Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oh speed work, I've missed you so!

After months & months of no real speed work, it's time to get back to pushing myself at the track. I knew that with Ironman training, I would see my speed drop but I don't think I truly appreciated just how slow I was going to get. Don't get me wrong, it was all worth it and for my first Ironman, it was expected.

Getting back to the track this week felt awesome. When I arrived, it was empty...not a soul in sight. I've never minded doing track workouts on my own as I had to get used to it due to my crazy work schedule. For my first true track workout, I definitely thought being alone would be for the best. I didn't want to embarrass myself!

I started my warm-up and even though I've run since IMTX, my legs felt far heavier than they had previously. Hmm, not a good sign. I decided it was just the negative talk in my head and to ignore it. My day hadn't gone as planned and so I was forced to do my workout in the evening when it was nice & muggy! I knew I should be realistic w/ my expectations. I was only going to be doing 400's and there was no need to get crazy.

After a nice, long and very sweaty warm-up, I grabbed some much needed agua and got my trusty Garmin ready for the workout. 4x400 is all I had to do. I decided that I shouldn't expect much more than a 9:00 - 9:30min/mile pace given I haven't been running hard (or fast) in quite some time. That last 100yds of IMTX was at a whopping 10min/mile pace! My 1st 400 should be slow. I decided to just do what my body felt and not look at my watch. I remembered a night at the track well over a year ago. I was doing mile repeats and I was the only athlete who showed up. Coach Bill was there with me and John Laskowski was there as well (ok, so one other athlete but this is when I was part of the run focused group and John was part of the big, bad tri group). I would constantly look at my watch. Bill told me on my last loop not to look. And guess what? I went faster when I didn't look. Bill's advice paid off again as my first 400 was at an 8:40min/mile pace. Wow. That's wasn't too shabby. I got some water, stretched my leg out a bit and got ready for #2. 8:40min/mile pace. This not looking at the watch thing is pretty cool. #3 is always my repeat where I slow down regardless of what the workout is. Something about #3 isn't my friend. What can I say, I've never been a fan of odd numbers. 8:08min/mile. What was crazy about this was that I didn't feel like I went faster than #1 & #2, my HR didn't spike and I wasn't winded. I had focused on my kick and pumping my arms. Note to self: pump arms all the time! I was feeling good but noticed my legs were feeling heavier than normal. I only had #4 left and I could cool down. I focused on my foot strikes and tried to make sure I was in a good rhythm. As I hit the end of the final 400, I consulted my Garmin to learn I went 8:40min/mile again! Loving the consistency!

A great track workout! The last time I hit those types of times, the temperature was a bit more comfortable and I wasn't post-Ironman. I had far lower expectations of myself than I should've. What does this tell me? Trust yourself. Trust your abilities. Trust your gut. I always tell myself (and anyone who will listen) that I'm a crappy runner. That I'm too heavy to be a good runner. That I wasn't made for running. Enough already! I'm not saying the times above are stellar but at the same time, they're nothing to be ashamed of. It's time to stop selling myself short on the run. It's time to make myself a little uncomfortable during workouts and really push myself. I'll never know what I can achieve until I give myself a nice push!

Getting back to a "normal" training schedule has been great. I spent part of my lunch hour working on plotting out the rest of my race season and making tweaks to my goals for each race. Even though Coach K is taking a break from coaching (I miss you Coach K), I'm still excited for my upcoming races and know that I'm going to do well! The name of the game is to have fun and not sell myself short.

With that, I'm off to get some shut eye as I have an early swim planned tomorrow. I'm also looking forward to being off on Friday and doing my long run on the IMTX course. I know this sounds completely crazy but I spent so much time out there the past few months, I kind of view it as a friend I haven't seen in awhile. Yes, I've gone out there to walk Leia but this will be different. I really am a dork huh?!?

Monday, June 20, 2011

You will never believe what I'm excited about!

Well, it finally happened.....I lost a toenail. As in el fin, no mas. In my head, I imagined this day would be far, far worse.

After work, I was able to go straight to the pool and swim. I was so excited! Over the weekend I noticed one side of the nail separated from my toe and while I knew the inevitable was close, I somehow managed to convince myself that if I painted another layer of nail polish on the doomed nail, it would miraculously re-attach and be good as new. After applying one coat, I decided to apply a second and then third for good measure. OPI is many things but crazy glue it is not. Within a few hours it was clear the nail had broken up with my toe. I thought about bandaging the toenail before swimming to "protect" it but decided that if wearing heels all day didn't hurt it, tape wasn't necessary. What if the adhesive was too powerful and yanked the toenail off anyway? Ohhh, let me rethink this. I'll just swim. Towards the end of the swim, I felt something weird. I can't quite describe the feeling though. You know how it feels when someone runs their fingers through your hair? Well that's how the second nail on my right foot felt. And I didn't like it.

When I got home, I decided I would remove all nail polish so I could let me nails "breathe" and get a better look at the two damaged nails on my LEFT foot. Wow. The second nail on my left foot is black. It actually looks like a french manicure of sorts. The very top is a happy white color and everything below is a purplish black. There is a purplish spot on the skin to the right of the nail and part of the flesh below the nail is also discolored. I'm not expert but I would say this nail is on it's way out too. Back to the one that is literally hanging by a thread though.

After getting the polish off, I decided to bend back the nail a little further. Hmmm, there's something behind the nail. OMG, it's another nail!!! A baby nail!!!! The nail behind the dead nail is dare I say, normal looking? I was hesitant to touch it but when I did, I could tell it was like a baby...thin, new, pure. I don't know what I thought would be behind the nail I was losing but I imagined something ugly. Something horrid. I was thrilled to see something that is definitely polish worthy is back there!

While Keith had cautioned me not to rip off the damaged nail, I wanted nothing more than to see it gone. I decided I would wiggle it and wiggle it back & forth until it just came off. This isn't too different from what I did as a kid when I had a loose tooth. After about 2 minutes and a helpful tug, the nail came right off. The toe doesn't look too bad either!

Upon further examination, I'm confident I will lose at least one nail on my left foot and maybe two. The middle nail looks better as it was once black but no longer is. Keep in mind the toe on the right foot that has now abandoned me never turned black.

I feel like I've achieved some twised, wacked out milestone. I mean who in their right mind would be excited to lose their first nail. Is this really the badge of honor I've been looking for? Many friends have suspected I'm nuts since signing up for IMTX but I'm pretty sure this seals the deal. And to further prove I've lost it, I'm including a picture below. Excuse the long-ish toenails but I've been TERRIFIED to get a pedi b/c of the nails trying to plot their escape from my body. I've now trimmed and filed all nails and my feet are looking not SO disgusting.

Goodbye right toenail! It was nice knowin' ya!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Breaking News!!!!

I am beyond excited to report that I've just signed up for Try Andy's Tri as part of a relay team. What's so exciting about this you ask? Umm, the fact that my boyfriend, KEITH CHALFANT, will be on my team!!!!!! Keith has supported me in my triathlon dreams for almost 6 years now. My brother Luke will be rounding out our relay team so I'm thrilled about that as well. I will be taking on the swim, Keith the bike and Luke will run. This is really cool b/c each of us will be challenged in our own way. I've NEVER gone balls to the wall while swimming and I will get to do this at TAT. This will be Keith's first time as an ATHLETE in a race and this is a great one for newbies. And Luke will get to show us that his sub-19 minute 5k time wasn't a fluke a few years back. I can't WAIT for Sunday, October 16th when my baby is in his FIRST tri!!!!!!

One Sad Week

This has been a really blue week. John Hager, the husband of my coack, Kim Hager died earlier this week. I've thought about Kim & her girls every day this week and my heart breaks for them a little more each day. In times like this, I just want to hug my friends and say the right things but no words ever seem right. So instead, I just pray a lot and hope that God can provide the comfort that I can't. In times like this, I think it can be so easy to question God's plan and wonder why things happen. Faith is put to the test.

Mom & Aunt Grace in 2010

Me & Aunt Grace in 2009

In addition to John passing, my great-Aunt passed as well. Grace Loffredo D'Amaro was my grandmothers sister and the last surving sibling she had. Whenever I would travel to Buffalo for my family reunion, I made a point of visiting Aunt Gracie. I loved visiting with her more than anything. She was always so sweet. She would offer us snacks, typically Bugles which I LOVED as a child. We'd sit in her front room and talk about funny things from the past. When I was a very little kid, I asked her why her nose was so big. Hey, I didn't know better!!!! A few years ago we went to visit her and the nuns had been by to see her not long before we got there and left her communion wafers. Aunt Gracie had us line up so she could give us communion. Of course, I couldn't stop giggling and she told me that Jesus wouldn't like me laughing during communion. I told her I was pretty sure Jesus wouldn't like her handing out communion. She cracked a smile, giggled and proceeded with her service. What a funny lady. Aunt Gracie was laid to rest Wednesday morning after passing Monday night (or at least that's when we think she passed). Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend the service because those were the wishes of her son. He had his reasons and while I disagree with them, I know there are other ways to pay respects to a woman I loved very much and will remember forever. Aunt Gracie, I love you and I hope Grandma isn't being too mean to you up there!!!!!

On the triathlon front, I've been back to "training" for a few weeks now. This was my 3rd recovery week and I have been doing pretty easy workouts. I'm actually going to go get my workout on right now and also have a 1.5-2hr ride tomorrow. I do have a race in 5 weeks but I'm not really worried about it. I just want to have fun!

I'll be back next week with a happier post (I hope). Until then, cherish every moment you have and have a happy weekend!!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Drum Roll Please

As promised, I'm here to unveil my race calendar and announce my official decision about IMTX 2012. I would've told you earlier but I truly had no idea which way I was going to go and told Coach K she would be the first to know my OFFICIAL decision. I'm saving that to the end so you have to read the rest of my blog first suckers! :)

Now, I have not yet discussed with Coach K what my plan of attack is for each race as she's busy getting settled in her new home so some of this might change. I have learned a lot this year with the help of Coach Gena and so I think I'm going into the 2011-2012 racing season with the right frame of mind. These are the races I'm OFFICIALLY signed up for.

In 6 short weeks, I'm returning to the racing world at the Shadow Creek Ranch Sprint. I haven't done a sprint in awhile and have been excited for one so I could see how much I've improved. Well, as I sit here today thinking about how my run last night left a bit to be desired, I'm wondering just how fast I'll be in 6 weeks. My main goal for this race will be to have fun and to push where I can as long as I feel good and won't risk injury. I think I'll really try to push the pace in transition. :)

I had promised my running legs I would focus on running for a bit and I will get to do just that on September 11th when I visit the Windy City and participate in the Chicago Half Marathon. When I originally signed up for this race, I had not yet signed up for IMTX and I had every intention of this being my opportunity to PR at this distance. My current PR is 2:10:54 and I really want to hit 2hrs. Given I now have other races on my calendar that are more of a priority, the Chicago Half will no longer be an A race. I'm starting to think I'll never get my chance at a PR!

Just 2 weeks after Chicago, I'll be giving the Olympic distance another whirl as I've signed up for the Houston Triathlon. While I had hoped to PR at this race, the location has changed so it won't be the same course. As far as I'm concerned, as long as I'm faster than my last Oly, it's a PR. It's occurred to me that I've never really pushed it in any race and have a tendency to stay in my comfort zone. My plan is to absolutely push the swim and make myself uncomfortable. The bike should be flat so I should see a good time there and then I'll be smart about the run. Given I've battled some foot pain on & off, I'm hesitant to do anything to crazy during the run in September given I have a Half Ironman in early November.

Oil Man Half Ironman (formerly Iron Star) is my big A race for the 2nd half of the year. I want a PR. I will be going for a PR and not just a little PR either. I want to blow the door off my first Half IM time. This is something I know I have to talk to Kim about. I can only control one thing on race In order for me to do what I want, I will need a lot of things to go my way. I will need decent racing conditions. I will need to feel 100%. I'll need to stay mentally focused. I feel that already I've improved tremendously and will see better times in each discipline regardless. But you never know what will happen on race day. Before I forget, I would like to go on the record to officially express my dismay that the logo for Oil Man didn't change w/ the new name. With a name like Oil Man, I was expecting something far more creative. Oh well!

The Woodlands Half Marathon is on the calendar in March 2012 and you would think THIS would be my chance to PR but it won't be. More likely than not, I will be signing up for Galveston 70.3 in April (early April) and if that's the case, it will be my A race and The Woodlands Half will be another training day. Cest la vie. With the return of The Woodlands Marathon, I'm looking to just enjoy the day and have a good run and visit with my friends. No pressure. Just get out and really enjoy running and the fact I'm blessed to be healthy enough to do this stuff.

There you have it! The official races and how I plan to attack them. I'm excited! I'm confident I'll be adding some other races in there but need to discuss with my Coach before I sign up for anything else. I've got some big goals over the next two years and it's more important to me to be smart. I've matured sooo much! :)

And now, for what you've all been waiting for. IMTX 2012 will NOT be on my race calendar. As much as I really want to do it, my plan always had been to sit out 2012 and stick with nothing longer than a 70.3 between now and December 2012. For those of you who did sign up for next year, I promise I will be there to volunteer and cheer you in!!! I will spend the next few months contemplating which Ironman race to do next because there WILL be another Ironman in my future. Right now, I'm leaning towards IMFL 2012 or IMTX 2012. Family support means the world to me and I think those two locations give me the best chance of having a Support Crew attend. Stay tuned!!!!!

Happy Friday!!!