Sunday, October 22, 2017

Race report: Atlanta 10 Miler

This morning I did a new race distance - the Atlanta 10 Miler! This is race #2 of the "Triple Peach Race Series" put on by the Atlanta Track Club. The first event was the Peachtree Road Race on the 4th of July, and the 3rd and final race will be the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon next month. Individuals who complete the Triple Peach get an extra shirt and medal, and a special party area at the finish line of the Half Marathon. I've been wanting to take part in this event since it began a couple of years ago but my daughter always had Nutcracker on Thanksgiving weekend and dress rehearsal until 11 PM or later the night before Thanksgiving. So that was a no-brainer. This is her first year dancing with a new company so my Thanksgiving Day, and the Triple Peach, were on my race list for sure!

Flat Niffercoo - didn't end up needing the mittens!! I wore my new Skirt Sports skirt with my 2015 MCM shirt as a shout out to my many friends running MCM this morning!
There were lots of warnings about traffic so I arrived a little after 5 AM for my 7:17 wave start. I had to add 2 miles before the race to get my total mileage that I needed for my Dopey training, so I didn't want to risk sitting in traffic. That was a great idea and I would need that time later. I sat in the car for a long while choking down my Generation UCAN drink (my racing fuel). It wasn't cold outside but it was a bit chilly and I didn't want to stay outside too long. I met up with my friend, Michael, for a quick selfie in the parking garage and then I went to hit the restroom and do my 2 mile warm up, and intended to meet up with him again later but was only able to find him and some other guys from run group in their corral right before the race started.

The bathroom line at the ladies' room was ridiculous. I was in line for about 15 minutes, and when I came out, the line was twice as long. A volunteer said there were porta potties out on 17th (??) street, and I saw them while I was doing my warm up, but the lines for those were even worse! I did my 2 miles weaving back and forth Atlantic Station and finally settled into up and down one little road because it wasn't very crowded. Everything felt surprisingly good since I had run the 3 days before.

After my warm up, I needed to pee again, but the lines for the porta potties were even worse - and I had about 20 minutes until my start. I walked back to the regular bathrooms but they were worse than before. I then wandered around a bit trying to find an open store or some other bathroom options but couldn't find anything. At last I stumbled upon a marvelous sight - more porta potties! These were near the Target, and when I made my way down to them I discovered there were NO lines! They really should have announced these better! I had resigned myself to using potties on the course, but didn't need to! Yeah, this level of detail seems a bit TMI for a race report, but I was really surprised at the seeming lack of preparation in this area.

I asked a fellow racer where the start was located and it was directly behind me, so I started walking to my corral. I was placed in Wave B, which is generous since it was for 8:30 pace and there was no way I was doing that for 10 miles today. I decided I would be lining up in the very back for everyone's safety!

Start Line Selfie!!
It was pretty cool to be starting off the race before sunrise. We made the first turn after the start onto 17th Street and the ATL skyline was beautifully accented by the rising sun. It was breathtaking! I hope someone took a picture of it - if they did, I'll come back and add it to this post!

The course itself was new this year, featuring running down Cardiac Hill (the beast of a hill from the Peachtree Road Race). It didn't mean much to me since this was my first time! LOL But I really, really enjoyed the course! I don't know much about downtown and I only very rarely knew exactly where I was, but we ran through some lovely places. Of course, the hills were there - it's downtown ATL! But I've been training on hills again for the last few weeks and I felt much stronger than I did during the Peachtree. There were 2 really significant hills in miles 7 and 8. I was doing 2:00/0:30 intervals and it helps so much in situations like that. I have also been working on my form going uphill and not powering my way through. It helps to conserve energy!

I felt so very good today. I can't even describe it - I was expecting to be sluggish and slow but I felt strong! Once I saw that I was able to run at my target "race pace" I just went with it. I ended up finishing about 20 seconds per mile faster than race pace! Oops! I'm definitely going to have to be careful at Dopey and make sure I don't get carried away by the atmosphere! LOL

One funny thing about this distance - I passed the 8 mile marker and thought, "Only 5 miles to go!" and then I realized, "No! Wait! Only TWO miles to go! WOOHOO!!" That was surely a great feeling!

I crossed the finish line feeling amazing, but I didn't see any photographers. Bummer! I was able to get a nice selfie with my medals, though! My finish time was 1:41:46 - and average pace of 10:11/mile. Pretty good for

I'm going to blame the excess wrinkles around my eyes on being happy! Laugh Lines, right?!
The medal is really cool! It's the number 10 with a spinner in the zero!

Front of the spinner

Back of the spinner
Needless to say, this is a race I will be doing again! I had so much fun! And I wonder what I can do in terms of pace when I haven't gone into the race on tired legs! :D

Next year this 10 mile race falls on my 10th Runniversary (yesterday was my 9th!) so I'm pretty sure you can guess how I will be celebrating! I think I'll even make a cool shirt to wear that says something about it being my 10th year of running!

Lots of races this weekend - hoping everyone had a fun and safe time!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dopey Training: Week #2 (again)

This week's training went pretty well! This was a "One Longer Long Run" sort of week. I can't remember if I described the training rotation but it goes like this:

Two Long Runs
One Longer Long Run
Race Simulation (4 runs in a row)
Recovery Week

Having just come off of Half Ironman Training, I have to admit this training all feels like recovery, at least until this coming week when I have Race Simulation! I don't think I've ever run 4 days in a row! But still, when you're used to doing at least 2 workouts a day, every day, with a rest day only every 10 to 12 days, this feels easier!

So here is what this week's workouts looked like: 

Monday - 6 mile run; Strength Training (Pure Barre)
Tuesday - XT (60 minute swim)
Wednesday - 7 mile run; Strength Training (Pure Barre)
Thursday - rest day (What?!?)
Friday - XT (28 mile bike ride on the roads!)
Saturday - rest day (Nope, not kidding! I didn't set an alarm on Saturday!)
Sunday - The longer long run (14 miles of hills)

My hour swim went well, but I was mostly winging it. I'd like to get some sort of organized plan for my swims but I am not sure it's that important right now since it's truly just cross training and I'm doing it to keep up my swim fitness. I have a book of swim workouts for triathletes, but they are really long workouts (since I'm a slow swimmer) so I'm not sure how I would make that work. 

The bike ride was the BEST. Since I've been working on Tuesday and Thursday for the last few months, I haven't been able to join my group ride. When my cross training day lined up with my day off work, I asked my buddies if anyone could join me on a slow ride and 3 of them could make it! It was absolutely delightful to be back on the road with my friends again! 

My ride buddies - one had to cancel at the last minute so there was just the 3 of us! 
The runs went pretty well this week - I did a hill run on Monday and then a speed workout on Wednesday as part of my run group. I did have a little snafu come up on Wednesday - I did 5 miles before run group (speed) and then stopped and waited around for the group to come. When I started back up to do the last two miles, my right foot was hurting. Very odd! I went home to roll it out and take an epsom salts bath, but couldn't really find the actual part where it was hurting. Nothing hurt to touch. Nothing hurt to roll. I was perplexed.

The next day at work, I did one of my IT Band stretches (standing up, crossing legs, and doing a forward fold) and BAM! I felt the stretch the entire way down from my hip all the way to the exact spot in my foot where it hurt. You know how I'm always preaching that lower leg and foot injuries are usually related to issues in the upper part of the legs? Yep! Bingo! So at least that gave me a place to focus my efforts and I had a few non-running days to let it get better. I didn't feel it at all when I rode on Friday, not even when I came out of the saddle to climb.

So this morning, I didn't feel anything when walking, so I decided to give my long run a shot - at the Mountain which is a 5 mile loop. I would cut it short if it was bad. When I started out, I could feel the pain in the same spot - but I could also feel my tight hip. I focused on form and relaxing my hip... and in the middle of mile 4, my hip released and let my foot go as well! The rest of the run went very well, even on the hills! I did the 2:00/0:30 intervals which I have very surprisingly started to like. I only grudgingly did them because that's what my MRTT group did for long runs and I wanted to stay with them. I'm shocked that I have come to like that short of a break and I find if I'm in a groove I can easily hit a 10:30 mile that way. I even did it on the front side of the Mountain in mile 14 with 92 feet of climbing!

I did feel my foot and hip a little more towards the end of the run but nothing bad. And I worked all afternoon and felt just fine (aside from the fact that I had run 14 miles of hills that morning LOL). I'm not sure what that will mean for my 4 days of running in a row but I'm going to be diligent about my stretching and rolling this week and I already have a massage scheduled for a week from tomorrow! I'm fairly certain the tightness is from adding the hill workouts these last 2 weeks. I was a little cocky and started too far/too fast on the hills. Lesson learned and I will have to take responsibility for that one! It might mean a little extra down time from running during the Recovery week, but that won't be a problem. The most important thing is to get to the start line of Dopey in good shape.

Have a great week of training, y'all! And don't be cocky like Niffercoo! LOL

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dopey Training: Week #1 (again)

After a week off from all workouts after the Half Ironman in order to fully recover from both the race and my cold, I was twitching and going a bit crazy! But I also knew that I was jumping headlong into Dopey Challenge training and really needed some time off before I jumped into that. So glad I did, as this week's training went wonderfully!

As a reminder, I am following a Dopey training template from Coach Jenny Hadfield - I have taken her framework, increased the mileage incrementally, and I think I have come up with a good plan! I did add a few miles to my long runs this weekend because I was feeling good and it lined up with the mileage I was doing in training for Augusta. Here's what it looked like:

Monday - 5 mile run; strength training (Pure Barre)
Tuesday - XT (50 minute group cycle class)
Wednesday - 6 mile run; strength training (Pure Barre)
Thursday - XT (one mile swim)
Friday - Long Run #1: 9 miles
Saturday - Long Run #2: 12 miles
Sunday - Rest Day

On Monday and Friday, I ran on hills because I am taking part in a local race series put on by the Atlanta Track Club called the Triple Peach, and the two final runs are both in downtown and are very hilly. Since Augusta and WDW are both flat, my emphasis has not been on hill training. I would be making a mistake if I did not do at least some hill work before those races!

I have absolutely no time goals for the Dopey races. I want to enjoy myself and finish and that's it! But my weekend runs were within 10 seconds per mile of each other and I was very happy with that. And I felt good when I was done, and today (rest day), and that is key. I want to get to the start line uninjured, something I have not ever really done with a full marathon before. In fact, I guess I do have a goal after all: GET TO THE START OF THE FULL MARATHON HEALTHY. This will be full marathon #6 and I have started each of my previous ones in some stage of injury and then have to take significant time off to recover. It's not fun - training injured, racing injured, recovering and starting all over. I have added strength training and specific stretches in an attempt to avoid the overuse injuries I have had before. If that doesn't help, then this will be my last full marathon (and the idea of a 140.6 is off the table). I enjoy half marathons and half Ironmans! I can train, race, and recover from them nicely - so I will just focus on those distances instead! :) But, by gosh, I'm going to put all I have into training well for this one and see how it goes! (And I'm NOT doing an 18 or a 20 mile training run because that seems to be my tipping point LOL)

This coming week of training focuses on one longer run (this week was two long-ish runs). I will be doing 14 miles which I did several times in my Augusta training so it shouldn't be too difficult. And then the following week will be my first race simulation and I am actually really excited about that! But first I have to get through this week's training! :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Ironman 70.3 Augusta

I've been home for a few days now, so I've had a chance to really reflect on this year's race weekend in anticipation of working on this blog post. I'm really afraid that this is going to be a boring story because as I look back, everything really went so smoothly! Well. except for coming down with a bad head cold the day I left for Augusta, but even that all worked out in the end!

I guess I'll start with Friday morning, the day I left for Augusta. I woke up about 3 AM, totally unable to breathe. I had been fighting a cold all week, but it really hadn't been too bad. I had been able to swim and run and ride gently and actually it felt great afterward. I was taking Vitamin C and D, and was thinking I was really doing a good job at fighting it off. So when I woke up in the middle of the night feeling horrible, I was really discouraged. (That would be code for "Freaking the heck OUT!" - those of you who I told that I was feeling so badly can testify to that, and I thank you all for talking me down off the ledge!!).

I did some school work with my daughter and loaded the car before heading to work. I was really trying so hard to be positive, but I was so disappointed. I had trained the best I could and I was proud of my hard work - and I had a time goal that I was wanting to attain. I was seeing it all slipping away. Keeping positive was the one thing that I could control.

I had a great day at work and tried to rest in between customers as much as I could. I made sure to push the fluids and eat as well as I could! One lesson I learned when I went to Tri Camp in August directly from work is to eat near work because there is very little in between there and Augusta! I stopped to get Chick Fil A, and started working my way through ATL rush hour!

The drive went well and I made it to my hotel close to 9 PM.  I would be by myself in the hotel on Friday night because BJ wasn't coming until Saturday afternoon. Many of my friends were already in Augusta on Friday, but I texted when I arrived and told them that I was heading straight to bed! I brought all of my stuff in from the car, set my alarm for an early Expo and Bike Drop experience, and zonked out immediately.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was feeling much better. I could actually breathe out of one side of my nose, and the pain in my head was much, much less! To make sure I had everything I needed before I went to the Expo, I set up transition on the hotel bed!

Transition on the bed - how the completely nutty make sure they have everything!

I know it seems weird, but one time I actually forgot to bring socks to a race and didn't realize it until that night when the expo was already closed, so now I always set out everything before I go to the Expo until I need to buy something! Thankfully, I had all that I needed! I took a shower, got dressed, ate the hotel breakfast buffet, and headed downtown.

That was another difference this trip - I wasn't staying in downtown or near to it. I was a good 5 miles from the exit where I usually stay and 15 minutes from downtown. I had to figure out where to park for the race. I had decided on the parking garage near the host hotel where I could pick up the shuttle, and I decided to test it out on Saturday. Parking in that garage on race day was truly one of the smartest things I did all weekend! $7 for the entire day and my car was in the shade all day!

Even though the expo had only been open for 30 minutes, there was a decent line formed when I walked in. I wasn't thrilled because I was feeling so blah, but again, nothing I could do about it! I talked up a guy behind me who was wearing a Raleigh 70.3 shirt who told me that the course is very hilly, which I already knew. :) The line moved fairly quickly and I had my race materials and headed over to the Ironman store. I needed a name shirt, a visor, and a backpack. I got all 3 - drooled over the tri kit and other cute items that were in my favorite shade of blue, but didn't purchase - and checked out the rest of the expo.

My first stop after the IM store was the TriAugusta booth! They were selling TriTats as a fundraiser, and I had to pick up my pre-ordered art print from local artist Carrie Brooks!

"Transition" - perfect for me this year that has been full of transitions in my own life!
This isn't an expo like a Disney expo (or even Atlanta Track Club) so it didn't take too long. I got back to my car and drove down to the transition area for bike drop. I saw lots of folks riding down there but I wanted to rest. As it turned out, I had to park and walk quite far away anyway so I really could have ridden down there and run back! LOL Oh well!

Mike the Bike - complete with pretty new handlebar tape!
I don't know why it's always so hard to leave Mike the Bike in transition, but it is! As you can see from the picture, I was one of the first folks at the bike drop. I decided to grab some lunch and then go back to the hotel and sleep until BJ arrived. Of course, Farmhaus Burger was my lunch of choice and since I was running on such an early schedule, there was a very short line when I arrived (unlike when I left LOL).

Oreo Milkshake

Burger and fries!
Since Farmhaus is closed on Sunday (even on race day?!?! NOOOO), I had to have my "post-race" reward food before the race! LOL And my gosh was it SO good!

Back at the hotel, I decided to get all of my stuff packed instead of going right to sleep. I was feeling a bit better, and I wanted to take advantage of that. Another smart decision on my part! It took a good hour, but then it was done and all I had to do the rest of the day was relax and rest. And it was Harry Potter Weekend on Freeform! What more could I want?!

BJ arrived mid-afternoon and I was so happy to see her! She was coming to pick up her sister's bike (they are racing together in Mississippi in two weeks) and to cheer with her TriCoachGeorgia team (the best Tri team out there, in case you didn't know)! I was so happy that she could be there with me! We both wanted an early evening and since I must have pizza the night before a race, we decided upon Mellow Mushroom early before the crowds arrived. So yes, by 8:30 PM, I was back in bed yet again. It was so hard to spend all weekend before the race in bed, but ultimately it was the right thing to do. I slept really well again on Saturday night and woke up race morning completely able to breathe out of both nostrils! I really couldn't believe it!

The alarm went off at 3:45 AM. I wanted to be leaving the hotel by 4:15 and in the parking garage by 4:30. I was afraid it would get filled up quickly, and the first shuttle was pulling away at 4:45. I like to be on the first bus! I need not have worried. I had my choice of parking spaces in the garage and I was on the first bus which wasn't even filled. We had to actually wait for transition to open at 5 AM. But it was ideal. Nice and relaxed and didn't have to worry.

I got my transition area set up and my neighbor on the rack hadn't shown up so I had a bit of space to spread out just a little bit. I was set up quickly but I didn't want to go back to my car until I knew the status of the wetsuit. I hung around for a bit, hit the clean porta potty, and waited until I heard those magical words: Not wetsuit legal. I was not disappointed, even though I have never swum the Savannah River without it. I have been in my wetsuit exactly one time this year and it wasn't entirely successful. I knew if the river was warm enough, I'd be much more comfortable without the wetsuit. After the announcement, I boarded the shuttle bus back and returned to my car.

I planned to have this down time, and while I was planning it, it seemed like a lot of time to kill but really it passed by so quickly. I did some foam rolling in the parking garage next to the car, made my breakfast, and started out towards to church where I was meeting BJ - as I took the first step, who should drive by but BJ! LOL I decided it was foolish to try to find her in the garage, so I went to the street level to wait for her. We walked over to St. Paul's church together to wait. I ate my breakfast (bagel w/ PB, banana, and Nuun), went to the chapel to pray, and hit the real bathrooms. I was hoping to see my run group friends, but never saw them before we left the church to see the pre-race festivities. I had missed those last time and was determined not to let that happen again!

The sun was starting to rise over the river when we walked outside and it was simply incredible! BJ took these pre-race pictures!!

Beautiful river and a beautiful morning! 
I simply adore this picture of me with my swim wave getting ready to start the race! Maybe I should wear a swim cap all the time?! :D

My run group peeps! I had walked up and down everywhere looking for them and couldn't find them! But then I saw Minja (in the back) and he told me where to find them! I got hugs right before my swim wave was going to start! It made my day!
My start wave on the dock. That dock was slippery and rocking like crazy!! 
Swim - 38:11
Like I said, the time flew by waiting for my start. I hit the bathroom a few hundred times, helped take BJ's picture with her team, and looked for my run group folks. Once we were on the dock, I got in the water right away and loved the temperature. I made sure my goggles were secure and not leaking and held onto the dock until time to go. Once we got our start, I let folks take off ahead of me but probably should have let it go a little more since I got a bit caught up in flailing arms and legs. I tried to get over to the left more but finally gave up and settled into a good middle of the lane place. I didn't want to push hard, not knowing how my body would react to the water since I was sick. But thankfully, my head didn't hurt and everything felt really, really good. I settled into a groove and let myself swim a nice, easy pace. I couldn't believe how quickly the swim seemed to pass - I usually hit a spot after the bridges where I feel like the swim is never going to end, but I didn't experience that this time, despite the fact that this was my slowest swim on the 1.2 mile course ever! In fact, I was surprised to see the turn buoy! I made my way up out of the water, with the assistance of a volunteer (which was nice) and started my way up the ramp. I wanted to run the transitions this time, but I knew I wasn't going to waste my energy on the steep ramp! LOL

BJ got this fabulous picture of me - but I look like a miniature next to this guy! 
This funny picture was taken by my friend, Susan, who did Tri to Beat Cancer with me last month. She had talked about coming to spectate Augusta but I hadn't heard for sure that she was coming! You can see the surprise on my face to see her there!

T1 - 5:28
Once I was up the hill, I ran the entire length of transition. Which is a long, long way in Augusta! LOL I had done it in Athens and I knew I could do it this time! I also knew my best chance of reducing my transition times was to pick up the pace and not treat it as a rest area! I was pleased with my time.

Bike - 3:39:41
I ran my bike out of transition as best I could - my new shoes are fairly slippery. I didn't have my bike in the proper gear but I knew that ahead of time (forgot to shift it back in transition - my mistake) so I ran a bit past the mount line so I wouldn't be in anyone's way if I struggled. But surprisingly enough, I didn't struggle at all! This would be the first of many surprises on the bike during the race!

Now my plan for the bike was simple - as undertrained as I was, and being sick, I was just going to take an easy pace. No pushing. None. I had to save my legs for the run and I knew that was where I could shine because my runs have been super strong this summer. What I wasn't ready for was that my "easy" was so much faster than it was in 2014. I kept a sharp eye on my HR monitor, but my bike pace was still strong despite the HR in the proper zone.

What I also wasn't ready for was the need to pee. I had had that same experience in 2014, but I blamed it on the wetsuit and the UCAN (liquid) that I was fueling with. I hadn't had much experience with it at that point to know I have to take it earlier so I could pee enough. This year I didn't fuel with UCAN so I wouldn't have that problem. But it appears it's a "swimming in the water" and a "getting old" problem instead. Now, I didn't have the urgent need like I did in 2014 where it was painful, but it was enough to make me decide to take care of it at the first stop. I also figured I could go ahead and fill one of my bottles which would be empty by then according to my fueling schedule. So I stopped, peed, blew my nose, and filled my bottle. I lost a good 4 minutes, but having a clear nose and losing that urge to pee was more than worth it! I felt really ready to take on the next part of the course which was the hilliest part.

There is a part of the course between miles 40-46 that I typically struggle with. I was mentally preparing myself for that part, so much so that I stopped at the 2nd rest stop and blew my nose again (and applied some sunscreen). I wanted to have clear breathing for the impending struggle bus. But just like during camp, there was no struggle bus! In fact, I had to reign it in and avoid pushing myself. I was pleasantly surprised! All in all, I lost almost 6 minutes of moving time according to Garmin, but I think it was well worth it. And next time I will definitely just plan to stop and pee at the first stop!

Before I knew it, I was back on the flat part of the course heading back into GA! I was feeling strong and even thought to myself, "Could I do another 56 miles? Yeah, I think I could!" (Full Ironman dreaming on the bike?!? Yes, I did!)
Susan got this great picture of me heading out on the bike course! 
T2 - 4:09
Dismounted and ran the short distance to my rack. Again, not using transition as a rest stop! Get the shoes on (with the lock laces this time) and get out there! I had a long run to get out of transition (just like for the swim) but I was going to run it, even though it was on the grass which made me a bit nervous. I still have trail running PTSD!!

Run - 2:26:21
It was crazy hot by the time I got to the run. On the bike with the breeze it was misleading because it felt quite comfortable, but soon after starting the run I realized that this was going to be an intervals sort of day. No worries! I brought my GymBoss timer and got it started. My goal pace was 10:30 which would not have been a problem on a regular day, but this was not going to be a regular day. My cold had not held me back on the swim or the bike, but I would feel its effects on the run in a very scary way. Especially since at the time, I didn't realize that it was likely the cold doing it to me. You see, after the first two miles, every time I started to run, I would get tingly and dizzy. When it first started to happen I decided to change my fueling strategy and I took a hit of Base Salt immediately and would do that every 30 minutes, in addition to my Nuun and my Honey Stinger Chews. It really didn't help. My heart rate was crazy high. I drank water and doused my neck cooler in the ice water at the aid stations and put ice in my bra and an ice sponge in the band of my visor - and still, every time I ran, I would get dizzy. It was disconcerting. In hindsight, knowing that my HR had been elevated for the last several days due to the illness (and not overtraining as I was thinking) and that the HR going higher while running makes perfect sense. But at the time, I decided it was more important to stay upright and lose a few minutes that it was to possibly pass out.

It was such a hard decision, too, because during the act of running I physically felt great! My run pace was strong and I didn't have any issues with my IT bands or my knees. I just couldn't run for very long at a time. I tried several times to walk for a bit longer to see if my HR could recover with a bit of extra walking, but it didn't so I decided to let that go.

One of the best parts of the run course in Augusta is that you wind up and down the roads on a 2 loop course and you can see all of your spectators several times plus you can see your fellow runners! BJ was cheering with TriCoachGeorgia (best Tri Team around - did I mention that?! LOL) and they had a huge presence on the course. Not only did BJ cheer for me but several of their coaches cheered me on by name on the course and that felt really nice. I'm not on their official team, but I am a huge fan, and my Ironman affiliation is with them! If you need coaching or a team, I highly recommend them.

OK, enough of the commercial and back to the report! Oh wait.. I was talking about pictures! Here are some pics that folks got of me! I don't even have to buy the official race pictures (except maybe a finish line picture from the front) because they took such great shots!

Susan got this lovely one! (And more - she has a whole jump drive for me! But this one she loved so much she sent it right away)

BJ got this one at the TCGA Energy Wall - I've got Horns Blaring for the team!! Love BJ and love TCGA!

I saw Tamara (my coworker and run group leader) on my 2nd loop. I was attempting to throw out the "Double Cs" for Classic City Running where we work. Instead, I look like I'm getting ready to break into a rendition of Thriller!
So my goal for the race was to come in under 7 hours. With it being a no wetsuit race and so hot with so much walking, I wasn't sure if that was going to be possible. And I purposely didn't look until I had 2 miles to go. Because if nothing else, my training has taught me that I can pretty much do anything for 2 miles. I hit that 2 mile marker and saw that I had a really good shot to make it, but it would mean that my longer walk breaks were over. It was basically time to put up or shut up. I had a lot of quotes from friends running through my head to inspire me - and I was also singing two particular Hamilton songs, or rather lines from the songs over and over: "I am not throwing away my shot!" and "Just you wait!! Just you wait!" Yeah, weird things happen in Ironman 70.3 - whatever it takes, huh?

I turned the corner and saw the finish line. I walked for just a few seconds to catch my breath, because I knew that I was going to let it all out. A lady next to me told me not to stop now. LOL No, I wasn't! It was the deep breath before the plunge! I did not hear anything except the announcer saying my name and city as I crossed the finish, but both BJ and Susan got pictures of me! I had no idea either of them were there!

Pushing through to the finish!
Why yes, I do still have my sweat band from the bike ride on under my visor and, yes, that IS a sponge in the back of my visor! Nobody ever said that Ironman 70.3 was pretty! 

Finish - 6:53:49

So yes, I did it! I beat my goal of 7 hours. I took 14:58 seconds off my time from 2014, and under much more difficult racing conditions. To say I am thrilled would be an understatement. In fact, after I crossed the finish and checked my Garmin, I nearly said a happy cuss word or two! LOL

Susan got this great picture of me in the finisher's chute! That's a look of total satisfaction on my face!
My rankings during the run are simply amazing. I was 2167 out of 2480 on the bike overall. I finished 1682. Yeah, I made up something like 485 spots with my run. And it wasn't even a good run for me! This confirms for me what I've been learning over the summer - that spending lots of time making my bike slightly faster is not as important as making sure my legs are strong on the run. That is where I will make up my time. My bike is getting faster along with my run (and I give lots of that credit to my strength training ala Pure Barre), but I am going to show better gains with my strong running. 

You've made it to the end of the race report. I bet you feel like YOU have completed a half ironman as well! I am totally thrilled with the way this race played out. While I would have loved it if I hadn't been sick right before the race, that's not how it worked out. You have to race the race you are given. Physical training is only a small part of the Ironman 70.3 preparation! Mental and emotional training is every bit as important! I was proud of myself for sticking to the race plan I had developed, and being smart enough to modify it when circumstances warranted it! I couldn't have asked for a better day! 

Now it's time for a recovery week, and then I'm going to jump into my training for the Dopey Challenge in January! After that, Ironman Raleigh 70.3 will be waiting for me in June! Please stick around and follow my training!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Race Report: Tri to Beat Cancer 2017

Yeah, I disappeared again! But I have a good excuse! In the last few weeks, I attended 70.3 training camp in Augusta (went great!!), moved my older daughter to her new home in Nashville (also went great!!), started the new school year with my younger daughter (again, went great!!), and traveled to SC to see the Great American Eclipse (too awesome for words). Training for Augusta has gone fairly well, except for last weekend when I made the mistake of trying to get my long workouts in after working all day - I learned quickly that I'm more suited to get up early and workout before I go to work!

Also, in another bit of news in case you don't follow my Facebook page:

I have registered for the 2018 Ironman 70.3 Raleigh in June!!

Since I'm trying to decide if I want to tackle a full Ironman in 2018, I wanted to attempt another 70.3 fairly early in the season. I have a bunch of factors to consider before I hit the "register" button, but at least trying out a non-river swim for a 70.3 will help me in my training!

Speaking of training - this past weekend was a great one for me with my Augusta 70.3 training (Augusta being a mere 5 weeks away!). I had signed up for the Tri to Beat Cancer sprint tri back when it was going to be my "A" race for 2017 (or my only one LOL). Because of the addition of the 70.3, it had to become part of a longer training weekend. I was supposed to do a 60 mile ride this weekend and I couldn't miss that mileage because the bike remains my weakest area and my training time is more limited this year.

Soooooo, the day before a race, BJ and I did a 43/3 brick (43 mile bike ride followed immediately by a 3 mile run).

Yeah, we look way too cute and way too strong to have just finished such a tough workout! We are super tough that way! :)

And now, we finally come to the race report!

I woke up at 4 AM to head out to Athens for the race by 5:30! I had packed up everything the night before, including my bike, so all I had to do was feed the cats, grab breakfast, and head out! The drive was going to take 45 minutes which really isn't too bad. I parked, unloaded my stuff in the pitch black (thankfully I remembered my headlamp), and headed to packet pickup. It was early and I was met with no lines. I got my timing chip, realized quickly that I had forgotten my safety pin but was thrilled that they had a ton of them near the chip. I got through body marking and into transition with ease.

I knew so many people who would be at this race, which is part of the reason I wanted to do it. BJ would be there, as well as a friend from run group (Stacey) and another friend from run group (Minja) who I didn't realize was there until I saw his strava data pop up later. Sylvia from my Ragnar Trail team was there though I didn't see her until the finish line. My friend Susan was there doing her very first triathlon, having just bought her bike 4 weeks earlier! Judith and George came to spectate, as did BJ's hubby Ed and their puppy Kona, along with the TriCoachGeorgia team who had a tent out on the course! It was like a fabulous Tri-Family Reunion which I desperately needed since I haven't seen many of them this summer while training. I love all of those folks so much!

Got my transition area set up which took a lot of thinking since I haven't done a tri since last June!

Mike the Bike is all racked! I'm wearing my new Coeur kit, repping Classic City Running before the race, of course!

BJ and I headed down to the swim start shortly before transition was closed. The sun was just rising and we each took a little warm up swim. The water felt great, maybe a little warm but the air temp was fine. The race director called us out of the water and told us to line up roughly in number order. We would have a time trial start - 2 people at a time every few seconds. This is not my favorite because I prefer to be in the water so I can just take off and swim. I don't like having to run in. 

The first swimmers were out of the water before I even got IN - and I was about the middle of the pack! LOL Everyone on the beach cheered them as they came out of the water which I thought was fabulous! I got to the front of the line and took off like a slug trying to move through the water until I could swim. But once I actually was able to swim, it went beautifully! My new goggles didn't fog up and they allowed me to see the buoys better than I have during ANY race. I didn't have to battle any other swimmers and I didn't have any anxiety. I just put my head down, so to speak, and swam my race. The only time I felt any sort of pressure was right at the finish when it seemed like I was either being overtaken more, or folks were cramming together more to get out of the water. But I just did my thing and kept swimming until my hand touched the bottom of the lake. Then I got out of the water and did something I had never done before - I actually ran ALL the way up to transition! And I mean ALL the way because it was a long way! LOL But seriously! I ran the whole way up the hill and it felt so easy! I was really pumped!

Transition was exciting - I bought new shoes earlier this week. Real, live triathlon shoes with easy velcro and draining holes to let the water out! They are bright blue and they are simply fabulous! And they fit into my current SPD pedals so I didn't have to learn a new system! 

My new shoes, earlier in the week when I was testing out my new stuff for the race. Aren't they beautiful?!?!
It took a little longer to get through transition than I wanted but I have to admit I didn't practice. Not even once. I need to make sure I practice before Augusta! It needs to be automatic so I'm not having to think of each step. 

Again, I took my bike and RAN to the mount line. Feeling totally awesome, though my heart rate was pretty high. Nothing to stress about but I just have to be aware of it. It wasn't a big deal in a sprint but it could be a problem in a 70.3 or 140.6. 

This course was really pretty and not terribly hilly. There were a couple of rollers but nothing really hard, at least not compared to what I train on. I did push myself a little harder, because I wanted to see what I was capable of and what effect it would have on my legs for the run. The course was well-marked, lots of volunteers and police to take care of traffic, and I felt perfectly safe the entire time. I reached 39.3 mph on the big downhill, and to be honest, I don't remember being afraid (which I usually am on downhills!!). I averaged 16.2 mph over the 14 miles - that is something I've never done before. I think my previous fastest speed in a tri was 15.7 mph. 

Got to the dismount line and then ran my bike to my rack - it was tricky in my new shoes which are a little less grippy than the old ones. But I did it! Some jerk had racked their bike right on top of my stuff which really annoyed me and caused me to take longer in T2 than I wanted. Plus, I forgot to put Lock Laces in my shoes so I actually had to tie them! @@ 

Grabbed my water bottle and headed to the run course. I passed by the TriCoachGeorgia tent and heard the cheers of my friends and Coach Slayer telling me to throw the horns, which I did:

Backwards horns. I'm an embarrassment to the Reapers!
As I ran off to the rest of the course, I was determined to pass the tent on the way to the finish STRONG and with my horns facing the right way! LOL 

The course was hillier than I was expecting. I planned to do a 1 mile/1 minute interval, but in the 2nd mile there was a steep hill so I decided to walk so I could conserve my legs for the finish which I could tell was flat/downhill. I knew I could make up any of that walking time if my legs weren't blown out from pushing up the hill. And I did! 

I couldn't believe how strong I felt on that last mile. My average pace was 8:40 and I know I was going faster the closer I got to the TCGA tent and the finish!

Yeah, so I may have been a little pumped! LOL
I ran for that finish line with everything I had in me! Garmin tells me I was running 7:45/mile at the end! That doesn't surprise me! 

I crossed the finish line happy and feeling strong and confident. What more could anyone ask for?! A blue race shirt, you say?! YES!! It's as if they know me! I was so excited that I got cleaned up and put the race shirt on before I went home! 

So the verdict on this race? YES! Do it! It's absolutely fabulous! It's well-run and the crowd support is awesome, the volunteers are top notch, and the course is lovely! Just do it!!

To close, I wanted to share a picture that BJ's hubby got of Susan, me, and BJ after the race. Look at how happy and awesome we ALL look! And this is AFTER a triathlon! I'm not even sure that's allowed! Shouldn't we look tired or something?! :D

Right after the race, I drove back home to pick up my youngest so we could drive to my parents' house in SC for the eclipse, which is where I am writing this post from. I took a rest day today, but we are going back home in the morning and I am planning to get back to the grind - though it's a recovery week for me. The last one before Augusta!!! WOW! 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dopey Challenge Training: Week #3

Last weekend's trip to Nashville and then returning to a 50 mile bike ride set me up completely exhausted for this week. I ended up taking an unplanned rest day on Tuesday so I could just stay home and get things done around the house. That was really the best thing because I was going to be working 4 out of the next 5 days and I wouldn't be home very much. Sometimes, you really just have to skip a workout or two and make sure your own mental tank is full, as well as the tanks of the ones you love!

So here is what Week #3 looked like:

Monday - Open Water Swim
Tuesday - unplanned rest day
Wednesday - 40:00 trainer ride; 4 mile run
Thursday - 1000 meter lap swim
Friday - 48:00 trainer ride; Pure Barre
Saturday - 10 mile long run 
Sunday - rest day

Yeah, I know what you must be thinking: "This doesn't really look much like a Dopey training plan."

Ok, so I'm going to spill the beans on my little secret, even though it hasn't been confirmed yet (which makes me a bit nervous, but I'm going to just go ahead and blurt it out).

I was able to get an entry to the Sold Out 2017 Ironman 70.3 Augusta in September!!

Isn't that exciting?! I wasn't going to say anything publicly until I received my confirmation from Ironman, which was supposed to be this week. I haven't gotten the confirmation yet, but I've been assured by the charity who I secured my registration from that Ironman has my name and email and will be getting in touch with me soon, so I'm going to go ahead and spread the word! 

So as for the training plan, it's going to switch from a Dopey training plan to the Super Simple Ironman 70.3 Training Plan that I used as a framework back in 2014 for my first Augusta 70.3 - this time I will be following it a bit more closely, however! ;) So this week I will be starting Week 9 of 16, which is a bit intimidating, but overall I'm really only behind on the long bike mileage. I'm doing pretty well on the swim and run miles. 

As it would happen, the only thing I'm really going to miss by switching away from a Dopey-focused plan are the Race Simulation weeks for July-September, but I will still get to do them in October-December, and I think that will be plenty. I will be running still on back to back days when I do brick workouts while I train for the Half Ironman. :)

I am absolutely thrilled about being able to race in Augusta again! I've been aching to do another 70.3, particularly this race so I could try to improve my performance. But I'm also not going to put a ton of pressure on myself since circumstances are different this time and my training will have to reflect that. I will train and race to the best of my ability and that will have to be sufficient! 

I can't believe it's nearly August already! Reece and I start back to school on Wednesday and her dance classes and science class start in two weeks! It's going to be a really busy month for me, but I know there are plenty of folks out there who have much more intense schedules than I do and manage to train just fine. I will have to pull some early days, like I did on Saturday when I did a 10 mile long run  at 5 AM with some ladies from my Moms Run This Town group, but that actually works out fine for me because I'm an early riser! 

Today I shared the following picture with a friend of mine who just completed her firs Oly Tri yesterday and has registered for her first 70.3 next spring: 

That's how I'm feeling right now. I'm a little scared and a lot excited! I had been hoping and dreaming and planning to race in Augusta this year and it sold out before I could save up the money. When this opportunity came to me for not much more money than a regular registration, I felt like it was just meant to be. No, I haven't had the chance to train all year like I did last time. And no, I won't have a completely open schedule where I can train whenever and wherever I please. But it will be OK! Training doesn't have to be perfect to be effective. 

And just think... in a mere 8 weeks, you'll get to listen to me ramble about doing my 2nd Half Ironman! Aren't you SO excited?!?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dopey Challenge Training: Week 2

Well, this week was just a tiny bit insane! I'd go into all the various details, but since it's Sunday evening and I apparently lived through it - then it really must not have been as bad as it felt at the time!

First, here is what training looked like this week:

Monday - 4 mile run plus an 800 meter swim (Pure Barre class in the evening)
Tuesday - XT (18.9 mile bike ride)
Wednesday - 4.6 mile run plus a 900 meter swim (Pure Barre class in the evening)
Thursday - XT (13.3 mile bike ride then a 4 mile run off the bike)
Friday - rest day [drove to Nashville to bring home my daughter for a few weeks]
Saturday - long run (8 miles)
Sunday -  planned rest day but instead 49.5 mile bike ride, then a 10 minute run off the bike

As you can see, that's a lot of training going on! LOL And then add in a whirlwind trip to Nashville and an unexpected 50 mile bike ride and you have one tired Niffer. It's been such a busy summer! But I'll figure out the balance! Right now? I'm so tired that I can't even think of anything to say about this week's training except that it went very well. Even the 50 mile ride felt strong! I can tell you that I will be going to bed early this evening! :D

Tonight I signed up for a Sprint Tri in August, as well as GatorFest 1.2 mile swim and Ride for a Reason 56 mile bike ride in Augusta in August! It's fun to have a few events in the calendar!

Happy training to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dopey Challenge Training: Week 1

Hello, out there! Niffercoo is here and ready to get back to the original purpose of this blog: to journal my experiences while training and racing! As I begin to tackle this exciting event that is the Dopey Challenge 2018, I want to chronicle the ups and downs so I can look back on it later like I have been able to do with my other big events! 

So here we go!

This week was the first week of my training for the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in January 2018. In case you haven't heard of the Dopey Challenge, it's a 4 day event where participants run a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday - all on Disney property! This year will be the 25th anniversary of the marathon and the 5th anniversary of the Dopey Challenge, so the medals and shirts will be special! And that's why I chose to tackle this 'one and done' event this particular year! 

There are a few training plans out there for the challenge, but the one I decided to use to inspire my own training plan was developed by Jenny Hadfield. She's the wife of my beloved Penguin, and she wrote the Marathoning for Mortals book with him that I have used for the majority of my races. She wrote an article for Runner's World in 2013 on How to Train for the Dopey Challenge  - in it, she lays out a sample 8 week rotation for training and I simply used it, expanded it, and modified it to fit my own needs and VOILA! for the first time ever, I have designed my OWN training plan.

Here is what my training for Week 1 looked like:

Monday - 3 mile run [plus a one mile OWS that wasn't on the schedule]
Tuesday - XT (group bike ride, Pure Barre class)
Wednesday - 3 mile run [plus a pool swim]
Thursday - XT (group bike ride, Pure Barre class)
Friday - Long Run #1 (5 miles)
Saturday - Long Run #2 (7 miles)
Sunday - rest day

As you see, there are a few extra workouts being thrown in because I have a sprint triathlon coming up next month! Once triathlon season is over, I will split the XT (cross training) days between swimming and cycling, or I may do shorter workouts of both on the cross training days! Pure Barre is something that I've recently started for strength training. I have always been a big fan of strength training and would use weights in the gym, but this workout pushes me harder and I'm seeing much better results. I still can't even make it all the way through a workout yet, they are that challenging and are hitting my weak points! 

This coming week's training will feature only one long run, and then during Week 3 I will do a Race Simulation (4 back-to-back runs) which will happen once per month. In week 4, I will treat myself to a recovery week and a massage! The rotation continues on (with a few minor variations) in weeks 5-8 with 2 long runs, then one long run, then a race simulation, then recovery. There are rest days built in, and any XT day can be turned into a rest day whenever it's needed! I keep track of my resting heart rate to monitor if I need to take extra rest so I can avoid overtraining. 

For the first time ever, I will get to experience what it's like to fit in training not only around my family's needs but also around my part-time job at the running store! Since I have a gym membership with 24 hour access, I don't think that will be a huge problem! And I figure people have worked their training around work and family (and much more intense schedules than my own) for years and years, and I will have to learn how to be flexible and just do the best I can in the hours that I have available to me! I know it will all work out just fine and I'm not even concerned. This school year I have only one very motivated high school student left to teach, and my work hours are not overwhelming in the least! All in all, I am looking forward to this training season! 

I hope you'll stick around and share my adventures! If you're also training for Dopey 2018, please comment!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Georgia Peach Jam Half Marathon

When I registered for the 2018 Dopey Challenge a few months ago, I realized that my POT (Proof of Time in runDisney speak) was outside of the allowable dates. I needed a race from 2016, and while I ran a couple of races that year, I didn't 'race' them. Big difference! So I put in the faster of my two half marathons from that year and set out to find a half marathon to race before the beginning of October (when the POT is due).

And that's when I found the Peach Jam Half Marathon. This race is put on by the local train running group, but it's run on a greenway that is concrete and boardwalk. And the price for early registration was only $55! Since my ankle was still bothering me, I decided to just wait it out, see how my ankle felt, and wait on the May work schedule to come out to make sure I had the day off! As it so happened, all of those factors came together in my favor and I registered right before the first price increase!

I don't usually set time goals for races, but since that was the whole point of running this race, I decided upon a finish time of 2:15. This is about 5 minutes slower than my PR, but 12 minutes faster than the POT I had already input. That should be enough to get me a better corral placement, I think.

Training from mid April when my ankle felt better up through today's race went about as well as I could expect. I increased my intervals from 2/1 to 3/1 and added a speed workout once a week. The weather has been quite warm all year, but the mornings are usually cooler than they were today, but nothing I can do to control that!

I woke at 4:30 this morning, fed the kitties, rolled, and drank my Generation UCAN drink. I left at 5:30 so I could arrive with plenty of time to pee the hundred times I have to do when I drink UCAN! The traffic was minimal and I made great time and got an excellent parking spot. I hit the potties (real ones at the park! WOOHOO!) and then did a 1 mile warm up, testing out 4/1 intervals. My reasoning for the increase in interval is that The Penguin has you doing a longer interval than training, so if it's good enough for The Penguin (John Bingham) then it should be good enough for me, right? And my reasoning for the mile warm up is because the first mile of any workout/race for me is terribly slow. With a time goal, I didn't have any room to spare.

I did my warm up, and then hit the potty one last time before heading to the start line. I am very impressed with Dirty Spokes Productions - packet pick up was easy and organized and there were announcements every few minutes that there would be a pre-race meeting 10 minutes before the start. And I could actually hear the announcements! They must have a great PA system!

Waiting at the start line, I was getting pretty nervous. Time goals are scary for me especially with such little real training. As I was looking around, I saw my friend Patrick and that helped to distract me until the start of the race! This was a gun start for timing so when they said, "Go!" I hit my watch and made my way forward. The half was capped at 500 so it didn't take too long to get across the start line, but it was quite crowded going down to the greenway. I skipped my first run interval for safety's sake, and after that, I made sure to throw up my arm to announce my walk for at least the first 5 miles. Everything thinned out within a few miles and only really got congested again when I neared the out and backs around miles 4 and 10.

With my new watch, I can set intervals but still have a screen to show me my overall pace. My goal was 10:30 for the first 5 miles and then 10:20 for the next 5, and then maintain at least 10:20 through the finish - that should give me a 2;15 finish. At mile 5, though, I was averaging 10:20! Not too bad. I picked up the pace, despite the fact that it was quickly getting hot and humid (70 degrees at the start @@), and was averaging 10:10 by mile 10.

And that's pretty much where it started to fall apart.

I started to hurt in many places. First my ankle, then it traveled up to my IT Band on the left side. I knew it was just muscle tightness, but it hurt, darn it! LOL And then I started to feel a bit dizzy and had that tell-tale tingling on the top of my head. I had NOT been paying attention to my hydration. And it dawned on me after the race that I had not brought any Nuun or ANY electrolytes with me, and on such a hot day where I was sweating so terribly - that was NOT smart. They had one station with Gatorade around the halfway point, but I skipped it in favor of water thinking that my UCAN had me covered. Well, maybe for nutrition but not electrolytes. Oops!

I started to struggle and my pace took a dive. Looking at the mile splits, I went from sub 10s to 10:30s. Still not bad, but I had my goal in mind. I knew that it hurt and felt awful, but I also knew that meeting my goal would take all that pain away! ;) So I decided to skip the last several walk intervals and just push forward, since I couldn't muster any additional speed.

And it worked! Just as I was coming around to make a final push to the finish, I heard my friend Patrick give me a shout out and that gave me a little extra umph... but looking at my finish line photo you can tell that I am wiped out!

But I did it! Official time is 2:12:50! My 2nd best half marathon EVER!! I am SORE and I actually took a nap this afternoon! But I really did enjoy pushing and I'm looking forward to pushing again on another race when I'm actually fully trained!

And now I'm one step closer to Dopey! I updated my POT this afternoon as soon as the results were posted! Woohoo! Now to recover this week and then get ready for the Peachtree Road Race on the 4th of July and possibly a Sprint or Oly tri in 4 weeks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Race Report: 26.2 with Donna

Here I am! I bet you thought I was never going to blog again. Or maybe you just hoped so? Well, either way... I'm BAAACK! Why now? Two reasons: the first is that this year I have been chosen to be ambassador for two of my favorite brands: Nuun and Skirt Sports (more on that another day!) And the second reason is why I'm writing today - to write a Race Report about Marathon Number 5!! 

This past weekend I drove down to Jacksonville, Florida to 2 of my dear friends to meet up with 20+ of my friends from Running of the Ears to participate in one of the best marathon weekends around - the 26.2 with Donna National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer! I have been hearing about this race weekend for the last few years. My running friends simply RAVE about it. Since this year was the 10th anniversary, and since it would be my 5th full marathon, I decided to go for it! 

Friday Night Pizza Party with the ROTE gang!

I registered way back last summer and was planning for this to be the marathon where I would finally GO for it. I would push hard and I was hoping to finish between 30 seconds to a minute per mile faster than my MCM 2015 time. I wanted so badly to set a PR since this would be the first time I was going to be training for only one marathon. The last two times I did marathon training, I was trying to become a Marathon Maniac and I would have to complete two marathons in short succession. But this time was going to be different and I was so excited. 

But as we all know, the best-laid plans...

Last August while I was training for Ragnar Trail Carolinas, I took several hard falls and many small tweaks in my left ankle. I didn't think much of it, and right after the relay, I jumped head-long into marathon training - incorporating hills and speed right off the bat. I would notice that my ankle flexibility was diminishing and I would have some pain for awhile after my workouts. But it wasn't too much to handle. And since I wasn't feeling anything during my runs, I didn't worry about it too much. In early December rolled around and we experienced our first cold snap. I noticed that I would feel something in my ankle at the beginning of my runs, too, but it would go away a couple of miles in. Again, I didn't worry too much. But then there was a run in sub freezing weather and I felt my ankle the entire time - so I cut it early and made an appointment with the doctor. 

Luckily for me, the doctor was able to see me right away and he had good news fore me: I had not torn or strained a ligament or tendon! The problem was with my tight hamstrings and calves - they had tightened up during the big falls to protect the ankle joint and since I didn't rest them so they could release, they just continued to tighten. As the muscle warmed up, it would loosen up which is why it didn't hurt while I was running - but then post-run they would tighten again and it would hurt again. He gave me foam rolling, balancing, and exercises designed to rehab the weak ankle and relax the muscles. And I didn't have to stop running but just needed to cut back on my intensity and shorten my intervals. I was only able to get up to 14 miles twice in training but my recovery was doing very well leading up to the marathon. I felt about 97% recovered by the time I left for race weekend and figured I'd be able to complete the race. :)

I was in for a big surprise! 

My marathon buddy, Jill, and I were the only ones in our group who were doing the full so we planned to stick together. I had set up my watch for 1/2 intervals and planned to start with 1 run/2 walk until the halfway point and then if I felt good, I'd flip it around and do a 2 run/1 walk which is what I did during most of my training after I'd seen the doctor. It was a good plan!

Jen and Jill looking Pretty in Pink!
The weather forecast called for highs in the mid to upper 70s and bright sunshine, but on race morning we were greeted with overcast skies. This was something to be taken advantage of, no doubt! We started off with the 1/2 and about 2 miles in, my ankle hadn't given me ANY grief at all. Not even a little twinge - and the clouds were hanging in there - so we decided to push it a bit and run through two intervals (3 minutes) and then walk the next interval (which would alternate between 1 or 2 minutes). This felt great and we were able to keep that up for the entire first half - crossing the 13.1 mat with a time of 2:28! I was feeling strong and enjoying the most incredible crowd support of any race I have EVER participated in! 

And then - the sun came out. 

It wasn't even a gradual thing... it was like BAM! Here is the Florida sun right in your face! The temps soared, the sun was relentless and there was no more shade, and everything went south in a hurry. My ankle was twinging towards the end of the intervals and we decided to cut them back down, and then my feet started to really, really hurt. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before! We pushed through for the next few miles and then around mile 18 we had to stop running and start walking. And that's how we finished the race. It was hot and bright and miserable - still we kept a decent walking pace the entire time. But my gosh my feet HURT. I have never experienced anything like that before. I wasn't sure if it's because I've been wearing Hokas at work and my feet became used to the cushioning, or it it was just a result of being severely undertrained, or if it was just the crazy heat. But my feet were killing me. The good news, though, is that my IT Band/knees that have always bothered me in previous marathons didn't bother me one bit! My feet more than made up for it! LOL

I was so surprised at how the spectators will still everywhere even in the waning hours of the race! People in neighborhoods were cheering and thanking us for participating! Jeff Galloway and his wife passed us and said, "You're getting it done!" I said, as he passed, "Hey! That's -" and before I got the words out, he gave us a wave as he and his wife continued on! Their finish time was less than 20 minutes before ours! :) Our next brush with fame came when "THE Donna" and her husband passed us right before the bridge! They were being interviewed by the local news guy who was running alongside them - all the while, we were walking behind them! Their finish time was than 3 minutes before ours! 

There was only one situation that caused my ankle to give me grief and that was when the camber of the road was steep - like on the ramp up to the bridge and then several places on the bridge itself. And that was towards the very end of the race so it was especially hard. But as soon as the road evened out, then my ankle was fine! Yep, even at the end of 26.2 miles! And once I crossed the finish line and had a minute to relax, then my feet also stopped hurting so badly. Our finish time was 5:52:38! I was thrilled! Two months ago, I wasn't even sure I'd be able to finish at all. Even a month ago, I was considering dropping down to the half. The fact that I finished, and that my ankle wasn't severely messed up, and that I managed a smile at the finish? That was just icing on the cake! 

Marathon Finisher for the 5th time!!
I'm now 48 hours post-marathon and I'm getting around marvelously! Foam rolling still makes me want to cry, but it's getting better! I went to the grocery store this afternoon and walked across the parking lot and around the store with ease! Isn't that the most wonderful thing?!

Now, despite the fact that I'm feeling really well, I'm still planning to take a week or more off from all exercise (except the PT exercises for my ankle which I will resume just as soon as my hamstrings feel back to normal). I think my body and mind could really use a little bit of a break. I haven't taken much time off (except for a week after my doctor's appointment in December) in the last 12 months. And late 2017 is going to be a big one for me as I prepare for the Dopey Challenge in January 2018! So now is the time to rest and reset for my next big adventures!