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Monday, August 18, 2014

I Survived My First Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Last week I completed my first triathlon.  I had nightmares two nights that week, really weird ones that dealt with swimming.  And what happened while I was swimming could possibly be considered a nightmare, but also a comedy.

I arrived to the site nice and early, got body marked and set up my transition area.  I had 3 friends doing the race as well, so it was nice to hang out with them beforehand.  The race started at 7, but you had to be out of transition at 6:45.  Since my insulin pump cannot get wet, I had to leave it in transition.  This caused me great anxiety the week before as well, but my doctor told me I should be fine.  So I left it there and went to get lined up for the swim.

The swim was self-seeded, and my friends chose to start in the middle.  I told them I was going to the back.  They sent 6 people into the water every 15 seconds.  However, it took a long time to get to the back.  I didn't enter the water until 7:38, when the leaders were already on the run.

I get in the water and start to swim, and I'm feeling pretty good.  But, as I swim out to a buoy, I notice that my timing chip around my ankle feels like it is coming loose.  I thought it was strange, because I put it on at 5:30 AM and it was fine.  So I continue out, mentally focusing on my timing chip.  The thoughts "I am not doing this race and not getting timed" went through my head about 5,000 times.

When I finally got to the buoy, it was crowded.  I had to turn and start swimming back to get around the second buoy.  Luckily, a life guard was in the water so I may have stopped for a moment or two to catch my breath.

I finally continued on and sure enough I feel my timing chip come off my leg.   I stopped swimming, turned around and breathed a sigh of relief to see that it had floated to the top of the water.  I grabbed it and had to hold onto it for the rest of the swim.  It may be more accurate to say I had a death grip on it.

By this time, I was tired in the water, so I decided to backstroke.  I was making my way toward the second buoy, but ran into a cement tower that a life guard was standing on and hit my head.  I wasn't even half way through the swim yet and wanted so badly to get out of the water.

Luckily, the rest of the swim was uneventful.  I managed to survive and did some major doggie paddling the second part.

I got to transition, put on my bike shoes and helmet and went out to ride the 12.4 miles.  I didn't track my time for it, and went by feel.  I wanted to give a good effort, but leave some for the run.  The bike course was flat, but had 4 turns where you had to stop in order to make the turn, which was annoying.  But overall, it was great and went by quickly.

The run was where I thought I was going to do the best, and that happened.  We ran through a park and then out to the streets for an out and back course.  I wanted to time my run, telling myself that if I ran anything over 24 minutes it would be a disappointment.  My first mile was a 7:10, and I felt great.  I passed so many people, and even saw 2 of my friends on the run (they were coming back when I was going out).  My second mile was a little slower and then my last mile was faster.  I ran 22:46 (7:21 pace), and was pretty happy with it.

In the results it was very easy to see my strengths and weaknesses:

Swim (400 m) -- 14:08 (71/75 in AG)
T1 - 4:18 (46/75 in AG)
Bike - 38:02/ 19.6 mph (11/75 in AG)
T2 - 2:29 (57/75 in AG)
Run (5k) - 22:46 / 7:21 mile average (3/75 in AG)
Overall 17/75 in AG

What did I learn?  Lots.  It is ok to be slow at something.  Success doesn't mean coming in 1st place, but trying your hardest.  I don't think my results are all that stellar by any means, but I worked so hard to earn them.  I jokingly told my friends that if I came out of the water alive I would consider this race a success.  I completed it to the best of my ability, and am proud of how I did in my first triathlon.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Triathlon Talk: I'm Afraid of the Swim

I'm doing my first ever triathlon on Sunday and I'm beyond nervous mainly about the swim, but I have another issue as well.

The swim is its own beast for me.  Growing up, I took swim lessons until I passed the beginner level.  I don't know if they ever taught us how to swim different strokes, but if they did I clearly do not remember.  And teaching yourself swimming strokes as an adult is hard work!  Or, perhaps I am just a really, really slow learner.

I know I won't drown because I can float on my back, but my swimming form can easily be compared to that of a toddler, except I don't wear arm floaties.  There are many times I wish I did, though.  My goal for the race is to survive the swim.  The biking and running part of the race should be fairly easy for me.

In addition to worrying about the swim, I also have this fear that I will be last out of the water and in the race.  I have to remind myself that I am trying something totally new, something I have never done before and I should't expect to place high in my age group.  But, my mind has been trained to think otherwise.  When I first started running, the very first race I ever ran I won.  I'm not super fast or anything, but I usually do fairly well in races.  I am pretty confident I will be able to pass a lot of people on the run, and maybe a few on the bike, but I am deathly afraid of being the last one in the reservoir.

It also probably doesn't help that I am going into the race without taper at all.  So far this week I've ran 27 miles, which averages out to 9 a day.  Fresh legs....what does that feel like?

Let's hope I survive so I can tell you the story of my first triathlon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

July in Review

Summer is going way too fast. I think I blinked and July, one of my favorite months of the year, was over.  Here's what I did in July:

Miles Run: 183
Miles Biked: 248
Elliptical Miles: 31
Stair Master Miles: 13
Weights: 7 days

Highlights:

I competed in my first triathlon with friends.  I was our biker for a half Ironman race, which motivated me to want to get into triathlons.

I went to southern Iowa to visit my grandma for a few days.  I love spending time with her.

I started doing planks, although I don't think I would consider this a highlight.  They are hard!

Books Read

I read the entire Selection series -- The Selection, The Elite and The One.


I also read Divergent.


Current Excitement: I signed up for my first triathlon.  It is a sprint (400 swim, 11 bike and 5k run) on Sunday.  I'm not concerned about the bike or run, but I am not a good swimmer.  

Current Stress: Swimming/triathloning.  I am quite nervous about the swimming part of the triathlon, not only because I suck at swimming, but because I need to be disconnected from my pump.  I am afraid that with I will be incredibly nervous and it will send my blood sugar very high during the swim.  

Current A1C: 5.1.  I went to the doctor this week and found out.  For the past few times he hasn't told me what my A1C was, so I was a little surprised this time. 

Current Song: Classic by MKTO

Current Drink: Ice water.  

Current Food: Mixed fruit.  It is convenient and delicious.  

Current Wish: That there were more hours in the day.  So much to do, so little time.

Currently Thinking: About my track workout I'm doing by myself today.  Last week I did 16 x 400, which was great (I love 400s), this week I'm going to do a ladder.  


How was your July? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

49 Miles of Drafting

For every other race I've ever done, I have felt like I was in decent enough shape to do well.  Except for my upcoming race.  I am doing a half Ironman race with my friends as part of a relay.  We signed up back in September.

Our team is somewhat unique in the fact that we are all runners.  However, one member of my team swam in high school and likes to swim, and therefore gladly took that leg of the relay.  Then it came down to who would bike 56 miles and who would run the 13.1 miles, a decision between one of my best friends/running partner and myself.  I really, really wanted to be the runner but we decided that since I am both the strong runner and biker, it would make more sense for me to bike.  And I've taken 5 rides outside all year in preparation for this race.  I think the statement "a little underprepared" isn't proper to use in this scenario.

On Friday a local bike club held their annual metric century ride, which I knew I had to do for both conditioning and mental confidence.  I felt pretty good on the ride, and my friend biking with me drafted off me the ENTIRE time.  Do you know how much that sucks?  By mile 49 I was upset.  Never did she take the lead.  In fact, I heard her say "This will help (me) prepare for 70.3 since it isn't allowed."  That response made me even more upset.  

After the rest stop at mile 49, I decided to bike faster than them, partly because I wanted to see if I still had anything left in my legs from the 13 miles I ran the previous day and the 49 miles I had already biked, but also because I wanted a break from pulling her along.  I get that sometimes you get tired and want a bit of a break so you draft, but to do it for so long and never take your turn is a bit much I think.  

I hope to make it through my 56 miles on the bike on Saturday with a smile on my face.  At least I won't be pulling anyone else along, which will automatically make me happy.
  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Meeting Goals

I go through streaks with just about everything, especially running.  I survived the polar vortex winter by running a tremendous of miles on the treadmill and had a pretty good half marathon in March because of it.  I continued to run a lot in April and ran another half in the beginning of May, only to be disappointed for a variety of reasons.  

I debated for a long time what my next race was going to be.  I hadn't signed up for anything and was trying to figure out what my goals were so I could make a good decision.  I tossed around a lot of thoughts, but came to a few conclusions:
  • I don't want to run a marathon this fall
  • I don't want to run an ultra marathon this fall
I decided that I'm going to run a half marathon in November.  However, there was a reason for deciding on a half.  

Back when I was 21, and just completed my first half marathon, I decided that I would run 20 half marathons and 2 full marathons by the time I was 30.  Currently, I've run 3 full marathons (Chicago 2011, Illinois 2012 and Boston 2013) and 19 half marathons.  So this one I'll be running in November will be the last one I will need to run.  

My training for this race is going to be abnormal, but so far this year has been anything but normal so it'll fit right in.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Just Met You and You Said That?!?

The older I get in life, the more I notice other people's strengths and weaknesses.  I see a trait in someone that I like, and think "oh, I should be more like that." Or, I see something that makes me hope that I will never become like that.

Last week my running partner/bestie were running with another lady -- lets call her "L."  I had only seen her a few times at track workouts, but didn't even know her name.  We head out for a 6 mile run, which gives us ample opportunity to talk about a variety of topics.  My friend starts by saying "tell us about yourself," a typical thing that she says when we don't know someone we are running with.

So L starts out talking, saying she's run a few marathons, without giving her times.  Then she goes on to talk about her sister who recently beat her fastest time, which she didn't know she was trying to do.  L then says she ran "a really horrible half marathon a few weeks ago.  My time was so bad, it was a 1:43."

As a person who has run that time multiple times, I do not think it is "bad." If I was talking to people for the first time, I would never say that because you don't know their times, especially since we just met like 20 minutes ago.

I've realized that running times are just that -- times.  It doesn't measure how good of a person you are, or even how good of a runner you are.  It is a reflection of what you did at one time, on one day.  What may seem like a horrific time to you might seem like the best time in the world to another person.  With that in mind, I've made an effort to talk less about my times/PRs/distance run and focus on other things instead -- like favorite GU or favorite part of the running path.

Tell me...

Do you run on a path, trails or on streets?  --> I run on a crushed limestone path about 70% of the time

Do your GUs change as the seasons change?  --> I like the chocolate/carmel/mocha ones in the winter and the berry ones in the summer.

Have you ever met anyone like "L?"

Monday, May 26, 2014

What I've Been Up To

Last year I decided I was going to take a break from blogging.  I didn't feel the need to record my thoughts for others, and in all reality, the number of people that read my blog are very few, if any at all. However, my thoughts have changed over time and I have decided to write again.

What have I been up to?  A lot and lot of running.  A few bad races.  A few good races.  I won a few races, had a few really good runs, and kept on running for the pure joy of it.  I got some runner burn-out in October, November and December, but rediscovered my love of it in January.  And for the first time all year, I rode my bike outside today.  It was glorious.

What am I training for?  I don't really know.  I'm doing 70.3 Muncie as part of a relay team and I'm our biker.  I've already warned my teammates it will take me a painfully long time to bike those 50+ miles and if I get a flat we are screwed.  I'm also doing a few 5ks with friends in June, as well as the Beer Mile--I need to defend my title.  As far as the Fall race plan is concerned, I am tossing a few ideas around but haven't decided on anything quite yet.

Tell me...

What is your favorite month?  July...with September a close 2nd.

Do you like Nutella? I just had some and was reminded how good it is.

 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Racing for Others

There are lots of reasons to sign up for a race.  Some people like the idea of running through certain cities, while others do it for the experience.  The majority of time I race for one thing - a new PR.  However, today was the the second time this year (the first being the Boson Marathon) where I lined up at the start of a race knowing that the main goal was to run with a friend.

I signed up for the Fox Valley Half Marathon in December, with the intention that it would be my goal race of the year.  I had such high hopes, and the idea of a new PR danced around frequently in my head.  Then I got sick.  I had a fever for a few days, a nasty cough and cold and couldn't breathe well.  I didn't run until Thursday, when 5 miles felt like a marathon, and my 9:16 overall average felt like a dead out sprint.  Friday I decided that I would need to adjust my goals.  I would run the race with my two friends, helping them to reach their goal of a sub 2-hour half marathon, rather than running this race for myself.

Sunday morning rolled around and I felt no pressure whatsoever.  The weather was nice and cool, made for PRing.  I lined up with my friends and our 13.1 mile journey through the western suburbs began.  I had the most fun I have ever had in a race before, and truly did not feel like I was actually in a race.  We ended up running a 1:57, which averaged out to a 9:00/mile pace.  In the end, I got my medal but more importantly, my friends got their PR.  I'm happy I could help them achieve this goal.

Life is funny.  I thought that this race was going to be awesome all spring and summer.  I looked forward to it with such great anticipation, but it was not meant to be.  Surprisingly, I am ok with that.  Because just like a lot of other runners, the first thing I did when I got home from the race was sign up for another half marathon in November.  PR's can happen at any race, but helping a friend can't.  I am glad I could help them out today.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013: DNF and DNS

A few weeks ago, I DNF'd my first "race".... the beer mile my friends were putting on.  It was hard, and my stomach can only take so much liquid.  Rather than getting sick, I quit half way through.  My friends think I need to practice more so I don't DNF the Chilly Beer Mile, held in November.  Thus far I have done zero work in order to remedy that problem.

On to bigger issues...2013 will be the year where I have my first DNS.  As I "recently" blogged about, my training hasn't gone well.  I traveled a lot in July and August, and struggled to get quality miles in.  Last week was the icing on the cake.  I was supposed to run 20 miles and made it 1.5.  Yes, you read that correctly.  After doing some stupid training that week, including an 8 mile track workout that involved 5 x 400s at 1:23 pace and then a 5k in 21:30 Friday night followed by a 6 mile tempo on hills the next morning, my body couldn't handle it.  Not only did I have a blood sugar problem and went low, my legs were hurting from the first step I took that day.  My running friend walked back with me to our starting point.  It was at that point that I knew I would not run the Chicago Marathon.

This past week I have felt sad, and have had a "pity party" for myself.  I know I could run the marathon in sub-4 hours, but I don't want to.  I'm not in the best shape right now, and I think it would be mentally taxing on me to do the race.  I don't want to hate running, and I know if I continue to train for the marathon it is not going to be enjoyable.  It has been disgustingly humid and hot outside this week, making it hard to run.  I've been doing my fair share of sweating, and my once "easy pace" has seemed incredibly hard.

The year is 2/3 of the way over as of today.  I started the year with my best running ever, and have gotten into a major slump this summer.  I have a half marathon at the end of September that I am still doing, but other than that, I know I need to run with no goal other than to enjoy the activity.  Who knows what the rest of 2013 will bring, but I am hoping it ends as good as it started.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In a Slump

I'm running the Chicago Marathon for the second time in three years on October 13.  Two years ago when I trained for it, everything was new.  It was my first marathon, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment with each new distance.  "I just ran 18 miles!"  "I just ran 20 miles!  Yay!"  With my excitement, I also had a few really good races and became a lot faster.  

This time around, it hasn't been the same.  I feel like my running is at a standstill.  I'm not making progress, but actually running worse, or so it seems.  Runs are becoming harder and I'm not making progress, which has greatly hindered my motivation.  I'm frustrated to say the least.  

I once heard that when a person is trying to lose weight, they go through certain plateaus.  One week, they may drop 2 pounds and then do the exact same thing the next week and not lose any weight.  Or perhaps it stays the same for the next few weeks before dropping a pound or two again.  

I am not sure if this is where I am with my running or not, but I hope so.  I wish I could get instant gratification with my running and see results every day.  However, with all things, that is not how the world works.  I will just be patient and wait...for however long it takes.