Monday, February 28, 2011

83 mile ride....CHECK!

This past weekend would bring me my longest training ride yet...83 miles of hills! As you know, I was in the land of Sugar last week hanging with my sister and my niece and knew I needed to be back in The Woods for my long ride. One of my teammates gave me the heads up the long ride was moving to Saturday & so I had to quickly change my plans and make sure Stef & Avery would have company.

I arrived home Friday late afternoon and started unpacking, doing laundry and getting my bike ready for the ride. We'd be leaving at 7am Saturday morning so I wanted everything ready to go. I checked ALMOST everything and felt like I was good to go. Little did I know.

Saturday morning came way too early but I rolled out of bed and got my cycling clothes on (yes, I laid them out the night before so there would be no issues picking something out in the morning). I went downstairs and the thought of food was making me feel sick...something common for me early in the morning. I went to the pantry to get my nutrition for the ride and then it hit me that I was out of almost everything. I had Ironman Perform (thankfully) and a few random Gu's but that was it. I was out of Perpeteum, Shot Blocks, Chomps, etc. Well C R A P. Heck, even if I could stomach breakfast, there was nothing appetizing in my pantry. Remember, I was gone over a week. I decided to head to meet the group because let's face it, I should have plenty of calories on reserve given I'm not exactly blowing away in the wind. :)

We had a pretty good crowd and headed out as planned. We would be riding a good portion of the IMTX course so I was pumped to get going. Coach reminded me what zones I should be in so I made a mental note. I'd already set my HR alert so felt like I would be "good". We rode about 45 miles before we stopped in Richards to refuel. I took a Gu knowing that I hadn't consumed any calories with the exception of what I was getting from Ironman Perform. I felt fine though and so had not plans of making a big deal out of it or letting my coach find out. As I waited in line for the ladies room, I asked Lynn if she thought I should take another Gu given my lack of eating a good bfast. When I got back outside, Scott asked if I wanted a Fig Newton and I felt like he was really pushing it on me. "Here, I'm not going to finish them. Take them all." Then Coach G mentioned she understood I hadn't eaten. Hmmmm, I smell a rat! I know, I know. Poor planning on my part. I knew I would need to just pay attention to how I was feeling so I didn't risk bonking. I felt I would be just fine!

We set back out on our ride and holy hills Batman! We hit the 50 mile mark and I remember the self-doubt was starting to knock on the door. By 60, it was kicking the door down. I asked myself what I was thinking signing up for IMTX. I started to do math in my head and didn't think I would have what it took to finish the bike in the amount of time allowed. Just as an FYI, don't try to do math when you're exercising. Unless you're a math whiz, it just doesn't work. Around 65 miles I could see Coach G just a tiny bit in the distance and thought she was slowing down. Not possible! She told us one rest stop only. Thankfully, she was having some back issues and decided a rest was in order. I'm not glad she was in a little bit of pain but I was grateful. There were 4 of us now: Gena, me, Michelle & Lynn. Michelle gave me some Power Bar gooey things and I took another Gu. All in all, I was feeling good. We agreed to stop in about 12 more miles so I could take another Gu and not risk running out of energy.

When we got going again, I felt great! It did help we were past the worst part of the hills and in my mind, this was the home stretch as we were headed back to The Woodlands and had roughly 20 miles to go. All that self-doubt that made it's way in was finding it's way out just as easily. Thank the Lord! As we got closer & closer to our cars, I wondered if I would have the energy for my post ride run. I had told myself that if I didn't do it, no big deal.

We turned into the park and hopped off our bikes. 83 miles and 5 hours after we started, I was pretty happy to be off my bike. I rested my bike against my car and had all but decided I was done. As I glanced up, I saw Coach G heading out to run. I asked Misty if she minded watching my bike while I went with Gena. Just like that, I was running. I hollered to Gena and asked her to wait. She was running 15 minutes and I felt like I could manage it. Actually, I felt like I'd just run 10 and be done with it but at the point I wanted to turn around, she said something (I don't know what) that just convinced me to keep going. There was no reason not to keep running....I felt surprisingly good and while my legs felt like 500lb logs, we were running a sub-10 minute mile pace. Alrighty then. Gena let me know after we ran that we hit about a 9:40min/mile pace....after riding 83 miles. What? I did? We did?!?!?! That's AWESOME!!!!!

The ride on Saturday turned out to be another huge confidence booster. On top of that, I learned some good lessons. (1) Do a frequent inventory of training supplies/nutrition/hydration as now is not the time to be unprepared. (2) Riding with the team really has so many benefits. They took care of my nutrition where I did not and offerred words of encouragement. Even though I don't mind riding alone, there's just no substitute for the support teammates & friends offer. (3) Cycling specifc shorts are like huge, uncomfortable diapers. This extra padding does not translate to a more comfortable ride. I will stick to tri shorts thank you very much. (4) Self-talk can serve a purpose. Don't freak out. Doubting what you can do is normal and it happens to everyone. Just know how to control it and learn from it. (5) I've learned where the most demoralizing part of the IMTX bike course is for me and I plan on getting on it as many times as I can before 5/21 so I can be even more prepared.

I have got some MAJOR training coming my way. We've crossed the 12 week point officially. Actually, 12 weeks from today I will be 2 days post race, resting at home. I'll probably be wearing every bit of IMTX finishers gear I purchased and settling in for a night on the couch with a glass of wine. Ahhhhhhh.

This week is a "rest & test" week. No, rest doesn't mean no workouts. Shucks. :) I've got a 70 mile ride this weekend and I can't wait to get out there with my teammates!

Happy Monday!!!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Soreness and Aches and Pains OH MY!

When your friends and teammates all encourage you to sign up for an Ironman, they talk about how fun the training will be and how the experience is simply the best ever. It's funny how they never talk to you about the down side. Maybe they just assume you already know. Or maybe it's all part of their evil plan. Someone convinced THEM to sign up for an Ironman even though they knew better and so it is their mission in life to make sure they do the same to someone else. Yes, I believe that's it.

With more & more frequency, I find myself waking up in the morning and can almost literlly hear my body creaking. After long, intense workouts, muscles I didn't know I had seem to cry "UNCLE" and beg me to rest them. My knees, which haven't given me issues in years are starting to feel fatigued. I've never had back problems (thankfully) but can feel them starting to creep in after long bike rides. Shoulder pain? Never! Well, never until I started swimming freakish amounts on a weekly basis. My left ankle has given me serious grief ever since I injured it playing soccer several years ago but now both ankles regularly feel weak. I try to be good about doing the exercises my physical therapist had given me all those years ago but it can be hard to remember. As if all the above isn't bad enough, there are times where I'm sitting and the muscles in my right butt cheek just start firing. Ok, I know what you're thinking, "You have muscles in your butt?" Yes, yes I do as hard as it is to believe!
I've chalked up all the new aches & pains to the fact that I am now closer to 40 years of age than 30 and so inevitably, the body is going to just crap out. It never occurred to me that the real reason is that I'm working out more AND with more intensity than ever before. No, that couldn't be the culprit could it? Whether the cause is age or workouts, the soreness is real and it's taking on a personality all it's own. I find myself talking to tired muscles/body parts on a regular basis. "Foot, if you could find it in your heart to quit yelling at me and let me finish this run before it gets dark, I promise I will get you a pedicure." No, that hasn't worked for me yet. "Calves, if you would please stop cramping up immediately off the bike and during the early part of my run, I PROMISE I will stop calling you big & fat & manly." Nope, the calves aren't listening to my empty promises either.

As I sit here, 12 weeks out from the eve of IMTX, I wonder what other sore body parts are waiting to make an appearance. I think the only thing that hasn't hurt on me the past several months has been my hair. Maybe my eyebrows. Oh yeah, my eyelids have felt awesome too! My nose has been A-OK! See, look at that. Lots of parts are just fine!

Putting the final touches on this post, I can feel the arch in my left foot starting to relax and the throbbing in my right quad subside. My knee seems to be resting a bit and giving me a break. You know, even with pain I feel at times, it's pretty cool to be learning what my body is capable of. I'm not the skinniest, not the strongest, not the fastest and not the most athletic and none of that seems to matter to my body. It plugs along and it's going to get me through IMTX no matter what. Soreness and Aches and Pain? Heck yes!!!! But as I've heard before (and sorry, don't know who to attribute this quote to), "pain is just weakness leaving the body". Well, I should be one strong lady come race day!

Happy training!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Training, training & more training!

I have to say, I had some concerns heading into this week. I've been staying with Stefanie, helping her out while she recovers from her C-section AND gets used to having Avery around. Leia & I packed up the essentials which pretty much consisted of a human size suitcase, my Team sTRIve transition bag, a separate workout bag, my bike trainer, my bike rack and of course, my bike. Oh, I've also got my work laptop as well as my personal laptop here. I now know what it means to pack everything, including the kitchen sink.

I've been pleased with my training since Avery's arrival. I've had to get creative but I've managed to get my workouts in (yay Jenny)! This week has actually been much better than I expected. I'm working about 4-5 hrs/day from Stef's house and then getting my workouts in whatever time of day works best given Avery & Stef's schedule. All in all, I can't complain at all. Or did I speak too soon????

I've complained about the pool at the 24 Hour Fitness in The Woodlands before but compared to the Sugar Land 24, The Woodlands is like a freaking resort. The gym itself is older which is painfully obvious when you enter the locker room and are greeted to Pepto pink tile on the wall with blue trim. Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way. Nasty. I tried to touch as little as possible as the locker room was also not quite as clean as I would like. I entered the pool area and was just sad. I am spoiled rotten by the NAT and can't wait to get back there. There were only 2 lanes roped off for swimming and the rest of the pool was open and was occupied a hodge-podge of folks, most doing water aerobics (no, there was no class). There were also about 3 people trying to swim laps but with the lanes not being roped off, it was more of a cluster. I observed the folks swimming in the designated lanes in an attempt to figure out who would be better to share with. Ok, these lanes were NARROW. Like, super narrow. There was a lady swimming and her arms flailed about with little purpose and I immediately knew I couldn't swim with her. I don't really like being hit in the face/body in a non-race setting and while it would've been great practice for IMTX, I just wasn't in the mood to deal w/ that. The other lane was occupied by a man stretching and mainly walking back & forth. He would be my lane mate. I asked if I could share the lane and he happily obliged. Lucky for me, he was only in the pool about 15 more minutes so I got the claustraphobic lane all to myself. Yay me! Ok, this pool was just plain nasty. Clearly 24 dumps every chemical they can find to keep the pool clean. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate them killing any and all bacteria but I don't appreciate the effect it has on my skin. And the itching it causes is just not right. I had to put it all out of mind though as I had an important swim to get through....swim as far as I could in an hour. It didn't matter how strong the smell of chemicals was or how bad my butt started to itch, I had to keep swimming. Let me tell you, nobody has ever gotten out of a pool so fast and showered so quickly after a swim. I just knew if I didn't get rinsed off, my skin would probably peel off.

I'm looking forward to my workouts the rest of the week and to hitting the 12 week mark. Man, that is a milestone I never thought would come so soon. Woo hoo.

It's getting late and this tired auntie needs to get her beauty sleep! And this tired triathlete needs to rest up for her Thursday workouts!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Future Triathlete Arrives!

I have been meaning to sit down and write this post for nearly a week but time has truly gotten away from me! At least I have an excuse.

On February 15th, my sweet little niece was born. Avery Elizabeth Max pretty much walked out of Stefanie's womb weighing 8lb 2oz and measuring 20in long. Her head was 14 3/4 in. Some of you may think including the head measurement is odd but not for my family. My brother Doug (who is the smartest of all 7 of my mom's kids) had a head measuring over 16in at birth. And no, he was not a C-section baby. I'll give you a minute to think about how good that must've felt.......Ok. Avery is a doll and that's not just a biased Auntie speaking. She's already cooing a lot and by all accounts, is very alert for a newborn. Stefanie is changing her outfits as many times a day as she can as she won't be fitting in newborn clothes for long. If Keith's daughter has a little girl, we should be able to dress her with clothes Avery won't ever wear! Mom & baby are doing quite well and I'm so excited for my sister to embark on this crazy journey called M O T H E R H O O D. I still can't believe Stef, the girl who fell off a bar into an ice bin, is a mom (she'll be thrilled I pulled that memory from the vault). I am so happy that Avery is here and I can't wait to sign her up for her first tri!

Before I get to the triathlon part of this blog, I have to give Leia a shout out for being the best dog in the world. Leia has taken on the role of watchdog & protector with gusto. We thought Leia was barking at Avery when she was in the pack n play because she didn't like her but now realize she was barking b/c Avery was wimpering. Awww. Stef & Avery were relaxing on the couch yesterday and sweet Leia parked her overweight butt right by them. Stef put Avery down at one point and I was in the kitchen. Avery started making noises & moving and Leia made a b-line to the pack n play and let us know we needed to check on Aves (we're trying out nicknames). Anyway, Leia is making me super proud!

Training is going great. I just passed the 13 week mark until IMTX. I expect a healthy dose of panic to set in on Saturday when I reach 12 week status. The most critical part of training is upon me and while I'm super excited, I'm super nervous too. My mission for the next 12 weeks is to have solid workouts and stay healthy. This past Saturday I had a long ride and was able to get it in with Misty (Chris & her hubby Bill were also out on the ride). What a fun, fun ride. Misty & I spent the first part of it chit chatting but still managed to maintain a 17+ mph pace. We took advantage of the rest stops and even chowed down on what may have been the most delicious breakfast burrito. At about 40ish miles I said goodbye to Misty & back tracked so I could add mileage on as I need to go about 20 miles longer than she did. I really, really enjoyed the ride and was so glad to get out! After the ride, I had a short 15min run and then enjoyed post-ride food courtesy of the Humble Lions Club with Misty, Chris & Bill. All in all, a great day. The ride was not as challenging as what we're used to but I found I really enjoyed the change of scenery and just being out riding. My post-Ironman days may include a lot of cycling if Saturday is any indication.

With that, I'm off like a dress on prom night. :) Happy Monday and Happy Week ahead!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ramblings from the parent of an obese "child"

This is a total departure from the true purpose of this blog but it’s on my mind and therefore, now will be on yours.

I judge my boyfriend a lot b/c his dog is overweight and has been overweight for awhile. She’s a cute little Toy Fox Terrier but has a roll of fat that would horrify Richard Simmons and his sweatin’ to the oldies crowd. Personally, I find the roll to be kind of endearing. Sophie has been put on diet dog food before and that just made me laugh. I didn’t know they had Lean Cuisine for dogs. Sophie managed to lose the weight and got back in the 7 lb range but is now 8.5lbs. Diet time. I warned Keith feeding her table scraps like steak from Kirby’s wasn’t a good idea but he just looks at me & laughs.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I considered myself a diligent and responsible pet owner. Leia doesn’t get table scraps and is only given small treats that are “lean”. Imagine my surprise this week when we went to the vet and I learned my precious baby weighed in at 8lbs. And as if that didn’t make me look like a bad enough mommy, I looked at her and said, “Leia, you’re fat”! Yeah, mother of the year material right here. How the heck did this happen? Is it because she eats her poop sometimes? I have a theory here. She consumes calories, expels calories and then eats them again. The logic seemed to work but Keith told me I was crazy. I take her for walks, we play fetch and she’s always active. How did this happen to my perfect Princess? How did I let this happen? The ideal weight for Leia is about 7lbs as well so this means she must lose 12% of her current body weight. My Yorkie is pleasantly plump. I looked at the vet and asked him what was going on. Leia was spayed last year and at that time, weighed 6.5lbs. Well, it turns out that when they are spayed, their metabolism slows. So let me get this straight? I robbed Leia of her opportunity to ever be a mother and by doing so I sealed her fate and made sure she would pack on the pounds?!? I’m not taking all the blame here! If the vet knew her metabolism would slow, why didn’t he tell me so I could change her food? Argh!!!!!!

Leia is now joining Sophie on a diet. I will be going to PetSmart to purchase diet dog food for them. I am buying them matching velour sweatsuits and am setting them up with a trainer….me! Keith has suggested I look into doggie treadmills for them but even I think that’s going too far. I will be setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier every day so I can make sure these two get their exercise on. I called 24 Hour Fitness only to learn I am not able to add them to my gym membership. Umm, they ARE family members. I don’t care what you say! Leia loves to swim and I’ve seen the nasty people in that pool. Trust me, my dog is WAY cleaner and can swim a hellluva lot better!

9 9 What?

The number of the day is 99. Why so important? 99 Luftballoons? 99 bottles of beer on the wall? Partying like its (19)99? Umm, no. 99 days until IMTX! You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a 99 Texas sign. Ok, so let me repeat that. THERE ARE 99 DAYS LEFT UNTIL IRONMAN TEXAS. I would be a big, fat liar if I said I didn’t freak a little. Am I ready for 140.6 miles of fun right now? That’s a hell-to-the-no. Will I be ready? You betcha!

I wasn’t a math major but if there are 99 days until IMTX, that means there are 58 days until Galveston 70.3. I’m happy to report that doesn’t cause me near the panic. I’ve raced this distance before so I do know I can do it. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Galveston will be a dress rehearsal for IMTX so right there, the pressure is lower. These races are only 6 weeks apart and the last thing I need to be doing is going all out in Galveston only to risk injury or doing something stupid to jeopardize IMTX. On the flip side, I do feel like I have a little to prove. While I absolutely loved my experience at Ironstar in November, I can’t figure out what happened on the bike and why I was SO damn slow. I’m not normally that slow and I felt like I was moving well but the numbers don’t lie. Did someone put training wheels on my bike? Did I have my brake applied the whole way? Was I too busy day dreaming? Whatever happened, I would like to correct that in Galveston and I know I can. Hell, if I ride how I rode this past weekend (while sick), I will take 30min off my bike time which would then mean, PR. The other thing still hanging over my head is that Galveston is where I passed out last year. Yes, it was during the Oly and I have sense redeemed myself at that distance BUT it happened IN Galveston so I kind of feel like I need to have a race there where I don’t end up in the ambulance.

So how’s my training going? Not too bad. I’ve been sick on & off for weeks like many of my teammates. I’ve had to get creative with my schedule and fitting in workouts. I’m hanging in there. Sometimes I feel the quality of the workout is suffering but I’m doing the best I can. My hopes that my work schedule would cooperate have long disappeared. While I am appreciative of the ability to work from home one day per week so I can have an easier time working out, I’m flat worn out! I know I’ve done everything I can to manage my schedule but at the end of the day, I have a job and I have to do it well because I’m the only one making money in my house. My plan to get Leia into dog modeling has fallen short given the fact she is considered overweight at only 8lbs. That’s another story though. And as if my life isn’t already busy enough, my sister is expecting her first child any day!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the best laid plans sometimes don’t materialize. It’s not from a lack of wanting or trying to make it happen….life happens. Had I known last June that my sis would be popping out a kid right now and that work would turn into a nightmare, would I still have signed up for IMTX? Hmm, that’s a good question. Knowing me, probably! I’m a glutton for punishment. I still have that unnatural desire to start AND finish that race. Who would ever think the thought of punishing yourself for 17 hours would result in goosebumps? That’s just not right!

8 weeks & 2 days until Galveston. 14 weeks & 1 day until Ironman. I guess I'll start singing, "99 bottles of Ironman Perform on the wall"!