Friday, April 26, 2013

new hobbies

I have a new hobby regarding my Ironman training. It is stalking the pictures from last year to get a feel of the event. Not individual pictures but all those pics that they take of the race overall. Like the swim start and stuff.
Notice the sheer not abundance of pink caps. Pink=girl. This is a total dude fest. Also remember these are europeans ... what I'm trying to say here is that to my genteel, and crass united states nose this beach crowd has the potential to be very ... ripe.

Also, I learned something new this week about my upcoming race. That is that the changing tent in France for transition is ... wait for it ... co-ed. As in boys and girls together in the same space changing clothes. Ahem. Tee - hee. Giggle giggle. Snicker Snicker.

Okay time to go back to being a grown up.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

For 'da ladies only ... seriously, a girls only product review, Softcup.

Okay you've been warned. But if you're a guy and you are still reading prepare yourself because this is a product review related to menstruation, menses, periods. That's right ...

Okay a little pause while any guys who might still be reading click away.

I'll be honest this product review is way overdue because I couldn't really figure out how to write it. While I don't consider myself super prudish or anything but I'll admit I was a little embarrassed to write it.

What am I talking about? Okay enough beating around the subject. This is a review of the Softcup.

I had heard about cups before but wasn't even sure what they were. Then I saw an offer to try it on a blog I sometimes read. For the love of the run. I admit I was curious and so I saw a request for reviewers and I signed up and they sent me my sample pack under the terms that I would then review the product.

Seemed pretty simple ... until it came to me actually writing about my experience. Eeek. Awkward. Geez what am I ... 12 years old. Nope I'm a grown up. Okay acting like a grown up. Moving on. 

First things first what in the world is Softcup? Well this is an alternative to tampons and traditional pads. Instead of absorbing it collects in this cup you wear inside. Then you discard the whole thing into the trash. 

So for more than you ever wanted to know about me. I have been a tampon wearer for years. They worked as well as could be expected and they fit well with my active lifestyle. I'm a mom of two kids delivered the traditional way and admittedly some things get a little different after childbirth. Nothin major but that's just the way of the world.

I have been, I admit extremely lucky that none of my super long races have fallen on the dates when I have my period. It's just been dumb luck. But I will confess that the idea that I might have my period during something like an half-ironman or gasp the upcoming full Ironman was a super crazy, stress inducing idea. 

It's a little unusual the first few times you try it. After the first time I tried it I wasn't sold. Here's why:

First thought was - holy crap this thing is huge - it goes where?
So this is to give you a concept of the size. Admittedly I have small hands but I mean ... it's big, right. The pictures on the box made me think it was smaller.
That's the only picture ... in this post. Probably a good thing.

So, you aren't supposed to feel it when it's inside. That's not entirely true for me at first. I can feel it a little bit against my cervix. Not uncomfortable but I could tell it was there. I may have not been exactly correct in it's placement because this only happened the first few times.

It's ... um ... a little messy at removal time. So as much as I try to be in "touch" with my feminine self this was a little much for me actually. So, take this for what it's worth. I'm not a nurse used to all kinds of people messes but I am a mom who's been pooped and pee'd and puked on and this was a little icky. Icky is a technical medical term - okay it's not but it's the best way for me to describe it.

But the softcup does have a major perk. And that is that it's totally inside and it can stay there a long time 12-hours. So even though I had written it off as being maybe just not my thing I found that when the time came to plan out my workouts the next month I honestly had to admit it really was the better option. So this month I used the softcup while I swam, ran and even did my 100 mile bike ride. There were no issues (aside from the aforementioned ick factor). That's probably the best endorsement I can give. It just did what it was supposed to do. It's a slightly different thing planning wise but once you have that worked out - it's simple. I guess that's most likely why the second time around was easier for me.

I was going to go all out and try another brand's silicone menstrual cup for a comparitive review. But then I read that that one has to be emptied and stuff and that was just too much for me. I had a little internal visual of my husband asking hey honey what's that by the sink ... and it was beyond my little internal ick-o-meter.

So there you have it. The world's most awkward product review. I admit it's light on details but this is as deep as I go.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome to the paincave :-)

I love recovery weeks. This week is a recovery week so I have some extra time on my hands. That's why there are so many posts ... I have a chance to put my thoughts down on the blog.

I'm spending plenty of time on my bike trainer these days. So I thought I'd show you what that means for anybody who might be curious.

I have my trainer set up in my garage. I tend to do my trainer workouts early in the morning so part of the key to success is in getting everything set up the night before. Today was a quick 30 minute spin so I didn't go overboard but I did set out my clothes and stuff.  Another quick note - I use a separate wheel for my trainer sessions. I bought a cheap wheel at the bike shop with an inexpensive cassette and a trainer tire. This way I just change the wheel on the days that I ride the trainer.
Next to the bike is my table of "stuff" I actually drink my morning coffee on the trainer on recovery days. The other bottle is water :-)

Here is my fan. A fan is important on the bike trainer. My garage is not air conditioned so it can get pretty steamy.

You can tell this was an easy peasy workout because I'm wearing a shirt.:-) Oh and my hair is relatively dry. Admit it you wish you had a beautiful huge forehead like me.

I use a cycleops trainer. I bought it used from a friend.

This is my view on the trainer. So exciting, right? Maybe that's why I took pictures today to occupy my time?
And lastly:
That's my son sitting on a skateboard watching me on the trainer. He left when I told him I had 15 minutes left. Apparently watching me on the trainer is even less exciting than me riding the trainer. Ha!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Breathe normally

So today in swimming the coach gave me a tip about my kick.

I should say that any tips on my kicking are appreciated because ... Well...I stink.

Apparently I bring my feet out of the water which doesn't do me any good. Fine. I have to confess he's told me this before. But I must also say I have no idea what to do about it.

So, I asked. How do I fix this? He suggested focusing on making my kick deeper. So I set off to do that. And that's when I realized that I have no idea what I'm doing when I'm kicking. I can't tell if my feet are in or out of the water. So I paddled around focusing on mymkick and feeling very much like a fish out of water. But apparently my intense concentration worked because he said it was better. I was still really slow.

But it does feel different - like it's different muscles maybe. Oh, who knows?!?!?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Training for Ironman France - 9 weeks to go

Single Digits Babeeee ... 9 weeks (aka roughly 2 months)

So I would be lying if I said that the closeness of this race isn't making me a little antsy. It feels like it's very close. I have a bit (read: a significant amount) of pre-race anxiety which mostly shows up at night when I'm trying to sleep. I'm not the greatest sleeper on a perfect day so throw in some anxiety and it becomes sleepless in Miami. I actually went to the doctor today to make sure my thyroid wasn't a touch out of wack - it's not. Suggestion - take unisom and relax.

Onto the training updates
This was my biggest week of training yet. 

Yes - 17 almost 18 hours of training this week.
 So you might wonder why my completed is more than the planned. It's because I do an extra bike trainer session on the computrainer and usually one extra swimming session to get the yards that I'm supposed to do. The coach knows ... it's all good.

So what exactly did I do this week. Take a look -
The bike mileage is only my road mileage. The two trainer sessions don't register mileage only time. 

There is a big difference between 95 and 100 miles.
I've done 90 miles a few times and 95 miles once but this is the first time I've ever officially done 100 miles. It is a little bit of getting a monkey off my back.  I felt fine all through the ride so that's really good.

There was a little bit of drama setting up this ride. I was intending to go to Clermont to do this ride on some hills and sadly that fell apart during the week.

Then at the last minute my friend Benji who is doing Ironman Frankfurt the week after my race and therefore my riding partner backed out because his bike was still in the shop. That was a little stressful.

I am not a huge fan of doing long rides by myself but I'm also not especially fearful of it. I will say that was mentally ready to go ahead and do the end of this ride solo because at the end of the day I really needed to get this workout completed. 

I only mention this because if you are selecting your first Ironman race one advantage of making sure you choose a race where you have a group of friends training is that it's more likely you'll be on the same training schedule. Otherwise, be ready to do things like ride 6 or 7 hours by yourself.

This is what 100 miles of Infinit looks like the night before in my fridge. 6 bottles of Infinit and  1 bottle of water. It was every bottle I had which means among other things that I need more bottles :-) I kept this all in a large cooler full of ice in the truck. 3 bottles were on the bike on loop one and then I refilled those bottles halfway.
My self portrait at the start. I can actually tell that I'm stressed in this picture. I was actually nervous about this ride. Mostly about doing part of it myself not actually completing the distance. It was raining when I woke up but that passed quickly.

So we started at 6:45 and the plan was to do a 60 mile loop and then I would go back out with Alberto and maybe Janine to do the final 40. It worked just fine.
Here we are at the Roberts rest stop 1/2 way through the first loop.

Here I am at the end of the first loop. 60 miles in. It was very very hot out. I was happy to refill my bottles with ice cold Infinit.
Half way through the second loop with Alberto the only member of my group doing the whole century with me. We had to stop and get him some more water and Gatorade. We stopped at the Homestead Speedway and found a man who got us some water.  I was not out of water ... as shown above I had plenty of plenty of plenty of Infinit.
Rain on the ride!
Coming our way. Not good.
I've ridden in the rain so I'm not nervous about it but this was a full-on thunderstorm. Before the rain hit us we were coasting easy at 16-17 miles an hour because Alberto was having some cramping. Actually I also had my first cramp on this ride - in my toes. Very strange and admittedly painful. I stopped and rubbed my foot a bit and it went away. But when the lightning started I picked up the pace because I wanted out of there quick. Luckily Alberto stayed with me. It was scary I will admit.

I will admit that during this time I was once again asking myself "why am I doing this?" It did seem really crazy. But we made it through the rain totally fine. In true Miami fashion it was pouring buckets and then we rounded a corner and the rain ended - back to the blasting sunshine.
Proof! I don't use Auto Pause so that's the entire time of the ride including all the stops.

All finished. I know everyone wants great looking hair like mine. I actually have a friend who posts these gorgeous photos of herself training ... I do not look gorgeous after I train ... I look like this.
So this was the first long ride on the new saddle. It was perfect. I had no issues. I mean my toosh was ready to be finished but I had no hot spots, no chaffing it was totally fine.

I also did okay with the sun. I forgot to reapply my sunscreen at the turn around but I was still okay. I had one little strip of sunburn at the end of my jersey sleeve. Not bad. I also had heat rash under the edge of my bike shorts on my legs. I'm thinking this is from when they got soaked in the rain but who knows. Note to self - Aquafor or Glide on the thighs for race day.

Sore muscles
My muscles are really sore. Specifically my quads. I think that's what they are - the muscles right above my knees.  I have to admit that I did some strength workout the day before with 5 minutes of squats - so I think it's the combination of the two back to back that made me so sore. I feel a lot like I ran a marathon in that it hurts a lot to go down stairs. 

So while I feel good about the ride - I have some work to do to be ready for the race ride. Because that's going to be a hilly (understatement) 112 miles followed by a full marathon.

The long run after the long ride
I did not run immediately after the long ride. And walking to the restroom my legs were very stiff but mentally I think I could have run.

But, over the next few hours I really stiffened up and I wasn't looking forward to the long run the next day. But I did it. 9.5 miles. I ran with friends so they actually kept my pace up and that was good. The last two miles I did slow down a lot and I did stop pretty frequently - any time there was a reason to stop I stopped. But I did get it done. So, now I feel pretty good about that. I can't quite imagine what the actual race marathon will feel like but I'm pretty confident that I'm going to make it through it.

Looking back on the long ride nutrition
There is a difference between nutrition for a long ride and race day nutrition. Mainly it's the difference between having calories just to get through it and get to lunch and having calories to finish the ride and go on and run. 

On Saturday I had 6 bottles of Infinit. I went through 5 1/2 of those, one GU, one apple, one Chocolate stinger waffle and 1 1/2 bottles of cold water at stops. I felt fine and not too hungry when I finished so that's pretty good actually. But on race day I will concentrate more on making sure I get through all the nutrition.

Coming up
And that's it. This week is a light week - recovery. This weekend I'm racing St. Anthony's - my last race before France. It's not the ideal training getting ready for France but I'm excited to do it. It's supposed to be a great race. It's huge - 23 swim waves. So that should be good practice for a big race.  After that - just training for France.

I have one thing on my to do list for France that I could use your help with - making shirts for my cheering family. Ideas are welcome. So share your thoughts here!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Okay ... the Boston Post

I wrote another much longer post but I scrapped it because it was lots of the same things that other bloggers had been saying and basically they were doing much better. But I do have stuff to say ... darnit!

I've never run the Boston Marathon. Not quite fast enough, yet. But the qualifying time has been on my goal list for years. 3:45 (in case your curious).

Needless to say I was struck silent Monday by this tragedy. There are bad, bad people in the world. I've known that since I was a kid. And it's still true today.

Like everybody I tried to make sense of it in my head. But then of course I realized it doesn't make any sense - it never will. 

Luckily only one person I knew who was there was hurt (a relative of a friend actually) and she will be fine. She is pretty seriously injured but she will recover.

I mourned by drinking a Sam Adams (Boston Lager) with dinner, changing my Facebook profile picture to a memorial ribbon, and then the next day I wore a race shirt and went shoe shopping. Flip flops not even running shoes (I am a girl after all retail therapy is important). And of course, I was glued to the news that first day. After that I have been trying not to really watch it because it's too upsetting.

I am either blessed with a can do attitude or I am a moron because the fact that things like this (epic, unpredictable, tragic, disasters) happen doesn't usually make me think I should modify my life. In my opinion, crazy people are going to do crazy things.  While I don't want to be a stupid-head. My thought is that since I can't guess what these disasters are going to be or where they will happen or anything about them really what good is me changing my life going to do except make me unhappy?
My husband actually did suggest over dinner that perhaps avoiding large races would be smart and I shared with him my opinion from above and he actually agreed. We'll see if he wants to hang out at any finish lines in the future. It goes without saying that I think my mother-in-law has retired from spectating for me and that's okay because everybody has to make their own decisions.

So, I'll continue to run and hope for my BQ to come soon so that I can toe the line in beantown myself.

Anywhoo - I hope they catch the looney SOB or SOBs who did this and I have my own thoughts of what should happen to them. But I'll keep them to myself because they are very mean spirited and not nice at all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Training Ironman France - 10 weeks to go

So last night I didn't sleep much. I could pretend I don't know why but the reality is I'm pretty sure it's because I have this massive race in 10 weeks and of course, I'm not sure if I'm ready.

What am I saying I'm not ready. I'm not supposed to be ready - it's 10 weeks away.

So I've done a terrible job of taking pictures this week. So sorry. This will be wordy and not imagey.

Swimming update:
My husband was in the office early this week so my swimming volume came up short. When he has to be in the office early I can't make it to early swimming - c'est la vie. I wish it hadn't but it's not that big of a deal actually so it doesn't stress me out too much.

I did try bigger fins on Wednesday in swimming. Holy Cow what a difference that makes. I was so much faster as in 100s in 1:30 (without fins swimming easy I'm closer to 2:00 usually). So, I'm confused on the whole fin issue. My fellow masters swimmer Paola tells me that I'm not cheating by using the big fins. That using the big fins help me strengthen the thigh muscles which is where the power for the kick comes which will make me faster and a better kicker. But mentally I feel like I'm cheating so I'm not sure what to do. Especially since I'm not training for a sprint but a long swim. Actually I am sure what to do I'm going to get there a few minutes early today and ask the coach what he suggests. After all that's what I pay him for, right? If anyone has thoughts on this speak up because I'm all ears. The big fins are a little bit like swimming "crack." Which is to say it feels so fun to be flying like that I wanted to swim with them all the time but they were a little too small and hurt my feet so I did take them off.

Biking update
The coolest thing that I did this week on the bike was that I rode part of the IM France course at a Computrainer center in Boca Raton. It's called Doghouse Performance Cycling. All three of us that are going from South Florida to France for the Ironman France were there. I did get my butt kicked by the other two guys who are preparing for France but whatever - to be expected, actually.   

I tried my race day nutrition plan on Saturday which is that since I cannot carry 8 20 oz bottles of Infinit (because it's practically impossible) I used a concentrated 3 hour bottle. Let me back up because for people who don't use this type of nutrition this might not make sense. I should say I had used Infinit for about 6 months before I even heard of concentrating it - maybe I wasn't paying much attention.

Infinit is a powder. It comes in a big bag with a scoop (like coffee or kool-aid) and the recommended mix is 2 scoops for 20 oz of water. Until this week if I was going on a 4 hour ride I loaded up 4 pre-mixed bottles at that 2:20 Infinit:Water ratio.

For Saturday I put 6 scoops into one bottle and mixed it with water. Then I had another bottle with straight water and every 5-10 minutes I took a sip of Infinit followed by water.

Takeaways from this trial are:
  • Oh My Goodness it's sweet. It tasted exactly like the syrup you drink for a Glucose Tolerance Test which is rather unpleasant, actually. 
  • It requires a little bit more thinking this way. Calories - Water, Calories - Water. Certainly not impossible but more practice is needed because it needs to be automatic. When the bottles are premixed and all you have to do is remember to drink every few minutes it's pretty mindless. I always wondered how on earth anybody could mess that up on an Ironman course. Now I understand how it happens. When your calories are concentrated like that each sip is important and if you mess up a few times and take water and not calories you might create a deficit that becomes hard to recover.
  • More practice is needed. Next week I'll be on the road with this. Trying it first on the trainer was good because I didn't have to think about anything else (like steering or falling over or stopping).
So, in case anyone cares my plan for the race is to have 3 of these bottles ready to go. Why 3? It is very possible that I could be on the bike course for 8 hours. So 3 of these bottles is a 9 hour supply. Better to have more than less. I am still thinking about how I will break this up. Will I carry all 3 from the start and just have an emergency backup in special needs. Yes probably this will be my plan because relying on things like restocking in special needs will make me too nervous. Okay good - that's decided :-) Thanks for your help everyone.

I ran this week. Ta- dah! I continue to be amazed at how bizarrely slow my long runs are when they are the day after the long bike. My heart rate is low, it doesn't feel overly hard and yet I cannot move my legs faster than a 12 minute mile. Bizarre. But I just roll with it.  

Have a good week everyone :-)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Training for Ironman France - 11 weeks to go and also Nautica South Beach Race Report

Big news New Olympic distance PR 2:49:06 15th in my age-group.

So, racing an Olympic distance event might not be great training for Ironman but it's fun.

I started the day early as usual. The only thing out of wack was that my daughter was having a sleep over and when I came into the kitchen at 4:20 AM the girls were up watching tv. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot that is not good. I sent them back to bed and headed out to the race.

I got set up in transition and got to use a porta potty before anyone else had used it which is of course the best time to use a porta potty because you know it's as clean as it's gonna get.

I was using my tri-clips for the first time in this race so I set that up in transition, put on half my wetsuit, found my training buddy Jim and headed to the start of the Olympic distance race. We walk the .9 miles up the beach to the start. It takes a while. We ate our GUs as we came over the dunes and saw the crowd of wetsuits and in front of them - heavy surf. Oh man.

My training buddy Jim. He's a faster swimmer than I am but amazingly my time was faster than his yesterday.
So we put the rest of our wetsuits on (took a picture) and went to do a warm up swim. Interestingly I was not really stressed by the surf. I mentally just adjusted that this would be a swim to just finish no time goal in mind.

I swam out to where the first buoy would probably go (it wasn't there yet actually). We don't get breakers very often this far south but to reach the first buoy I went under 3. But past the breakers it was just rolling waves. I would guess that they were 3 foot seas. I swam out, then I swam the direction the swim would go a little bit, then I body surfed in, which was fun. I felt okay. Many people were stressing out. There was a rumor that there was one girl crying and panicking near the water. I didn't see her. I did not hand out with those people. I found one of the girls who is a very strong swimmer from my masters group and I stood with her. I asked her if she had any advice and she said stay away from other swimmers because when the water is this rough you can expect a lot of people swimming breast stroke and being kicked is no fun. That was good advice. She was relaxed so I stayed relaxed and all was good.

Swim 33:12
I was in the last wave. I normally hang back and let the pack go. I count to 5 and then go in thereby letting the faster swimmers get far enough ahead that I can set my own stroke timing.  But with the surf only 10-20 girls went charging in. After I counted to 5 I was still surrounded by girls tentatively wading in. That was dumb so I just went in. I concentrated on just doing my own thing. I like diving under waves so it was fun for me and best of all I was super calm.

I passed my first guy at the first buoy - yes where we turned. I bobbed around a little bit to set my sighting because I couldn't really see until I was on top of a wave and then I set off. 

This swim had more contact than any other swim I've been in and I think there are a few reasons. First, I was mostly around guys, clearly not the strongest swimmers because they were falling back and they tend to be rougher. Also, I was with 2 girls for a big chunk of the swim and I kept getting sandwiched between them. But it was nothing I couldn't deal with. It was definitely the longest swim I've done with that much surf. I stopped just after every buoy to get my bearings. The swimmers were really spread out right to left and so following other swimmers didn't seem like the smartest idea. I passed all the colors of caps (except hopefully the elites but I don't even know what color they were wearing). Amazingly I was able to swim really straight - and I'm known for my not swimming straight in open water so maybe the chop helped me stay straight.

There was a time where from the side to side rocking I wondered if I was going to puke in the water but it didn't happen, luckily because that would have been icky. A few times I tried to follow "feet" it never really worked. Also, I heard a lot of people saying they swallowed a lot of water.  I didn't - all those pull sets of breathing every 5 and 7 strokes came in handy so when a wave broke over my head when I was going to breath I was okay. A few times I got water in my mouth but I just spit it out, no biggie. Not the fastest swim of the day by a long shot but I felt good, I didn't panic and I swam the whole way (except stopping to sight but I don't count that because I didn't stop to relax just to get my bearings).

T1 - 3:07 (exactly the same time as last year ha!)
My friend Gabe met me on the run up the beach and pulled off my wetsuit. Thank you Gabe!

Bike 1:12:13
So, in transition my pedal got caught on the wetsuit and so I had to re set the little tri clips. Probably took a while extra - bummer. But it was a long run out so worth it. Stepped into my shoe - and I was off. No issues there. The bike was great. I spent a lot of time telling people to get over to the right as I passed them but so it goes. This is also  the first race where I was actually looking for the girls in my age group. We were playing a little bit of leap frog and I was holding my own. I was also secretly hoping that none of these girls were fast runners ... ah that didn't happen.  At some point in the course I hit a max speed of 34 miles per hour.  Zoom. My average was 19.8. Oh so close to 20 mph which is my goal.  If I can work on my cornering I think I'm close to that. At one u-turn 2 people passed me - stinkers. Maybe next time - we'll see.  I did not step out of my shoes coming back in mostly because I didn't correctly judge where we were dismounting and then all of a sudden I was there so there was no time. Luckily I had a very short run into find my bike - running in my bike shoes.

T2 - 2:28
uneventful but I did forget my watch and ran back to get it.

Run 58:04
I took my gu right away walking through the first water stop to drink water. I was then passed by one of my biking age group buddies. Crap - oh well.

Set off on the run and just concentrated on keeping my pace under 9:30. Took water at each water stop walked a few steps at each one which cost me my overall pace but otherwise I get water in my nose. They had plastic cups so I couldn't squeeze them together at the top. Oh well. I saw some of the elites running in to there finish including Matty "Boom Boom" Reed and Cameron Dye. You can't miss him with his hair.  I also saw lots of people I knew running which is fun.

Coming into the finish a girl passed me and she had 43 on her leg. I thought oh no, not now this close to the finish line. So I passed her and then she passed me back and then I passed her on the carpet soooo close and then she passed me right before the line and I couldn't pass back. Drat! Oh well made for a fast finish for me which is always good. I was so spent after the push that I stayed and leaned against the fence at the finish for probably 3 minutes. So I felt like I gave it what I had to give. It was fun. 

I found my friends we hung out and realized that none of us had won anything so we headed back to my house for a bbq. And that was the day.
Benji, Jim and I after the race. You can see Benji took a tumble on the bike but luckily he's okay.

I'm clearly happy to be finished.

Closing thoughts
I'm really confused why I would get panic in a practically empty lake in Ocala and then be totally calm in crazy surf here in Miami Beach. I am now thinking that the "panic" feeling was maybe hyperventilating caused by the cold water in Ocala. I had gone in to warm up but then when they pulled us out for 10 minutes I was perhaps too warm in my wetsuit and then when the cold water was on my face I was maybe not concentrating enough on exhaling. I have read that it is a reflex to hold your breath when the water is cold and to combat that you have to really forcefully exhale in cold water. Maybe I wasn't doing that. Then after a few minutes of being in the water I had adjusted to the temp and I was able to do it? Who knows - it's just a guess. But it's weird, right?

But I'm proud of myself. I'm pretty sure that now that I've done this swim in such crazy conditions I will have the confidence to tackle pretty much whatever comes my way - swim wise and that's a good feeling.

Also, not related to my race but for anybody who stumbles onto the blog. Whenever you're doing a race with an open water swim it is a really good idea to be ready for adverse water conditions. We don't normally have "surf" on Miami Beach but it is the ocean so we can get "surf" and in this case we did. So if you're thinking about this race (or really any ocean swim race) be ready to swim in the waves and be ready to swim in your wet suit.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Nautica 2013 Race Preview - Olympic Course or International or whatever they call it

Training for an Ironman (did I mention I'm training for an Ironman ... of course I did) is kind of like having a baby.  In one way. One small silly way. Everybody you will meet will give you advice if they know that you are training for an Ironman.

Too funny!

Like becoming a parent the only ways to protect yourself from this is to hide it from people and then to ignore all the helpful advice once you can't hide it anymore. Just like parenthood it does become a little bit hard to hide that you are training for an Ironman.
I hope this is magic marker :-)

Anywhoo the point is that yesterday my bike trainer told me that he didn't think I should do this race because it isn't really part of building to Ironman France.

He may be right. But I'm ignoring him for 2 reasons. First, I love this race. Second ... wait this one is going to take it's own paragraph.

Second, there is a fine line between sacrificing too much and sacrificing just enough as you train for an Ironman. I want to make it my number one goal but I don't want to feel like I have to stop living to make it happen. Ironman training/racing needs to be a part of my life not take over my life. This is why I started at 5 am last week and came up short so I could still go to tennis rather than say (yet again) "I'm sorry. I can't. I'm training for an Ironman."So there you have it. It's one day during a recovery week. I don't really think it can hurt me. (Although shhh don't tell anyone I am thinking St. A's might not be a good idea). But the more race swim experience I can squeeze in the better, in my opinion.

So, Nautica is a popular race. Almost everyone races it. And it's in South Beach ... in my opinion it really is the best race South Florida has to offer. It's the only one where you swim in the Atlantic Ocean. How is it possible that we only have one race on our most famous beach you ask ... I have no idea. If it were up to me all the races would be on South Beach.

All the cool (read: impatient) kids do the long course. Because otherwise you have to hang out and wait for the long course to finish the swim before you can start. But the long course starts with the sunrise on South Beach. It's pretty stinking fantastic.  Then you ride around downtown and over the bridges (the bike is just the bike nothing fancy) And then you run on the boardwalk and finish on the beach. Then you hang out in the baking crazy hot sun getting a sunburn and watching your friends pick up their awards. It's a good morning.

So my goals for this race are: to have a good swim, have fun, not get a sunburn, hope for a less humiliating race photo, and (this one goes without saying) try to beat last years time which (for the record) was 3:05:19.

I will be wearing my wetsuit. So with any luck the swim will be awesome. I have learned that apparently this swim is always against the current. So I'm not expecting a 30 minute swim like I was last year. Although if I can do 37 in a lake with a panic attack at 1.2 miles I'm thinking last years 40 minutes should be beatable. I also don't remember where the timing mat is and if the race split includes some running up the beach. It is a longish run up the beach through the sand to T1.  Last year was flat as a lake so I'm hoping for that again.

I will then ride the speedy Shiv and I am definitely a faster biker than I was this time last year so that should yield some results.

Now last year somehow I ran a 57:23 at this race. That seems pretty quick for a slowpoke like me ... so to beat that I'm going to try for sub 9:30 miles aaaand we'll see what happens :-) Step one to achieving this goal (do not forget the watch on the bike) step 2 one foot in front of the other ... and a little faster now, repeat.

That's it. Wait for race photos to appear magically with the race report next week.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Worst Race Photo Taker - Me!

So, I'm not terribly photogenic but for some reason I never, ever, ever look good in race photos.

For years I have blamed this on the craptastic talents of race photographers. But I am beginning to think it's just me. You can decide.

Here's a photo taken the day before - see I look normal, right?
Again goofy pose but still I look like a regular person. Notice I remembered to follow the rule that you "must" wear another race's shirt to packet pick up of any race, anywhere. This is a pretty good look at the famous HITS transition area. It is pretty great. I sat on my stool morning of to put on my wetsuit.

This photo is hysterical. When I first saw it I couldn't remember why my glasses were like that. Seriously how funny is that. I look like I'm some sort of deranged biking professor giving the photographer a stare down over my glasses. But now I do remember the glasses were wet from the rain and I couldn't see through them yet. So I have them on but pulled down to look over the top until they dried in the wind. Making for ... the most bizarre biking photo ever. Certainly not the cool aero position bike photo ever.

Okay so what's happening here? Why do I always look so bizarre? The only good thing in this photo is that my leg muscles look pretty awesomely strong. 
And here I look like I'm power walking. What's up with that. I could have been walking actually but I think I would have been making less of a "poopie" face. I am pretty sure these are the least flattering tri shorts ever designed. (sigh).

Okay so apologies to the photographer for stealing these craptastic photos from your website. But actually I'm not sorry. I'm sure others will buy photos - but not me and it's not really about your talent.  Well maybe some is. As someone who used to make a living selling photos I actually do buy race photos. So should you stumble onto my blog and want to give me a hard time about not buying them here are some tips. 1. In the bike photos - show some more of the bike. 2. Don't cut off the feet of runners. This is actually photo 101 (I'm not kidding - this is something taught in photography lessons) either make it a close up or show the whole body.  Definitely not the mid-foot ankle chop you did here. In other news good work on tagging all the photos with bib numbers that must have taken forever. Its a hard job race photos because there's like zero money in it and long hours. I get it - thanks for putting in the time.

New goal for Nautica try to look a little cuter in the race photos :-)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Countdown to Ironman France - 12 weeks to go

This is the first countdown post where I didn't have to look up how many weeks were remaining. That means we're getting close. Also I didn't sleep so well last night - another sign that the race is closing in.

This week's news - meet the mountain goat.

Yes, I bought another bike. Cervelo S2 2012.
There is a saying that is perhaps true for me. The correct number of bikes to own is N+1 where N=the number of bikes you currently have. Another forumla is S-1 where S= the number of bikes when your spouse will leave you. :-)

This is a road bike and the plan is that most likely I will take this bike to France for the race. Why this bike and not the Shiv? Well, in all honesty I could take the Shiv. I love the Shiv. Well I don't always love the fuelselage but mostly I do love the Shiv. But if you search for online reviews of the Shiv you will see that it's not known for great climbing or great handling in technical situations. After a year of riding it I agree with this assessment. I take the widest turns out of anybody in my whole group. It is known for being super fast and aerodynamic in flat races. Since that's 99.9% of what I do here in Florida it is a perfect fit for that. But not for France.

The France course is hilly (understatement, 6000 feet of climbing) and technical descending. It is very hard if not impossible for me to train for the technical descending part of the course because even when I find hills they are pretty much straight up and down. And part of my Ironman training program is stacking the deck as much in my favor as I can. For me that does not include a lot of hilly training rides. It does include finding the best bike for the situation at hand and taking that bike to France.

Step one - research the bikes. I'm not tall. I'm 5 feet and 4 inches possibly an extra 1/4 inch depending on who measures me. My height is in my legs. I have short arms. (my brother is chuckling here ... family joke about my short arms ... moving on).

The research shows that for people under 5'6" without long torsos (read: many women) the best choices are Specialized Amira and Cervelo.

Step two - visit the bike shops. Now many people have many opinions about many bikes. This one's good, this one's great blahbity, blahbity, blahbity. One consistant opinion - Cervelo makes fast bikes. Even people who don't sell Cervelo will say they are fast bikes. Sadly after visiting the three stores in Miami who sell Cervelo ... nothing in my size except the newest S5 (starting at $5000) sadly out of my price range.

So I look at the Specialized Amira. It's available in my size but I don't love the look and it's $4000 because it's not on sale. So I think I'm taking my Shiv to France. It's okay - it's a great bike. But I go ahead and check on Ebay because a lot of people buy bikes and then don't ride them and used bikes don't hold their value even if they are in great shape. I find one and it's local but I don't know enough to pull the trigger. I call my posse of experts and get advice on buying a used bike and what the price should be. I go back and the bike I was watching isn't there. I can't tell if it sold or the auction just expired. Oh well. Then one of my posse forwards me the same bike now on Craigs List. I email the person. They email me back. They appear not to be a serial killer. They provide the details - my posse reviews them and we agree on a price. I head to Fort Lauderdale and buy a bike. Ta - dah!

I ride the bike a little bit. It's very light. This is good because I have to haul this thing up some very big hills so I'm focused on what the bike weighs. Historically I've never really cared about an ounce here and an ounce there. Now I am actually paying attention.

I have a fitting (they take forever). I add aero bars (to hold the water bottle not really to ride in much) and we spend an hour fitting the aerobars even though I keep saying ... they are just for the water bottle. Oh well, I suppose it's best if the fit shows they are in the right spot.
My fit was done by Mike Sinkover who works out of Bikes to Go. He does my comuptrainer training. I think it's a good fit but time will tell.

I ride the bike a little every day to get used to it. It's a bike - feels like a bike but does handle very well. I can tell that it is much more responsive than the tri bike in turns. I do have a pretty massive toe overlap but that's on all bikes my size so it's something to be aware of more than a problem.

I install the torpedo bottle thingie. Those bolts are a PITA to tighten.

Underneath all that tape are light carbon aerobars. I sound like that stupid video now when I'm in the bike store, is this carbon? Which one is lighter?
After a week of short rides on the Adamo saddle I'm sore - it's not love at first ride for the saddle. Some people say it takes time to adjust. I'm thinking if you have to work that hard to be comfy it's not right.

Ahhh the Adamo podium. It was on the bike. It's not love at first ride for me and actually Adamo themselves say the podium isn't the best saddle for me so I think he's on the way out. We'll see.
Also in my first training rides I feel slower on the bike - like it's more work to get to 20mph I'm guessing that's due to the non-aero wheels but that's a guess.

Saturday was the first long ride on the bike.  90 miles and 6 hours total time. The bike is fast and handled well in the wind. I had no trouble getting to 20 with my group. My right thumb is a little numb from the long ride and my right foot. And my butt is really unhappy with the saddle. Really unhappy. Not my sit bones but the flesh at the top of my thigh is bruised/chaffed on each side. I think it's not a good saddle for me and part of the reason I think that is that I love my Specialized saddle and never have issues with it. I think the Adamo is too wide in the middle for me and when I peddle rubs against the flesh at that spot. So I'm probably going to buy another one of the saddles that works for me.

The Speedfill A2 also bottle didn't work perfectly for me. This is user error I think (read: it's my fault). So on Saturday's ride I was short on fluid and calories which was a good lesson. I have 12 weeks to get it figured out. What happened was that the bottle was tilted down toward the top but the straw went to the bottom of the bottle. So the bottle had to be 100 % full for the straw to work. Which is also to say ... it didn't work. So I mostly drank at stops which isn't enough.

I think what I want to do is go with a concentrate bottle of Infinit. Basically 8 hours of calories in one bottle (that's gonna be some potent mix) and then water from the course. I haven't trained like this so I'm going to try it this week. The advantages of this method are that I don't have to carry 8 bottles (impossible anyway), I don't have to mix on the way and I can separate calories from hydration. The disadvantages are if I lose that bottle I am in trouble, it may taste like total shiskabob. (Shiskabob is a code word here ... use your imagination.

So that's the Mountain Goat. I think I'll call her Maggie. With so many bikes in the garage - they need names. Actually they don't because they are all different but somehow Mountain Goat reminds me of Maggie.

Last Item: March Totals according to Training Peaks and my lousy record keeping :-)

Swim7450 yards - this seems low and while there was a week not in the pool I think I must have been sloppy about recording the yards. Or maybe I need to pick this up a bit.
Bike - 311.36 miles this is always low because I do 2 workouts a week on the trainer so whatever.
Run - 73.91 miles this should be right unless I ran a bunch without my watch. Probably not.
Some 57 miles of brick? I have no idea what this is and when I double click on it ... I get nothing so who knows.