Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just run!!

My off season has started and I have decided on two main goals.  1) Improve my run and 2) Strength train.  It doesn't matter where you go or what you read, but especially on the forums I follow, every time someone asks how to get faster running, the answer is always the same..."Run more, sometimes fast, but usually easy, and run often".  I decided that is exactly what I need to do and I have committed to running 6 days a week.  Every single day.  Even if it is just 3 miles, I will do some kind of pavement pounding 6 days a week.  I started this last week, and it was amazing in many ways!  One is that by the end of the week my paces were faster.  Not drastically, but they were faster.  I am slowly starting to remember why they say consistency is key.  My bike is still out of commission for another week or so, so why not be running?

I have now gone back to school for the year, and now my training has to be at 4:00 am if it is going to happen.  I know that I have run in the dark by myself, but lately it really freaks me out to go by myself so early.  I was lucky enough to talk another neighbor of mine who is also a teacher going back to school to  meet me at that awful hour to run.  It has been fun! I  think we are good to challenge each other and my time with her yesterday was the fastest 3 miles I have done in training in a long time!

Another thing that has come of this is that I am actually looking forward to my runs again!  The last little while I have done anything to avoid running, or it would be the easiest work out for me to skip.  I would come up with some lame excuse why I couldn't run or substitute a bike ride or swim instead.  But, with running daily for the last week and half, I am actually looking forward to it again!  I am excited to see what progress comes from this consistency!  I am glad to be enjoying it again too!

As for the strength training, I am doing 20 minutes three times a week.  I do everything from exercises with my free weights, kettle bells, and resistance bands to  squats, lunges, push ups, sit ups and planks.  It sucks, I'm not going to lie, but I do feel great once it is done :)

I have had a couple of emails asking me about Iron Week that was supposed to be last week.  I was going to do each segment of an Ironman, but each spaced a few days apart.  I really wanted to do it, but with my bike being out of commission, it has been placed on hold.  I really doubt though that it will happen as now that I am back in school, there just isn't the time, unless I wait until Christmas break, which is too close to the actual IMTX, and at the very beginning of my 22 week training plan, and I don't want to do anything that could cause injury.  But, it was a fun idea!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

USAT Age Group Nationals Olympic Distance Race Report

This is one race report that is well over due!  I have been out of town for this race and then the stops we made after ward and am just now getting home and settled enough to write this report!  What a day it was and it was unlike any race I have ever done before!


Leading up to the race we had to make the 23 hour drive from Syracuse to Milwaukee.  We left at 9:30 in the morning on Thursday with plans to stop in Kearney, NE on our way there for the night and then go the remainder of the way on Friday.  We knew as it was that we were going to be cutting it close with packet pick up and bike check in, but it was the best we could do seeing as how work wise Ken couldn't leave any earlier.  We were leaving our hotel on Friday morning in Kearney at 4:00 in the morning, I had just put Belle, my bike, on the top of the car on a roof fork mount rack and we were driving out of the parking lot and BANG!  Ken hit the breaks and we immediately knew it was the bike.  Ken had not seen the low hanging arch that the hotel had over the exit to the parking lot.  My heart jumped into my throat as we both got out of the car to see the damage and Belle was just hanging from the rack off of the side.  We were able to get her off and from I could immediately tell, the aero bars were bent and the handle bars were much lower than they usually are.  I inspected the fork, and it was fine.  Ken wanted me to ride it to see if it was okay.  I rode her switching through all the gears and it seems okay.  Notice I said okay, not great.  The brakes were okay as well.  We then had to load her into the already crowded Jeep and my poor kids had to be right next to each other so we could fold down a portion of the seat to fit everything and now the bike.  The bike rack itself was obliterated, and the front cross bar had been ripped off as well.

We knew we could rush to Milwaukee and get to a bike mechanic in hopefully enough time.  We wanted the bike completely looked over and then we could make a decision if she was race ready or not.  Anyhow, long story short, we made it to the mechanic who made a few adjustments but otherwise said she was fine...WOW!  We barely made it to packet pick up (with 10 minutes to spare) and then I was able to get Belle racked for the night. 

The next morning we got to the race site early on the shores of Lake Michigan and it really was a beautiful morning.  I immediately noticed how people here are much more hard core than I am!  I saw a few that even brought their bike trainers with them and were warming up in transition prior to the race.  Seriously?  I have also never seen so many rear wheel disks and super bikes in my life! As if I didn't already feel completely out of my league!  I really didn't have a ton of time to get all ready and zipped up because I was in the second swim wave.


While waiting on the dock for the cue to jump in and get ready for the deep water start, I visited with other women around me.  They were pretty nice, which I note here because not everyone was. I had to laugh to myself though when one said her goal for the day was 2:15, though she knew realistically she could be faster.  Um, for an Olympic?  Wow!  That is smoking fast!  I then decided that yes, I wanted a sub 3 hour time, but my goal was really not to be DEAD LAST.  

Sheer chaos.  But, kinda fun as well :)
Before I knew it we were in the water and didn't have to tread for long before the gun went off then all craziness ensued.  I mean battle really.  I have never had a swim start like this.  Ever. Hit, kick, punch, over here, over there, you name it!  I realized that this was much more of the washing machine effect swim start that is typical of triathlons and of Ironman races, but I never had it to this extent.  And it wasn't just the first few minutes, it was like this most of the swim portion.  Just when it would start to thin out some, we would swim under a bridge, or round a buoy, or narrow in some other part of the course and it would get all crazy again with the hand to hand combat of making your way through it all.  I never had clear water on this swim.  I was proud of myself for not freaking out.  Even though swimming is my strength of the 3 sports, this was unreal.  I did a really good job (and the race organizers did for their awesome spacing of buoys) staying straight on the course.  It was extremely easy to immediately find the next buoy  to sight and stay on course.I also broke the rule of nothing new on race day and wore some new tinted goggles from Aquasphere and they were awesome with sighting into the sun as well.  It was a great swim despite the craziness, and I loved every second of it, as it was a very challenging swim and I liked that.  The swim exit may be the only thing I might complain about, it was a slippery medal ramp where if they  hadn't had volunteers to physically pull you out of the water, none of us would have ever made it.

Lake Michigan was awesome too.  Water temps were around 64 that morning, but with a full wetsuit, not bad at all.  The water wasn't nasty and it is simply gorgeous here.  LOVED LOVED LOVED this swim!

Final swim time: 28:38 (119/204 in F35-39) for one mile swim


They had apparently changed the swim exit making it slightly farther from transition than last year.  We had at least a 400 yard run to transition and then finding your stuff.  Everyone had longer than usual transition times than normal.  I was able to find my stuff fairly quickly and made the change as fast as I could to bike gear and I was off.  

Final T1 time: 4:05:07 (193/204)  Not great, but considering how far we had to run, I don't think it is that bad either.


Now came the real test to see how Belle was really doing after her near death experience.  I got on and pedaled away from the bike mount area and noticed she was in the small ring.  When I went to shift into the big ring, the chain dropped.  WTH?!?!  Not even 100 feet into the race!  I got off praying this was not an omen of things to come and got it back on fairly quickly and was off again.  They say that this is a flat course.  Though it is not the Triple Bypass, it is not flat either.  They had a small hill to go up at the beginning and then you had to do Hoan Bridge.  There was also a lot of the course that seemed to be a false flat as well.  I never seemed to find and keep a good rhythm or pace on this ride. The bike didn't feel right, it was far from a good fit with the quick adjustments the mechanic made, it shifted rough, and it was far from ideal, and made noises I'm not used to.   However, no more dropped chains and she was rideable, so I'll take it.  I had people passing me left and right!  I had to keep reminding myself that when you take the top podium finishers from around the country and put them all at a race together, the old front of the pack is now the new back of the pack, which is where I would spend the rest of my race.  I knew that I was doing my best under the circumstances, but it is very humbling to race with some seriously talented and FAST people!  I was amazed watching them out there all day today!

The bike course goes along the lake almost the entire time, we had the road to ourselves, and other than some issues with the road condition on the bridge (it was crap, hence, why it is under construction) it was an awesome course.  Very pretty, scenic, challenging, and I really enjoyed it.  There was a lot of community support and people our cheering us on.  That is always fun.

Final bike time: 1:23:30 (197/204 F35-39  Told ya I was BOP!!  I am not happy at all with this bike time, but my bike was not performing as it normally does, so what could I do?

Coming out of T1

Fairly uneventful.  Was glad to be done with the bike portion, racked Belle, then threw my running stuff on and was off.

Final T2 time: 1:52 (142/204 F35-39) for 25 mile bike


As if I wasn't already humbled at this race, then came the run portion.  I just simply found a comfortably hard pace and stayed with it.  The run course was gorgeous. It was all along the park and beach there by the lake and it was a very pretty out and back.  It was also sunny, flat, tons of crowd support, and I loved all of it.  I knew that I felt good, no cramps, no feeling like death, it wasn't too hot, and for me, this was a good run.  I talked with some of the people around me, mostly the old men that were running with me at this point.  USAT puts the fastest groups as the last swim legs so that the course is cleared sooner.  The wave immediately after mine was the male 60ish wave.  Hence, they were all up with me on the run.  They were all very nice, very encouraging, but it does mess with you a bit to have the old people passing you!  I looked down at my watch and realized about 2.5 miles before the end of that if I really pushed it, I could make my sub 3 hour goal.  I started skipping the aid stations and went as hard as I could maintain.  Before I knew it I passed the finish line and it was awesome!  I was so glad to be done!

Final run time: 1:01:06 (190/204)  for 6.2 mile run


Not much to the after race other than I got my medal (a very cool one at that) and hooked up with my family.  We had to wait forever for them to open transition for us to get our things while people from the other waves finished, then we left.

Final race time: 2:59:14 (193/204) YAY for sub 3!!  And I wasn't dead last!  Mission accomplished!!


This race was something else in so many ways.  I loved the location, the course, the organization, the cool swag, the weather was perfect, etc. It was stressful leading up to it with the travel involved and the bike incident.  It was humbling for me as I am no where near where the other competitors in my age are.  I am used to being at least middle of the pack when I race, and front of the pack for my swim, but not when placed among these types of giants, and that is just fine!  It was a good race for me, and in some ways the strongest race I have had all year, other than Icebreaker, when you only compare it to MY performances, not everyone else's.  I am happy with that.  I found it amusing that my run was stronger than my bike was for this race, if you go by how I ranked in my division!   And, I accomplished all of my personal goals for this race, so I am very happy with that as well!  I am very glad that I did this race for the experience, and I would like to qualify again in the future to say that I did, but I don't think that it will be a huge priority to come and race it any time soon, especially with next year's IM :)

 So what's next?  I am very happily in my off season now!  This is my last race for this year!  It is pretty early to be done for what I normally do, but I am ready for the break.  I am going to focus on my running big time, and I am going to get Belle checked out and fixed before she gets ridden again.  Plus, school is starting very soon, so that always makes things interesting when I go back to juggling my training with working full time and still being wife and Mom!

But I will still keep posting as the IM journey continues, so happy racing and training all!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


It is my final race week of the 2013 season.  Age Group Nationals is just a few days away.  I think that I have been so wrapped up on just getting us ready for the trip itself, and working out details for going back to school that I haven't stressed as much about this race as I might have otherwise. 

It doesn't escape me that this is going to be a tough race competition wise.  I still laugh and am shocked that I qualified, and am completely honest with myself and everyone else about the fact that I qualified at a small event and even then by the skin of my teeth!  I have gone back and looked at the results from my age group from last year, and WOW...there are some super talented and fast people out there!  I know that this is not a race to compete with others on, so no hopes of a podium or anything like that, so the goals that I have for myself are simply to beat myself.  So here are my goals for Age Group Nationals:

1) A Sub 3 hour time for this Olympic Distance.  I have done a 2:40 and a 2:45, but those were both at Spudman with their super fast current assisted swim, so that isn't the same thing.  My fastest time at a regular Oly is 3:05ish and that was at Rock Cliff last year.  A few things working in my favor for this race are that it is pretty flat (Rock Cliff was NOT) and the temperature for Saturday is a HIGH of 75.  The high that day at Rock Cliff was 95.  So, conditions alone, I should do well.  Plus, I like to think that I am better trained and have improved in the last year too, so we will see!

2) Don't be Dead Last in my Division.  You laugh, but I am serious!  Looking at the times for last year, even coming in under 3:00 hours will put me towards the bottom of my age group!

3) Have fun, and finish smiling.  I know that I will get my butt handed to me, but I at least want to smile and know that I did my best. 

4) Under 1:00 hour on the run.  I know that I am capable of this, but it will be a stretch. I would be THRILLED with this if it happens!!

So there you have it.  The race report will be delayed as I will be out of town the entire week following this race.  We are hitting this race road trip/Griswold style, so it should be fun.  Wish me luck!  This is going to be a heck of a race!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Start em young! Joshua's first triathlon report...

Joshua is my almost 11 year old son.  He  is the only one of my two kids that shows any interest in athletics, and he specifically has been involved in swimming all summer and is hoping to start swim team in October.  He has a bike that he rides every where, and has done track, though he will admit it is his least favorite of the three tri sports (I wonder where he gets that?)

Anyhow, I heard about this kids triathlon on Monday and it wasn't too late to put him in.  I put him in the kids race, which had a 100 yard swim, a 1 mile bike, and a .5 mile run.  I knew he could do it and when I mentioned it he was excited and wanted me to sign him up.  So we did.  The rest of the week we kind of forgot about it, and then we woke up yesterday morning to get him ready.  The kids race didn't start until 11:00 after the sprint and mini sprint races.  I got up and made sure he had air in his tires, greased his chain, and straightened his handle bars as they were somehow crooked.  He was appreciative for me spending the time on his bike, he gave me a big hug and said thank you.  I seriously love how sweet he is!

Once we got to the race, he was really nervous.  He was asking me a bunch of questions about what to do in transition, what do to in different scenarios that might come up, and he was starting to freak out a bit.  I finally just told him that I had two expectations for him and that is all he should have for himself.  One, do his very best, and Two, have fun.  I explained that there is a difference between doing THE best and HIS best, and I think he understood.  Joshua is VERY competitive, so I worried that he might beat himself up if he didn't do first or if he wasn't the fastest, etc.  I could tell that a kids triathlon team was there and they were intimidating to him.  I also knew that they had been in a camp all summer and had trained harder than Josh, so I didn't want him to be disappointed.  When they finally opened the transition area for kids, I helped him set everything up.  He just put his bag down and called it good.  I showed him how to get the stuff out of his bag, set his shoes up, put a sock in each shoe, etc.  He gave me another hug (normally this kid is not very affectionate) and said, "Thanks so much Mom.  I would have never thought of any of that".  I wanted to cry right there!

We finally went and took him to the side of the pool where they were starting and they had to seed themselves in their age groups according to swim time.  He is a good swimmer, but he was nervous, so he went to the very end.  I tried really hard not to just grab him and put him farther up, because I know he can do better than he was giving himself credit for, but I restrained.  There were things about today I wanted him to learn on his own.  Anyhow, they started the kids in a time trial start and immediately there were some very good swimmers, but there were also some, in his age group clinging to the side of the pool and the rope.  Joshua would get practice passing these people!  He jumped in and took off.  I was so proud I may or may not have teared up at the sight of my boy doing his first tri!  He did the first 50 yards in free style, then switched to back stroke, his favorite for the remaining 50.  There were kids doing every sort of every stroke, so it didn't matter.  

Josh killed this swim!  He finished the 100 yards in just over 2 minutes, even with all the chaos of other kids and the switching of which stroke to do.  Then I ran with him to T1 asking him how he felt and all he could say was, "That was awesome!  I wish it were longer!"  Yes, son, I completely understand. I feel the same way about triathlon swims!  He quickly toweled off and got his shoes on, his shirt with his race number, his helmet and was off!

He was caught in a bottle neck of kids all trying to run with their bikes and he said "thank you" and "excuse me" when he got too close to other people.  I was impressed by how polite he was being even in the rush of a race!  He was excited for the bike and mounted quickly and was off.

He did the bike portion in just over 4 minutes!  Way to go Buddy!  He started the run and did have a chance to tell me he was having a lot of fun.  That's all that matters!

Coming in from the run to the finish I could tell he was tired, but he ran like a champ and got his medal after the finish.  Total time for him was 14 minutes.  I was expecting him to take longer, but he did great!  All he could say when he was finished was,"That was so much fun.  My run sucks though.  When can I do another one?"  Yep, he is his Mother's Son!

Joshua was excited to get his results and even though he wasn't close to the top of his age group, he was happy with how he did.  I was happy that he was happy, knowing how hard on himself he can be and how competitive.  He asked for a big fountain drink from the gas station and we all got one.  He was then researching kid races online at home planning his next one.  Yep, he's been bit by the bug!

I was one happy Mama today.  It means so much to me that one of them is athletic, even though I really wouldn't care if it were triathlon or not, that is just an added bonus.  He showed good sportsmanship today, he did his best, he had fun, and he has a knew favorite hobby.  This got him fired up to work harder on his swim, and more excited for swim team.  He even asked when I can buy him a "fancy bike".  Whoa, not so fast!  He is a great kid, I still thank God every day for the chance to be his Mom, and though he is growing up too fast, every new opportunity makes me prouder of him, and today was just another one of those moments.

So what is next?  A week from today is Age Group Nationals!  I think that given my stiff competition there I am going to follow my own advice that I gave him.  Just do MY best and have fun.  In the meantime, Happy Training and racing all!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five things Friday

A few things on my mind or favorites this week:

1) These.  Love them.  Had never tried the flavor prior to the Triple Bypass, but they ROCK!  They also have a higher sodium content for hot races or heavy sweaters.  The only thing I could add to them is caffeine :).  Shocker, I know.  They would be perfect then!

2) This guy!  Dr. Bennett at Performance Heath Institute.  He's a sports medicine chiropractor that has worked with athletes in Kona, is a triathlete himself, and just "gets" it.  I am not sure why what he does works, but it does and I have no pain in my neck/back/shoulders this week.  He's going to be my go to guy for IM training!

Brock A. Bennett DC

3) These contact lenses.  For the first time I can actually stand contacts!  I think my first go at them wasn't great and going to a different doctor not only got the prescription right, but the type of lense.  I'm loving not wearing glasses!

4) This text!  I have told Ken that I need him to take a tough love approach to me and my training and kick my lazy arse out of bed if I don't get up by the time he leaves for work.  He is out of town with the youth from church at a Youth Conference so he sent me this text.  He has no idea how much these little things make me smile! I really going to need this come IM training!

5) This kid!  I signed him up for his first triathlon that's tomorrow!  I am so proud of him!  He's way excited and already is wanting to make sure his outfit matches his bike.  No idea where he got that :P.....