Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh, that's just oxygen deprivation!

For those of you who have known me since I got into triathlon, you know I used to struggle with the swim. I don't think I am/was a bad swimmer, I just didn't swim for sport. If you asked me to go swimming, I thought that meant we were going to lounge around the pool. When I signed up for my first tri, I had some group swims with my coworkers who had also been convinced (guilted) into signing up for Jeff & Brede's. Umm yeah, getting in a swimsuit in front of your coworkers just plain sucks. Anyway, the point I'm taking so long to get to is that swim training didn't really start for me until October 2009 because that's when I signed up for the tri specific swim classes.

Fast forward 1.5 years and it's Monday night swim. Coach Grace is always so nice but always gives us tough workouts. One of her favorite ways to torture us is by making us do drills where we're focusing on breathing....or not breathing. Last time we had a workout like that, we swam lengths of the pool where we started with 3 breaths per length, then 2 breaths, then 1 breath. Monday she told us we would be doing something different. We would breathe every 3rd stroke, then every 5th, then every 7th, then 5th, back to 3rd and then repeat 4x. Umm, hello? I know what you're doing Grace! That's the same damn workout...you're just trying to trick us. Breathing every 7th stroke for me gets me ONE DANG BREATH per 25. Shenanigans. What is her demonic obsession with us building our lung capacity? I like how much air my lungs hold just fine thank you!

So after the set from hell, I noticed I developed a pounding headache. I didn't want to complain and look like a baby so I kept my mouth shut. Our next task was to swim 200 all out. 4:03 later, I was done and evidently not looking good b/c Grace asked if I was ok. I told her about the headache and she said, "Oh, that's just oxygen deprivation from the last set". Oh, that's all? Lucky for me, Grace knew how to fix me! I was instructed to take a deep breath and then go underwater and exhale slowly and then repeat 10 times. It made no sense to me at first but I did it and the headache was gone and I was able to finish my workout. Yay me! I thanked Grace for the tip and then realized she was the one who caused the headache so why was I thanking her?

After the workout Monday, I remembered again why I love oxygen and I vow to never take it for granted again. In fact, I feel moved to go plant a bunch of trees (after IMTX b/c I'm too busy now).

The rest of my training is going swimmingly (hey, want to stick w/ the swimming theme) well. I feel like every day I'm stronger and faster than the day before. I like it! My appetite can only be described as embarrasingly manish. Who am I kidding though...I can probably out eat most men. I know it's b/c of the training but it sucks when you finish your plate and ask your boyfriend if he's done with his. I have been craving bloody red meat almost daily. For you triathletes out there, be sure to share abnormal cravings with your coach b/c it could mean there is something your body is needing. I never made the connection but Gena pointed out I was likely iron deficient and that's what was causing the bloody meat cravings. Of course!!! Normally I'm very low on the iron side of things and with all this additional training, it would make sense that I'm dipping even lower. Yay for having a smart coach!!!

Well, that's all I've got for now. Galveston is a week from Sunday and I'm super excited to see how I do. I really, really want to have a solid race so I can go into IMTX with a boat load of confidence!!!!!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Century Ride...Check

My first Century Ride is in the books and I really couldn't have been happier! While there were many great things about this ride, the best part was that there was a group of us doing it together. For me, Stew & Michelle though, we were Century Virgins. I know it sounds super cheesy but to be able to experience a milestone like this with others is just awesome! I'm not going to give you a detailed play by play about this ride, just hit the high points as I saw them for the day. Today I feel a lot like I did the day after my first 70.3....just plain proud of myself for doing something I never thought I would do (at least in my pre-IMTX life).
We would be leaving from Terramont Park at 7:30am. I went to bed early so I could be sure to get up early, eat & do a last minute check of my gear. All was going well until I couldn't locate my phone. To make matters worse, I couldn't call it from my home phone b/c my home phone died due to a crappy battery. Hmm, where could it be? Duh, in my bike jersey pocket. Crisis avoided and I was on my way. After getting to the park, I got my stuff ready to go and tried not to look like a huge geek. This kind of stuff just gets me super excited! Anyway, there was some chit-chat as we got ready. For those of us who were new to this distance, our instructions were clear: stay in zones 1 & 2 and practice focus on nutrition. Easy breezy! Coach is a bit of a stickler for being on time and true to form, she got all of our butts moving and out of the park pretty darn close to 7:30am!
We rode about 45ish miles to our rest stop in Richards. Once there, we had an opportunity to take a bio break and make any purchases. I wanted to buy a few cups of ice to make sure my sports drink stayed nice and cool. Ironman Perform is noticeably saltier (to me) than other sports drinks so I need it cold to make it go down easier. Other than that, I came prepared with all my fluids and nutrition so I didn't need to buy anything just yet. With that, we were back on our way. The first half had gone very well and we were able to stay together as a group. The second half brought wind and rollers and Michelle & I began to hang back b/c we had strict instructions to monitor our HR zones so that's what we did. It was nice that we were in the same boat and so able to stay together. We were out on the IMTX course so I was trying to take it all in and making mental notes of where the tough parts were and think about my plan of attack on race day. We've been on this route many times as it's also part of the Iron Star Half Ironman course

For the past 3 long rides, I've hit a type of wall at mile 60. Not near mile 60, RIGHT AT mile 60. Maybe because this is roughly the 1/2 way point. Or maybe it's just because by this time, you're getting kind of sick of having a bike stuck up your you know what. Whatever the cause, thoughts creep in my head that I can really do without. I find myself thinking I need to drop out of IMTX and that I'm crazy for signing up and who do I think I am signing up for an event like this....I'M NOT AN ATHLETE! The last time these thoughts crept in, they lasted 15 miles. This time, they only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes (thank goodness). I had to remind myself that I am OK and I am doing just fine. "Stick with it JJ, (a nickname a guy at work has given me that I use when I talk to myself) you aren't a quitter". As we came upon 70 miles and 105, we spotted our teammates at a convenience store so Michelle & I pulled off. This time, I needed to buy water in addition to ice as the temps were defintely rising and my water wasn't as cool as I would like. We got back on our way and knew we were pretty much in the home stretch as we had 30 miles left. Yes!

With the exception of one steep hill and one scary road (149), the last 30 miles came & went with relative ease. 149 has basically no shoulder and there is lots of traffic. My HR would start climbing not b/c I was pushing it too much but b/c I was scared of the cars that seemed like they were right on my shoulder. Yikes! Michelle & I continued to stick together and look out for each other. Just as I was thinking this scary stretch of road would never end, we hit 1488 and the left turn I had been dreaming about for a few miles. Once we were on 1488, we had a very short distance to Spur 149 which is really the home stretch and is a very familiar stretch of road. By now, the sun was shining with all it's might and Michelle & I were loving it. Yes, we were getting warm and we were ready to be done with our accomplishment but we were both feeling good. I looked down as my Garmin hit 86.6 miles and I let her know we had officially gone further than we ever had before. Yes!!!!!! Once we hit 90 miles, it was basically a count down. Every couple of miles we would take turns telling each other things like, "only 8 miles left now" or "we got this, 6 miles left"! We were getting pretty excited.
As we turned on to 2978, we talked about the fact we knew this route was going to be a little short and there was no way we weren't riding a full 100 miles. This was our first Century and therefore our Garmin HAD to say 1-0-0. We decided that when we hit Terramont Park, we would pull in and then right back out. We passed our cars and kept on cycling. We only had to add on about 1 mile and we were hootin' & hollerin' back down Terramont. We saw Stew who was finishing his run and he cheered us on as well. We saw Coach G, Vanessa & Lynn who were also adding on mileage. When we turned back into Terramont Park for good, our watches said 100.35 miles. WE DID IT. Hopping of our bikes, sweaty & smelly, we high fived and hugged. Colin rode his Century the day before and was up there congratulating us.

You might think this is where the story end but you're wrong. You see, we're dedicated and focused triathletes training for a big race. After our 100 mile ride, our sweet Coach was kind enough to schedule us for a 30 minute run. We were so happy to have finished our ride, we hardly minded having to run in the hot sun. Michelle is a MUCH faster runner than me but was kind enough to slow her pace way down so we could run together. We talked, laughed and got our run done together. It was the best brick I've had in awhile and I couldn't have done it without her!
My longest training workout was a huge success! I did it! WE did it. I stuck to my nutrition plan and so had no issues with muscle cramping or feeling like passing it out. Huge! I listened to my coach and stayed in the correct HR zones even if it meant letting go of the "pack". My legs felt very good coming off the bike and I was able to replace the evil 60 mile thoughts with the visual of me crossing the finish line and hearing, "Jenny Miller, you are an Ironman"!
Galveston 70.3 is 2 short weeks from Sunday. Wow! IMTX is 8 short weeks from Saturday. What will become of my blog when these races are done? :(

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A letter to my first love.....

Dear Running,

We've been together a long, long time. I think it was 1993 when we were first introduced. I was so excited for my first 5k, I bought a new outfit. You didn't mind that I was awkward and sweat a lot. You seemed to love me for who I was.

Years went by and we were on again & off again. Whenever we ran into each other, it was like no time had passed at all and we quickly picked up where we left off. For some reason though, we always would grow apart. And then finally, we broke up for good. It was November 2004 and I was out with you when I had a pain so bad in my knee, it drove me to tears and the next thing I knew, I was having knee surgery. Aren't there easier ways to break up with a girl? I spent many months wondering what I did to you. And then, I met someone new.

It was 2005 and I found triathlon. Sure, you were back in my life but we were just friends now. We politely nodded when we saw each other but the connection was lost. A few years went by but I could never get very serious with triathlon. 2007 arrived and you were back in my life. The stage was yours to shine. We spent the entire summer together and had a great time. We were going to the Houston Half Marathon together in 2008, my first trip. You couldn't wait to introduce me to all your friends. After that race, I decided you would be in my life for a long, long time and we made plans for lots and lots of races. Maybe we were spending too much time together. I thought I was good to you but the next thing I knew, you were hurting me again. You gave me my first stress fracture in late 2008 so we took a bit of a break. In 2009, you did it again! What was happening? Ahh, triathlon is what happened. It was creeping back in my life and I hadn't even realized I wasn't giving you the attention you wanted....or deserved.

You've been very patient the last few years and I promise as soon as we are done with Ironman Texas, you will have some alone time. I've already booked our trip to the Chicago Half Marathon...no swimming and no biking. See? All about you! I've even entered the lottery for the NYC Marathon and if I get in, you and I are going to have a heck of a summer together!

Running, I just wanted you to know that even though triathlon is very important to me and will be in my life for years to come, I loved you first and probably love you best! I promise to spend more time alone with you if you promise no more injuries. Ok? Deal!


p.s. Thanks for the great time today. And if it's not too much to ask, could you give me a little speed back? Thanks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Can I get some fries with that shake shake booty?

Ok, so maybe the title of this post doesn't really have anything to do with triathlons or training or nutrition but how else would I ever get to honor one of my favorite female rap duos, Salt n Pepa?

Being that I'm just about 3 weeks out from Galveston 70.3 and therefore, NINE weeks out from IMTX, it's time to focus on nutrition. No, not nutrition as in what I'm eating on a daily basis...that would be easy. This is race day nutrition. What food or rather, fuel do I plan on using on race day. Coach G messaged us Monday to let us know it was time to send her our detailed plan of what we planned to consume during our century ride this Sunday. This ride should be representative of what we'll do at IMTX. Being the anal retentive, A type personality I am, I had already set up a spreadsheet so I had a bit of a head start. I needed to now populate the bad boy with what I was currently using as well as all the nutritional information (calories, sodium, protein, carbs, etc). I needed to tell her exactly what I would carry on the bike with me and what I would then need to get at either a rest stop on Sunday OR at a rest stop during the race. Talk about stress.

I think most triathletes are teenage girls at heart when it comes to trying out new products. Let me explain. As a teenage girl, you start really getting into makeup and hair products and all that good stuff. You see something your friend has in her Caboodle (some of you know what that is) and you just HAVE TO HAVE IT. Well, triathletes are kind of like that too....always on the lookout for what other folks are testing in their nutrition arsenal. Always looking for that special something that fuels you like a champ but doesn't taste like complete ass at the same time. It's a never ending search that doesn't always end well. Case in point: Perpeteum Solids. I tried and tried to like Perpeteum in liquid form as I heard so many good things about the Cafe Latte flavor. I tried it. Gag. I should've known better. I hate coffee or anything that remotely resembles coffee. I was at Luke's Locker and noticed they had Perpeteum Solids (or Perp Solids as my coach so cooly calls them). Hmm, Strawberry Vanilla you say? I'll give those a shot. I popped one in my mouth during the Continental Classic a few weeks ago and almost immediately foamed at the mouth. Can you say straight nasty? I can...PERP SOLIDS.

Thankfully, I've found a few things I really dig and I will honor them here. Now. In my blog.

Above: Mixed Berry IM Perform, I love you! You taste nothing like your nasty, Mango cousin. Yuck!

Below: PowerBar Gel in Green Apple, I could almost put you on a stick and call you a lollipop. Almost.

Above: Cookie Dough Roks, you complete me. I love you even though you taste nothing like cookie dough. Maybe at mile 80, when I'm delirious, you will trick me. But not now.

As of today, these 3 nutritional delights will be my compadres during IMTX...unless of course I become the vomit comet come Sunday. In that case, I will have to change my plan. I don't think that'll happen though! :)

I am so, so, SO glad Coach G had me focusing on this now. This is way more complicated than figuring out what I'm going to where to a party that says "trendy casual" on the invite!

Happy training...and if looks could kill you would be an oozie (sp?) or a shot gun BANG! (Sorry, had to complete the SNP lyrics). :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The first weekend of many more firsts to come!

First, let me start this post w/ a picture of my friends Lynn & Misty. I promised them they would make my blog and so now they have! ;)

Holy training Batman! Coach G gave us all the heads up the last 12 weeks of training would be the most critical but would also be full of firsts. She wasn't kidding!!! To spare you a little boredom, I'll just cut to the chase. I posted my first 16 mile run, swam my first long staple workout of 30x100's (ouch) and topped it off today with 86 miles on the bike followed by a 30min run (at a 10:43/mile pace which yes, is respectable for me)! As I sit here at nearly 6pm on Sunday night, I can't help but feel extremely proud of the work I've been putting in and the progress I'm making. I still have 10 weeks until Ironman and A LOT of work to still do but each week I see myself getting stronger and feel the confidence building. Now, this confidence isn't building to the point where I'm saying I'm going to finish in 14hrs but it's building in a way that makes ME believe I will do this. I am my own worst critic and it's so easy to find something wrong with each workout and feel it's not good enough compared to others but that's when I have to check myself before I wreck myself (hahahaha, I couldn't resist). It doesn't matter who I can & can't keep up with. All that matters is that each week, I build on the week before and prove to myself I'm improving. What a great, great feeling!

I haven't weighed myself b/c honestly, I try not to do that as the scale is just another tool the devil likes to use. :) My jeans are fitting different though, as are my work slacks. I made my sister grab my butt the other day too b/c it was feeling good. Hey, she's lucky I didn't drop my sweats and make her look at it (as I've been known to do). I'm getting a lot more definition in my arms and I'm noticing my legs are toning up more. I'll never be skinny minny and that's fine by me but I must admit I am enjoying the perks of training like a crazy woman. The best perk of all though is that I just feel strong & I love that feeling!

Well, that's about all I have to report on the training front. Keith's daughter, Heather, is due next week and we've all been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby B (we don't know the gender yet)! Heather & her hubby Mike have just purchased their first home and have been busy trying to get it ready for Baby B. Crazy kids!! They moved from Arizona to Chicago, bought a house and are waiting to pop out their first kid...all inside about a month! I don't think they could've put more "life events" in such a short period if they tried! Keith & I are super excited for them though and can't wait to meet Baby B and see their new home. Congrats guys!!!!!

With that, I'm off to finish relaxing. Sophie & Leia are acting like they biked 86 miles today as Sophie has already put herself to bed (in my bed) and Leia is laying at my feet snoozing.

Before I forget, a week from today will be my longest ride before IMTX AND my first century (100 mile) ride! I am beyond excited for this ride and will spend the week resting and watching my nutrition so I can have the best possible ride!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hills Yes...Thanks for the Memories Continental Cycling Classic!

Another training weekend is in the books! For a rest & test week, I sure did work hard!
I had a great long run on Saturday and was very thankful to have no arch pain. Yay! I got up super early and had to run alone b/c I was supposed to have my carpets cleaned BUT stupid Blackman Mooring kept calling to tell me they would be later & later (my original appt time was 8am). Their final call brought word that it would be 2pm and did I mind? Umm, you clearly don’t know me. Hell to the yes I mind so don’t bother coming. Now I must research another good carpet cleaning service. Annoying!

After running my heart out, I got my bike & bike gear organized for my long ride Sunday. I have found that it helps me tremendously to get everything ready to go by 4pm on Saturday when riding Sunday. This gives me time to pick up any missing essentials and allows me to spend the rest of the day relaxing. The Continental Cycling Classic was being held yesterday and that’s how I would get my long ride in along w/ many of my awesome teammates.

I went to bed at about 9:30pm Saturday and sat up for a short bit reading “Born to Run”. After a great night of rest, I was up early, walking Leia. I was out the door in record time and made it to the ride site shortly after 7am. I was thrilled not to rush as we had an 8am start time. We set off on this hilly ride looking forward to rest stops, a perk of supported rides! After not eating breakfast last weekend, I was sure to eat Sunday morning and it paid huge dividends, especially the first part of my ride. I maintained my set HR zones very well with the exception of the hills. I was having a blast and feeling great! I really enjoyed one of the rest stops as we were buzzed by a crop dusting plane. Wish I had my camera ready for that one! After the rest stop, we were off to our next stop in Anderson, Texas. Let me tell you, the hills into Anderson are big by Texas standards and challenging to those of us who are spoiled by flat, flat, flat roads! Either way, I was thrilled with my improvement from last time I rode this course and noticed a huge difference! As you head into Anderson, there is a huge hill, a short plateau and then another hill up to a stop sign. At the stop sign, you hang a Ralph (right) and there was my Oasis…rest stop! The half pb&j Sammie that I enjoyed there was like music to my taste buds. My teammates will tell you I seemed to like that Sammie a little too much (right Lynn?). Silly me, I thought we were done w/ the big hills! Bonk, wrong answer.

For those who don't know where Anderson is in relation to H-Town

Ahh, much appreciated rest stop in Anderson!

Setting out on the second half of our ride, I learned that the hills leaving Anderson were almost as punishing. I think they seemed harder than they were because my legs were tired from the other set of hills. I dropped back a bit from my group to maintain my HR but wasn’t too worried as I could see everyone just fine in the near distance. That was until I got a ridiculous cramp in my foot. Really? Now? I decided to ride through it and try to stretch it out on the bike but it’s pretty tough to stretch in those rigid shoes. Dangit. We passed the rest stop in Richards but I knew I wouldn’t make it to the next one and so told myself I would pull off when I found a decent spot. The pain would disappear and then come right back so I waited a little while longer and then hopped off the bike for a stretch. That was just what the doctor ordered as that stretch felt like heaven. Almost as good as pb&j. I caught back up with Misty (who was kind enough to pull off at the 50 mile rest stop). Yay, I would have company for our last 20ish miles. We set off and then stopped again at 60miles for another quick stretch. There was one last hill, the final mile of course. That’s just cruel. I must admit, after the hills in Anderson, this hill was nothing and Misty & I passed lots of folks heading up it. Go us!

Pulling in to the Montgomery County Athletic Complex, I couldn’t be happier….that was until Coach G yelled to me to get ready for my run. Umm, huh? There was no run on my schedule. I chose to ignore her and then slowly got my bike loaded on my car. She of course came right up to me and told me to hurry it up and get my run done. “Are you crazy” I asked? Ok, maybe I didn’t ask it that way but you get the picture. Coach G wondered aloud why she wouldn’t make me run and then remembered it was a rest & test week so no brick for me. I got my dry clothes on which included my cute shirt that said, “Hills Yes”. After everyone finished their ride and/or brick, we headed to Sam’s Boat on Lake Conroe for post race grub. Given that I’ve been trying really hard to be good and drop a few more pounds, I was going to bypass the beer…and I was successful! Well, then Gena ordered the delicious sounding Bloody Mary and I caved! I was SO glad I did too b/c that was the yummiest Bloody Mary I’ve had in awhile. Perfect amount of spice and yummy snacks in it! A great, great ride topped off by food with friends.

A few things I learned from this ride: (1) I am SO thankful the Anderson hills are not on the IMTX course. Whew! (2) I need to continue to focus on pacing so I can avoid going out too hard and conserve energy for the end.

This week will be another busy training week bringing another first….my first 16 mile run and my longest run ever. I’ll be jumping from 11 to 16 which I’m ok with. I’m excited to knock this run out and see how it feels! Sunday will bring 85 miles in the saddle followed by a 30minute run. Galveston & IMTX are steadily creeping up on me!