The TRIals of 70.3 Training and “Other Stuff”

In an attempt to dig myself out of the blogging black hole that I have allowed myself to fall into, I’m penning this catch up post.

Half Ironman training is…..kicking my ass.  

There is NO other way to put it.  Of course, most of the ass kicking is of my own making because I am terribly over-scheduled.  Some of the ass kicking is because I, um, probably scheduled a big race too soon after Houston…..in my defense – switching from Cowtown Half Marathon to the 50k seemed like a really good idea at the time!  LOL!!  And I think some of the ass kicking is due to my lack of motivation.  I used every single ounce of motivation, determination and dedication that I possessed while I was training for and racing at Houston.  I did what I set out to do and grabbed my BQ.  And since  it was such a huge goal and I spent such a long time focusing on it – the absence of chasing it is causing me to flounder.  I am struggling to maintain focus on these shorter term races and I am most definitely struggling to set my goals for the remainder of the year.  I’m going to get there, though!!

After Houston, I reveled in the glory of my BQ for exactly 5 days, then it was back to work.  (I literally had NO time to waste to get started on my 70.3 training.  The timing of Houston had already put me behind the 8-ball in relationship to Galveston.)  I know planning my workouts caused some stress for my coach.  It sounds so ridiculous when I put it down in print – I’m training for a 50k and a half Ironman AT THE SAME TIME.  Big-time kudos to my coach for: 1) the balancing act (aka training plan) that he put together for me, and 2) choosing to create a training plan instead of strangling me (which, I’m sure crossed his mind)!

The first week of 70.3 training was HELL.  I was SO EXHAUSTED.  The second week – I was still exhausted, but my schedule was wonkier than usual.  I had some out-of-the-norm commitments that required rearranging my training schedule.  I *nearly* skipped a bike workout.  I intended to get up early to do before work; then I moved to the next day (which was a rest/swim day) and planned to do early.  I got up and just skipped it that morning.  I tried to justify to myself that swimming was enough for that day.  But I confessed to Brent that I skipped the bike and whined because I was tired.  All he had to say was, “You’ll be tired at Galveston” and  I decided to do it when I got home…..at 9 PM…after driving Alli to practice and after swimming.  I did it and I was STILL exhausted, but at least I could live with myself.  I needed that kick in the rear and I’m glad that Brent is willing to do the kicking when it is needed. 

I’m now in week 3.  I did my 2 hour ride on Tuesday and it was easier.  (Probably because I had been off work for 2 days, but I’m choosing to believe that I’m getting stronger!)  I have one more really long run this weekend in prep for my ultra in 2 weeks, then the “long” runs won’t be as long.  I finally feel like I’m on the edge of getting a handle on juggling it all again.

Back in the pool

I jumped back into the pool a couple weeks ago.  It had been six long months since I had done swimming of any kind.  I was pleasantly surprised that my fitness in the water seemed about the same as the last time I swam!!  This was a huge mental boost for me, as the swim is the biggest question mark for my 70.3.

But the same day I got back into the pool, I learned that the pool I use was scheduled to be closed beginning Feb 1 through sometime in the Fall.  SERIOUSLY.  I did something completely out of the ordinary for me: I didn’t fret – I just started looking and found another pool across town.  Last week I was able to visit this new pool for a swim and I’m not sure it is going to work.  It is smaller and a high school swim team practices there at the same time that I am available to swim.  Most likely, I’ll head back to the pool in which I started  It isn’t my favorite, but it will get me by.

At Galveston, if I can get myself warmed up and avoid the panic related to that and figure out how to manage the inevitable panic related to all the people in the water, I really do believe that I can finish the swim before the cutoff.

Rocky Raccoon 100 Pacer

This weekend, my long run was to be a very SLOW skip around Huntsville State Park as a pacer for my teammate, Tim, on his last 20 mile loop of his 100 mile attempt.  As it turns out, having a fractured tibia isn’t conducive to finishing a 100 mile race and Tim was forced to drop after 40 miles.  I know that another 100 mile attempt is the LAST thing on his mind right now, but he is going to have to attempt another just so I can fulfill my job as pacer!

The Flu? Ain’t got no time for that!

I drove down to Huntsville for the race and arrived Saturday around lunch.  Around 2 PM, Alli started texting me saying she was nauseous.  Then she texted saying she thought she had a fever.  Then she texted saying she was achy.  UH OH.  I had a gut feeling that she was coming down with the flu.  She was at a friend’s for the night, since I had planned to be running at 12-5AM-ish and Bobby was gone to the lake.  Logan picked her up and brought her home.  I decided to stay in Huntsville, but deep down I wasn’t convinced that was the right decision.

Brent came in from loop 3 and after he got off on loop 4 with his pacer, Alli started texting me again.  She still wasn’t feeling well and Ibuprofen wasn’t working all that well.  My mom knew she was home sick with Logan and was having a fit to go down and stay with her.  (My mom is 83 and notoriously fretful.  I knew she wouldn’t sleep a wink unless I came home.)  So I decided to leave my Renegade family behind to go home and take care of my little girl.  It was a tough decision, but the right one.  I was home before midnight.  We arrived at the clinic as soon as it was open on Sunday and, sure enough, Alli had the flu.

The timing of this illness couldn’t have come at a better time, for me. On Monday, I did NOTHING.  I actually thought I was coming down with something.  But I believe it was my body finally being able to relax for the first time in….forever….and it was letting go of all that exhaustion and tension.  Alli was still running fever on Tuesday, so we stayed home again.  I felt much more energized and got several things accomplished around the house, which also helped my mood and energy level. 

Yesterday, Alli was back at school and I was back at work.  She was zapped after school, though, so I made the decision to keep her home from practice. 

Hopefully, the time off will give me enough of a boost to make it to Spring Break.  Alli’s team will be heading into qualifier season, which is difficult because of the amount of travel. But I’ll also be two weeks away from Galveston and a break will be in sight!! 

I’m trying not to sign up for any races for a little bit of time after Galveston. I am beginning to think that a couple week break, then maintaining base might be the best plan for a while, to give my mind and body a little break. 

Happy Thursday!!

 

Driving the Struggle Bus to my Pity Party

Rangover is REAL

I had serious Rangover this week.  If you’ve never run a Ragnar, then you have no idea how real Rangover is!

I struggled in coming to terms with my performance in this race.  I started having some hip flexor issues and ended up not running my last leg which knocked my ego and pride for a few loops.  I could not shake the terrible feelings that I had.  I HATE making excuses and even though I knew it was the smart thing to do to protect my training going into Houston; I still felt like I was making excuses for my lack of performance.

I have also been holding on to a lot of disappointment in myself at Rochester.  I know that I got a PR.  I know that I got 2nd in my age group.  I know I should be happy with that.  But I went into that race thinking that I needed to run 4:00 or better to be on track for Houston.  And whether or not that is true, my brain is still hanging onto that as truth.  As a result, I still have lingering feelings of that race being a complete and total failure. (OK….it does sound ridiculous when I write it down, but my mind can be a little ridiculous.)

Aaaaaaand I’m still dealing with the emotional scars from my first psoas injury and the battle to get my fitness back that spanned the hot summer months.  I’ve been busy enough in training that there hasn’t been much time for all this to bubble to the surface.

Oh, and now that Ragnar was over, I had nothing to distract me from the fact that Houston is LESS THAN 90 DAYS AWAY.  I may have wondered out loud why in the world I thought I could ever BQ and that I was stupid for even trying.  Yeah, I know.img_2422

Honestly, I wanted a break between Ragnar and the remainder of my Houston training.  I was getting pretty tired and I know how much good just a little rest does for my body and my mental state.  I was relieved when I first saw that Brent had included these few days of rest in my schedule.  But I was SO disappointed with *my* Ragnar performance.  Our team got 3rd and I think that made it worse because I felt like if Kelly and Brent hadn’t been as tired from running my mileage, we could have probably snagged 2nd.  Here I was coming off yet another disappointing race performance and then I had to sit ALL WEEK.  It was the perfect storm.

By mid-week, I was to the point that I was not dealing well at all with all my emotions.  I fell COMPLETELY apart.  I am usually so controlled and so good at holding things together, but I could not redirect my thoughts no matter how hard I tried.  Yesterday, I had a complete and total meltdown at work FOR THE ENTIRE DAY.  My coworkers that knew about it were shocked and scared, I’m sure, because I NEVER cry and I rarely lose it.  Our counselor came strolling by mid-morning during one of my many mini-breakdowns during the day and wanted to discuss, but I wasn’t in ANY mood to discuss ANYTHING at that moment.  In fact, I wasn’t planning on being in a mood to discuss anything at anytime during the rest of the day.  But she has figured me out pretty well so she cornered me at lunch (I literally had NO escape).  And 1,000,000 counselor-y questions later, she had actually calmed me down and helped me come to a point of acceptance (kind-of) about my recent race performances.  (So, thank you, Julia!!  Even though I was super irritated with you at the time and might have thrown daggers toward you had any been in my pocket!)

Basically, she said that maybe my expectations in certain situations are unrealistic.  Ragnar, for example:  I didn’t really have a lot of control over what my hip flexors did yet I was beating myself up for making a decision that protected my long-term plan.  So my expectation that I should be able to “do it all” in that situation was unrealistic.  I’ll admit that she was probably right.  In addition, I think the fear of failure at Houston was a big part of it, too.  The closer it has gotten; the more my anxiety has grown.  I have A LOT of anxiety about not being able to meet my goal.

After our discussion, I felt better but still had a few meltdowns throughout the day.  I got a good night’s sleep and even though I still don’t feel completely over it, I have felt much better today!

The mental game is the hardest

Before this week, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the mental aspect of training and racing.  I am able to keep myself focused and calm and I don’t talk negatively to myself during workouts and races.  So maybe I have that part covered.

It’s the after workouts (and especially after races!) where I need to improve.  I must stop second guessing and over-analyzing my misses in every race and every workout, because I do a lot of that.  I need to find a balance between self-reflection and honest criticism versus the unrealistic expectations that Julia mentioned.  And Brent was right, too.  I do put too much pressure on myself.

I think I have some ways in which I can improve.

Instead of not being able to move on from a disappointing performance, I am going to find something that I can work on to get better.  I already had one from Rochester that I was planning to try during my next half marathon in two weeks: getting out of the aid stations more quickly and not keeping my head down as much – I need to look farther ahead instead of getting lost in my thoughts.

As far as putting pressure on myself – I think a lot of this is coming from this BQ attempt.  I mean, that’s A LOT of pressure to perform.  I have ONE shot.  It isn’t like I can pick another marathon a couple weeks later and try again.  That, in itself, is a lot of pressure.  Plus, I just don’t know how I will react if I miss at Houston.  The fear of failing is real and completely overtakes me sometimes.  So how can I deal with it?  I’m not sure.  I think I am going to 1) get rid of the hashtag #roadtoHouston (…does talking about it increase the amount of pressure I feel?)  2) just focus on one workout at a time and 3) try not to think about it.  I’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to master #3.img_2191

Finally, I just need to believe in myself.  I have a hard time doing that.

My friends are better than yours

I am SO BLESSED with so many good friends.  I can’t close without giving them a shout-out.  Kelly, who ALWAYS has my back and Carmen, who is honest enough with me not to put up with my whiny-ass bullshit.  And of course, Brent!  He doesn’t put up with my whiny-ass bullshit either.  I know I’ve missed people.  But this if for ALL you guys that believe in me when I don’t really believe in myself (which is sadly, too often) – THANK YOU!!img_2205

Summer Training Update

I’ve got to be honest…I haven’t posted a training update in quite some time because I felt like a broken record.  I mean, there are only so many things one can say and so many pictures one can post about their training.  So, I took a hiatus.

But lots of things are going on and I feel I have something new to say! 🙂  So here is a long overdue training update:

Let’s start with swimming – tris do

Swimming.  When I look back to the time I started in February, I can hardly believe it.  Don’t get me wrong……I am not the best swimmer…YET.  I can’t even believe that I was afraid to swim 200 yards in the tri that is coming up NEXT WEEKEND.  I am now doing actual workouts in the pool, including some speed workouts.  I NEVER thought that I would be able to do that!  I have gained so much confidence in the pool.  I feel so empowered because I stuck with it through the SUCK even though I wanted to do ANYTHING except swim!  I have transformed from thinking I could never swim 200 yards in a triathlon to believing that I can (and will) swim 2.4 (eventually) in an IRONMAN.  The feeling of conquering another demon is indescribable!img_9513

The challenges of the bike

First, I’ll share the saga of trying to secure a tri bike.  I had decided to try to find a used one so that I wouldn’t appear like I had completely lost my mind in the eyes of my family.  Plus, I mean, what if I don’t actually like triathlons and decide to get out of it??  It was a real struggle to decide what to do.  In May, I found one on eBay, won the auction and was on my way to transitioning into the time trial bike world.  The bike arrived and I took it to the bike shop to be assembled.  The guy from the shop had offered to look it over to make sure that all was OK in case of any damage.  When he started the build, he texted me to tell me that the derailleur and rear dropout were damaged.  He told me that he wouldn’t repair the dropout – that repaired it would still be weak and prone to break at anytime.  I started a claim with eBay and the seller started a claim with FedEx.  FedEx *supposedly* had ten business days to get to work on the claim.  Ten business days came and went and I contacted the seller, who in turn contacted FedEx, who in turn said they had send the original requests for info to eBay <FACE PALM>.  Things moved pretty quickly the next few days…I sent the seller info for the claim as requested by FedEx and then heard nothing for a couple weeks.  I finally asked eBay to step in, as things didn’t seem to be moving with the FedEx claim and honestly, that is the seller’s deal.  He was ultimately responsible for the bike arriving safely, whether he got a reimbursement from FedEx or not.  eBay instructed the seller to send me a return label for the bike and arrange for pick-up.  After that, the seller had 3 days to refund my money.  When I realized that I would actually be getting a refund (YAY!!), I started looking for bikes again.

I ended up finding a bike in Dallas and actually went to look at it the day after the bike was picked up by FedEx.  My good friend, Josh, told me in no uncertain terms that I WOULD NOT be going alone and that I would be picking him up on my way.  LOL  I mean, everyone needs a friend that could double as a bodyguard, right?!?  Seriously though, I really appreciate his concern and his friendship even more!

He is seriously one of my BEST friends!
He is seriously one of my BEST friends!

I checked values online just to make sure the price was in line with what the seller was asking (and they were) and Josh and I were off for an adventure!  I loved the bike, of course, and the fact that he offered Zipp wheels as part of the deal pretty much made it hard to turn down!  If there was any doubt about how the bike had been cared for, it was all removed when the guy practically refused to leave it with me.  He was clearly VERY attached to it and hated to sell it.  At one point, I thought he might be about to cry.img_0152

Since getting the bike, I took it to a tri shop to have it fitted.  However, while I was there I learned that the front wheel was recalled and the tri shop took care of sending it in for repair.  I feel lucky that it was caught, actually, because apparently Zipp had just issued the recall.  Soooooo, that is going to take another 3-4 weeks to get back so I’ll be racing with regular wheels next weekend.  LOL

Other than that, things are going OK on the bike.  I think I have transitioned to tri bike fairly well, but I still don’t feel that confident about what I’ll be able to do come race day.  I’m trying not to focus on that….I’ll do the best I can and learn from it so that next time will be better.

Run, Jen, Run!

Running has been going very well.  I think I can safely say that the psoas issue has been put to bed.  When I first returned to running mid-May, in my mere 3 weeks off the weather had gotten very warm.  Throw in the psoas that was still a quite angry and it was a recipe for feeling very inadequate.  It was a struggle, physically and mentally.  There were days that I went out, ran a less-than-stellar run (by my assessment, anyway) and questioned my sanity for trying to qualify for Boston.  I allowed quite a bit of negative self-talk for a while.  I know how detrimental that negative self-talk can be and I finally had enough and stopped it.  I had to reassess and re-prioritize my expectations.  Seriously, I had already expected to be slower during the summer heat…..why was this such a surprise??  In any case, when I stopped the negativity going on in my brain, my fitness started responding.  Maybe it was absence of negativity.  Maybe it was just that I was finally getting acclimated to the heat.  Regardless, I can tell my fitness is improving and I never even know my psoas is there!!  Speed work is even starting to creep back to a satisfactory level.

This pic doesn't do the heat justice.
This pic doesn’t do the heat justice.

Cue the races

Pioneer Power Sprint Tri

Next weekend, I will be racing in my very first triathlon!  I am so excited and incredibly nervous at the same time.  This will be a sprint tri: 200 yard pool swim, 16.1 (hilly) bike, 3.1 run.  I can’t believe I was so afraid of the swim in the beginning.  Now I’m scared to death that I’m going to bomb the bike!  LOL

Seriously though, I am going in looking at this as a learning experience, so I’ll be happy with whatever the outcome is.  A neat twist is that this tri is held at Texas Woman’s University (Taylor’s undergrad alma mater) and she is racing it with me.  I am looking very forward to this mother-daughter race!

Hottest Half

This race is on August 14.  In Texas.  I know….I’m stupid.  In my defense, Brent told me to pick a half marathon in August as a warm-up for my next marathon….which I’ll talk about next!  My goal in this race is: NOT TO DIE.

Rochester Marathon (NY edition)

Way back when I was scheduled to do the 50 miler in November, Brent told me to find a hilly marathon in late September/early October as a warm up.  I ended up picking Rochester Marathon when I realized that a) it was in September; b) it was HILLY and c) my friend Jenn would be running it as her first marathon.  It was perfect!!!  The best thing is that I would be there with Jenn as she accomplished this big goal.

As the idea of trying to qualify for Boston tugged at my heartstrings more and more, I realized that there was no way I could train for the 50 miler and truly give my best to a BQ attempt.  I backed out of that race, but there was no way that I would back out of this marathon with my Sole Sister!  As soon as the triathlon is done, marathon training officially begins and I could not be more excited!!  I would LOVE to BQ at this race, but given the psoas setback and the fact that a BQ would have been a long shot in the first place due to the hills, I’m going to use it as a gauge of where I am and where I need to go.

Ragnar Hill Country Ultra

Who can say no to Ragnar and an Ultra??  This race is in October, so I should still have plenty of time to work on speed for my official BQ attempt at Houston Marathon in January.  This will be my first soiree with the trails and I. AM. PUMPED!  Plus, I get to run 31 miles with 3 other crazy Renegades….doesn’t get much better!

Beer Fit Beer Mile

Ok….this is just a bucket list item.  I’m running the Beer Mile in Dallas in November.  I may need to train for this, though, by DRINKING MORE BEER!

Dallas Marathon – Half

Oh my goodness, it pains me to type that.  I realllyyyyyyy want to run the full.  But, this is just a warm-up for the BQ attempt at Houston, so the half will have to do this year!

Houston Chevron Marathon

Even though this is still a long way away, this is going to be THE race of the year for me, obviously.  This will *hopefully* be the BQ race.  I am prepared to pour my heart and soul and body into training for this race and I plan to leave it ALL on the course.  Whatever happens will happen.  I actually do believe that I can run a 3:45, but I also know that anything can happen on any given race day.  So I am mentally preparing to do everything I can and I’ll be OK if the end result isn’t what I wanted.

IRONMAN Texas 70.3

Yes, you read that right.  I signed up for Galveston last week….the day that registration opened.  The fact that there isn’t a deferral option or refund policy is probably good – it will keep me from trying to find excuses to get out of it.

Honestly, though, I’m pretty darn excited (and freaking nervous)!  The biggest challenge, hands down, will not be the race itself but finding the time to train with club volleyball in full swing.  I’m going to take the Scarlett O’Hara approach and think about that tomorrow (or January, actually 😉

 

I’m so excited about the progress that I’ve been making and all the fun races that I have coming up.  I’m ready to ramp up the marathon miles!!

Happy Friday!

Jen