Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Race Plan

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!

The race is now only 4 days away!!

If this was my second, or probably more likely my third, Ironman I would have a better idea of how to plan out my race. As I look back on my first marathon, and having a "time" goal, I think of how that may have messed with our heads a bit (yes, Mike's DNF really messed with me, but I went out way too fast thinking about a time).

As such, I am not going to pinpoint exactly what time I think I am going to cross the mats for the swim, bike and run. Instead, I am going to focus on how I am going to feel during the race. I do have some idea of what I am capable of, but it is our first Ironman, in a city we have never been in and with weather that we haven't seen in Rochester for awhile (or at all) this summer.

Therefore, my race plan is this:

Transitions - take my time, but not too much time, and make sure that I have everything that I need with me for the bike and the run. It is going to be a long and hot day out there! Also, breathe and thank the volunteers for doing whatever I need to get through race day.  

Swim - jump into the Ohio River at some point after 7am (remember it is a time trial start and we jump in one at a time about 5 seconds apart, we won't be first in line). Swim strong to the turn around point (about .7 miles in) and then bank on swimming with the current back to the transition area.

Bike - don't start out too fast (aka don't be a hammerhead), the first few miles are flat, and then use all that hill training we have done to get me through the out and back portion (take it easier on the downhill here as it is a bit dangerous!) Live it up while going through La Grange (lots of crowd support here!) Make sure I get to mile 60 by 2:45pm (the first bike cut-off). Stay hydrated with water and sports drink, refilling when necessary, eat my nutrition and take my special needs bag if necessary. Get through the bike course by 6:20pm (the second and final bike cut-off).

Run - don't start out too fast! Think about the two strong 20 mile runs that I put in during training. Stay hydrated and take in my nutrition, use my special needs bag if necessary. Make it to the second lap of the course by 9:45pm (the first run cut-off). As I approach 4th Street Live, before midnight, take it all in!

I also plan on doing this: breathe, take it easy when necessary, push when possible, smile, stay strong, wave at our supporters, talk to other athletes, high-five other athletes (hopefully Mike on some out and backs), be mentally strong and just keep moving forward.

I did make it known that my time "goal" is to finish under 15 hours (mostly so I can qualify to register for another race), but really my goal is to finish. More specifically, my goal is to finish happy.

Race day tracking isn't ready yet, but if you go here, and click on Ironman Louisville when it is ready in a few days you should be able to get to athlete tracking. My bib number is 417 and Mike's is 962.

Thank you to those who have trained with us, supported us and who have been there for us. Thank you to our parents and Rob for coming to the race to cheer us on!

And a really big thank you to Mike, for always being there for me no matter what and for pursuing this crazy dream with me. It is OUR turn!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Training Reflections

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!

This week's topic is training reflections!

Over the course of a training plan, especially one that is 24 weeks long and involves three sports, a lot of things can go right. And, of course, a lot of things can go wrong.

 So long ago

When I made our training plan (yes, I made it. No, we do not have a coach.), I knew that it wasn't the hardest Ironman training plan out there, but that it also wasn't the "easiest" (is any Ironman training plan really easy?) When one of our friends, who did Ironman Coeur d'Alene, told me months ago that we were putting in almost the same amount of mileage/hours that she was (when her race was two months before ours) I knew that our training plan was hard.

I do not regret making our training plan the way that I did. In fact, when we do our next Ironman I will most likely use what we planned/actually did for this one as a guide.

As with any race, a training plan is not set in stone. You need to account for some flexibility and changes. There will be weeks when you accomplish every single workout on your schedule and then there will be weeks when it feels like everything is crumbling around you (when in fact it really isn't).

As I look back on our training, I am in awe of all that we accomplished. Thousands of miles have been covered in the water, on the road, on the trails and everywhere in between. It would be hard to narrow down the "highlights" but here are a few:

Training with friends

 Lots of friends

We had so many friends willing to train with us over the past 6 months. There weren't many weekend workouts that we didn't have at least one friend with us, and the same is true of weekday workouts. Friends joined us for open water swimming, biking, running and bricks. Mike and I met new friends and bonded with people that we likely wouldn't have if it weren't for our love of this sport.


We love to race!

Mike and I did not have many races on our training schedule, but we had a few tune-up races. We were able to race a 100 mile triathlon back in June (crazy, that seems so long ago) and a few shorter races like the Mini-Mussel Sprint Triathlon and the Boilermaker (our double race weekend). It is always good to add a few races to a training plan, to see how things are going or just to have a supported training weekend!

Going Long

 Thumbs up for going long and loving it!

When I made our training plan, I had one definite 20 mile run/100 mile ride weekend and another penciled in. I ended up doing two 20 mile run/100 mile ride weekends, and I felt GREAT. My paces for our long runs were the best that they have ever been during training. Mike rocked the first 20 mile run/100 mile ride weekend, and then due to his cold did an 18 mile run/100 mile ride weekend. If he felt the way that I did when I got the cold, he did amazing and pretty much did the equivalent of what I ended up doing!

Mike and I were also able to get in one 2.4 mile OWS (tonight we're going to do a 2 mile OWS). I like that we have gone the distance for two out of three of the sports (we have both finished multiple marathons) and it makes me that much more confident for race day.

 So many bike miles over the past 6 months

While things have gone well, some things did not go so well. We, of course, had to miss or cut some workouts short and there was one week where I was a complete ball of stress. It didn't help that it was the week that I had to say "see you later" to Crystal and Joe, but the Ironman training emotions definitely got the best of me.

In the end, I believe that (with a few exceptions) we did everything under our control to make sure that we got in all of the workouts that we needed to in order to be prepared for race day. You can't control when a pool is closed, the weather, equipment malfunctions or getting sick. With the exception of a few "freak outs", I think that we handled what training threw at us extremely well.

Sure, there were times when we were hungry, tired, hungry, grumpy, hungry, sick, hungry, sore, hungry, but we got through it. We got all of our weekend miles in (with the exception of one dropped 50 mile ride during our double race weekend) and that's what matters the most. In fact, if I went back and counted all of the workouts that we missed, I'm sure it wasn't even that many. In the moment it felt like the most detrimental thing in the world, but it wasn't.

We are ready. Or as my friend, Isaac, pointed out - we are !!R!!E!!A!!D!!Y!!

 This triathlon power couple is ready for Louisville!

Which leads me to the biggest highlight of this training cycle: not only am I the strongest that I have ever been physically, I am the strongest I have ever been mentally (and I know that the same can be said for Mike). I know the day will be tough, hot and challenging but I am ready to face whatever it throws at me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Runner's World Half

I tried to come up with a more clever title for this post, but I am lame and couldn't. 

Do you read Runner's World? Alright, that's almost a silly question if you are a runner. Even if you don't read it, you at least know what it is.

Did you know that the people at Runner's World host a few races of their own? Well, they do, one of which is the Runner's World Half and Festival in October.

Mike and I are registered to run the Philly Marathon in November and included in our training plan is racing a half marathon about halfway through (granted our training is going to be a bit short, only 12 weeks, because of our Ironman). Our friend, Jenny, mentioned the Runner's World Half so it was already on our radar.

Then, the people from Runner's World contacted me about being one of twenty bloggers for the event. I'm not sure how I ended up being one of the people that they contacted considering some of the other bloggers are pretty big name (including the first running blog that I read that convinced me I wanted to start a blog about our journey), but I'm not complaining! Since we were already contemplating the race anyway, I of course said yes!

Race weekend is October 17-19 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The weekend includes a 5K, 10K, half marathon, kids races, a 1-mile dog run and a bunch of fun seminars and other events. Included in the weekend is the option to do the Five & Dime (the 5K and the 10K) or the Hat Trick (the 5K, 10K and the half marathon).

I contemplated doing the Hat Trick, but Mike and I are going to race the half marathon only. It's a bit hilly, but I am hoping for a PR!

I hope that some of you will consider coming out for the fun, and if you do, here are some 10% off discount codes you can use when you register! You can register for the races, here.

As hard as it is to believe, Mike and I will be starting training for the Philly Marathon on September 1st! I'm excited to make the Runner's World Half part of our training and I hope that I will see you there!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 21-22

Thirteen days. In thirteen days, we'll be jumping into the Ohio River to start our 140.6 mile victory lap and I can't wait! This may even be the last training update until after the race since I probably won't have time to recap the next two weeks before August 24th.

Week 21

  Totals - Swim: 1.99 miles, Bike: 134.2 miles, Run: 25.21 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 3,500 yard swim
Wednesday - 25.19 mile bike, 5.01 mile run (brick)
Thursday - 6.2 mile run (Twilight 10K)
Friday - 31.02 mile bike
Saturday - 14 mile run, 5.23 mile walk
Sunday - 77.99 mile bike

Oh boy, this week. For the most part it was good, even though Mike was coming off a cold that he got over the previous weekend and I was going through the full-blown thing. Nothing worse than a summer cold. It really didn't hit me until the run over the weekend, but more on that soon.

Even though I was sick, I didn't want to miss many or any workouts (we have only been swimming once a week instead of two to three times, but for us that's not detrimental to our training). We switched to just swimming on Tuesday to give us both some time to recover.

I still felt pretty lousy on Wednesday when we did our brick, but I sweat through it. We biked 25 miles and then our friend, Rob, met up with us for a 5 mile run on trails through Whiting Road Park. We hadn't run trails in awhile and it was a nice change of pace. I did ask the guys if it was humid out or if I was just sweating like crazy because I was sick, though!

 This lady did amazing!

Thursday we celebrated our four year wedding anniversary with a 10K race where we got married. I decided to not race it and instead paced our friend, Sarah, to a HUGE 10K PR! It was the right decision since I didn't tax myself too much and I felt, a bit, better on Friday. Mike got a new PR, even if it was only by a few seconds!


Friday we rode with our friend Greg and I felt pretty good. I could tell I still wasn't 100% though. I did hit my yearly biking mileage goal during this ride (2,500 miles) so that was pretty cool!

The weekend, at least Saturday, is when things went a little bit wrong. I was not feeling making any routes over the weekend (luckily, our friend Greg made our bike route for Sunday) but we decided we were going to run near our bike shop so Mike could drop his bike off after (he needed a new chain). Mike made a route that started on the canal path and then ran along another gravel trail to some roads and then back to the canal path to the car. I wrote down the route in the morning and we started out really well, if a bit too fast.

Our first 7 miles went like this: 9:22, 9:12, 9:20, 9:23, 9:23, 9:20, 9:22. Not too shabby, right? Well, then I started to feel the impact of my cold and the heat was starting to get to me. After we got off the canal path, I had to walk a little bit and our next two miles were like this: 10:06, 10:21. Not bad and the run would have been respectable if I could have kept it like that, but unfortunately, I mentally (and physically) let the negative thoughts and how I was feeling win. The end of the run turned out like this: 12:14, 11:16, 12:35, 11:05, 11:43. Considering I had been sick an average pace of 10:21 isn't terrible and if we had ended the run like that I would have been alright with it.

Unfortunately, I screwed up BIG TIME. When I wrote down the route in the morning, I wrote a left instead of a right at one of the turns. Since we aren't as familiar with the area and that road still hit the next road we were looking for from that direction, we didn't think anything of it (I had kind of thought that when the road changed names that something wasn't right, but I wasn't feeling well so we kept going). Mike said to me, about 13.1 miles into the run, "I don't see how this mapped out to 13.8 miles". Well that's because I messed up! We ended up having to walk 5.23 miles back to the car. We didn't have a cell phone with us and neither of us was thinking right and didn't flag anyone down to drive us back to our car.

That was the WORST mistake ever. We both ran out of water and by the time we got back I was feeling even worse. Luckily, after re-hydrating and relaxing I don't think that this negatively impacted us too much.

 Said new chain

Our ride on Sunday went well and we rode with Greg again. Even though it was raining, we had a fun time getting almost 80 miles in with him.

So, this week was mostly good, some bad and some really, really, really bad!

Week 22

 Totals - Swim: 1.29 miles, Bike: 108.79 miles, Run: 23 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 1.29 mile OWS
Wednesday - 5 mile run
Thursday - 20.23 mile bike
Friday - 25.87 mile bike, 4 mile run (brick)
Saturday - 12 mile run
Sunday - 62.69 mile bike, 2 mile run (brick)

This week went well! We had to rearrange our schedule a lot this week because I brought my bike in for a new chain, new tires, a behind the seat bottle cage install and a race day check (Mike's is currently back at the shop for a new tire and a race day check, we need to buy stock in Towpath Bike).

We did an OWS on Tuesday to test out possible race day outfits for the swim. Ironman Louisville will not be wetsuit legal and while you CAN wear wetsuits if the water temperature is between 78 degrees and 84 degrees you can't be eligible for awards (and they usually make you go last). Since we are good swimmers we don't need wetsuits. I tested out swimming in tri shorts and a sports bra and it did not go well. Too much drag. We both decided to buy speeds suits, Mike's has arrived (and he swam in it this morning) and I am still waiting on mine, hopefully it comes soon!

The rest of the week was full of faster than normal runs (a lot of which were progression runs). Our run on Wednesday was FAST! We didn't plan to do a progression run but it ended up being: 8:24, 8:09, 8:05, 7:55, 7:49.

 Bernie and I matched before our workout

Mike's birthday was on Thursday and we were going to do our brick, but because Mike got a flat (that took a bit to fix) and we were meeting people for dinner 15 minutes after we got back to the car, we had to postpone it to Friday. The ride and run for our brick ended up being fast, I averaged 16.9mph for the almost 26 bike miles and then we ran another progression run (8:14, 8:12, 8:05, 7:45). Like I said on my personal Facebook page, this isn't really the time for a running growth spurt, but I'll take it!

 No more double digit runs left!

Saturday went MUCH better than last weekend. Mike and I ran a route out near Braddock Bay, which is pretty flat but since our Ironman has less than 300 feet of elevation gain on the run that's fine. We averaged around 9:09 pace for the 12 miles. We had planned on swimming after, but since we were volunteering at the Beast of Burden 50 and 100 Mile Ultra race we wanted to give ourselves enough time to get ready. We volunteered with our friend, Rob, and we manned one of the aid stations from 2-6pm. It was a lot of fun! We love to volunteer and volunteering before our goal races always helps us to feel inspired, and ready to race!

 Puppies!! As seen on our ride

Sunday we rode a little over 62 miles and ran 2 miles with our friend Greg. The ride was really nice, some rolling hills, a few bigger climbs in the middle and more downhill/rolling hills to finish out the ride. The three of us ran on multi-track at Black Creek Park after the ride.

We were going to swim, but when we got to Braddock Bay there were WAY too many boats! Mike did get in to try his speed suit out. I was disappointed we didn't get to swim a second time this past week, but Mike and I made up for it by getting in an open water swim at 6am today!

Not much longer now and we get to put all this training to the test!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Taper

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!

When I was a swimmer (I don't know why I say it like that I still am a swimmer, I guess just in a different capacity), I HATED taper. I hated it so much that I wouldn't do it, I would swim extra yards because I didn't think that taper worked. In college I was "forced" to taper, and since I had lost my passion for the sport anyway I didn't see any benefits. I do remember having a shirt that said, "shaved and tapered" (for some reason this sounds dirty to me).

 Never thought I would be more ripped than this, but somehow I am

Now that I have been through taper a few times as a triathlete, I actually look forward to it. It is the few weeks (or sometimes just days if it is a short taper) that your body and mind can rest and recharge in preparation for the big day.

Mike and I are currently in taper mode. Last week was a baby taper week. We still did all of the same miles during the week that we previously had been doing, but our weekend miles decreased a bit (except that we made a huge mistake on Saturday and ended up with 19 run/walk miles for the day - more on that in next week's training recap).

This week our weekly miles have started to decrease, just a bit, as well as our weekend miles. We will still do close to 100 total miles next week, but compared to what we have been doing that is a pretty drastic decrease.

Taper DOs and DON'Ts:

DO continue to train, but at less intensity (sometimes) and mileage.
DO hydrate, eat well and sleep.
DON'T try anything new as you get closer to race day.
DO give yourself plenty of time to try all of your race day gear.
DON'T add more workouts to your training plan. You can't make up what you have missed.
DO make time for the people, things, etc. that you haven't gotten to during training.
DO give yourself enough time to pack/prepare for race day.
DON'T worry. You put in the hard work, now it is time for the victory lap!

New chain for Mike

In our case, taper weeks are being filled with some movie-going (something we haven't done in awhile), last minute purchases, such as, new shoes for race day (with plenty of time to break them in), final bike tune-ups, making a packing list and eventually, traveling to our race!

In 18 days, we will be jumping into the Ohio River and I can't wait!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Twenty Days

As I sit here on the couch just a mere 20 (yes 2-0) days away from our first Ironman, I don't know how to describe how I am feeling.

Excited, nervous, strong, prepared, slightly unsure of how the day is going to go - I guess I'm feeling it all.

We have put in thousands upon thousands of miles in preparation for August 24, 2014. And I'm not just talking about the past 21 weeks of our training plan that we have completed. When Mike and I started the couch-to-5K program back in April 2011, we knew we were going to attempt an Ironman someday.

We have raced almost 70 times since our first 5K, all while knowing we were working toward the 140.6 mile victory lap. We have endured long training days in the fall, winter, spring and summer getting in our swims, rides and runs. Sometimes alone, sometimes just the two of us and sometimes with friends and family.

 Celebrating one like minded person with other like minded people

Our love of this lifestyle has brought people with like mindsets into our lives. True friends, the kind that feel like they have been a part of your life forever, even though they haven't. It has also shown us who truly cares about us, who will be there for us no matter what and who supports us while we pursue "crazy" things like an Ironman.

This love of ours has brought us closer together. The one person I know I can always count on is Mike. He is there with me, pursuing the same dream that I am working my hardest to accomplish. To me that is the best part. It wouldn't be the same without him.

So. That someday, is really not all that far away anymore. 

I can't predict what the future holds. I know we are ready. Is it going to hurt? Yes. Is it going to be tough? Yes.

Is it going to be worth it? Damn right it is. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Twilight 10K Race Recap

Yesterday Mike and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe, yet not at the same time, that it has been that long since we got married. We have had so many fun adventures and I know that we only have more to come in the future.


Last year we ran the Twilight 5K in Canandaigua and it was a lot of fun. This year when I saw that they had the option of a 5K or 10K, and what day it was on, I knew that we had to run it. Not only did we have 6 miles on our training plan, but the race was on our anniversary. Mike and I were married in Canandaigua, which makes this race that much more special.

We set up a team again this year, this time we were called "The Badass Bunch", and a bunch (haha) of our friends, new and old, joined the team.

Unfortunately, I had caught Mike's cold that he got over the weekend and I am still not 100%. All day I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I wasn't even feeling it at one point, and then our friend Sarah said that I could always run with her. I had actually been thinking about doing that, Sarah and I kind of have a tradition where once a year I try to pace her to a PR and I knew that taking it easy would probably be better in the long run.

 Before the race last year

Before the last 5K we ran together

Mike and I got to the race start, a new venue this year at Sonnenberg Gardens, with a little less than an hour until the start of the race (the race started at 6:30pm). We went over to packet pickup and we immediately saw Sarah. A little while later our friend, Rob, showed up and then we saw another friend, Rick.

We went to try to find some bathrooms, which they didn't have any port-a-potties and the line for the bathrooms on site was LONG. Since I wasn't "racing" I just decided to deal with it and made my way back to the start line. It was then that I noticed that my watch was dead (I must not have turned it off after using it the night before - the 910xt can be turned on and off) and I knew that I was not meant to try for a PR.

I saw Erin, a newer friend, and her friend, Liz, close to the start. I went over, and after saying "don't hug me" (because of my cold) we just chatted for a bit. Mike and Rob had come over and we saw Rick with our friend Heather (all of these people were on team TBB).

After determining which way we were supposed to line up, I found a place next to Sarah. She told me her previous PR was 1:07, and I knew that we were going to beat that. I had actually gotten my watch to turn on, but it said low battery.

Mike and Rob were right in front of us, and as the horn sounded (so weakly I might add, at first we couldn't even tell that the race had started) we were off!

Sarah and I made our way through the grounds of Sonnenberg Gardens, and I commented about how I didn't even know the course at all. Another woman said, "there's a hill at mile 4". I also mentioned that the course was run on the Post Christmas Blues 5K course (another race I had run with Sarah).

 After the PCB 5K, there was about a foot of snow on the ground that day!

My watch had of course died right after we started the race, so I told Sarah we were relying on her watch. She told me that our first mile was 8:51 and I said that we could/should slow down. She said, "we will".

I just focused on telling her that she was doing great (she was!) and if there was a hill that it was a baby hill and she runs harder hills near where she lives. If I got too far ahead of her, because of pace or dodging people, I would slow down and let her catch up. The first few miles were pretty uneventful and I enjoyed the course, even if it had some slight hills.

Around three miles I thought, "huh, I guess there isn't going to be a water stop". It wasn't until almost 4 miles that the first water stop showed up! I told Sarah water was up ahead and she used some choice words to tell me she didn't need any, ha. I didn't take any either since I wasn't feeling that taxed (even though it was humid out).

The course was pretty nice, it ran along mostly side roads and one of the main roads through Canandaigua. There was a little turn around for the 10K, at one of the schools and you ran through the loop, and we saw a guy cut the course! Sarah said she hated that, and I said that it was a good thing he wasn't going to win. Cheating doesn't get you anywhere!

After we made it up the hill at mile four, our slowest mile, I told Sarah there weren't any more hills. Except there was a tiny baby one a little while later. We picked up the pace for the fifth mile, and Sarah accidentally grabbed someone's butt that she didn't know (she thought it was someone she knew, but it turned out to not be her). We, and the people around us, had a good laugh about that. As we were approaching the end of the race, Sarah mentioned she had to catch her breath. I let her and then when we rounded one corner I told her to try to pick it up.

She did great! Since I didn't have a watch, I didn't want to push her too hard but I asked if she had anything more and she said she'd try. Dodging the 5K runners (the 10K and 5K course combined in the later miles of the 10K) was tough but I told her to just keep picking off people. In the last .2 miles I told her to catch the guy in the gray shirt ahead of us, and she did!

As we got to the finish line, I saw Mike and Rob cheering us on. And then I saw the clock. Under 59 minutes! I yelled at Sarah to get in there and she sprinted to the finish! I crossed a few seconds after her at 58:04 (9:22 pace) and I told her that she did it! She ran to an AMAZING new 10K PR.

 After the race this year

The look on her face was worth not trying to PR. She was so happy! Like I told her during the race, she is a stronger runner than she was before. I remember when we ran our first race together and yesterday was nothing like that. She was strong, determined and didn't give up. Sometimes running isn't about you, it's about being there for the people who are there for you.

Mike had a great race, and even though he wasn't feeling it either and wasn't sure what he was going to do he got a new PR of 47:00. And, this morning we found out that he came in third in his age group!

After the race we waited to see some other people finish and then we went to the post-race party.

 Some of team "The Badass Bunch"

Unfortunately, there wasn't really anything there that I could eat (there was supposed to be pizza but for some reason there wasn't) but we still had a good time hanging out with our friends. After awhile, we headed home.

This was the perfect way, for us, to celebrate our anniversary! We got to be together, do something that we love and be with people who love us. Nothing beats that. Plus, since Mike's birthday is next week, we get to continue celebrating all week long!