Monday, June 17, 2013

Six days until Ironman France

Six days. That's not very many. Let's all hope I'm actually ready for this thing :-0

I feel pretty calm. I mean I did just get a massage but even before that I felt pretty calm.

Last week was a week for getting myself out of my comfort zone. I was out of town. In Orlando for my daughter's national gymnastics competition. She did very well thank you for asking. She had a great time performed well and enjoyed the whole thing. Plus she got a new sparkly leotard that she just absolutely loves.
gold ... and sparkly. She loves this leotard it is totally her style. She would wear it every day. Isn't she the cutest!

Before we went to Orlando I was stressed. I mean I had these workouts to do and I wasn't going to be where I could do them like I normally do. It's an Ironman ... even in taper I didn't want to skip any workouts.

I did some looking and I found Lucky's Lake. This is the best and craziest thing I've ever found. It's a guy (Lucky) who lives on a lake who opens his house and his lake up to lots of total strangers every day ... for free ... to swim in his lake. It turns out it was almost exactly a 3 minute drive from my hotel. Seriously could this get any better? I pull up and there are about 20 other people arriving everyone was very nice. This is not some just willy nilly thing he's put buoys to guide you accrosst the lake. And he's conned one of his neighbors into putting a large light on their dock across the way for us to aim for and that person also lets all these strangers hang out near their dock if they want to rest before heading back across. I've paid for masters swim groups in Miami that aren't this organized.

But wait, there's more! If you can even believe it I met somebody else doing Ironman France on the dock. I know ... crazy, right.
proof - this is me (the shorter one) and that's Andy who is also doing Ironman France. Totally bizarre to meet him 2 weeks before the race in Orlando. Ca-razy.

So, going to a swim thing by myself always makes me edgy. I get shy and nervous and stuff. It really is great. There is a bunch of stuff on his website about alligators and event though I've lived here a long time and generally do not worry about alligators I will admit I let it get in my head. Turns out he's a bit of a joker - he has 3 plastic/rock decorative gators submerged by his dock. There could be gators who are there occasionally but I didn't see any - thank goodness.

This is after my second swim. I was the last one out which is why the dock was empty. This guy lucky is seriously probably one of the most generous guys I've ever met to do this. Apparently on the weekends there can be as many as 100 people who show up.
So,  I did it not only once but twice. Wednesday and Friday mornings. The second time I swam 3 times out and back for about 3000 meters. I would have gone 4 times for the full 4000 meters but I was the only one still swimming and I just don't do well swimming in open water by myself. I start to think about the things out there with me in the water ... and well it doesn't go well at all. So I stopped. I'll admit that even with all the swimming I've done in the last several months the swim still stresses me out. But whatever. The training is done. Could I have swum more ... maybe but not really a lot more to be honest so I'm good with what I've done and I'm pretty sure it's enough. I won't be the fastest out there but I will get it done and I probably won't be the last one out of the water either. I will come out of the water with a smile I mean how many times will I be doing an Ironman Swim in France? How cool is that?
This is maybe 10 seconds after the last picture. I think it's maybe one of the best self-portraits I've ever taken ... Where am I looking with my eyes? Plus the goggle marks. It's just all good - you're welcome.

If you're ever in Orlando I cannot recommend Lucky's Lake swim enough.

Oh and I made my family drag the bike to Orlando. When I told my husband I wanted to take the bike he just shrugged and said, "I expected that."  I rode in Clermont for about an hour Thursday morning. Again out of my comfort zone - riding to a place I've never been solo and riding alone for an hour. That last part isn't such a big deal because I don't actually mind riding alone.

So, of course I'm nervous about the bike. It's a long ride. A lot can go wrong including me just not making it. But I've worked really really hard on my biking. I've put in hours of training and if it wasn't enough it wasn't enough. But I think it probably was. So here's hoping the bike doesn't get squished under the airplane (fingers crossed) I will just pedal my little heart out from start to finish.

And then after that I'll run my marathon. Are you kidding me. Nope. So I feel like I'm undertrained for the run but what do I know. I'm healthy and uninjured going to the start. I've enjoyed the journey a lot. I've enjoyed the training and making really good friends. I've learned a lot about the sport and also about myself along the way (but luckily no big surprises). I'm in better shape than I've been ... maybe ever but at least since the beerfest that was my 20s. No matter what happens on Sunday it's been worth it. 

That's about it. It's the end of the road for the training. Starting now it will be radio-silence on the blog for a few weeks since I'll first be racing and then I'll be vacationing and I don't thing I'll be updating this until I get back. I could probably figure out how to but honestly my family deserves my uninterrupted attention for a while.

But should you be curious how I do in the race here's what you can do. This is of course after you include me in your nightly prayers on Saturday June 22nd ( and please help Amy through her Ironman attempt ).  You can track my progress online at ironman dot com on Sunday. I'm racing in France - not Idaho. France is 6 hours ahead of East Coast Time. I'm bib #199. Lucky #199. I will either be wearing a blue hammerhead tri top or a pink sugoi tri top I'm pretty sure the hammerhead blue or maybe the pink ... tune in to find out. If you really have nothing to do you can watch the live video for me to finish hopefully somewhere between 14 and 16 hours. Certainly not after 16 hours because that's the cutoff.

Wish me luck! Even with all the training I'm going to need it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

t-two weeks until Ironman France

So bascially I'm a nervous wreck. I actually don't feel that bad ... uncertain, yes but my husband has termed this time period - PT for pre-triathlon.  He says I'm pretty edgy.

I've asked a bunch of people if they felt ready before their first Ironman. Some say yes, some say no ... it's actually not that helpful so I should stop asking.

I have entered into the taper phase which is super stressful because I'm nervous so I want to train more but I have less on my schedule. It's time to just trust the training. And avoid germs. I don't want to get sick.

And so I'm going to talk about something else entirely and that is how I kept my family afloat and my marriage healthy during this training project.

History lesson
First the history. Because everyone's story is different here's mine. I'm 39 I've been married to the same guy for 11 years. We have 2 kiddos (9 and almost 7) and also he has 2 adult kiddos (in college) from his first marriage. We have a very busy house. Really. I know yours is busy too but trust me we are on like fast forward all the time.

Next peace of back information to know is that I was training for my first marathon when I started dating my husband. I think this is important to us making this whole thing work because it wasn't like I woke up 5 years into the marriage and said ... hey I'm going to stop going out to dinner Friday nights and instead get up at 4:30 am and run on Saturdays. That was always part of the package of being with me.

But that's not to say that triathlon training hasn't been a shift. It has. But luckily it works for us.

Ironman training did become a big time sucking part of my life this year. So how did we make it work?

First things first - spousal buy-in
A few years ago when my brother (I blame him for this whole thing but that's another story) mentioned that we could do an Ironman (you do notice he's not coming to France ... right) my husband said that he didn't want me to do it. So as I stepped up to longer race distances and we both met a lot of "normal" people who had done Ironman it became more acceptible to him. But when I was ready to register I said to him when he and I were alone and sober and the tv was off.

"I want to do a full Ironman but I won't go forward if you don't support it." I was being truthful if he had said, "no" I would have just stopped because a race isn't worth my marriage. But he said yes. Then we both picked this race ... mostly. That part was a mess. I have been honest about that before selecting France was not the most well thought out thing I've ever done.  But involving the spouse is important. He has to want to go to where the races are and bring the kids so I always let him choose ... mostly :-)

Next up - the schedule
Ironman training takes up a lot of time. in peak weeks I was at 17-18 hours a week not counting travel time and stuff. In the beginning it was causing some conflict - not actually the weekends because it was assumed that I was busy those mornings but during the week so I made a schedule.
This is the actual schedule. It hangs on the fridge where all important family documents must go. Some things have changed and I haven't updated it but it still worked. My stepson wrote some funny stuff for him and his dad. Swimming now starts for me at 5:30 not 6 am that change affected nobody but me. But basically this was it.
  The schedule was sooooooooooo helpful. Because it let my husband and kids know where I was when and where they were and so on. We did have some hiccups but not big ones.

I cook in our house. So getting dinner on the table is my job. I also go to the grocery store although my husband has gone a lot in the last few months (the other option was starving). But when I saw that I was having a hard time getting dinner on the table I signed up at Dream Dinners which I had used before but stopped. This was helpful because at any given time I had meals ready to go in the freezer. It was a big help.

Training Friends
I train almost entirely with guys. This could definitely create some friction but my husband knows everybody that I train with - and their wives. He is invited to every social event whether it's dinner after a track practice, birthday parties, happy hour - whatever. He is included. He declines a lot because he says we (triathletes) are really boring. But the point is he knows who I'm with so he's hopefully not jealous.

I have a  bike mechanic named Calvin. My bike was in for something or other. So there was a ticket in the kitchen that said Calvin and the phone number. I didn't think twice about it. We were cleaning up after dinner and my hubby says, "Amy, who is Calvin?" I reply .. "bike mechanic ... why?" and he held up the ticket. He thought I was having a secret romance I guess. Anyway - I took him to meet Calvin and we all had a good laugh.

Lastly, there are the rules. These are my rules or guidelines that I use to keep everything good.

  1. I try never to use training as an excuse why I can't do something with the family. Full-disclosure - I have missed several early soccer games and lots of piano practices. But for the most part I reschedule my training to accommodate family life and not the other way around. I do a lot of early training and training while the kids are in school. 
  2. If my husband asks me to do something like go out to dinner. I go. I get dressed up, I smile, I have fun I reschedule whatever training is in the way. He doesn't do this often but when he does I make it work. To be honest he does his best to check that there isn't a 20 mile run the next day. 
  3. If I'm tired from training early on a weekend ... it doesn't matter. I still have birthday party duty and whatever else that day.  No napping the day away or complaining that I'm too tired to play soccer or whatever the kids ask for.
  4. Try not to take myself or the training too seriously.
  5. If my husband is doing something with the kids I have to let him do it and not judge or get involved. My husband thinks our kids can survive on approximately one goldfish per day to eat. It's the strangest thing. He also assumes that if he offers them food that they eat all of it (which is never true). So when I get home from a morning of training my kids are starving. This is always the case. I could be upset about it and I could bicker at him but that does nobody any good. So instead I just am ready to feed them when I come home. I also remind my kids to be self-sufficient and to tell daddy if they are hungry. 
  6. Say what I want and don't expect the impossible. My husband HATES coming to races. HATES it. If I want him to be there I have to tell him exactly that without any gentle or code words. I have to say , "it is important that you come ... you need to come because I have no way to get home" things like that. Also, I can't expect him to be an uber-cheerleader because he isn't. My sister in law is the best support crew ever. I wish she was at every race I ever did - she makes signs she knows where we are and everything. My husband is clueless. So I need to not be upset about that or else I'll be miserable. Seriously, if my happiness depended on my husband making a cheering sign for me I would be one miserable chick because that's not ever gonna happen. For the Ironman I have asked him to come with me to the start and watch me swim and then I'll see them while I'm on the run. I have stressed to them that it will be really important for their encouragement on my 4 loops of the run. I also hope they will see me finish. Sometimes things go wrong with that and that's okay because I do this for me not to be seen doing it. Jack had a breakdown while watching for me finish the NY marathon so he was inside with my husband ... it happens. I hope it doesn't happen at the Ironman but if it does I know it won't be because he didn't want to be there. Also I already bought the video of the finish. (shh don't tell him) It's hard work being the kid-wrangler at these things and he knows I'll need help afterwards so eventually he'll be there. 
I think that's it. That's how I've made it work. We are all ready for some together time so luckily the training is almost over :-)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Anything is possible ...

I am lately filling my head with positive motivation and encouragement about this upcoming race. Make no mistake it still seems crazy.

This is actually from my race course but last year.

I got my bib number. #199. Seems like a good number to me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What I learned today

Alternate title ... continued bike maintenance for those of us of the girlie persuasion.

Since I got a trainer I've had a trainer tire. I ride on the trainer twice a week. Once in my garage and once at a local store where I borrow / ride on a computrainer to get ready for Ironman France.

I have never really had any issues with my trainer at home. But I have had issues with the Computrainer set up. These are not due to the Computrainer in fact I think that they are due to my inexperience and the ineptitude of the guy who lets me use his Computrainer.

The Computrainer uses a computer to increase the pressure related to the course you're riding. Because of this it's great. I am a beleiver I really am. But if you are using a computrainer I think you have to really understand it and also be a little bit of a technician.

When I started training for France I looked all over for a place to ride a Computrainer. Now that I'm done a center has opened on Key Biscayne. I can't believe my luck :-)

But I was very lucky that I found right next to my house a trainer who trains me on his Computrainer. He's nice and I think he's a good trainer. But he isn't a mechanic and he's not terribly technical. We've had a few issues over these 15 weeks. A few times he wasn't sure how the software was malfunctioning which is annoying. Last week he overfilled my trainer tire and it flatted on the computrainer. It took us 10 minutes to figure it out and to be honest it was me who said - could my tire be flat?

Anywhoo. I pay him through the nose. I mean it is ridiculously expensive because he charges like a personal trainer. I don't actually recommend it but I didn't have a choice and it has the benefit that I've gotten private training which is great.

Today was a new adventure and this one is my fault although I think that a more experienced Computrainer person would have figured out something was wrong way before all this happened. But I caused it.

I changed my tire before I went and actually I changed the skewer to a metal skewer which is best on the trainers. My trainer tire skewer bizarrely has one end that is plastic and it's gotten fairly chewed up. As long as I've been doing this I've always wondered if it mattered the direction of these little springs that are on the skewer. Today I learned oh boy does it matter it matters a lot.
turns out it's important that the spring has the big part pointing out on each end.

Right from the get go I was saying. This feels off. The resistance seems too much. But the trainer was saying maybe I was tired or whatever. And he also mentioned that maybe he had tightened the wheel too much. I'll admit this bugs me. He is supposed to calibrate at the start of each of our sessions but he's too lazy to do it. But whatever. I figured that if the workout was harder it was to my benefit.

Then we started to get a squeaking noise. So I spoke up. I said, "listen that's not normal, can we check the tire?'

So we did. It was a little low and so he put in more air. I actually felt the tire and it was hot to the touch. I told him something is wrong the tire shouldn't get this hot I don't think. He guessed it was too tight on the back so he loosened it. (Can you say calibration?)

We were almost done with the session now. Maybe 10 minutes left. Then when I started back up. He saw dust coming off the tire. He said ... wow there is a problem with the tire. So we went on a few minutes and he said let's stop. He thought it was that the tire was old which could have been but I thought ... something else is going on too. So I went and asked the mechanic to help me figure it out.

all that black stuff on the ground is parts of my tire just shredded into rubber dust. It was everywhere. Not good.
The mechanic saw the issue immediately. When I had changed the tire I had put the skewer together with one of the springs going the wrong way. That let the tire rub on directly on the bike and the result was this. I'm really hoping I didn't damage the bike. I am a little concerned with all the rubbing and the heat from the hot tire - although the mechanic didn't see any damage. Replacing the trainer tire I can live with.
The mechanic thought the tire would still be good but it popped on the way home. It's hard to see but there is a massive hole in the side of the tire.

I'm not much of a ranter but I will admit this does annoy me that the trainer guy didn't figure out what the problem was earlier in the trainer session. I will admit that on my trip to DogHouse I did notice that the did check my tire and skewer before starting. The didn't remove the skewer just checked that it was metal.

The tire actually popped on the way home which is good because I might have had a heart attack from the noise if it had happened while I was on top of the bike.

In the end - lesson learned. I have one more session maybe two with this guy. I might not do them - I'm not sure. I'll swing by the place on Key Biscayne if I have time because that might be a better fit. On the other hand I'm sort of in deep with this guy. So we'll see.

On the upside it's more practice changing tires for me which can't hurt.

Monday, June 3, 2013

20 days until Ironman France ... TWENTY DAYS OMG TWENTY ... EEK

I am actually not totally freaking out like I made it sound in the title.

I mean a little bit but not hugely.

Basically, I've done what I've done to get ready and soon we'll see if it was enough. I am ... which is par for the course for me ... freaked for the swim. For me I find it very hard to beleive that endless repeats in the pool translates into distance swimming. But this weekend I'll swim a solid distance and that should make me feel better.