Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olympic Distance Tri: Take 2

Let me start this by saying I have never gone through an entire race without one negative thought creeping into my head. NEVER. Sunday was the exception.

I had so much on my mind going into this race. Back in April when I attempted this distance, the swim was cancelled due to weather and then I collapsed on the run due to poor hydration on the bike. With my first half ironman race a mere 6 weeks away, I needed Sunday to go well. I needed to know I could conquer this distance. Mentally it would have been disaster if I didn’t race or didn’t race “well”.

The weather reports leading up to the race caused the first anxious moments. 30% chance of thunderstorms in the area. Sorry Mother Nature, that’s just not going to work! I prayed, hoped, wished and thought about sacrificing a small animal to the weather God’s to ensure no rain (trust me, I didn’t harm any animals). I called Lynn on my way to the race and she let me know it was lookin’ good. YES! My fear of any portion of the race being cancelled went out the window.


Even though my time was slower than what I wanted, I had a BLAST with the swim. I used to be so afraid of open water swim starts but not anymore. I respect the start but I don’t fear it. Every part of my body was smacked, grabbed, poked, touched, rubbed against and I didn’t let it phase me. I found a pretty clear line that kept the buoys on my right and I just relaxed and swam. Before I knew it, I was rounding the yellow buoys (watching many swim right into them) and headed to shore. I lost all my fellow sTRIver’s at the start so had no clue where anyone was. “That’s ok” I told myself. “Race YOUR race”. I started my second loop getting in just as the blue wave was on their way. Merging in water is way harder than merging on the highway. No worries though. I found another line and just swam. Next thing I knew, the swim was done. Huh? How did that happen so fast?


I wouldn’t normally give the run to T1 it’s own section but given it was red carpeted and at least .25 miles, I think it’s deserved. I told myself getting out of the water that I was running the whole way to T1 no matter what. Walking the red carpet is only acceptable if you’re wearing an evening gown and heels, not a tri suit. It wasn’t pretty but I ran the whole way and managed to keep a smile on my face even though the thought kept running through my head that people were taking pictures of me running after swimming and I sure hope I didn’t look like a whale. Vain, I know but whatever.


Not much to say here. The bike was flat and windy. Coach G wanted me in aero more and so I did focus on that. I had some issues w/ my hydration bottle not staying put and then losing another straw. WTH? I lost one on my 62 mile ride, how in the hell did I lose another? Whatever. I’ve still got one working straw so I’ll make it work. While overall I’m happy with what I did on the bike, I know I can do better. I’ve definitely had some trouble moving past the crash I took when my bike was brand spanking new! I get more comfortable every time I ride so I’m moving in the right direction, just not moving as fast as I’d like. The way I look at it, I’ve got 6 weeks of riding left before Ironstar to build back my confidence. Seems doable to me! The good news here is my mount & dismount went smoothly and I clipped in & out with no issues. Hey, small victories baby, small victories!


I hate saying anything negative at all about this race because I REALLY was so pleased with it but…..Well, let’s just say the run wasn’t my friend on Sunday. Immediately after hopping off my bike, I was made painfully aware of the massive cramps in both calves. Seriously? I hydrated like crazy and I even switched back to the drink that had more electrolytes. Why? Why? Why? Deciding I didn’t want to sound like Nancy Kerrigan, I quit asking why and just went with it. I knew from Clear Lake the cramps wouldn’t last forever so I just needed to work through it. I spent the first 3 miles walking a LOT more than planned. I was forced to running for 2 – 3 minutes and then walking for 15 – 30 seconds. I repeated this up until mile 3 when the cramps FINALLY went away. After that, I was able to run far more normal! Even though the run time is not what I’m capable of by any means, I was beyond happy because for once, I didn’t let any negative talk in my head. I smiled, chatted with fellow runners and knew that no matter what, I was going to finish smiling. How in the world could that be a bad run? After hitting the 5 mile marker outside the stadium, I was barely able to contain my excitement. 1.2 miles left and I get to collect my medal and enjoy. In the distance I saw sTRIve green and knew it was my coach. “Where have you been?” she asked. Hmmm. I just smiled and shrugged. Coach G ran with me a bit and gave me a great pep talk. I was going to see mile 6 in just a minute and after that, she outlined how many turns I would have, where the sTRIvers would be and then, the finish. She wanted me to push it and didn’t care if I vomited. LOL. Umm, there are cameras coach! I took off running with my smile and saw the 6 mile sign. All of a sudden I hear, “I can see you. Run HARDER.”. The irritating voice continued for several more steps. Coach wasn’t about to let me slow down. A strong finish is what she wanted and that’s what I was going to deliver. I rounded the corner and saw Keith & Hannah (the best cheerleaders ever). Another corner rounded and there were the sTRIVers. YAYYYYY! At that point, I told myself to treat it like a 400 (even though I had far less left) and just sprint the rest of the way. A nice lady cheered for me and told me “way to sprint to the finish”. I crossed the finish and just smiled!

The fact I’m still this happy about finishing with a time slower than I wanted is amazing to me. And it proves to me how much I’ve grown over the past year. This was the first race that I really understood what it meant to “race your own race”. Make no mistake though, I’m expecting to PR my next Oly!

Lessons Learned:
1. I’m MUCH tougher than I give myself credit for.
2. I don’t suck at swimming any more. J
3. Need to figure out the cramping issues so I can have the run I’m meant to have!
4. I really, really LOVE racing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I would like 62 miles with hills on the side please!

First of all, I'm sad to announce there are no pics for this post. I know, I know. What am I thinking?!?

Sunday was my longest ride to date....a whopping 62 miles of hills, hills and more hills! I really had fun on this ride...a lot of fun! I went into it w/ a few goals: (1) focus on hydrating, (2) practice shifting gears and (3) not worry about what everyone else was doing. I'm proud to say I accomplished all 3 goals and finished the ride feeling healthy, happy, ready to run (if I needed to) and SUPER hungry! A few take aways were (1) I need to get out on group rides more and (2) I need more hill training. Whoever said Texas is flat hasn't ridden in Montgomery Country!

It's race week this week and I'm starting to get excited for Sunday as this will be my "real" first Olympic distance race. My last Oly wasn't an Oly since the swim was cancelled and I passed out on the run course. Oops. I'm definitely looking for far different results this weekend. I haven't really set a goal for this race...mainly just not to pass out and to finish smiling. Sure, there is a time in my head I would like to beat but I'm not going to jinx myself by putting it to paper. :)

I'm looking forward to a fun training week! I'm sure more posts will follow!

Woo hoo!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clear Lake Triathlon Update: Yeah, better late than never!

So it occurred to me today that I had not updated you on my most recent tri which took place a week or so ago.

This was a "C" race for me so in non-triathlete language, a hard training day. Mentally, it takes a little bit to convince yourself that it's ok to race and not PR and not have AWESOME times. I should say that for most people it's hard but I found it surprisingly calming. :) For this race I planned on focusing on a few key things for each leg of the race. For the swim I was going to focus on sighting and bilateral breathing, on the bike my goal was to focus on proper hydration & getting in aero and on the run, HYDRATE & enjoy. Oh, and the times I'm quoting below are approximates as I'm not about to delay this blog any more by actually looking up the EXACT times.

I was in the first swim wave for the Sprint distance, not where my age group (A/G) usually starts. Okey doke. I get in the water and immediately realize this is a salt water swim which was shocking to me as I was convinced it was freshwater. Well, I can check one fear off my list! I decide that for the swim start, I'm not going to put myself in the back like I usually do in open water swims...oh no, up front I go. I know you faster swimmers are reading this and are getting all pissy but get over it. I needed to make sure I was comfortable getting kicked, splashed and swam over. Kudos to me b/c I felt pretty good at the start. Yay me. Now it's time to focus on sighting. I must pat myself on the back again b/c not once did I swim off course! In fact, I even found myself practicing breathing every 3rd stroke here and there. As I made the final turn and headed back to shore, I realized that this was probably the most comfortable I have ever felt in a race. I got out of the water and started running to T1 and realized I wasn't panting or breathing hard. Hmmm, sounds like someone left a whole lot of racing in the water. "C" race Jenny, "C" race. I finished the swim in 12+ minutes which was good for 7th in my A/G or top 50%. Hell yes!!!!

Heading into T1, I knew I just wanted to maintain what I typically do. With the exception of my very first triathlon where I actually tried to put on an extra sports bra while soakingwet (thanks again to Leslie Nagy for helping me out), I am pretty good in transition....until this race. I don't know why but I was jacking with my gloves trying to get them on for this sprint race. A calmer head finally prevailed and I ditched the gloves and made my way out of T1 after what I felt was an eternity. T1 time was about 1:43ish and good for 5th in my A/G. Well go girl!

I started the bike portion of the race on my brand new tri bike (still to be named). I had a lot riding on the bike (haha no pun intended). Seriously though, after my bike wreck nearly 8 weeks ago, I was a little nervous about the bike and really wanted to do well. I reminded myself this was my 1st race on a tri bike, my 1st race after falling and a "C" race. The goal for me was to get and stay in aero as long as possible. A few short miles into the race I encountered Goliath aka the Kemah Bridge. I am sure the bridge isn't as high as I thought but for someone who trains in Texas where we aren't exactly known for hills, this may as well have been a mountain.
As I approached the hill I decided I would just build up as much speed as possible and then start dropping gears like Kirstie Alley used to drop pounds. I start up the hill and felt the burn pretty quickly. Much to my surprise AND delight, I was passing ladies going up. YES. I'm pedaling my little heart out fully aware that my HR is rising as fast as this damn bridge. As I approached the top of the bridge it FINALLY hit me that I had to go down. Yes, "oh sh@t" is exactly what I said....out loud. Now out of aero, I headed down the hill and literally laughed the whole way down b/c that's what I do when I'm scared out of my mind and think I might die. I glance at my Garmin and see 26mph. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't look any more. I decide that braking is not a good idea b/c I don't want to hit them too hard and then fly over the handlebars. That would be bad. I am passed by one dude on the downhill and he was in aero and looked pretty calm. Kamikaze is what I like to call him. I make it to the bottom of the hill and decide to never look back. I would later learn that my top speed was about 29mph. On a BIKE! After that, the bike was pretty non-eventful. This was advertised as a 12.5 mile back but my Garmin doesn't like and actual mileage was between 14 & 15 miles. Does it matter, no not really. My place in my A/G remains unchanged but my mph would go up. Either way, I finish with an official 16.4mph average which I'm super happy with b/c only 2 ladies in my A/G were faster than the 16mph range and I had 5th in my A/G once again. Yes, that is good for top 1/3!!!!!! Umm, I'm pretty sure that's my best bike ever. Oh, I also stayed in aero 90% more of the race which to me was the true victory. I also achieved my goal of hydrating properly although I did finish my sports drink at mile 7ish which was not good but I'm learning. Note to self: bigger bottle next time!

After dismounting the bike, I had for T2 and know that the first thing I'm going to do is hydrate with my formerly frozen but now surely warm water bottle. The second thing I'm doing is putting on socks so I don't get another triathlon blister. Check. Check. T2 takes about 1:30 which is good for....5th in my A/G. Holy crap. I may just finish this "C" race in a nice position!

And then there was the one. Ok, I'm not going to lie. My run was dismal. Within 1 mile I had the worst cramping in my calves and decided I needed to walk. Seriously? UGH. I was so bummed but knew the cramping wasn't going anywhere. Unfortunately, walking didn't help much either. What the heck? After talking w/ my coach later, I found out that the likely culprit was not having enough electrolytes (remember I said I finished off my sports drink around mile 7?). I reminded myself this was a "C" race and not to stress out. Minute after minute, I saw folks in my A/G passing me and I was bummed. "C" race Jenny, "C" race. To be honest with you, I think I got to the point where I probably did give up on my run and probably didn't push through what I should have. Good learning opportunity if you ask me. :) I finished the run 15th in my A/G (out of 16). Totally disappointing b/c I know I'm a FAR better runner than that. C'est la vie. Have I mentioned this was a "C" race.

All in all, I was very happy with the day and was so excited to finish feeling strong. Yay me!!

There weren't too many sTRIver's out for this event. Aren was racing the Oly and did great!!! I was lucky enough to see him coming in on the bike, going out on the run and then finishing strong! Nicholas (who I had never met) was racing the sprint and he looked to have done very well in race. It was great having Keith, Hannah and the puppies out to support me....AGAIN! Hannah is the loudest cheerleader hands down. What's great about her is that she also cheers for everyone else. Love that girl! It was also great to see one of the OutRival coaches, Sherrie, at swim start. The more familiar faces the better!!!

My next race will be September 26th...an Oly. For those of you who remember, I was to have raced this distance in Galveston in April but the swim was cancelled and then I collapsed on the run course. So this will be my 1st Oly and I couldn't be more excited. It will be a "B" race and set up for my half Ironman in November (deep breath, deep breath). I'm not setting a time goal right now. Just race hard, incorporate everything I'm learning and HAVE FUN!!!! If I happen to finish in 3hrs, great! :)

Until next time!!!!!!