Monday, January 31, 2011

Until Next Year Marathon & Half-Marathon

Despite the weather, yesterday was a great day! I'm surprised to even type that given I missed my PR by 30 minutes. Don't get me wrong, a PR yesterday was never a goal but it still kind of sucks to see a time so much slower than what you know you're capable of. Today's post is part race report & all reflection. ;)

My pre-race prep on Saturday didn't go well. My HR was all over the place and my tummy was giving me all kinds of issues. Last week was a hectic week which culminated with my pregnant sis going to the hospital as they thought the baby might be coming. My late week workouts took a hit but nothing major as I got in what I could. Usually when I have a bad run, my next run is awesome. Despite my finish time yesterday, I do consider the race a success. My HR stayed under control, my pacing felt very good and I felt like I could run all day long. The issue I had was with my left foot...again. Since Clear Lake Tri, this has been a nagging issue and only recently did I learn (thanks to my coach) that the arch in my left foot is collapsed. It's not the end of the world, don't worry folks. I've just got to do some exercises to strengthen it and maybe consider some orthotics. Late in the race I had to walk a full .25 miles not once but TWICE to give my foot a chance to relax. The best way I can describe what it's doing is basically tightening up to the point where it feels like a giant bruise. Walking for a few minutes relaxes it and then I run again until I can't. My bigger concern when the pain starts is whether or not my gait is changing to compensate for the pain as that is something I don't want and would lead to problems elsewhere.

There was a light rain the entire race with it coming down heavier a few times. I have to tell you, the spectator support was AMAZING once again. Rain didn't keep folks from coming outside and handing us orange slices, kleenex or words of encouragement. I love running Houston. My 4th year running this race and I still tear up throughout the course from the support. I don't apologize for it either! I remember a point during the race when I looked at my Garmin and it changed to 2hrs 10min. I was turning on Allen Parkway and realized that in 2008, I was crossing the finish at that exact time. Bummer. I shrugged it off and knew that I didn't have far to go and reminded myself this really was a great day. I hit the 12 mile mark and walked for just a little bit and then decided the rest of the way in, I was going to leave it on the course. And I did. My final 1.1 mile was at a 10:40 pace which included some walk time. Everything felt good. Legs were solid, foot was doing it's thing but not giving me grief and breathing was pretty easy. The last few miles may have been tough but the last mile was going to be great. As I hit the last 1/4 mile flag, I told myself I had a 400 left and I better get it done. I was so happy I finished and didn't give a flip about the time.

After collecting my finishers gear, I headed over to my car to get changed so I could then head back out to the finish area to wait for my brother to finish his race. Luke was running the marathon with his good friend Phillippe and I had to be there to cheer them in. I was prepared with dry clothes EXCEPT dry bottoms. Oh well, wet shorts went back on but at least my feet were warm and dry. I grabbed my camping chair, Flip Video & camera and headed back out. I couldn't stand to eat the food in the GRB. I don't know why but those eggs really grossed me out. Instead, I drank some recovery drink and ate my Clif bar. Good enough.

Mom was sending me regular text messages with where Luke & Pip were on the course. The first update told me Luke was racing smart and not pushing the pace as he was doing about an 11min/mile at that point. Good boy. His training wasn't exactly what it should've been and I was afraid he would go out too fast. The next update showed Luke & Pip were no longer running together and Pip was about a 5k (or 30ish minutes) ahead. Again, I was relieved as I told Luke to let Pip pull ahead and not chase him. Pip trained for this race and so was likely going to be faster as the miles increased. Team sTRIve was volunteering between miles 18 & 19 and I texted Coach G to see if she had seen Luke yet...nothing. A few minutes later she texted to let me know he passed the 19 mile mark and was looking strong. Pace was still in the 11ish range. Wow. Luke made it 23 in pretty good time and as best I can tell, that's where he hit his wall. His knees/joints started bothering him at this point. He walked when he needed, adjusted his pace but never gave up. He hit the 40k mark at 5:04 and I knew he was close. I watched & watched for the sTRIve jersey and was so excited when I saw him! Gone was the usual smile he has at the end of the race. He was focused & probably hurting but he didn't let it show. His form looked great and he wan that last 1/4 mile in like I've seen him do so many times before. I couldn't have been more proud & excited for him!

I woke up this morning feeling under the weather. The cold I've been trying to kick for weeks got me. Gone is the pain in the foot. Gone is the stiffness that typically comes post-race. Still present are the great memories made yesterday. I am so looking forward to Galveston in April. There are no races on the schedule until then so I can focus on training.

Hope you all had as great a weekend as I did!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Janet Evans I am not and that's ok (most days)!

Last night was a truly tough swim. Maybe one of the toughest we've had (when I say we I really mean me and maybe my lane mate, Chris. I shouldn't speak for her though). Anyway, being a "race" week, I thought maybe I would have to swim only 45min but I should've known better. I'm in IM training which means it's time to put on the big girl panties and make no excuses. As I woke up sore and cursing Grace (our swim coach), I had a really good "a-ha" moment.

As much as it hurts to admit it, I am not Janet Evans. I think you can ask my family and they'll remember I loved watching her in the Olympics. She was my hero at the time and I wanted to be just like her (for at least 16 days). For those of you who don't know who she is b/c you're either too young or don't care about swimming, she was only the best US distance swimmer. She set world records in the 400, 800 & 1500 meter swims. Her record for the 800 was set in 1989 and it took 19 years for someone to break it. 19 YEARS. By the way, it took someone 18 years to break her record in the 400m event. Basically, Janet Evans was an animal.

Janet Evans, Badass

There was a good stretch of time over the summer where I was constantly frustrated with my swim. I would look at everyone around me and feel that everyone was improving EXCEPT me. I was constantly comparing myself to others and of course, never measuring up. I would try to push myself in the water but was mistaking kicking harder for going just didn't work like that. My coach, Gena, reminded me that I had come a long, long way but that just as I was improving, so was everyone else. Focus on what I needed to focus on and don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Those words of wisdom worked and carried me through the remainder of 2010.

2011 started and as training got back to a normal pattern, I found those familiar feelings of frustration creeping back in and had to remind myself almost daily that I was doing better. I've taken 4 minutes of my 300 time. FOUR MINUTES. That is something to be happy about. Who cares that there are still a lot of people way faster than me. I improved and I did it mostly on my own (but of course with the help of coaches telling me what to fix and teammates constantly encouraging me). As I thought about it more & more, it seemed silly to me that I was so caught up in comparing myself to others and not improving as quickly. I'm not trying to win IMTX. I'm trying to find a way to swim faster, more efficiently so I have energy to get me through the rest of my 16 or 17 hour day.

Waking up this morning, I was thinking about the soreness I was feeling in my shoulders, legs, back or anywhere else I used a muscle. A main set of 20x100 at a pretty solid pace was punishing but so, so fun. FUN?!? Say what? Yes, more than anything, I had a ball last night. Chris & I pushed each other, encouraged each other, gave direction (slow down) and then shared a pretty half-ass high 5 at the end as neither of us had much left to raise our arms. That's what this is all about. Doing the hard work and having FUN with it. Sure, the frustrating times will come & go but what's important is how I handle it. If I'm constantly focused on getting better, I will be my own worst enemy. But if I focus on the fun and what I'm doing right, those improvements may just rear their pretty little heads again.

Me & Luke having FUN post-race

I won't be setting any 19 year old records and that is A-OK. I'm learning lots of good lessons and truly enjoying what I'm doing. I don't think I can ask for much more than that!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Race Day Fashion: A tongue in cheek quest for the perfect outfit.

As promised, this blog update is devoted to Race Day Fashion, specifically IMTX Race Day Fashion. As I was thinking about things my bike would need, Jill Gellatly reminded me to think about what I would wear on Race Day. Comfort is the most important thing to keep in mind but I also want to wear something my family & friends can spot easily. After everyone mistook another girl for me at Ironstar, I agreed the black Zoot trisuit wasn't going to cut it. Also, black in May is a recipe for disaster. Join me now as I consider my options.

While the Team sTRIve uniforms are nice, the tops just don't cut it for me. God has seen fit to bless/curse me with an ample rack (sorry y'all) and the tri tops we use have no built in bra. While the built in bra alone is not enough for me, it does help immensly when paired with my Moving Comfort sports bra. Alas, I don't know the team jersey will work. Additionally, I'm not as big a fan of green as many of my teammates are so this is a good excuse for me to get something in a color I really like! Don't get me wrong, I will still sport the Team Uni's but when comfort is critical, I will have to buck the sTRIve trend and go my own way.

I've always loved Wonder Woman and have searched high and low for a tri suit that comes even remotely close to her cute outfit. Alas, that won't work either. While Lynda Carter shares my dilemna up top, I just don't think a strapless tri suit is going to cut it on Race Day. That being said, I woudln't be hard to spot in this get up and I'd be sure to make lots of Facebook albums running out of T2 dressed like this. Hmm, now that I think about it, the boots don't look too comfortable. I'm fairly certain my first marathon should be run in Asics vs sky high red boots. The Wonder Woman outfit will have to wait for another day.

Ok, this is just a pipe dream but wouldn't it be cool to honor Princess Leia and wear something similar to what she sported when chained to Jabba the Hutt? Lots of people wear 2 piece tri suits. Why not me (don't answer that)? I mean obviously, some modification would be needed. I'm open to suggestions. I find the brown & gold colors to be very uplifting and flattering as well. Braided hair is optional.

Knowing in my heart of hearts that the the outfits above are probably not realistic options, I decided to continue my search for the perfect "outfit". Just when I'd lost hope, I stumbled upon these very cool Asics and decided they would be the centerpiece of my IMTX Race Day ensemble and I would build from there. The foundation is laid, now I only need to build my house. I plan on doing some research and making sure these sweet looking shoes will be comfortable enough. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Either way, they're a start and the best idea I've come up with as I'm sure you'll agree. I will be the most glorious streak of pink & yellow come May 21st!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that!

Ahh, one week until the Houston Half! Looking forward to just enjoying the run and then focusing on triathlons after that. I hope the week flies by! :)

Before I get into the training portion of this post and the reason most of you are here (lol), I wanted to give a shout out to The Scarborough Family & good 'ole Mr. David Hamilton. Keith & I were able to meet up with them last night for drinks and dinner and we had a great time. Jeff & Diana brought their 14 month old baby boy, Grant. What a cutie this kid is. He was held by each of us at different points of the evening and wasn't fussy at all. He was even a super trooper when we were told our wait for a table at Tommy Bahama's would be 1.5hrs! Grant is a lady killer and I'm sure Diana is dreading the day he brings home his first girlfriend. Anyway, a great night with friends...something we definitely needed!

Me with my "babies" before heading out to dinner. Love them!

After a very good TT (time trial) on my bike today, I decided to test out the tripod my sister gave me for my Flip. LOVED IT! The tripod strapped easily to my aero bars and I then attached the Flip. I kept the test ride short in the event the Flip tried to flip off (tee hee). The video was very bouncy but that's to be expected. Overall, I was very pleased with the test ride and am looking forward to taking this out with me when I'm riding with the group.

A snapshot from my Flip. Very cool huh?

When I got home, I was reminded of how much I love my tri bike. Like I've mentioned a few times before, I have been somewhat uneasy on the bike since my fall. I know what you're thinking, "get over it already". Well, I agree! I can't help it though! Every time I look at my left thigh and see the dent that is STILL there, I remember how bad that fall hurt and how scary it was. My TT today definitely helped me so much. Keeping an average of about 19mph was an awesome feeling AND I did it while staying in aero the whole time. Oh yeah! The ride was a bit windy and that's when I typically pop out of aero but not today. No sir. I stayed down and just pedaled away. So here you go, another picture of my QR with her older sister (my Motobecane road bike) next to her. I actually LOVE both my bikes. My Motobecane stays on the trainer but gets out of the house once a week when it's time for our spin class. She seems to like the time out! Kind of funny that both my bikes are white & blue. Totally unplanned!

My next post will be devoted to my attire for Ironman Texas. Yes, I realize it's January and the race is not until May but I am a female. I'm also a planner. My good friend Jill was giving me some IM tips since she's experienced and mentioned I would want to plan my race day wardrobe. Oooooohhhhhh. I never thought about that. While comfort is key, I've decided I must wear something my fans (errrr family) can spot easily. I have a few thoughts in mind but am open to any suggestions that aren't completely stupid (Kevin).

Wishing you all a fabulous week ahead!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January = Clean Slate Time

January is flying by and I've got mixed emotions about that. While I'm excited for Stef's baby, Heather's baby and all my races to get here, I would also like to feel like I can stop & smell the roses for just a second. :) They say as you age time passes more quickly and "they" are right!

I mentioned in my first post of 2011 that I wouldn't be "racing" the Houston Half. I have been chasing a half marathon PR for some time now and back in December talked with my coach and understood that the 2011 Houston Half probably wouldn't be my time either. As part of my triathlon training, I'm in the base phase and have been focusing on lowering my heart rate for the past several weeks. To do this, I basically watch my HR on my runs and when I see it creeping out of my set zone, I either slow down or in some cases, walk until the HR cooperates. This was extremely frustrating at first but I stuck with it and have seen some major improvements. I'm at the point now where my long run pace truly feels like an all day effort. I'm not kidding, I feel like I could run ALL DAY LONG if I needed to at about an 11:30min-ish/mile pace. I know that isn't fast but it's not supposed to's all day people! So what does this mean for the Houston Half? Well, it simply means I won't be pushing it the entire time. I haven't talked to my coach again about this but my guess is I'll be asked to keep my effort in HR Zones 1&2 and then maybe let it creep to 3 for a bit. For me, it was a no-brainer to not chase the PR during this race. Triathlon training and specifically Ironman training is the priority so if I have to sacrifice my pride here and there along the way, you bet I will. Those of you close to me are probably saying, "yeah right" about now as you know how I am with pushing myself but mark my words, I will not PR in 2 weeks (unless I can do it in the correct HR zone). :)

I'm not big on setting resolutions at the beginning of a new year. In all honesty, there are usually tons of things I know I want to accomplish each year but I just don't want to label them. The start of the new year does sort of push the reset button for me though and gives me a sort of clean slate in many ways. I keep a memo board Keith helped me make in my workout room and I post my race numbers and other random things there. Well, with 2010 saying "adios" and 2011 starting, I decided it was time to take down the old race numbers and make way for the new. Another clean slate. It's weird going in there to workout and having NO race numbers posted (except for the framed ones). Yet another reason I can't wait for 2 weeks and the Houston Half when I can pick up my first race number of 2011!



So there you go, a picture of my real life "clean slate" (sorta). Stay tuned as I'm pretty certain the training posts will be increasing the further we get into 2011!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome to 2011!!!

2011 is here! Hopefully you all had a great NYE and aren't too depressed about heading back to work tomorrow. :(

For me, NYE was just what the doctor ordered....low key with lots of laughs. Stef & Cristian came up to The Woodlands and we went to Keith's house to celebrate with two of his daughters, Heather & Hannah, as well as Hannah's friend Cassidy. We made snacks, goofed off, played a quick board game and watched Dick Clark's Rockin' NYE. Just in case some of us didn't make it to midnight Houston time, we celebrated when NY celebrated and then did have a 2nd celebration at our "real" midnight.

It's Sunday and I'm writing this very quickly before I get in my workouts of the day. I promised a few months back I was trying to make my blog more exciting or something to that effect and haven't done the best job making good on that promise. I've experimented with a few different backgrounds and am sticking with simple polka dots for now. Heather sent me the link to a really cute triathlon background but it covers up some of the other elements I have that I don't really want to give up so I decided to compromise. We'll see, I may not be able to resist the tri background for long as it really was perfect (thanks Heather)!

It's time for the heart of the journey to begin, probably the most difficult part of the journey. While I feel super motivated & excited now, I'd be crazy to think I can maintain that type of attitude through May. I'm going to have a boat load of distractions between now & then and it's going to be super important to stay focused. I've got a niece to arrive in 8 weeks, Heather's baby will be here in 10 weeks, a 70.3 in less than 100 days, busy season at work and life! So much packed into such a short time. Like I've said before, I think I've learned a huge lesson from 2010 in that I know what I need to do this year to make everything come together: work, training and having some down time. Who needs a New Years resolution when you've got all this to balance?!?

Ready or not 2011, here I come!