Monday, July 28, 2014

2 months to Ironman Chattanooga ... am I ready?

A truly organized blogger would go back and look at how she felt 60 days before the last Ironman to compare. But who has time for that?

Am I ready?
Well I'm more ready today than I was on Friday. That's because Saturday was a 100 mile bike ride and Sunday was a 16 mile run.

To be honest I wasn't terribly ready for either of those things. But I did them.

The 100 mile bike
The 100 mile bike ride was tough. It was hot - really hot. And we rode pretty fast. My moving average was 18.6. That's not crazy fast but over 100 miles it's a lot faster than I've ever gone before. My average for other century rides has been (14.1 mph in France, 17mph in Clermont and 15.5 mph for another century last May). In other words this one was faster and it was tough.

These horses were at our first stop. Our first stop was after about 50 miles. At which point I took my shoes off because my toes hurt. My teammate had new shoes that were killing him so he took his shoes off too. Our coach looked at us and said, why is everyone taking their shoes off? We laughed and laughed. After 50 miles one-liners like that are pretty funny. Although after some food and sleep it doesn't seem quite as hysterical.
The big news was that I wore tri shorts for this ride. My couer shorts. Fast forward to the end of the ride - all my parts were totally fine. This is pretty exciting because my plan in Chattanooga is to wear the same pants the entire day. I know this is very exciting news for you guys to read. Beleive it or not I obsess about stuff like this for days before the race. In France I changed pants at each transition and you may not already know that it is not easy to get into spandex pants when you are wet from swimming or just sweaty. So this will make at least my first transition a few minutes faster which is good.

Can you see that I'm dripping wet in this photo? That's because at every given opportunity I was dousing myself with cold water to try not to melt.
This is my leg. Notice the rash. I took this photo to share with my dermatologist but I can also ask you guys what you think too. This happens after long rides. You can sort of see the line where my shorts end. I think it's heat rash but my fellow riders weren't so sure. They think it's from my sunscreen (blue lizard) which is possible too. Thoughts? It doesn't itch but it's sensitive so if I could not get it I'd be happy. Today it's mostly gone.

The long run
My legs were really tired after the ride. I kept thinking what on earth are my legs going to feel like tomorrow for the run? I just couldn't imagine it. And the first steps were pretty unpleasant. But actually when all was said and done my muscles felt better after the run than before I started. Interesting, eh?

The run the next day was really hot. We started very early and it was good to get a lot of it done in the dark because once the sun came up it was miserable. We were running on Key Biscayne so I took advantage of the showers every mile or so to rinse off to help keep cool.

During the 16 mile run I used only Infinit for fuel. I did have some chomps just in case but I didn't need them. But my stomach did get upset in the last half mile which was a bummer. This is almost exactly when my stomach revolted in the Rome marathon. So perhaps I just have a 16 mile stomach. That's a downer. But otherwise I felt pretty good. 2 sips every 6 minutes. It was easy. I think for the race I'll keep bottles with powder and mix on the go rather than carry heavy bottles. Just add water.

The "swim" 
I didn't swim over the weekend. After the run we "floated" in the bay to relax. But that's it. I did swim 3 times last week so hopefully I'm getting my rhythm back in swimming. Monday my swim was cut short by lightening (foreshadowing stay tuned), then Wednesday I got my lazy butt out of bed for early practice which is hardly ever rained out, then Friday I did noon practice for an hour.

This is a legit picture. They captured this alligator on hobie beach where I swam the very next day. I can't figure out how he got there because Alligators don't like salt water. So I'm thinking either he's a pet that was dumped or he got out from the seaquarium which is just a bit further up the beach. Either way he's not a great swim partner for sure.
This week is the last week before my masters team takes a vacation break. So for the next 2 weeks it will be creative open water swimming for me to get the yards in. 

And in other news
This morning I registered for Ironman Lake Placid 2015. Woot woot. For some reason I'm really drawn to this race.  I can't explain it because it's hilly, technical, cold and usually rainy. In fact this year the swim was cancelled mid-race for lightening. Eeek. That would be a little scary. Luckily nobody was hurt although there is apparently a lot of drama over the results. I actually wanted to sign up for it last year and didn't. So this year I did. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

AWOL

I've clearly been absent from the blog.

No if's and's or butt's about it!  Somebody should tell my boss. Except I'm my own boss and I just write this for giggles.

The short and long story is that I've been on vacation.

First I had family visit. It was great. My kids spent time with half of a set of cousins and had a great time. There were some ear infections - that was a bummer.
we paddleboarded, splashed in the pool and watched movies. It was a great week.

Then we traveled to the Galapagos Islands for a family vacation with the other cousin. That was also great.
We hiked and snorkeled but organized training did not happen. I did a good job of putting it in the back of my mind during the vacation. Now it's front and center in my mind. EEEK!

Sadly, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot of training happening during these weeks. That's freaking me out a little bit. Oh who am I kidding a lot.
I did one solid run on Santa Cruz Island. Where I found this outside a t-shirt shop. I had to run back and get my phone to document it because it was so random to see. I went back later to try and figure out what it was all about. Turns out the guy who owns the store says he's the only Ironman in the Galapagos. Go figure. He did Ironman Louisville. Nice guy.

In true Ironman fashion I got back from vacation mid-day Thursday and hit the road Friday afternoon for a weekend of bike training in Clermont. Yes perfectly ridiculous. But I did it. Now it's time to get back in the pool and get some yards in because that's where my training is hurting the most.

And that's all she wrote.

Monday, June 23, 2014

There's hills in them thar hills ... hills I tell you

I went to Clermont with my group to ride hills.

We don't have those here in Miami. Well we do. We have one. But you risk getting your bike stolen and/or being hit by a car if you go out to ride our one hill called Rickenbacker Causeway. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. Somebody I'm acquainted with had her 4th bike stolen out there this week. I know ... seriously 4th in the same spot. Yes, there's a lot wrong with that story. I'm just glad it didn't happen to me - moving on.

It rained of course when I headed out there. There was a ridiculous traffic jam on 95-north. Yes yes normal for everyday life in Miami in June. And then of course it was 99 for a high on Saturday. Fun times.

We did a 2 part ride with a run in the middle. This is at the break before the run and second ride. See still smiling. Apparently running fast in bike shorts causes chaffing. I didn't run very fast so it didn't happen to me. Ah the benefits of being slow, there are many. Okay so there are just few but this was definitely one. Total daily mileage day one 70 miles.
Restocking at Publix. Little Debbie is the title sponsor for Ironman Chattanooga. So I was checking out the options. I was also practicing my spokesperson posing - needs work and probably sequins and high heels. The Swiss Rolls look delicious but I made the mistake of looking at the ingredients ... they didn't come home in my shopping bag. Saving up to stock up at the race expo where I will not read the nutrition labels, I promise.
This should be a record cover. Remember records? Yes I'm old. The Sunday crew was much smaller and cooler. Okay I made the cooler part up myself. We did a much more relaxing ride on Sunday. 300 feet of climbing not 4000 feet. Easier much easier. Notice how my helmet matches my jersey? That was accidental. I am expressing my non conformity by not buying or wearing the new Giro helmet though for real. Also apparently my shorts were a little see through. EEEK embarrassing. They went in the trash today instead of the laundry. Daily total 30 miles and 1600 meters in the NTC pool which was a nice end to the weekend.
I told Tim I'd meet him at the pool at 5:30 am for early masters. I was fibbing. Because I live a life of luxury I instead slept in and went to the noon session. I shared the lane with somebody so much faster than me it was like an open water practice session - which is good and also funny.
And that was my weekend. Tah-dah!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A little too much recovery this past week in the land of the giant mouse

Sometimes family time takes priority
At least every week somebody will ask me how I balance training with my family. This post might give you a clue. I have written about it before but here's an example of when the scale tips toward family time.

My husband is super supportive of my hobby but when he asked, "do you need to take your bike this weekend?" That was my clue that the correct answer was nope. Which was good because I had already decided that it being fathers day weekend and all this was a family weekend.

High-Ho, high-ho, please shoot me in the toe!
If there is some kind of genetic formula for loving all things "Disney" I am clearly missing that gene because I do not love all things Disney. I do like most of the movies but the theme parks are not my favorite places. I even like other theme parks ... just not the mousey ones. Don't even get me started on Epcot.

I know, I know everyone loves Disney ... except me. I spent Thursday -Sunday in the Orlando-Kissimmee area and it is just not my thing. We've had several "magical" princess moments when my daughter was princess-obsessed (ages 3-8) but overall I'd skip the whole place if I could.

Hello, my name is Amy and I don't like DisneyWorld. Helllooo Amy...
Seriously, my first draft of this post was filled with anti-Disney vitriol but I've removed a lot of it because it's not that entertaining and I understand that it's me ... not Disney.
We were there as a family because my daughter had a gymnastics competition at Wide World of Sports on Friday morning. Of course, that meant we "needed" to leave on Wednesday for the event. My husband loves Orlando, my kids love Orlando and all things Disney. So, I tolerate it for the greater good of the family.

Thursday we headed to Blizzard Beach. You didn't think I was actually going to go to the main parks in June did you. No way... it's June, in Florida. We had a great time and hit all the main rides before the afternoon monsoon hit. Then we headed over and registered our gymnast for her event the next day.

One of the many, many things that drives me nuts about all things Disney is the "illusion" of organization. There are Disney employees hovering everywhere. They appear super on top of things but in fact everything is just annoyingly not quite organized. For example at Wide World of Sports they host approximately a zillion events all the time. However, every time I've been there for a marathon or this gym competition nobody ever has any idea where anything might be happening. They stop you at the gate and politely ask you where you're going, "to register for the gymnastics competition," we say.

One might think the staff would be able to tell you where to go (since they are working the gate, hello!) or that there might be a sign ... nope. They smile and say, "So sorry I don't know let's ask these other Disney employees who also have no idea." 

It's just magical you're just supposed to know. Over time I've learned to just hang a minute and wait for somebody who looks like they are doing what you are and follow them blindly.
Not actually related to the parks but still pretty funny. The Disney channel is on at my house now every day. It's ridiculous.
Gymnastics!!!
In the good news front my daughter did very well in her gymnastics events. She got 2nd in her age group for her uneven bars routine.

That's the highest ranking she's ever gotten at an event so we were all beyond excited. Overall she got 8th overall. I had previously put on facebook - 9th but I have been corrected.

People watching ... my favorite past time
I got to spend some time waiting for my husband and kids to come out from a few rides. I don't love the fast slides - they hurt my back and it just isn't fun for me. So I skipped the fast slides at Aquatica. It is hysterical to watch adults come out of the fast water slides.  Kids come flying along barely fazed and pop up raring to do it again. Adults send up a huge spray of water, when they stand up they are frequently totally disoriented and in many cases (especially for women) trying desperately to make sure that their suit is still on. It's very entertaining to watch. I can only hope that I'm as entertaining to others when they watch me zooming out of the goofy slides.

Please somebody give me a vegetable without cheese
Interestingly Orlando seems to be the hub of all franchises. I can only hope for the sake of the locals that this is because we're close to the parks and don't know where the actual restaurants are. There is seriously an Olive Garden about every quarter mile. So we ate at Carrabas, Buffalo Wild Wings, Outback and BJ's for our dinners. We did also prepare some meals in our hotel which was good because even with that I was feeling seriously over salted by the end of this trip.

So, in between the water parks and eating poorly I did not get many workouts done. I did do one afternoon run which was after lunch (where in poor judgement I had a beer) and it was ... not pleasant. But it was done. I did another run when I got home Sunday. So two total days of rest and 2 mediocre runs. Meh. But tons of family time.

Now this coming weekend? It's for training. It's off to Clermont I go for riding the hills. I'm tired already sheesh.

Monday, June 9, 2014

For your own protection do NOT get between an Ironman (in training) and her food

I was up twice this week at 5 for early swim practice. Go me!

Thursday night I did a track workout with my friends who are both faster than me. Lots of 200s. So many 200s. Among us we discussed why are we doing 200 repeats when training for Ironman Chattanooga. I have no idea.
before the endless 200s. Okay fine it was 12 200s. Just 12.

Because I knew I would be working out during dinner time I made dinner early. Tacos. A family favorite. I browned the turkey meat (1.25 lbs fyi) and cut up all the stuff. Fed the kiddos and the husband and went for my workout.
also before. after I was too tired to remember how to take a photograph.

I said to my husband don't clean this up because I'll eat my tacos when I get home.

I left and ran my little heart out all the while looking forward to tacos at home. When I got home I was met with a pristine kitchen that my husband had cleaned. Sadly no tacos for me. He ate all the kids left over. All of it. Okay well yes there was left over chopped lettuce.

Clearly there was a miscommunication.
Let's be clear my kids are still small. The youngest only puts cheese in his tacos my daughter will put a dribble of meat in her tacos but mostly cheese. So he ate probably a pound of ground turkey and left me none. Seriously, I was bummed. Some might say pissed. Annoyed is another possible description of my attitude. And mostly hungry - I was very very hungry.

So I ate hot dogs. And was sad about that. I may have said not nice things to my husband. Who eats a pound of meat and thinks that's reasonable? Apparently him.


So this is me, yesterday in the gym. Yes I'm overdue for a hair appointment hence the ponytail totally a different color from the rest of my hair. Not a natural blonde. Nope. There are some back muscles peaking out there I think though ... right?

I love the silly pics with motivational sayings so I'm making my own starring me. :-) I am going to try to document my progress once a week so that we can see the change ... let's hope there is change to document, right?

In other news this was the first build week of Ironman Chattanooga training and it started 2 whole days after my Ironman Raleigh 70.3 race. I have been tired all week. And my body has been showing some signs of wear and tear.

I got a blister on my foot from my swim fins. Then on Saturday we did a 1 mile open water swim and my tri top totally chaffed the left side of my chest. My own fault because I did not put glide there. I do wonder why it only happened on one side. Because I do have some boundaries I did not photograph my chafing. I was tempted but resisted. Yes, you're welcome.

Newsflash - it's hot in Florida in the summer
Then on Sunday we did a 3 hour ride. Shift in training this was 3 hours riding time (it should always be that but I can take advantage if I'm honest). So, we were actually out there just over 4 hours (one flat, one mid-way stop and one other potty stop). I drank all my fluids which were 68 oz of infinit during the ride then extra fluid at the midway. Then I had 16 oz of water during the 40 minute transition run. I drank a 10 oz bottle of water on the drive home. I came home and immediately ate lunch including a glass of water.  Then I went to the shower and I hopped on the scale by chance before I got in. 3 lbs less than normal. Yikes. No wonder I felt crappy on the run.

It's summer in Florida time to up the fluids!

And this morning I overslept my morning masters swim class. Oops. I am still trying to figure out if I forgot to set the alarm or if I slept through it. Oh well there's tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga Training starts with an early splash

A side effect from all the early wake ups for Ironman Raleigh 70.3 over the weekend was that I was waking up early at home.

This was good because I had told myself and others that starting June 1st I was back to early swim group. If I swim in the early group I have 3 sessions (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) to get me ready for Ironman Chattanooga.

To make this change most likely I tried to rope my friend Nicole (also training for Ironman Chattanooga) into joining me. But one of her best friends turned 21 yesterday so there was no way she'd be up at 5. I know, she's a stinker, right?

Just like that, I was on my own.

My chances were 50/50 actually because I didn't pack my swim bag the night before. Also my husband gave me a glass of wine with dinner - because I was cranky and driving the family nuts. But, I did set my alarm for 5 am. Then I was up by myself at 4:40. I know. Who is this crazy lady living in my body. Still I could have rolled over and just drifted back to dream land. There were many possible excuses I could have used (I need a new suit, my goggles are tinted, the pool is crowded, it's dark and so on).

But there is nothing like the knowledge that I have a giant race (hello ... Ironman Chattanooga) in less than 20 weeks to motivate my lazy butt out of bed. It's true. So I got up and went. I was met with one, "oh, helloooo" from my friend Chris and another from my friend Andrew, "are you lost?" I know, these are funny guys. Humor is a challenge that early - for real. And lastly at the end of the set coach Andrew asked, "are you a morning fish now?" I don't make fun of him ... he's the coach.

My legs were super tired for the first few minutes but by the end they felt much better and I did my modified IM (with no butterfly) in 1:39 which I would have said was impossible actually so there's that good news.

Sadly the struggle with getting up for early practice isn't a one time deal so this round of self congratulations is sort of silly. But hopefully I'll keep it up. 16 weeks minus one week of vacation until Ironman Chattanooga.  I should be able to do that, right?

Ironman Chattanooga is in 17 weeks counting this week which really doesn't count so 16 weeks. I know that's nuts when did it get so close. AAACK! I'm not ready. But - I will be. No time for slacking. Better get started.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Who in their right mind buys an m-dot cookie cutter? Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Raleigh

Me. I bought one. One of the "perks" of an Ironman branded race is the expo and all the m-dot crap one can happily buy.
Some firsts for the weekend. My first Ironman branded 70.3 and my first trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. In brief it's a great race and a lovely town.
This is a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh and somebody dressed him up in this pink stuff. Pretty funny. This was outside of the expo which is about a 2 minute walk from either the Sheraton or the Marriott.

Quickly some "know if you go" details about the race: It's a point to point bike ride. There are two separate transition areas. This is a little bit of a pain because you have to get your bike out to the race venue the day before and then you are up a little earlier for the 40 minute shuttle ride to the start. Yawn, very early wake up call please. Also this year there was no true Tri Bike Transport available.
Pro Mary Beth Ellis was working at the TYR booth. I'm a big fan of hers and I met her first in France while checking in for the race. She's very nice and blazing fast too.
A very early bus ride to the lake
A bikeless transition set up. I dropped my stuff at t1 and went to get on the bus. Bus service starts at 4 we got on the bus at about 5:05 and the last bus leaves at 5:30.
Ben and Alberto on the bus. Ben managed to actually sleep. I have no idea how.

Me and Jim ... 2 bundles of nerves.
Swim 39:31
The swim is in beautiful Lake Jordan. Where the visibility in the water is about one inch. The water is clean and tastes fine but you can't see a thing in front of you.

sunrise over transition
The swim was tremendously well marked with buoys and I seriously only had to lift my head to sight about maybe 10 times in the whole race. The only other swim that I've done that was this well marked was the Lifetime Tri in Minneapolis where there is a buoy about every 25 yards.

There were about 30 swim waves. But it was great. I did my warm up and they had corrals for the upcoming waves and I got in mine and it went off right on schedule and I didn't have too much contact with other swimmers or anything.
This is the swim area on Saturday you can already see the yellow buoys are set.
Regarding my actual swim performance I was expecting more like at 36 minute swim. This is my first race swim where I was seriously not concerned that I was trained for the distance. My only concern was to avoid an anxiety attack at the start. I had a good swim. I started to the left and waited a quick 3-count and just went. I started slow on purpose but once I was sure I had my breath I picked up the pace. I worked hard and didn't go off course so I am not sure why it was a little slow, clearly I needed to swim a little harder.
Happy to be finished swimming
Things to know if you go: you cannot do a warm up swim at the race venue the day before the race. We went to a public beach (on the same lake) a few miles down the road for our practice swim. The practice swim was much much rougher than race day due to the heavy boat traffic we think.

Also, the Ironman staff uses a different thermometer than the Army Corps of Engineers so even though the water temp for this lake was measured by the Army at 76 for a few days before the race it was still announced as wet suit legal for race day ... take your wetsuit.

T1: 4:06 this is super slow but I had some trouble getting my wet suit off even with the strippers. Plus you have to pack everything into your gear bag which the race team takes back to the finish line. So I knew it would be slow. Probably everyone had a few extra seconds. Also since this is my first transition in a long time I am admittedly out of practice.

Bike 3:09:48
This is a beautiful bike course. I really liked it. Rolling hills to be sure. The descents were fun. The climbs were not too tough. We were nervous about the first climb which looks very steep on the course profile but it wasn't bad at all.

I was probably not as prepared as I would have liked to be for the climbing and also there was some wind out there too.

Regarding my actual bike performance I was hoping for an average of at least 18mph and really hoping to come in under 3 hours which I clearly didn't hit. I thought it was a challenging bike course. I really did give it everything I had out there so I'm satisfied/only slightly disappointed with my performance.

I know I was working hard because my nose was running the whole time which I think is a sign that I'm pushing hard on the bike. I think this because this is when it happens. Many apologies to those around me for the snot rockets.

The course was clearly marked and the roads were closed and protected but there were cars that managed to get onto the course throughout which was no fun. There was also unfortunately a bad accident between a biker and a car apparently due to the car not following directions. This is not the fault of the race director but it's something they'll need to work on every year. I wish a speedy recovery to that athlete for sure. 
Thank goodness that's finished. I should remember to not talk as I approach transition. My pictures look silly.

T2: 3:09 I was very happy to be off my bike. My head and neck hurt from being in aero and from my helmet pushing on my ponytail. Also I forgot to put my hat on and had to go back for it. And I stopped to let the sunscreen folks slather me which is worth every second.

Run 2:06:42
For a lot of runners this would not be a great run split but this is a good run for me. It's actually the fastest half marathon I've run this year and it was the last leg of a triathlon. Also this is the hilliest run leg of a triathlon I've ever done. Those were really tough. (note: apparently this course was less hilly than the first year so thank goodness for that).

Let's do this!
My goal in training was to remember that the run is mental and to have the mental strength to push through in the run which I did. I'm very proud of that. I did walk through the water stops which probably cost me a few minutes over all and I also stopped to go to the bathroom at the beginning.

I have never cramped on the run in a race but this time I was fearful in the last 2-3 miles that my right quad was cramping. It never actually seized but I think that also shows that I pushed hard on the bike and then kept up the pressure on the run giving the race what I had.

The run was two loops through downtown. There was excellent crowd support and terrific volunteer presence. Interestingly there were two dead squirrels on the course ... yuck.

There was also a homeless spectator that cracked me up. On both loops he was yelling in his booming voice, "Continue with Endurance!" over an over. It was hilarious. 


Overall 6:03:17
While I had hoped that would be faster ... it wasn't the case on Sunday. 
Finished and the first out of my training group which was fun.

This is officially not a PR. However, as every race is different I think I was faster on this course than I was in Ocala mostly because I think that both the swim and the bike in Ocala were short. Every course is different and that's what makes them hard to compare. I don't wear my watch in the water so I have no way to compare but that's my instinct on the swim. I know that according to my watch the Ocala bike was close to 2 miles short.

In other news interestingly I was 55th out of the water, 45th on the bike and 43rd out of 150 after the run. So I feel pretty good about that. It's not the normal pattern for me. Usually I give up placement on both the bike and run. There were a lot of fast girls out there to be sure.
Recovery meal/beer at the Raleigh Times which is a giant bar/restaurant. They have rooftop seating which we wanted to try but we'd all had way too much sun so we sat inside. I had a sock knocker IPA which hit the spot.
I do recommend this race. As I mentioned before this is my first Ironman branded 70.3 race. All three others I've done were off brand. This race was really well done.
Balloon art at the expo entrance. Worth the price of admission :-)