Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Ironman Louisville Pre-Race Recap

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics. 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 officially Ironwomen! (And Mike is an Ironman!) I am so proud of the two of them, I was able to meet and see Gabi out on the course multiple times and knowing we were all out there working toward the same goal was so helpful. Unfortunately, we never got to meet Michelle (but I was looking for her) but I'm sure that will change in the future!

At the banquet they announced that women were 24% of the field, the rest were men. Knowing that three of us did in fact become "Ironwomen" makes me even more proud of what I accomplished. Anything is truly possible if you put your mind to it, and don't mind some hard work and dedication.

If you know me and my long-distance tri recaps, this is going to be broken up into multiple parts, the swim, the bike and the run. Sorry, but it was a long day and I have a lot to say about it!

That should now say, Ironman Finishers!

Really, I am going to start this one off before the start of the swim leg of Ironman Louisville.

 Beautiful place to run!

Mike and I left Rochester on Thursday in the afternoon and drove to Columbus, Ohio to break up our trip. It is about a 10 hour drive to Louisville from our house. We had done a 15 mile ride at our house before leaving and when we got to our hotel we got ready for a short 2-mile shakeout run. I'm pretty proud of the place that I picked for us to run at, the Olentangy Trail starting at Antrim Park. We ran around Antrim Lake and it was really pretty!

 Mike was excited about this

We also hit up THE Ohio State University and ate at an amazing Mexican Restaurant.

 A new state! Kentucky!

The next morning we finished our drive to Louisville and went to our hotel that we were all staying at, where Mike's parents already were. We got there before we could check-in, so we went to take care of all of the race stuff that we had to do.

The Athlete Village was at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Mike's parents drove us there and we got checked in relatively quickly. It was pretty amazing to see all the volunteers and athletes! We decided that day that we were going to go to the Athlete Banquet later in the evening with Mike's parents and our friend, Rob, who came to support us all weekend as well.

 Ready to do this thing!

After going to the mandatory athlete briefing and buying a few things at the expo, we went to drive the bike course. I think doing so helped ease our minds a bit, yes there were some hills but nothing we couldn't handle!

At the athlete banquet, the food was not what was important, the stories that we heard almost made me cry and I was getting even more excited for the race on Sunday! I met Gabi and her husband, Pablo, at the banquet too. Our table friend (as I called him) was funny and told us that we could get through the race.

The rest of the night was spent packing up our bike gear, run gear, bike special needs and run special needs bags. It looked like triathlon threw up all over our room!

Triathletes everywhere!

Saturday morning, Mike and I went to go get our final Ironman training workouts in! We just had a short swim, bike and run planned and we went to the practice swim in the morning.  The practice swim took place at the swim exit and they had a 600 meter (or so) course set up in between two bridges. The Ohio River has a strong current and this swim made me a bit concerned for the race! The current on the way out (the same direction we would be starting our swim the next morning) was RIDICULOUS! It took me 20 something minutes to not even get all the way to the bridge. As soon as I turned around, I was immediately back at the other bridge and the swim exit. The current was really, really strong.

 The swim exit

Mike and I tried not to worry about it, but we did feel like it was a bit of wasted effort. Regardless, we went on to bike about 5-6 miles of the beginning/end of the bike course and ran a little less than 2 miles near the Great Lawn (transition). While we were biking I saw our table friend from the banquet and we saw Gabi and Pablo! After we were done we went over to take a photo with both of them and chat some more.

 Mike got our bikes ready for race day!

My parents had arrived in Louisville while we were doing our final practice workouts, so we headed back to the hotel. We had some last minute stuff to do to our bikes and our gear bags before we went to drop them off in transition.

The volunteers at gear check walk you through the transition area and how Sunday will go. My volunteer was really nice and he brought me to my spot on the bike rack and to where my bike gear and run gear bags would be during the race. He also showed me where the women's changing tent and the sunscreen station would be, as well as where to bike out and run out.

 Rockin' the compression socks

After that, Mike and I needed to eat something so we all went to Subway for a quick bite to eat since we were planning on eating dinner at 5:30pm.

 Mike with the Louisville Slugger!

We did some sight-seeing. Nothing major since I didn't want to be walking around too much. We went to the Louisville Slugger Museum so we could see the giant bat, and while we were taking some photos I saw my brother, Justin, and his girlfriend, Hanna, walk up! It was a complete surprise (which is typical with my family) and I was really happy that they came to support us during our Ironman.

 At Churchill Downs

We ended the sight-seeing at Churchill Downs before going back to the hotel to relax for a little while.

A few weeks before the race Rob had given me a list of restaurants that someone he knows from Louisville had given to him. I decided that going across the bridge into Indiana would be a good choice since I figured that downtown would be a little bit crazy!

 Looking at transition from across the river

We had dinner at Rocky's and it was really good! We all just took the time to talk some more and get ready for the big day ahead.

Mike and I finished out the night with epsom salt baths and making sure that we had all of our swim gear that we needed for the morning ready. After watching some tv, we went to bed around 9:30pm.

And just like that, it was one more sleep until Ironman Louisville!

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.