Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 5-6

We're 1/4 of the way through Ironman training! It really is flying by and I know that once we are in the summer months that it is going to go by even faster.

WEEK 5

 Totals - Swim: 2.96 miles , Bike: 95.1 miles, Run: 21.04 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile trail run
Wednesday - 25.4 mile bike, 2,300 yard swim
Thursday - 6 mile trail run
Friday - 24.19 mile bike
Saturday - 5 mile run, 5.04 mile trail race, 2,900 yard swim
Sunday - 45.51 mile bike

I actually felt good this week, I think my body finally realized that it was back in training mode!

 Smiling even while running through mud

We ran on trails for the majority of our runs this week, only 5 miles were on roads prior to a fun trail race. I did have one scare after our first trail run of the week. The next morning, I found a tick on me. Luckily, while it was a bite it wasn't bad and after monitoring it I don't think I need to worry.

I was able to get my first outdoor rides of the season in during this week. Unfortunately, they were really windy but it felt great to get outside. We did cut one of our rides short by about 6 miles but we were limited on time and were literally racing the sunset by the end!

Happy with that speed

Our first long ride outdoors went really well. I was able to hold 15.7 mph in the wind! I'm hoping I can get even faster by the end of the season.

We did cut one swimming workout from our schedule this week, which is alright since I scheduled three days but knew we would only swim twice every once in awhile. 

WEEK 6 

 Totals - Swim: 3.13 miles , Bike: 109.7 miles, Run: 20.08 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile trail run, 2,000 yard swim
Wednesday - 3,500 yard swim
Thursday - 35.03 mile bike, 3 mile run (brick)
Friday - 23.67 mile bike
Saturday - 12.08 mile trail race
Sunday - 51 mile bike

This week of training required a complete overhaul. I had to rearrange our schedule to accommodate some of Rochester's final days of winter temperatures.  Luckily, with triathlon training we are used to rearranging our schedule so that we can get our workouts in safely.

Wednesday was a unique day of training for us since it was just a swim workout, however, we swam almost 2 miles!

 I feel weird when I don't wear these colors

This was also our first week with a brick workout, which required watermelon colors! The ride was super windy, but the run was fast (8:10 pace for the 3 miles).

 Post-ride selfie

We did cut one of our rides a little short (about a mile and a half) because of rain, wind and cold temperatures. We made up for that by doing an extra mile on Sunday while out for a 51 mile ride with a friend. It was a great day and a great ride!

As I was looking at the week, I realized that it probably wasn't the best idea to have almost 110 miles of biking the same week as an extremely challenging 20K trail race. Luckily, everything worked out!

Overall, other than dropping another swim workout, this week went really well!

We only have 18 more weeks left of training before we jump into the Ohio River. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Muddy Sneaker 20K Race Recap

On February 15th at 3pm, registration for Muddy Sneaker opened. At 3pm, Mike and I registered for the race.

I didn't really think about it much until everyone started to freak me out about how difficult this race truly is, and then I started to devise my "escape route" (jumping off a ledge during the race to end it all). We weren't going into it to race, at least I wasn't, so I tried to use that fact to comfort myself.

Mike and I drove to Naples with our friend Rob and the entire time I really didn't feel like running. As we were driving up the final road to the race, we saw our friend Beth riding her bike. Yes, she is a beast and a fellow triathlete training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene (which she'll rock, of course).

After picking up our packets, sitting in the car and standing in the long port-a-potty line, it was time to start the race. We saw a few more friends and took a pre-race photo.

Thanks for the photo Kirsten! (another triathlete training for Ironman Lake Placid)

I really had no plan, other than to not die (though I was welcoming any possible hallucinations), and found a place at the start. After a few announcements, that I couldn't hear, we were all off and running! 

The start of the race is up a hill, a nice preview of the rest of the race, and Kirsten was on the sidelines cheering us on.

 Smiling during the first tenths of the race

After running up the dirt road, the course took us into the woods. About a half a mile into the race, a runner in front of me pushed some tree branches out of his way and they smacked me in the face. I was a little shocked, but after making sure I wasn't bleeding I was fine.

 Mike getting ready to cross the first stream, photo courtesy of Alex Tong

 Proof I don't always smile during races, photo courtesy of Alex Tong

We made our way across the first of many stream crossings and back up into the trails in the woods. The majority of the race was run on fire roads, but this portion was on single track. I took my time in the spots that looked iffy and just tried to keep sight of the people in front of me. 

The second stream crossing was a bit worrisome because there was still ice that we had to cross over! A few other runners were near me at this point and after making our way across, I somehow mentioned how I had never run the race before. A woman mentioned that we would run this section of the race twice, which was helpful for me to know since I had no idea what to expect. 

I really enjoyed the variation of terrain during this race. There was single track, open sections and all of the "obstacles" that we had to get over and under. At the first water stop, around 2.5 miles, I joked about how I wanted to stay and eat all of the delicious food that they had. But I kept going.

The next part of the race was run on fire roads, which made it a little bit easier but because of the hills it wasn't that easy. I walked when I needed to and ran when I could. There were some people dressed like a chicken, a penguin and some other animal directing us which way to go (no not hallucinations). Mile 6 was the sweetest because it was mostly downhill and I was able to hold sub-9 for most of it (I ended up with 9:18 pace for that mile).

Around mile 7 I saw someone who looked like one of our friends. I didn't think that it was possible that I would catch up to her but when we got back to the chicken and penguin, I saw that it was our friend, Heather. She decided to DNF and went on straight while I turned left. This was the portion of the race that we had already run and after an aid station we went back onto the single track we ran on earlier in the day.

Around mile 8, I saw a runner who had passed me earlier on in the race. I thought to myself that there was no way I should be catching up to him and then I noticed more of our friends and they were carrying another runner. One of our friends, Jenn, hurt herself during the race and a bunch of people carried her out of the woods (no cars could get to this portion of the race). Mike told me later that he had heard her fall and went back to help her for a few minutes.

I felt so bad as I went by them, and asked if she was alright. Even though she was in a lot of pain she said she was, and I continued on my way.

At the next aid station I saw our friend, Todd, and he went back to see if he could help our injured friend.

Before the race when people were talking about it, I knew that the last 3ish miles were going to be interesting. There was about a mile long downhill portion, which wasn't too bad but I made sure to watch my footing, and then a 2 mile long climb to the finish. After crossing the final stream and stopping at the aid station for some water there it was. The BIGGEST uphill ever.

There is no way I could run this part of the race so I just did my best to hike up it as fast as possible. I was chatting with two other women about our Ironman (even though I really didn't feel like wasting energy talking, but it took my mind off of what I was doing). When we made it to the top, of that part, there was a little bit of a flat portion. There was a guy there and he said, "you made it to the top of the worst part" and I said, "well here's the ledge I can jump off of to end it all". He said that was the best comment he had heard all day.

I did end up falling once during the race, and while it hurt my shoulder and knee I kept going. In the final mile while going uphill I alternated between running to a certain point and then walking briefly. Todd caught up to me and CRUSHED the uphill.

 Mike finishing the race, look at that form

Actually smiling and not hating life, photo courtesy of Alex Tong

Eventually, I saw the finish line and knew I had to run the rest of the way. As I made my way into the clearing, I saw my people! They were cheering me on and making comments about chicken (in reference to the people dressed like chickens).

After 2 hours 34 minutes and 4 seconds, I finished the hardest trail race I have ever run! Mike finished in 2:16:43 and it seemed like he had a great time too!

 Us with Beth after the race

In all honesty, this race wasn't as bad as everyone made it out to be. Yes, it was challenging and if I went into it wanting to race I may have been disappointed in myself. At different points during the race I thought about what people told me, to have fun, and I was having fun. I talked with people, laughed, smiled and also cringed when I had to literally hike up those final hills.

This race also taught me that I am mentally tougher than I was a few years ago. When we ran an 11 mile trail race two years ago, I really wanted to jump off a ledge to end it all and this time I just joked about it. I am happy that I am physically stronger, but I am happier that I am mentally stronger too. 

 The cheesy smile says it all, let's do this race again! Photo courtesy of Alex Tong

I was told I may not be happy that I was running during the race, but that after I would be happy that I did it. We're already talking about doing it next year, so it must not have been that bad.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Food Post

Food. Oh it is so delicious.

But, I didn't always think that way.

I've had issues with food for a long time. I didn't have a diagnosed eating disorder but I definitely had eating issues. I would restrict what I would eat, how much I would eat, etc. and not in an "I'm dieting" way.

I have always been an athlete. I started swimming when I was 8 years old and continued until I was a second year in college. In the prime of my swimming career I was swimming 8 times a week at about 2,500-4,000 yards a workout for 10 months out of the year. I needed food to survive, but I still had issues with eating especially in high school. It probably had to do with who I hung out with and the need to fit in. I was not stick thin and tall, I never ever will be tall. I had broad swimmer shoulders and huge legs.

I wish I realized that those shoulders that were "broad" and those legs that were "huge", were "powerful" and "strong". Luckily, my issues with food didn't ruin my swimming career. I do wonder if I felt the way I feel about food now, if I would have performed better. I'm 99% certain that I would have.

After I stopped swimming competitively (I still remember sitting in the car while Mike was getting the required physical and realizing that my swimming career was over), I gained weight. Mike was still swimming and I ate the same amount of food as when I was swimming, but I wasn't. I wasn't really that active and after awhile I started to really hate what I looked like.

I again had issues with food. Restricting what I ate and definitely not eating enough.

Luckily, running and triathlons came into my life. I didn't start this journey to lose weight, I had already lost it albeit in an unhealthy way.

I'd never have accomplished this if I didn't fuel properly

Running and triathlons have done so much more for me than keep me "skinny" and "slim" (I'd actually prefer to be described as strong). It has helped me realize that I NEED food to survive. Everyone who runs with me knows that I am going to ask, "so where are we eating after?". I don't calorie count (luckily I never have done that), but I assume I eat 3,000-4,000 calories a day. I need to if I want my body to perform the way I want it to.

I don't worry about eating a piece of candy or having dessert every once in awhile because I've been in a place where I didn't let myself enjoy those things. That doesn't mean that I don't try to eat mostly healthy, but I also do not deprive myself of any kind of food.

Food has controlled me in the past, I'm not going to let it do that to me again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mess the Dress Race Recap

Yesterday we ran our first race in over a month.

Over the winter we ran a lot of trails, so when TrailsROC announced their newest race, Mess the Dress, we knew we wanted to do it immediately. Unfortunately, with my injury and Ironman training we haven't been running trails as often (next weekend's 20K on trails should be interesting).

We also had 10 miles on the training schedule, so we weren't going to be racing it. Just running for fun.

The whole premise of the race was to have fun anyway. The race benefited the Center for Youth Services and collected donations of dresses and money for students in the Rochester area who otherwise may not be able to attend their own proms. Many runners dressed up in actual prom dresses, I kept it simple with my sparkle skirt.

After we got our first 5 miles done on the roads, Mike and I got ready for the race. I wish we had timed our first run a little closer to the start of the race because my legs had about an hour to cool down.

We made the semi-short walk to the start and after a few announcements it was time to start the race. Interestingly, Mark Long from the Real World was there with the company Pocket Protein, one of the race sponsors.

 Mike making his way through a muddy section

The race took place in Black Creek Park and it definitely lived up to the name of the race. The park was still wet and muddy. There were very few dry sections, and I took it easy through most of the muddy and wet sections. The first two miles went by relatively quickly and everyone was messy almost instantly. I did start too far back and had to deal with some bottle-necking, but after I got around people I was fine.

 More mud

My legs started to feel heavy around mile 2.5, because of the pre-race miles and the fact that my shoes felt like they weighed 10,000 pounds. I don't mind mud, but there was one time when I had to stop to get a gross muddy leaf off of me. Earlier in the week I had been bitten by a tick so I was trying to not be grossed out by what could be on me.

I realized I had overdressed with my long sleeve shirt and capris almost immediately, but with one mile left I was really hot. Blog reader, Erin, caught up to me at this point and we chatted for a bit. She rocked her dress!

 I can't believe he wore that tie on his head the whole time

Happy to be almost done

I got to the final section of trails and focused on getting to the finish. The finish line was through a huge pond of water (not an actual pond but that's what it looked like) and then up a hill.

 10 miles for the day, done!

I gave Eric, the race director, a high five at the end and he said that I wasn't dirty at all. The water at the end washed it all off.

I finished in 59:44 and Mike finished in 49:35, for a fun race I'll take it. I know we both could have done better if we weren't running it for fun and didn't have 5 pre-race miles on our legs.

And with that we finished race one of three over three weekends!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Marathon #4

Three years ago, I wasn't even thinking about running a 5K, let alone a marathon (that would happen in about a week, runniversary is coming up!)

I don't even remember how we went about choosing our first marathon, but two requirements must have been that it was close to home and after our first sprint triathlon. We ended up picking the Wineglass Marathon, and training was rough. Most of our long runs did not go well but we still went into race day with high hopes.

I went out way. too. fast. Under 9:45 pace for the first half, PR'd the half marathon distance (which you should probably not do in a marathon) and mentally crumbled when Mike decided to DNF.

Complete and utter pain face all the way to the end

I finished in 5:01:23.

The choice for our second marathon was somewhat easy. We wanted redemption and we registered for the Cleveland Marathon the same day as Wineglass. We had wanted to do the half marathon at Cleveland the year before but we did a duathlon instead.

Training for our second marathon attempt went a lot better. We had an extra 20 mile run and I felt like we had crushed them. All I cared about was Mike's redemption and him finally becoming a marathoner (ok, and maybe getting my sub-5 hour marathon).

So early, haha

Race day was interesting. The first half was glorious, cloud cover, cooler temperatures and I felt good. Then the second half came, the marathoners split from the half marathoners and things went downhill. It was 75-80 degrees outside, I almost puked once and my pace SLOWED.

 A happier finish this time

Marathoner!

But we finished, both of us. I finished in 4:46:58 and Mike finished in 4:18:55.

Enter, our third marathon. We were already planning on running the MDI Marathon before we registered for Cleveland so 2013 was the year of a 70.3 and two marathons. The MDI Marathon is my hometown marathon and I knew it would be special.

 The three of us at the beginning of the race

Since we had just raced our first 70.3 in July, we weren't sure if we were going to race for fun or race for PRs. Isaac and Crystal ended up running the marathon with us, literally with me, and I can't even describe how amazing this race was. Having my friends and my parents there, and running through where I grew up still gives me chills. If every race could be the MDI Marathon, I would be very happy.

 Marathoner x 2

I still owe Isaac so much for running with me until the end

We ended up going for the PRs. I finished in 4:17:37 and Mike finished in 4:07:39.

Obviously, 2014 is the year of the Ironman, but I am me and I am a marathon runner. I wanted my fourth marathon, I wanted an attempt at sub-4. We looked into doing a winter marathon, but cost and the reality of training for a hot race in the tundra didn't make the dream become a reality.

I gave up on running a marathon in 2014 and figured we'd run one or two in 2015.

Then one night, Mike and I were out to dinner and he said he wanted to run the Chicago Marathon (he misspoke). I questioned him, saying it was too soon after our Ironman and that's when he said he meant the Philadelphia Marathon.

As marathon hungry as I was, am, always will be, I had my doubts. Could we do it so soon after our Ironman?

Well, we are going to do it because last night we registered for our fourth, stand-alone, marathon attempt!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 3-4

We have officially entered one month of Ironman training! I would call this "Part 1" of training, base building in a sense. We only have 20 weeks to go, which is somewhat of a long time but it will go by in a blink of an eye.

And luckily, I don't really feel like I am playing make believe anymore and can visualize, somewhat since I've never been to Louisville, myself on race day.

WEEK 3

 Totals - Swim: 4.22 miles , Bike: 85 miles , Run: 23.58 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 8.23 mile run, 3,000 yard swim
Wednesday - 20 mile bike
Thursday - 4 mile run
Friday - 25 mile bike
Saturday - 11.35 mile run, 1,450 yard swim
Sunday - 40 mile bike, 3,000 yard swim

I was on vacation this week, so I was able to get some of my workouts done during the day. Even still, I was SO tired this week. It was my highest mileage week since Musselman 70.3 and I was feeling fatigued.

 Trail run, #letmetakeaselfie

Luckily, most of my runs went better than the previous week, but my long run on the weekend was still rough. Mike and I ran with Rob again, well they ran and I shuffled along. For some reason, I think it was my socks, I couldn't feel my feet after 4 or 5 miles and the rest of the run was tough. I was not a very pleasant person and definitely was not feeling the run.

We also had our longest ride of the training cycle so far this week, and it was my longest ride on the trainer: 40 miles. It was doable but mentally tough. I got through it though!

We didn't switch anything around this week and only reduced our run mileage on Thursday because we ran 2 extra miles on Tuesday (2 miles on roads and 6ish miles on trails).

WEEK 4

Totals - Swim: 3.61 miles, Bike: 70 miles, Run: 20.5 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 20 mile bike
Wednesday - 5 mile run, 2,500 yard swim
Thursday - 20 mile bike
Friday - 5 mile run
Saturday - 10.5 mile run, 1,350 yard swim
Sunday - 30 mile bike, 2,500 yard swim

CUTBACK WEEK!! Originally, Mike and I were supposed to race (pace someone to sub-2) this weekend, but it didn't happen. In the end, I'm glad because we have "races" the next three weekends in a row.

 I credit watermelon colors for my two good runs

I was still not feeling the run, so we switched our biking and running workouts both on Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/Friday. I think this helped me out immensely because both of our 5 mile runs rocked! The first one was 8:32 pace and the second one was 8:14 pace with the last mile at 7:53 pace!

 Speedy run!

Our weekend run, on the other hand, was an interesting combination of trails and roads. We wanted to get some hilly trail running in (because in two weeks we have a 20K on trails) but the original place we wanted to run the parking area was closed and then the second place the trail was still too icy for me. We only did about 3 miles on trails and then the last 7.5 miles were on HILLY roads. Seriously, in this area almost every road has the word "hill" in it. It was still a great workout and had some fast miles considering we had to change our plans.

I ended up doing our 30 mile ride on the trainer, it was cold when I wanted to ride in the morning and I don't have a lot of good cold weather riding gear. Mike could only handle 15 miles on the trainer and did the rest outside in the afternoon in the warm weather and rocked it! He changed our tires, so now our trainer tires are off and our regular tires are on, so this week we should get all of our rides done outside.

Overall, I can't complain about how this week went and I feel refreshed, which is good since we are gearing up for Part 2 of Ironman training: more biking miles, brick workouts and races!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Giving Up Alcohol

When I was injured, and even a little before that, I was mad at the world. Drinking a little too much, for me, and not feeling that great. 

After the last night of going out (on February 1st), I decided to cut alcohol out completely. For some this may be a huge shock, but it isn't the first time that I haven't drank. I actually don't drink all that much, pick "kid drinks" while out to dinner and don't really feel the need to indulge in alcoholic beverages. Now that delicious (insert almost any kind of food) on the other hand, that's another story.

Unrelated, but kind of not, I also cut out coffee this week. Mostly, because I woke up on Monday with a bit of a headache and felt that it might be a caffeine headache. I don't drink coffee to "wake me up" (because it doesn't and I am usually awake anyway), I drink it in the winter because it is warm and in general because I like the taste.

 This is actually a chai latte, but it looks like coffee

But I don't want it to control me. I don't want anything to control me.

I don't want to feel like I have to drink alcohol to fit in or because that's what everyone else is doing (which is part of the reason I am not drinking, to be "different").

There are plenty of other reasons too that I am not drinking alcohol right now (the coffee will most likely come back this weekend or next week), I feel SO much better when I am not drinking, even one drink every once in awhile.

I am training, hard, for something that means a lot to me. If that means that I am "giving up" alcohol so that I feel better while doing it, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'll have a drink every once in awhile.

Or, maybe, I won't.