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.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Expecting Perfection

I haven't always had this problem of being the extreme perfectionist that I am today.  However, I have always had issues with wanting most things that I do to be "perfect", especially with sports.

 
With swimming I was not always the most gracious "loser". I don't mean not winning the race, I mean not winning against myself. I had high expectations and if I didn't meet them when I thought I should, I did not handle it well.

Sometimes, the same can be said with triathlon. I have learned to accept that not every race is going to be a PR and that not every training swim, ride or run is going to go as planned. However, I still hold on to that hope that everything is going to be "perfect".

When I say perfect, I don't necessarily mean that everything is going to be the fastest or farthest that I can possibly go. In my mind before I set out to do a training swim, ride or run I have somewhat of a plan for how I would like it to go, and when it doesn't go that way I feel defeated. I know I shouldn't, not everything goes according to plan but that's the perfectionist in me.

I don't "wing it" often, I function better following a training plan and I set high goals and expectations for myself. Is that the right way to go about things? Maybe, maybe not. It does allow for some frustration and disappointment and I need to learn to get better at handling it. 

Running, other than a few times, has been hard for me lately. My long runs have not been going well, overall, and when I finish the run I feel disappointed. Disappointed in myself and my abilities. I feel like I should be doing better than I am and even when other people tell me I am doing fine, I don't believe them.

I need to remember that I can't expect "perfect" but that I can expect my best. My best may not be the fastest, it may just be what I can give that day. Some days that's 5 miles at 8:32 pace and other days that's 11 miles at 9:30 pace with the last 2-3 miles feeling like a major struggle.

So, from now on I am going to try to be happy with my best. Whatever that is. As long as I feel like I didn't have anything more to give (or that I accomplished whatever type of workout that I had to do that day), then I succeeded.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

To the Lame

Why is it that we live in a world where EVERYTHING we do is scrutinized, criticized and mocked? Not just by the media, but by our peers as well.

Why is it that things have to be deemed "weird", "unusual" or "strange"?

Or in the case of SELF Magazine, "lame"?

If you are even remotely involved in social media, I am sure you already have read about Monika Allen, the runner (who yes has cancer, but that shouldn't even matter) who was mocked by SELF Magazine for racing in a tutu. She was misled by the magazine and gave them her photo, one of her running her 26.2 mile victory lap in, gasp, a tutu. The horror.

Why does it matter what she is running in? Or for that matter that she is even running at all?

One thing that I want to leave this world knowing is that I had the courage to be weird, to be strange, to be unusual. It would be nice to know that it was without fear of ridicule or mockery.


I will continue to run in a tutu, to listen to music that people think is weird at decibels that I shouldn't be, to watch shows and movies that little kids watch, to dance around the house when no one is home, to talk to my pets like they are humans, and most importantly I will continue to do what I want to do. Because that's what makes me, me.

No one has the right to make anyone feel bad about who they are and what they do or don't do. And shame on you, if you do.

So in the end, the only thing that is "lame" about this entire situation is that it happened in the first place.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 1-2

Our Ironman training plan is 24-weeks long. Last week, I thought about recapping how our workouts went but decided that it would be better to recap two weeks at a time. I want to be able to look back at how our training went so that the next time I can use what worked, and change what didn't (you shouldn't be surprised that I'm already talking about a next time).

WEEK 1

Totals - Swim: 3.64 miles, Bike: 70 miles, Run: 19.5 miles (93.14 miles)

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile run, 2,500 yard swim
Wednesday - 20 mile bike
Thursday - 20 mile bike
Friday - 5 mile run
Saturday - 9.5 mile run, 1,400 yard swim
Sunday - 30 mile bike, 2,500 yard swim

The theme for the first week can be best summed up as, "yay! I'm training again!" After taking the months of November - February off from training, and being injured for some of that time, starting a training plan was a welcome breathe of fresh air. Some people may not like training plans, but I do so much better when I am on them.

Training plans get a thumbs up

The only notable changes that happened in our training during the first week were a switched bike and run on Thursday and Friday and an extra .5 miles on our run on Saturday. It was ridiculously cold on Thursday, and I was over it, so we waited to run on Friday when it was 45 degrees outside. I think it was the smart choice.

We did all of our workouts for the week, even after celebrating St. Patrick's Day downtown for hours on Saturday (though I didn't drink). We thought about not going swimming, but I felt guilty so we went.

WEEK 2

Totals - Swim: 4.15 miles, Bike: 75.01 miles, Run: 21.14 miles (100.3 miles)

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile run, 1,500 yard swim
Wednesday - 20 mile bike
Thursday - 6 mile run
Friday - 20 mile bike
Saturday - 10 mile run, 2,900 yard swim
Sunday - 35 mile bike, 2,900 yard swim

If week one's theme was all rainbows and butterflies about training, the theme for week two was, "ooof, I'm training again". 

35 mile ride on the trainer

We didn't switch any of our workouts around this week, except for the yardage of our Tuesday and Saturday swims and the miles on our Tuesday and Thursday runs. Other than swimming and the majority of the bike on Sunday, I didn't feel great this week. Everything felt hard and I think that I was a bit run down. We did run on trails twice, which was a nice change, but even that felt hard. The reason it says I did 10 workouts this week is because we split Thursday's run into 2 miles on roads and 4 miles on trails.

 A lot of time in the pool this week

Saturday's run was particularly unpleasant for me and our friend Rob and Mike both could have pushed me into traffic for being such a complainer.

Luckily, the week is over and I know that there are other good ones to come. I also am realistic and know that not every week is going to be spectacular, but if they were I would be nervous for the starting jump into the Ohio River on August 24th. The challenges are what push you and make you stronger, and I definitely need that in order to become an Ironman.