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!!

 

Race Recap – Pioneer Power Sprint Tri

Today I raced my first triathlon and the universe, again, is giggling because I said many, many times that I would NEVER, under any circumstances, do a triathlon.  When will I learn??

Taylor and I spent the night with one of her college volleyball buddies (THANK YOU, Erica!!) so that we wouldn’t have to leave our house at 4:15 AM to get to the race site.  I didn’t sleep well – not because I was in a different environment, but because I ended up with a lot of race jitters last night.  We got ready in record time and headed out to the transition area.  On the way, I stopped to get coffee but it was so close to TWU that I was able to take a total 2 sips before we were there and unloading all our gear.  Carrying it with me wasn’t an option – my hands were full.  I decided it wasn’t anything I could change so just move on and not waste any energy fretting about it. Little did I know this would become the Theme of the Day.  #keepmovingforward

Swimming Sucks

Let’s just get to the point.  The swim didn’t go the way I hoped it would.  I jumped in the water and realized near the end of the first lap that I FORGOT TO TURN MY WATCH ON!!!  Next, I started feeling out of breath because I hadn’t had a chance to warm-up.  Then, I went into minor panic because I knew the guy behind me would be much faster than me which, of course, made the breathing harder.  I got to then end of 50 yards and he was right behind me so I waved him to go in front of me.  I almost went into full panic mode during the 3rd lap and decided to start swimming backstroke at that point.  What happened next?  MY HEART RATE MONITOR FELL OFF IN THE POOL.  I use MioLink, which is worn on the wrist.  It’s great, except when it comes off in the pool during competition.  I didn’t even consider trying to retrieve it.  I knew that there were a ton of people in the pool; I was in the deep end; it might take me more than one attempt to get it and I didn’t want to waste any more time.  So, I backstroked.  My mind was completely and totally in the zone of making a plan for how to deal with the rest of the race without a heart rate monitor and….BUMP….I ran into the end of the lane.  (Go ahead and laugh…I can barely type right now.  Hilarious!!)  By this point I was 150 yards into the 200 yard swim and I was calm and collected, but I also was not trying to break any swim records.  I had decided to go easy at this point because swimming was such a minute portion of the race.  Two minutes probably wouldn’t help me or hurt me in the end.  I considered moving back to freestyle to finish it up, but that caused anxiety so I decided to finish it out and leave that swim in the pool.  I’m really proud to say that I did actually leave it there.  I didn’t carry any of that stress with me in the next phases of the race. #keepmovingforward

Swim time came in at an embarrassing 5:38.

Surprising Myself on the Bike

Transition went well.  I’m sure that I can cut some time here or there but most of the time spent was travelling to and from transition.  I hopped on the bike and was off for the 16 mile ride, having honestly put the swim in my rear view mirror.  I had spent quite a lot of time fretting over this bike during the past couple of weeks.  I mapped the route on Garmin and realized that it was more hilly (on the PC, at least) than I had anticipated.  OK….no, I hadn’t really even thought about it until it occurred to me that Denton is rather hilly.  Regardless, I had wasted time fretting because I was afraid I wouldn’t be strong enough on the bike.  I just hoped that I could get the ride done in an hour’s time.

The bike started out well.  I felt surprisingly strong and the terrain was in my favor to get some good rhythm and speed going before hitting the first serious hill.  It wasn’t too difficult at this point, but I wanted to make sure that I didn’t use ALL my energy on the first half of the bike to be left with misery for the rest of the race.  However, I continued to feel strong – not as strong with a killer headwind on the way back, but still strong.  I passed a ton of people.  Two guys passed me not far out of transition, but I am almost 100% certain that I overtook one of them before the bike leg was done.

The problem on the bike was fueling.  I took rocket fuel and water with me on the bike.  I had the rocket fuel in the bottle cage between my aero bars, but it kept spitting and the OCD took over.  I couldn’t handle it!  So I tried to switch the bottles (yes, I even realized how dumb it was at the time but continued on course) but since I don’t have three hands ended up dropping the bottle with water.  Again, decided that I was NOT going to dwell on it as there was nothing that I could do now except manage the situation.  I moved the rocket fuel to my other bottle cage and kept rolling.  My intention was to drink every ten minutes.  I *may* have managed every 20-25.  #FAIL #keepmovingforward

All in all, though, I was happy.  I averaged 17.4 on the bike with a time of 55:35.

Status Quo Run

**Disclaimer** My brain knows that I am still building my endurance speed from when I was out with my psoas.  It’s hard to get my heart to understand.

I wanted 8:30 miles on the run.  I’m not sure if that was ambitious or in line with what I could do in an event like this.  Doesn’t really matter because that’s what my heart wanted.  But then came the hiccup of the lost heart rate monitor.  I am so dependent on running by heart rate.  Yes, I can tell when it gets high, but I generally don’t realize it soon enough.  Especially in a race situation.  So this was definitely something I had to overcome.

I came into transition and drank too much rocket fuel – I knew better but wanted to get some fluids in me and did I have an extra bottle of water handy? NO.  I quickly threw my run shoes and visor on and ran out to the run.  There was a skinny red-head that came out of transition right ahead of me and without even noticing, I just kept the distance between us.  I looked down and was running a sub-8 pace and realized that my current level of fitness wouldn’t hold up to that.  I could also tell that my heart rate was probably going through the roof.  So I slowed down, but the first mile came in at 8:20.  The next mile was tough.  I was getting tired.  I was getting hot.  My stomach was mildly upset from the rocket fuel.  I stopped worrying about the red-head and decided to run what I needed to run.  Mile 2 came in at 9:18.  Mile 2 was tough but mile 3 was torture.  So much uphill. In the heat.  EVIL.  But I was close so I kept chipping away and ended up with 9:16 on that mile.

Run time came in at an OK 27:59.  Not what I wanted, but I may have been a little unrealistic on that front.

Total Time: (200 yd swim, 16.1 bike, 3.1 run): 1:34:25

Making the Podium

When I finished the race, I went back to get my phone from transition and immediately went to Pioneer Hall to see if anyone was left at the pool.  A race volunteer found one of the pool employees and had him come over so that we could look.  Sure enough, my HRM was at the bottom of the pool AND the pool guy just jumped in and retrieved it for me!

The HRM retrieval took some time and by the time I left Pioneer Hall, I ran into Taylor who had finished and had been looking for me.  She did really well and came in exactly 10 minutes after I did!  I am really proud of her and it was such fun having her company for this race!

We went to check our times and realized that: Houston – we have a problem.  I was listed in the 20-24 age group and Taylor was listed in 55-59.  Apparently the race import completely changed many people’s ages.  We hung around just to see if either of us placed and the next list showed me 2nd in my age group.  I was still a little hesitant, though, because I knew that they were still trying to get it all fixed.  Finally, the awards were announced and I did actually take 2nd place in my age group!!  Knowing that I actually placed in my first try at triathlon lifted my spirits and helped me let go of the run over which I was still somewhat upset.img_0666

No worries, because I’m pleased as punch with my performance as I sit here this evening.  I am celebrating today, but tomorrow it is back to work!!img_0672

Next Time…

I definitely went into this race with the mindset that it would be a learning experience and it was just that.

I learned that I handled transitions better than I expected and I felt like I was prepared with most of what I needed for the day.

Things that need improvement:

  • Heart Rate Monitor:  I’ve already been wondering if my HRM will have the battery life to last at Galveston 70.3.  After losing it in the pool today, I’m almost completely convinced I need to go back to the chest strap in these types of race situations.
  • EXTRA WATER at transition.
  • No icky, sticky drinks in aero bottle cage
  • Manage run more efficiently – hold back a little more in the beginning (which will be easier with HRM).
  • Hire a swim psychologist (joking…kind of)
  • COFFEE

I need to shout-out to all my friends that took the time out of their busy schedules to send me well wishes.  There are simply too many to name – and that means I AM BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE!

Love you guys!!

Jen

Jumping off the Crazy Cliff

In an attempt to catch everyone up to my crazy antics of late and to pick up where I left off in yesterday’s blog, I’m blogging two days in a row.  <shocked face>  That hasn’t happened since…….I can’t remember.  I always have the best intentions, but you know what they say about that….

2016 is finally taking shape

If you knew me this time last year, you would know that I was still clawing my way back from that nasty ITB injury.  I was still attempting to build some sort of base fitness level and was doing those gosh awful run/walk intervals, so any kind of racing was out of the question.

2016 is a completely different year, though, and I am getting close to getting the framework of my race calendar set.  A couple of things are still up in the air but I’m hoping to schedule one last marathon toward the end of the year – I’m waiting to see how the rest of the season goes before I make any rush decisions on that one.  (Which will be a *first* for me, as one of my friends calls me “Trigger” because of my hasty race sign-up tendencies.)

Road Races

My next race is RnR Dallas HM on March 20.  Even though the weather will likely be much warmer, I am going to see if I can continue the progress that I made at Cowtown, step out of my comfort zone and take a few risks.

Ragnar Austin is quickly approaching!  This 200-mile, 12-person relay will start in Fredericksburg in the wee morning hours on April 15.  We will race South then back North, ending the race in Austin sometime late Saturday.  I am beyond excited for this experience, as a Ragnar has been on my bucket list for quite some time now.

After Ragnar, I am planning to run Skyline HM on May 1.  I ran Skyline last year.  While I didn’t really care for the course, this race has a special place in my heart because it was my first race post-injury.  Of course, it will be hot and I always need practice racing in the heat.

I’ll have a dry spell on the road race front until the Rochester Marathon on September 18.  This will be my first full marathon of 2016 (am hoping to schedule another one in late December).  It is on track to be my favorite and most special race of the year because it will mean a reunion with my Sole Sister Jenn!  AAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDD – this race will be her FIRST full marathon and I get to be there when she punches her ticket as a marathoner!  I could not be more honored or excited!

I am considering at Salinas Valley Half Marathon on August 6, if a college visit trip to Cali pans out.  If I make it, I will get to meet my good friend, Marci, in person and hopefully a few other Cali friends!

Tri-ing the Tri

Oh, the things I let my coach talk me into….

I am officially signed up for Pioneer Power Sprint Tri at the end of July.  This will be a special induction into the world of tri because Taylor is doing it with me!  Another meaningful twist is that this event is held at TWU, which is Taylor’s college alma mater.  I’m still scared to death of swimming 200m AT ONE TIME.  Swimming is coming along so quickly, though, that by the time July rolls around I should be MORE than ready!!

Transitioning to Trails

WHEN will I learn to never say never?!?  Because once upon a time I am pretty sure I said I would NEVER run a trail race.  I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that I said I would NEVER run a 50 mile race.  I did, in fact, sign up for a 50 mile race just a mere 3 days after declaring that I would NEVER run a 50 miler.  I completely and unequivocally blame my coach and my crazy teammates for this.

As scary as this monumental mound of miles may seem, I am still more frightened of swimming 200m in my July triathlon.  Go figure.

In any case, I’m fairly excited about this challenge.  It’s fun to run with teammates and this race will give me A LOT of QT with them! LOL  We are actually planning to stay together during the race to lend support to each other.

Looking to the horizon

I have another exciting goal up my sleeve that I’m not ready to share with the world just yet.  I guess deep down inside I need to find the confidence in myself to actually believe I can do what I’m hoping to do.

Stay tuned…… 🙂

Two more days until Spring Break!!!  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..

Happy Hump Day!

Jen

 

Nailing my speed workout and taking the plunge!

It’s been a long while since I posted.  Club volleyball is in full swing and has taken over our entire life!  I am feeling the need to refocus on #myoneword from 2015: balance, but focusing on it won’t erase all the extra-curricular commitments on my calendar!  This weekend will mark the third weekend in a row of volleyball tournaments, and the fourth in a 5-week time span.  Add in Logan’s soccer games, my workouts and the pile of never-ending laundry and you have one very tired Jen.

Mental prep isn’t just for racing 

Despite of my constant state of exhaustion, I have still managed to execute some pretty sweet workouts, aside from sucking up the speed work!  Thursdays are my speed work days and last night, I FINALLY paced my mile repeats properly.  Since the break after my marathon, pacing on the track has been, ummmmm, challenging.  I have gone out without thinking about how to pace my first interval.  That is, until the warm-up is over, at which point I panic because I feel like I’m running naked and blind!  Needless to say, I’ve been running the first one wayyyyyyyyyy too fast and the rest of the workout basically stinks.

You can’t fix what you won’t change, so I asked for some direction from my coach on Wednesday.  Thinking about how I needed to run the repeats a full day in advance made execution of the workout <almost> a breeze!  OK….I might have thought I was dying by the end, but I did remind myself that I wanted to be uncomfortable this year!  In any case, this was the first speed session this year that I didn’t leave the track angry with myself.  In fact, I might say that I was satisfied!img_7219

Dory makes her debut

I think I may have alluded to the fact that I wanted to make the transition into triathlon.  Just regular tris, NOT Ironman competitions…..yet.  In order to do this, I obviously need to become a swimmer.  Let me be clear: I DIP in the pool; I LOUNGE by the pool; I DON’T “swim”.  One week ago today, after I had gathered all the necessary equipment (this took me the entire month of January – Garmin 920xt, MioLink HRM, swim suit, cap, and goggles), I finally mustered the courage to get in the pool during one of Alli’s practices.  I fully expected to drown.  Thankfully, I was wrong!

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to swim the entire length of the pool (I DID NOT anticipate being able to do this!).  For the swimmers out there, I know you’re laughing, but this was a BIG DEAL.  I was also able to breathe with proper techniques about half of each lap.  Seriously, I get halfway, become tired and start panicking.  When this happens, I swim the rest of the lap without putting my face in the water.  I didn’t get mad at myself like I usually do when I struggle.  How could I be upset when I faced my fears and had the courage to start?  I swam again Wednesday evening.  I felt more comfortable in the water and even managed a couple of laps breathing properly the entire time!  I am now very excited about this new challenge ahead of me and can’t wait to see improvement over the coming months!!

Branching out into the water has prompted one of my best friends to give me a new nickname: img_7235

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Is there such a thing as too much volleyball?

I love volleyball.  I really do.  But I’m tired. and we’ve only started the season!  Last week, I drove to volleyball 7 out of 9 days.  SEVEN out of NINE days.  Let me remind you that I live 50 minutes from our gym IF there are no traffic problems.  Driving all of those days WORE. ME. OUT.

Even so, I absolutely love it!  Alli is thriving and blossoming on this team.  Both of our coaches are phenomenal and we have the BEST group of girls!  They are an 11-year-old team playing up in 12 Open (hardest 12s division) and winning almost all of our matches.  There is a HUGE difference between 11s and 12s.  It’s almost like the 12 year olds started taking steroids.  The size gap is more like a canyon and the ability/coordination gap is just about as large.  Our girls have very sound fundamentals, which is why they are able to play so competitively in this age group. img_7179

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Why can’t soccer be indoors?

What is the deal with soccer?  It seems like every week we have GREAT weather on Monday – 60-70 and sunny.  Then Tuesday, aka Game Day, rolls around and temps dip into the 30-40s with howling winds.  Have I ever discussed how much I HATE the cold?  Even so, I go to all the games that I am able so that I can support Logan and his team.  This season has been a struggle.  Soccer at BHS is in its 3rd season – EVER – and we graduated some very seasoned and talented players last year.  That isn’t to say that we don’t have talented players now – they just aren’t as seasoned…yet.  But they never give up and fight hard to the finish.  Every game I see improvements, and the games are full of great play so it is fun to watch!  I just wish it was warm!!!

The weekend is upon us!

If I can survive this weekend and the coming week – I’ll have a break next weekend!

Tomorrow I’ll be running Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas.  I wanted to race it so badly last year when they introduced those gorgeous chocolate bar medals, but, alas, I was still injured.  I really should not have signed up to run this one.  Alli has a tournament and I took a big gamble of missing Alli’s games.  The volleyball and running gods smiled upon me by giving Alli’s team an afternoon pool.  I’ll be running the race in the morning near downtown Dallas, heading back to get Alli, then to downtown again for Alli to play at the Dallas Convention Center.

Alli’s team has a really good chance of a high finish in this tournament – wouldn’t it be cool if we could both medal this weekend?!?

Happy swimming/biking/running/soccer-ing/volleyball-ing!!

Jen