home with me)! The water felt fabulous!! I was so very thrilled to be able to get in the water and feel comfortable doing so. The goggles felt good, didn't fog up, and the ground leaving the water at the Swim Out was free from debris.

Striking a pose!
At last, it was time to start the race! My swim wave was the 2nd to last. I lined up toward the back of the wave but didn't wait until everyone else had gone before I took off, like I usually do.

SWIM GOAL: Remain calm, swim without getting my heart rate up 

I swam with ease, even with people around me. I felt comfortable and confident, swam in a pretty straight line, and sighted with ease. I circled the buoys easily, thanks to all of the practice I have at the lake during my OWS practice. The water was a bit choppy due to all the people around me, but I had absolutely no trouble with it. Towards the end, when the speedy folks from the wave after mine began to pass me, I was able to maintain my own pace, and not let their speed and the choppiness they were kicking up bother me at all.

Swim time - 16:11 (500 meters)
Goal achieved 

BIKE GOAL: Balance speed with keeping enough in the legs to power the run

T1 went well. Didn't need to rinse off my feet, so I just dried them off a bit, put on my socks and everything, and walked to the mount line. No, I don't run to the mount line. I'm a wimp. Have you ever run in cycling shoes? It's not easy!

The bike course was advertised and flat and fast, and for the most part, it was. But there were a few rollers, and one pretty significant hill. I was actually able to get into the drops of my handle bars for the first time ever in a race! That felt very cool! I took it easy going up the hills. I tried to be mindful of relaxing my hands, but my thumb has still been bothering me a little bit this afternoon.

Bike time - 1:00:21 (16 miles)
Goal achieved

RUN GOAL: Start out slower than it feels, not letting my mind mess with me

T2  was probably slower than it needed to be, but I wanted to make sure I was completely ready to face the hill out of transition and the growing heat. I remembered to blow my nose this time. Not sure why on earth my nose runs so badly after the swim/bike.

I had been warned about the hills in the first mile of the run, but I don't think I really realized how steep it was at the beginning. When you're still feeling wobbly and awkward off the bike, that wasn't good. My mind tried to play a few games with me, especially, "If you can't run 3 miles now, how will you run 13.1 in 3 months?" Whatever. I didn't feel like playing that game so I was able to squash it! The first mile really sucked on the run, but by the end of the 2nd mile, my running legs had come back. The hills and all of the turns did annoy me, though. For some reason, I thought the run was advertised as being flat. It wasn't. And it was through residential areas and we must have turned 800 times. Or maybe not that much, but it was still annoying. We turned left twice in the last 1/10 of the mile!! @@

I crossed the finish with my arms in the air, which garnered a comment from the announcer who called me out by name! And then I was handed a medal and a cold bottle of water by a volunteer who removed my timing chip for me (even having to undo my safety pin)! 

Run time - 32:00 (5K/3.1 miles)
Goal achieved

7th triathlon complete!

Official result
Overall time - 1:53:38
Division place - 20/28
Overall place - 366/453

Fantastic race and I'm feeling great (with the exception of my thumb, which didn't bother me on the ride or run and only annoys me when I accidentally touch the place that is tender)!

13 weeks until Augusta!! It's time to kick the training into high gear!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Race ready?

Nothing like a relaxing day before a race, right?

Ha. Ha.

This morning I met a friend at the park and we started our 25 mile ride at 7 AM. The reason for the early start was the heat and humidity, plus I had a brunch with my homeschool group to get to at 10:30.  I was nervous because I was going to be leading the ride, so last night's dreams involved riding ALL NIGHT LONG. But everything went smoothly. We made it back in plenty of time, and had there not been a train and a tractor trailer blocking the roads, I would not have been 5 minutes late to the brunch! LOL

After brunch (which was delicious... I highly recommend going for a long bike ride before you go out to brunch), since I was at the mall area, I did my hydration/fueling shopping for the month of July.

 My first stop was REI to get my Skratch electrolyte powder for my bike. I also picked up some single serve packets to carry with me on the bike for the super-long bike rides. I can add it to some water, and continue on my way. There are the requisite Honey Stinger Chews, which I am not using a frequently anymore (in lieu of the much less expensive peanut butter on a sandwich skinny). The blue socks were a great clearance find - less than $5 and they are my favorite color!

REI goodies
 My next stop was the local running store, Classic City Running, to pick up some Cherry Limeade Nuun and some more of the electrolyte popsicles. While I was in there, I learned that my current running shoes were on clearance because the new model has arrived. They had ONE pair left in my size. I'm not due for new shoes until the beginning of August, but I'm concerned that the new model won't work well for me (though the guy at the store said that folks are transitioning with ease) and I'll be stuck right before the peak of my training. The guy convinced me to go ahead and get them by letting me know that this pair would put me closer to my $25 loyalty reward, which I could then use for my NEXT new pair, which will be the new model. So I saved $30 immediately, and I'll save $25 later. Win-Win!

Go in to get hydrated and come out with shoes!
My last stop was to go into the mall (on a Saturday, no less!) to get $1 flip flops from Old Navy. I do not like flip flops at all because I don't like the strap between my toes, but I also do not like walking from transition to the swim start on dirt, gravel, grass, or asphalt. I figure I can wear these to the start, take them off, and if they are there when the race is over, then I'll bring them home. If not, then they were only $1. I could have used a size bigger than I bought, but they will work just fine for what I need them for. I got the blue ones and red ones for me, since they match my kit. The black ones are for my hubby, the pink ones for my baby girl, and the silver for my bigger girl. Can't tell there is a difference in sizes? There really isn't much. This is what happens when you let children grow up. They get big feet.
$5 worth of flip flops! Wish they would have let me get another 5 pair!
I came home and chilled out for a bit. Then made my homemade pizza for my traditional "pre-race" meal. But I screwed up the dough (not enough flour... I guess I lost count @@) so my hubby went to pick up a cheese pizza for me from the local place.

Then it was time to pack. My brain is a little "Eh" tonight - thinking it's PMS (sorry to any males reading). As I age, I have this PMCraziness where I think I'm awful and worthless and horrible. As soon as my period starts, it goes away. At least I can recognize it now. But also, my left hand started bothering me today - didn't hurt during my ride and only hurts around my thumb joint, and only when I touch the spot. It's happened before and it's due to my maintaining a death grip on my handlebar, so I need to work on relaxing again. That will be something good to work on during the race - relaxing all of my body, including the thumb.

Getting pretty good at packing up for these things!
This is the first time I've done 3 triathlons in one season, and I'm very excited. Also, tomorrow marks 13 weeks until Augusta! I've got some big training coming up here in the next couple of months and I'm looking forward to it eagerly! I'm actually going to making 2 trips to Augusta this summer to train - including one trip for "camp"! :D

But first, there is a triathlon to race tomorrow - 500 yard swim, 16 mile bike, and 5K run. If you're looking for me tomorrow at the PTS Allatoona Triathlon, I will be wearing my Witness Through Fitness kit, with a vintage Swim Bike Mom shirt over it until I'm done in transition!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Epic Swimming

If you keep track on my Facebook page, you know that I tackled a 1.8 mile Open Water Swim last Sunday. You also know that I promised to blog about it that evening and didn't get around to it. To say that things have been busy this summer would be an understatement. My top priorities are making sure my family is taken care of (which now includes getting my daughter to work and dance), getting my training in (because Augusta 70.3 is a mere 3 months away!), and trying to make sure that the house remains at least one level below "pigsty". Blogging, unfortunately, has taken a back seat. And I hate that because I really want to document this Half Ironman story in detail so I don't forget anything! So yet again, I vow to do better!

Now, about this epic swim.

We had a pretty good group to meet at the lake this week, and 2 husbands were taking on the kayak duties. One would go with those of us heading out into the lake to the place that I call "The Point" and the other would stick to the folks who were doing the buoys.

I was going to "The Point". I had conquered this route before, but this time the water was very, very choppy. Because it was such a lovely weekend, boaters were out en mass and it's amazing how they kick up such waves even when they aren't going very fast.

Part of our swim group (see the orange buoys?) and one of the kayakers!
It was hard and a bit overwhelming to fight against those waves. But I kept telling myself over and over to relax and not fight the water. And that I would be stronger on race day if I learn how to swim in conditions that are challenging!

We did 2 loops out and back to The Pointe, and then 2 more loops around the buoys - for a total of 1.8 miles. My HIM is only 1.2 miles, so I did well and above what I will need for race day!

I am so fortunate to have found this fantastic group of people to train with! They are encouraging and supportive (same ones I've been riding with) and have such a wealth of knowledge.

There are 4 of us who are racing this weekend - on in Chattanooga for an Oly tri, one in northwest Atlanta for a sprint tri, and two in northeast Atlanta for a sprint tri. I am so excited for all of us! The only way it could be better is if were were all in the same event!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What a ride!

Today I went out with a new group of friends (the ones from my weekday rides and the lake swims) and we laid down 56 miles on the first day of a hot Georgia summer! I had been a bit nervous before we started because I haven't gone so far in a long while - over 2 months! And it's so incredibly hot now. I just wasn't sure how this would play out.

Well, I need not have been worried. The ride was fantastic. We didn't go too fast so that everyone could feel strong during the ride (and after). We made two pit stops for water and soda (that's a new trick I learned. And, wow, did that taste good after 45 miles of water, Skratch, and Honey Stinger Chews). When we got to the end of the ride, I felt like I could have done more, which is always key on a long training ride!

My new friend, Nancy, loves to take pictures and she took some of us during and after the ride! I love having this documentation of our adventure!

Our Biker Gang, minus the one taking the picture! This was during our 2nd rest stop!

Coming to the end of the ride - I'm on the left!

56 miles done! Can't wait to do it again!
It would be so nice if all of my workouts for Augusta would go this smoothly! It was so pleasant and enjoyable! BTW, only 99 days until my first Half Ironman!! WOOHOO!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Who am I?!

Today I had the chance to go out to the lake again and do an Open Water Swim. It's been awhile since I've had time to get out there, and the last time I went it was a struggle. We were supposed to go out to a place I think of as "the point" but there were a lot of waves and I sort of freaked out (even in a wetsuit). The waves were crashing into my face. It was not a good experience.

So today I was a little nervous. It was raining when we got to the water (no thunderstorms, so that's good) and I was going without a wetsuit because it was so warm. I figured they would want to go out to "the point" because they have some big races coming up soon. I would give it my best shot, but knew I could come back to the buoys because a few of the group were sticking to the buoy route.

Everyone took off for "the point" and they were fast. But I just did my thing - and right away I felt comfortable, like I had when I swam out at the state park a couple of weeks ago. It was great. The rain even stopped before we got to the buoys. The further we got out, though, the more waves I could feel. But I remembered not to fight against them and that was successful. About 2/3 of the way out to "the point" everyone stopped to make sure that we were OK and then we finished our trek. We reached the point, stopped for a break (and I held onto my Safer Swimmer Buoy so I didn't have to waste energy treading water), and then headed back.

One loop down is 2/3 of a mile and I did it in just over 32 minutes! But more importantly, I felt confident and strong. We took another break and then set out again.

Here is an overhead shot of the area that I found online. You can see the beach on the left, and the parking lot. We start out from the middle cove that's right about twelve o'clock in this picture and we swim out to the right. If you look closely, you can see the 2 buoys in the right hand side of the picture, near where the shoreline pokes out at the bottom. We swam way out past there - you can't even see the "point" in this picture. Isn't that awesome??

The beach and cove where we swim!
On the way out the 2nd time, I found myself thinking, "Hey! This is fun!" And then I wondered who on earth I am! I don't even get into the water at the beach/ocean because I don't like it. And here I am choosing to swim for an hour in the lake water? And I'm enjoying it? Freaky!

Augusta's swim course is a river, which will be different because of the current and the river grass. I will get to swim this course during Tri Camp in August, but I'm hoping to be able to get there with some friends and the local tri club in July sometime! Only 15 weeks until race day! :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Race Report: Midsummer Super Sprint Triathlon

Hello, all!! Did you miss me? If you've been checking out my Facebook page, then you'll know I haven't disappeared completely, but I have been pretty busy for the last couple of weeks. But it's been a good sort of busy - and fun! I've been able to do the quick posting of a status or a picture on Facebook - and I need to get in the habit of swinging over here and doing the same. For some reason I feel that I need to post a long and thoughtful exposition on my blog. But I suppose a few words are better than nothing.

But now it's time for a race report - and this is a very important post! So be prepared for a long-winded rambling from yours truly!

Let me begin with a little background: I signed up for this Super Sprint (which was billed as 250 yard pool swim, 11 mile bike, and 2.25 mile run) back in February when my triathlon club decided to make it the goal race for all of the newbies. I was happy to do it to support the team, even though the short distances wouldn't help me very much with my Half Ironman training.

But then 2 weeks ago, I joined the team for a group ride (my first group ride in 2 months due to a busy schedule). They dropped me almost immediately - "drop" when you're talking about cycling means they left me behind and didn't wait for me. I was very upset. It was especially hard because just a few days before I had had the great experience I posted about in the post below this one where the strong guys waited for me. It made me not want to do this event, or anything else with this group.

I had been having a really hard time getting motivated in the last few days - especially since I learned that there would be a swim event today on the river in Augusta followed by a bike ride of the course. I could be doing something productive, with people who wouldn't leave me behind.

But I had already paid for this event, and committed to it. And I would get to see my friend BJ who had done the Oly with me in April. So I decided to go.

And I'm very, very glad that I did.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today (though there was a good bit of fog on the drive over. It burned off when the sun came up all the way). I arrived an hour before the race start and saw lots of the team already there. They greeted me warmly! BJ arrived and set up next to me! I was so glad to see her. We took lots of pictures!

Ready to rock the race

My transition area... I need to learn to set up with my stuff near by down wheel.
I was in an earlier wave than BJ so I started off first. While I was waiting for the pool swim to start, I decided that I would focus on my mental aspect of the race since I struggle mightily with that. If I couldn't get a good physical workout then I would get a mental one. We lined up in the order of our projected swim time, and I placed myself where I could take it nice and easy. Last year, when I did my first Super Sprint with a pool swim, I got myself all messed up with the churning water and trying to go too fast because people behind me had placed themselves too fast.

So this time, I started off nice and slowly and monitored my breathing. I wanted to go a little faster with each lap, but I didn't want to get my heart racing. The turns were a challenge for me, as was going under the lane ropes because of the shallow water (only 3 foot deep at that side). I noticed the lady behind me closing in, but I didn't let it freak me out. I figured if she wanted to pass me, she could touch my foot and I would get out of the way at the next wall. But she never did. So I just swam MY pace. In the end, I finished over a minute faster than my estimated swim time. And my breathing was nice and even. I jogged over to the transition area with the team members who were in Wave 2 cheering me on.

I took time in T1 to clean the grass off my feet. You can see in my transition area picture that I have an extra towel laying over the top of everything. That was for the grass. :D

I headed out of transition onto the bike. Here I realized that I had hit the stop button instead of lap when I came out of the pool, so I didn't have an accurate measure of my T1 time. I hit the lap button twice to get to the Bike mode. (I was able to get the time later from my official finish time less my Garmin time). The bike course was 2 laps and it was supposed to be 11 miles but Garmin only registered 9.6 miles total. Not a biggie - this wasn't about the distance.

There was a pretty good sized hill on the course, and I reminded myself to ride my own ride and not push too hard. I tried to remember to keep my legs nice and loose and spin up the hill. I did a better job of this on the 2nd loop since I knew what to expect. I drank my energy drink twice on the ride. I know I didn't really need it, but it was good practice.

Came back to transition and put up my bike. Awkwardly. Really need to learn how to rack my bike like a pro. I wasted time here having to go around the stands. I put on my shoes, and took off again.

On the run, we tackled that same hill that was on the bike. I tried hard to remember something I'd read recently about effective running off the bike: "Go more slowly than you think you need to." The idea behind this is to conserve energy in the run. Your legs feel weird coming off the bike and you feel like you're going SO slowly. Embrace it. You have time to catch up later on! So I embraced the feeling like I was going a snail's pace, coupled with the long (but not very steep) hill. Imagine my surprise when my first mile was right under a 10 minute mile! So it was true - I felt like I was going slowly but I wasn't. I rounded the hill and got to a nice flat area. There was only a mile to go and I had done such a good job at keeping my thoughts focused and positive. I passed a few folks on the team and talked to them and we encouraged each other.

I saw something in the distance but couldn't really tell what it was. Finally it dawned on me that it was the finish line! I kicked it into gear so I could do this downhill finish in a hurry! Garmin says that I was doing a 7 minute mile as a crossed the finish! LOL

Finish line selfie - medals are always a good thing!
Since BJ was in the 2nd wave, I was able to get some great pictures of her on the course and at the finish! After she had finished, I packed up my stuff - and got back just in time to hear the awards starting. This was fantastic since the last race I did with these folks they waited to do the awards until way later. Surprisingly enough, I came in 2nd in my age group - only missing 1st place by 39 seconds! WOOHOO!

My first triathlon age group award - and there were at least 3 of us in the age group so that makes it even better! It feels more real! LOL
So even though I hadn't wanted to do this race, it ended up being a wonderful experience (even without the age group award). I was very successful mentally, which is probably more challenging for me than the physical aspect.

I have a Sprint race to do in 2 weeks that I was bummed about (since there is an Oly that same day). But now I'm going to use it as another mental practice/tune up, and that makes me excited! Let's see if I can apply these principles that I used today to an Open Water Swim and a longer bike and run!