Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Training Load

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!

Today's topic is training load!

 Training is fun!

First, I am going to start this post by saying that you should watch this video if you haven't already. While it is not OUR training load, it gives you a pretty good idea of what Ironman training entails and how much mileage you put in over a span of 6 months. (And we're definitely doing something like this next time!)

Now that you watched that, I'm going to talk about our training load. I have done bi-weekly training recaps since we started training on March 10th. Here they all are, if you missed any of them:

Weeks 1-2
Weeks 3-4
Weeks 5-6
Weeks 7-8
Weeks 9-10
Weeks 11-12
Weeks 13-14
Weeks 15-16
Weeks 17-18
Weeks 19-20

Our training plan is 24 weeks long and while we have put in a lot of miles, we definitely did not do ALL of our planned workouts. Life happens. However, I think that we have put in enough hard work and our training will see us through on race day. I have said to a few people that this is the most prepared that I have ever felt for an endurance race, including all of our marathons and our long distance triathlons.

 Putting in some miles on the bike

So what exactly has our training entailed? As most of you know by now, Mondays are always (except once during this training cycle) our off days. We have some sort of training planned for the other six days of the week, except in some rare instances when we have a second off day.

How many days of each discipline has varied throughout our training but for the most part we swim two-three times a week, run three times a week and ride three times a week. We didn't have a brick workout every week, but as race day gets closer that is now a must. Even if we didn't do a brick workout there were at least one to two days when we would have to do some sort of double workout.

 Racing has been a part of training too

Over the last 20 weeks and 3 days of training, we have put in a TON of miles.

Swim - 67.09 miles
Bike - 2,106.43 miles
Run - 476.27 miles

We still have a little less than four weeks to go until race day, and even though we have sort of started taper, we have a few more big workouts left.

All of those workouts and miles take up a lot of time during our week. So far, we have trained for approximately 244 hours and 28 minutes. That doesn't include the time it takes to get ready for workouts, to drive to specific locations, etc.

 Thumbs up for all those training hours!

I have mentioned that most things have fallen by the wayside during training. We don't clean our house often, we don't always make it to everything that we are invited to (and some people make us feel guilty about that), we are WAY behind on our DVR (we finally finished The Following a few weeks ago) and there are many nights when we don't feel like making dinner because we are too tired.

As long as we go to work (which luckily for me, I am a 10-month employee and for this training cycle I will have had two full months off), make sure our pets are taken care of and that our house isn't in complete disarray, that's usually the best we can do.

 I can tell he's upset we're leaving him for a 6+ hour ride

Does that mean that I would give this all up for a clean house, more time to stay up late, etc.? No. I have mentioned that this will not be our only Ironman. We may not do one every year, but I love this lifestyle. I wouldn't change it for a thing, even if that means we have dog and cat hair tumbleweeds in our living room all the time.

The training, the miles, the hours. They are all worth it to me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 19-20

Wow, these were two crazy weeks! We are now 27, yes TWENTY-SEVEN, days away from our first Ironman. It's actually still hard to believe, hasn't quite hit me that we will be embarking on a 140.6 mile journey in less than 4 weeks.

We have one more week of somewhat big miles, but slowly starting to taper, and then bring on the actual taper!

Week 19

 Totals - Swim: 2.27 miles, Bike: 132.99 miles, Run: 29.01 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 12.51 mile bike, 2.5 mile run, 12.5 mile bike, 2.5 mile run (brick)
Wednesday - 4,000 yard swim
Thursday - 27.5 mile bike
Friday - 6.01 mile run
Saturday - 18 mile run
Sunday - 80.48 mile bike

After our double race weekend at the Mini Mussel and the Boilermaker 15K, I wasn't sure how the beginning of the week would go. Luckily, Mondays are always our off day (I really look forward to Mondays!).

Tuesdays, until race day, are a brick day. Since we will do about 6-7 weeks straight of bricks I wanted to change it up a little bit and after seeing Gabi's double brick, I decided I wanted to do the same thing. Mike and I did a 12.5 mile bike/2.5 mile run/12.5 mile bike/2.5 mile run brick. Other than some wind it went really well! We both got faster on the second bike and run (I did 16.3 mph, 8:06 pace, 16.4 mph, 7:55 pace).

We only swam once this week, it is really hard to fit in swimming on the weekends, but it was a good workout. We also rode 27.5 miles with our friend Greg, which was a really fun ride! The route Greg picked was called "Rolly Polly" and definitely was rolly! Lots of rolling hills out on roads we normally don't ride on. I love our rides with Greg!

We switched our Thursday and Friday workouts because we were going to a surprise birthday party for our friend, Beth. I ran before work and other than maybe being a little bit too fast it went well. Mike had to run after work.

As usual, our weekend was full of long miles with friends. Mike and I had an 18 mile run on the schedule for Saturday and I re-routed a 20 mile run that we have done twice. We started at a local elementary school and ran on a rail trail for about a mile before hitting some roads for 5 miles. We met our friend Blake at Genesee Valley Park so he could run the last 12 miles with us. Once in the park we ran along the canal path for about 7 miles. We really picked up the pace with Blake, but we all felt good. After refilling some water we ran along some more roads and then picked up the rail trail again for the last 2-3 miles before ending at the school.

 Why are all of my people so tall?

Such a great run! I felt so good the entire time and the miles flew by! It's amazing to me that 9:30ish pace is now our long run pace (and since I'm so impressed again here are the splits: 9:46, 9:37, 9:34, 9:37, 9:36, 9:32, 9:47, 9:33, 9:29, 9:18, 9:16, 9:28, 9:24, 9:34, 9:35, 9:26, 9:16, 9:30). After we met up with our friend, Rob, who did amazing at a trail half marathon (he got about a 50 minute PR - craziness!) and ate more than our body weight in food.

Sunday we met up with Greg for an EXTREMELY hilly ride. We started out in Avon and then took some roads down to the east side of Canadice Lake. Then we were faced with the worst hill we have experienced ever. It wasn't very steep but it was really long. The worst part of it was probably 1.5 miles long.

 These alpacas wanted to run with us!

The end of the ride still had hills but we also had some pretty sweet downhills (my fastest instantaneous speed was 40mph). We rode up the east side of Honeoye Lake, before heading back over to Avon. We finished out the ride with 80.5 miles, not bad since we had only planned 50 miles (and then increased it to 70 miles because of missing a 50 miler the week before). Oh, and the ride had 4,500 feet of elevation gain.

Other than missing one swim workout, this was a pretty solid week!

Week 20

Totals - Swim: 3.97 miles, Bike: 160.9 miles, Run: 31 miles 

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 24.73 mile bike, 5 mile run (brick)
Wednesday - 4,000 yard swim
Thursday - 32.73 mile bike
Friday - 6 mile run, 3,000 yard swim
Saturday - 20 mile run
Sunday - 103.44 mile bike

What. A. Week. 

The beginning of the week was relatively normal. I was looking forward to being done with work for another month (my last day was Thursday) and we started off with another brick workout. The ride was pretty standard (16.2mph) but the run was fast. Mike stayed with me the entire time and we hit 8:15 average pace for 5 miles. Not too bad considering it was pretty hot out!

We made sure to get in both of our swim workouts this week. We both hit the pool on Wednesday and swam the 4,000 yards straight. On Friday, Mike actually went to an open water swim workout (I didn't want to wake up that early on my first day of not working) and swam 1.2 miles. I went to the pool in the afternoon and swam 3,000 yards straight. 

The weekend was really busy. In addition to swimming, we both ran 6 miles on Friday (I ran in the morning, Mike ran after work). Then we went to a Rochester Red Wings baseball game (Triple-A) with our friend, Rob. The Red Wings won, which was cool, but it made for a later than normal night for us (we went to bed a little after 11pm). 

Saturday morning we went to Henpeck Park which is along the canal path for a double out and back run. We originally had 16 miles planned with a "or 20?" in the notes of our training plan. After our great 20 and 18 mile runs, Mike and I decided we wanted to attempt another 20 miler. 

Rob met us for the first out and back and it went pretty smoothly. I could tell my legs were a little bit more taxed than previous runs (which makes sense since we have put in A LOT of mileage). At the halfway point Rob and Blake did a "relay handoff" and Blake took over for the second out and back. Unfortunately, around 13 miles into the run Mike said he had to walk. I slowed down for a second, feeling conflicted about what to do, and Mike said it was alright and that he would turn around at 13.5 miles.

Blake stayed with me, which I really appreciate, and while I may not have been very talkative it helped take my mind off of what I was doing. Around 18 miles, I did have to walk for about a minute or so. Even though I was getting tired I made sure that I didn't walk the rest of the 1.7 miles back to the car. 

 Amazing splits again:
9:37, 9:27, 9:20, 9:32, 9:32, 9:31, 9:32, 9:30, 9:35, 9:28, 9:24, 9:29, 9:33, 9:10, 9:26, 9:28, 9:25, 9:40, 10:38, 9:31

I am so glad that we did another long run (Mike ended up doing 18 miles) because it was more miles and TOF (time on feet) in the bank.  

The really busy weekend continued for us and after a few hours at home, we (me, Mike and Rob) went to a concert all afternoon/evening in Buffalo. It was AMAZING!! We saw six bands, Semi Precious Weapons, Bear Hands, Bleachers, Big Data, Kongos and Cage the Elephant. The Crystal Method also played in between a few of the sets. 

Unfortunately, that meant we were on our feet a lot and we didn't get home until after midnight. Mike and I didn't set an alarm and woke up around 9am. We quickly got ready and made our way out to Webster for our second, and final, century ride. 

The route took us through Webster along the lake and then some side roads in Sodus. We had to detour because of some loose stone/fresh oil roads but then we were able to continue out to Fair Haven Beach State Park. We were able to refill our water bottles before we made our way back. It was pretty hot out, with no clouds in the sky, so as usual miles 70-90 were rough for me. I tried to push negative thoughts out of my head, but the headwind and heat were getting to me. 

Because of re-routing a little bit, we ended up with over 103 miles. 

 Downside of riding sockless... even weirder tanlines

I am really proud of how we handled the weekend, considering we had lots of other plans. It was fun, worth it even, to do some things other than train. But, it definitely made for a tougher than normal weekend of training. I'm looking forward to some more relaxed weekends coming up! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Recovery

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!

Today's topic is recovery!

 Mike's idea of "recovery" during an overnight relay

Ahh, recovery. So important, yet often so overlooked by runners and triathletes. Even me.

Recovery doesn't necessarily mean sit on your butt and do nothing all day, although, from time to time that is important. When preparing for a big event such as a marathon or a long-distance triathlon you are often training for 16 to 24 weeks, which means that utilizing different recovery techniques is extremely important to ensure that your body is ready for that next tough swim, bike and/or run.

Recovery includes:

Rest (Sleep and off days from workouts)
Cutback Weeks (reduced intensity and distance)
Active Recovery 
Compression gear

While training, Mike and I will incorporate cutback weeks into our training plan. Every couple of weeks it is important to allow your body to recover, while still swimming, biking and running. 

 Here's an example of a cutback week back in June

In addition, Mondays have traditionally been our "off" days from training. When we are not training as intensely (usually in the winter) we may take more than one off day a week. Rest is important to allow your muscles to rebuild and repair themselves, they take on a lot of wear and tear during intense training! I find that I usually don't feel as well if I take more than one off day in a row, which is why active recovery is also essential.

After a marathon or long-distance triathlon we will use active recovery. We try to at least walk the next day, usually with Bernie, to get the blood flowing and help remove any chemical build-ups in our bodies. Also, as I mentioned before, the week after a race is typically one with less distance and/or intensity.

 I couldn't eat right after Musselman, but I could drink some juice!

Another part of recovery that is really important is nutrition and hydration. Mike and I try to make sure that we at least drink something right after a hard workout, and that we get some type of nutrition into our bodies within the hour after working out. Sometimes this doesn't happen, but it is really important for recovery to remain hydrated and eat properly. By doing so, you replace lost electrolytes, aid muscle repair and replenish glycogen stores - all of which are crucial for your recovery!

It is no secret that Mike and I LOVE compression gear. We wear it while running, while recovering, all the time (I wear compression socks under my work clothes). By wearing compression socks, shorts, etc. you increase blood flow and reduce soreness after a hard workout.

Finally, stretching, massages, using a foam roller or the stick all aid in recovery.

The important thing to remember is that if you want to be a runner or a triathlete for an extended amount of time, you need to allow your body to properly heal. There's no shame in taking an off day or cutting back on distance/intensity so that you are able to do what you love for many years to come!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 17-18

Since I had so many race recaps and an Ironwoman Wednesday post to write, this post is a little bit late! And, it brings us even closer to race day. We are now only 38 days away from Ironman Louisville. How is that even possible? When we started training it was still snowing outside!

Week 17

Totals - Swim: 4.66 miles, Bike: 145 miles, Run: 32.1 miles   

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 4,000 yard swim
Wednesday - 25.01 mile bike, 5.1 mile run (brick)
Thursday - 5 mile run
Friday - 2.39 mile OWS, 19.66 mile bike
Saturday - 20 mile run
Sunday - 100.33 mile bike, 2 mile run (brick)

Going into this week, I knew it was going to be our biggest mileage week of the training cycle. When I made our training plan, it just so happened that our longest run and our first century ride fell on the holiday weekend. In a way it was nice since we both had July 4th off, but we also couldn't enjoy holiday festivities as much as we would have liked (but training is our number one priority right now).

The beginning of the week was HOT. There was a heat index advisory warning for Tuesday and the wind was pretty ridiculous so we opted to swim instead of doing our brick (Also, our friend, Blake, invited us to watch some of the USA soccer match so it all worked out in the end). Some people may think this was a bad idea since we could have simulated race day conditions, but we have had plenty of hot (and windy) days. Including the day we actually did our brick.

The ride for the brick didn't go that well for me. I felt tired and someone had spilled some nasty stuff on the road that smelled HORRIBLE (it was a struggle for me not to throw up). I got through it, but then I didn't think I was going to be able to run very fast so I told Mike to go in the opposite direction of me. Ha, I ended up running 8:18 pace for the 5 miles (and Mike was about the same pace for his run).

The holiday weekend was FULL of miles and tough workouts. On July 4th, Mike and I drove to Canandaigua so that we could get in our first (of two) 2.4 mile open water swims. The air temperature was a bit chilly but the water temperature was perfect. We did wear our wetsuits (we won't next time since we won't be for our race) and I swam it in 1:04:31. Mike was right above an hour. After, we rode about 20 miles which didn't go well for me. It was windy and there was a lot of traffic, but I got through it.

 We also took this boy for a walk on the trails

The rest of the weekend went really well. We ran our first (and probably only) 20 mile run of this training cycle. We went out to the Auburn and Lehigh Valley trails (gravel paths) for an out and back run. I told Mike that we had to slow it down (compared to the horrible 18 mile run the weekend before) and we kept right on track. Mike was able to refill his water at the turn around point, which was also nice. I finally got a new fuel belt and other than some annoyances it worked out well. I even used some PowerBar Perform sports drink during the run.

 The three of us after the run

Our friend, Rob, had said he might join us for some of our run but after awhile I had given up on seeing him. Then when we had about four miles left, there he was! Mike and I finished out a really strong run. Since I'm still so impressed with our paces here are all of the splits: 9:55, 9:38, 9:39, 9:39, 9:36, 9:42, 9:42, 9:40, 9:33, 9:36, 10:27 (waiting for Mike to refill his water), 9:41, 9:31, 9:27, 9:33, 9:41, 9:36, 9:37, 9:43, 9:22. This was our strongest 20 mile run ever!

On Sunday we continued our tough weekend with our first century ride. We made a route with two 50-ish mile loops so that we could refill our water and sports drink at the halfway point. The first 50 mile loop went really well, you couldn't notice the wind that much, and I was averaging above 16mph. Unfortunately, the second 50 mile loop was a bit tough, particularly the final 30 miles. We had to contend with a bunch of headwind, it sucked! I was mentally defeated for a bit, but I pushed through. We also saw one of our friends, Steven, out on a training run. The ride took me 6 hours and 23 minutes for an average of 15.7mph. Not too bad!

 After a 102 mile day!

I wasn't feeling great right after but we had a 2 mile run immediately following our ride, and we both knew we would feel guilty if we didn't do it. So off we went in the heat and we average 8:24 pace.

I'm so proud of how we did this week and it definitely gave me the confidence I needed to finish out the rest of training!

Week 18

Totals - Swim: 1.84 miles, Bike: 46.7 miles, Run: 24.65 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile run
Wednesday - 30.45 mile bike
Thursday - 7.15 mile run, 2,200 meter swim
Friday - Off
Saturday - 750 meter swim, 16.25 mile bike, 3.2 mile run (Mini-Mussel Triathlon)
Sunday - 15K run (Boilermaker)

This week turned into a bit of a cutback week. Even though we only dropped one of our workouts this was our first week hitting below 100 total miles since April! Considering we raced twice this week, I think it was justified.

 With Sarah and Mark before our wave start

We took it a bit easy during the week because of our races. We ran with our friend Greg (who raced his first 70.3 on Sunday and did amazing!) during our 7 mile run on Thursday. We ran through Genesee Valley Park because we wanted to try out the outdoor 50 meter pool in the park after our run.

While looking at the pool, we could tell that it wasn't 50 meters. We have both swum in Olympic distance pools enough to know that the pool (that had a bulkhead put in so that the length of the pool wasn't going from one wall to the other) was a bit short. Also, when we asked the lifeguards and pool manager what the distance of the pool was, we got some conflicting responses. Some said 50 meters and others said 50 yards.

Mike tried to use his watch, and went with 40 meters for the distance, but it didn't work. So, we went with 50 meters for the distance since that's what it is supposed to be (but we know it wasn't set up for Olympic distance). We were supposed to do a 4,000 yard swim but because the pool distance was weird we cut our swim short and did 2,200 meters (which is 2,406 yards). Who knows how far we really swam?!

We took an off day on Friday so we could go pick up our packets for our triathlon on Saturday. Then the rest of the weekend was spent kicking ass at the Mini-Mussel on Saturday and running the Boilermaker 15K on Sunday.

 Mike is in the front with the bent arm and I'm a little behind with the straight arm

I always appreciate a good floating photo

I had penciled in a 50 mile ride on Sunday after the race and we were planning on riding when we got home, but it was pouring! By the time the weather had cleared up it was too late to attempt a 50 mile ride, so we just scrapped it completely. We did up our planned 50 mile ride for this weekend to 70 miles to make up for taking a bit of a cutback week.

All in all these past two weeks went really well! Bring on the last 5.5 weeks of training!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Ironman Training and Relationships

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!

Today's topic is training and relationships!

I am a rather reserved, introverted individual. Mike is more of an extrovert but neither of us are like our friend, Crystal (I love you!) But the thing about triathlon is that you don't even have to know a person for more than a few seconds and you are instantly connected by your passion for the sport.

Two moments from this past weekend solidified my love for the sport of triathlon (and running). Last year during the Musselman weekend, two triathletes tragically died while out on the Mini-Mussel and Musselman bike legs. Michael Coyle and Lanlin Zhang were a part of the triathlon community and rather than instantly forgetting about them, the Musselman and triathlon community gathered together to remember them.

This year at the races there were moments of silence for the two athletes, signs and photos of them throughout the venues and their family members racing in their honor. I don't know how they did it, I would have had a hard time going by where the accidents happened, but I think they found strength through the bonds of the triathlon community. Everyone cheered for them, and each other, and lifted each other up in a moment of sadness, but also of remembrance.

At the Boilermaker, I witnessed more of the amazingness that is the running community. As runners passed by a wheelchair racer, we all cheered her on. The same thing happened when we passed by a man walking in his full Army uniform.

 The five of us before Mini-Mussel

I didn't start running because I wanted to find a community that would accept me for who I am, but I am so glad that I am part of one that does. Because of running and triathlon I have found my best friends in this entire world. They join us on training swims, rides and runs, come to races with us to race or to cheer us on, listen to us talk about our races non-stop and are there to provide support when things aren't going as we would like.

I have also met so many people online because of my love of triathlon. I'm excited to meet Gabi and Michelle at Ironman Louisville, two women who know what I am going through and that I have an instant bond with regardless of the fact that we have never met in real life. Training for an Ironman is unlike anything else I have ever experienced, just having someone I can say, "I am so HUNGRY all the time!" to has been amazing. 

I wouldn't even be doing this if it weren't for Mike

And, of course, Mike is my training partner in life and in triathlon. I never DREAMED that when I suggested that we start the Couch-to-5K program that this is where it would take us, but it did and I am so grateful. We have become stronger, mentally, physically and in our relationship because of it.

We do fight, but what couple doesn't? Our emotions are running high right now with Ironman training and we just want the best for each other. Sometimes we just have to eat something or go run in opposite directions and then high-five when we see each other for things to calm down. One of our friends has said that he is jealous of our marriage and the fact that we get to train all the time with each other. Other than when we are working, Mike and I are with each other all the time. He is the only one who knows how I am truly feeling all the time, and he brings out the best in me. And I hope I do the same for him.

Ironman training is difficult. It would be so much more difficult without the support and love of our friends and family. We feel guilty when we can't attend things (and I feel especially guilty for not being able to go home to Maine this summer), but for the most part people have been understanding of our goal (and that it takes numerous hours of training a week to even make it to the start line). 

Unfortunately, while we have developed so many life-long bonds with people, we have also lost friends because of Ironman training (or maybe Ironman training just sped up the inevitable). Mike and I pride ourselves on being true to who we are, I say this a lot but I mean it, and are willing to do anything for anyone. However, there are times when some relationships must come to an end. It's the fault of no one, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

In the end, it is the good that I choose to hold on to during Ironman training. We have so many people in our corner supporting us that there is no way that we can fail. I think of these people during the tough moments (and the good moments) of training and racing, and I hope I make them proud. 

And even if we didn't have anyone else, we have each other. But, I am thankful that we have a community that is so accepting of others, and of us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boilermaker 15K Race Recap

After crushing our sprint triathlon in the morning on Saturday (and only being a little off of my goal - placing in my age group), Mike, our friend, Rob, and I made our way to Utica to get our bibs at packet pickup.

After Mini-Mussel

Packet pickup went easily enough and then we checked into our hotel before going out to dinner. We spent the rest of the night getting ready for the race and relaxing. 

Since our hotel was about 20 minutes away from Utica, we woke up at 5:45am the next morning. Other than Mike almost leaving his watch in the hotel room, we didn't have any issues getting ready (although I was a bit tired from not sleeping well since some guys in a room near ours had set off their fire alarm during the night). The three of us had decided that we would park near the start of the race and take the shuttles at the finish back to the start (it is a point to point race). We didn't have any issues finding parking close-ish enough to the start and we made the walk over to where the corrals were set up. 

 Red bib

Rob and I were in the red corral (the last corral before the general corral) and Mike was in the tan corral, one before ours. After going to the bathroom, getting some water and chilling out for a few minutes we made our way to our respective corrals. Rob and I did stand next to each other at the beginning, but I knew that we wouldn't be running together.

We struck up a conversation with this woman next to us, she heard me talking about racing a triathlon the day before, and she told us she had just raced a 50K the weekend before. She also was talking about how she has done a triathlon on each of the Finger Lakes (that has a tri) and I now have a new goal!

The wheelchair racers started at 7:45am and then after the national anthem the elites went off at 8am. It took us a few minutes to start our shuffle and then slow run to the starting line (we were close to 2 minutes after the start).

I was right behind Rob for the first half mile and then I saw that we were only running 9:05ish pace, so I started to pass some runners. The first few miles are usually pretty uneventful but I could tell that my hands were so sweaty. It was really humid out, but luckily it was cloudy so we didn't have to deal with the sun beating down on us like the first time Mike and I ran this race

I felt pretty good, considering we had raced hard the day before, but I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. I knew that I would/could PR (my previous PR was from this race two years ago, and I ran it at 9:18 pace), but I wasn't sure by how much. 

I broke the race up into three 5Ks (even though I knew that the fourth mile was the toughest). My first three miles were 8:36, 8:30 and 8:44. Right before the turn for the golf course (close to mile 4), I saw Rob pass me. 

The golf course is one of the toughest parts of this race, I struggled with it the first year, and I just had to tell myself that there would be a nice downhill once I made it to the top. Luckily, it is hard to get into your head during this race since there are so many distractions, people cheering, other runners and people playing music. 

Mile 4 was my slowest, expected, at 9:24 pace but I made up for it on the sweet almost 1 mile downhill portion during mile 5 coming in at 7:50 pace. 

Once we got back with all of the crowds, I could tell I was getting a little hot but there are plenty of water stops along this course (more than double per mile). At one point I saw a guy a little bit ahead of me with a shirt that said, "the body achieves what the mind believes". I took that as a sign that I had to keep pushing and even though my legs were tired the 6th mile came in at 8:27 pace.

I ended up not taking any nutrition during the race, just water (there wasn't any sports drink on the course, I don't believe, Mike's one complaint about the race). By the time I thought about needing it, I was already running the 7th mile and I knew I had enough left to get me to the finish. The 7th mile on Burnstone Road is another tough section for me. I struggled with it the first year we ran this race and this year was no exception. There is a slight incline and my pace dropped to 9:14. 

I was able to pick it back up again, maybe seeing a cute Bernese Mountain dog on the sidelines helped, and mile 8 was 8:23 pace.

I knew I didn't have much more to go and I thought for a moment that I might be able to come in under 1:20, but I gave in to my legs hurting during the 9th mile for a 9:08 pace. After a slight incline, the run to the finish line was downhill. 

I pushed as hard as I could, hitting 7:59 pace for the last little bit (funny how that happens), and crossed the finish line.

I finished in 1:21:25, which is just over a 5 minute PR!

 Crystal said that I looked like a grape, instead of my usual watermelon

After finishing I made the long walk to the post-race party (seriously why is that walk so long??!) and grabbed some water before I spotted Mike. He wasn't with Rob, even though I knew that they had both finished before me, and after searching for quite a while we were all finally reunited. 

 I'm too short, I need a selfie-block to stand on!

Both Mike and Rob had great races, Mike ran a 1:15:40 which was about a 3 minute PR for him! Rob had never raced a 15K before so he automatically PRd, not a bad day for all three of us!

 So proud of him!

We didn't stick around the post-race party for very long, and they had cut it a bit short in anticipation of some bad weather coming that way, and we got on the shuttle bus to take us back to the start. 

Overall, I am really happy with how this weekend of racing went. I was really close to achieving both of my goals (placing in my age group at Mini-Mussel and PRing at the Boilermaker) and I know that I am just going to keep getting stronger and faster!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mini Mussel Triathlon Race Recap

Last year, we raced Musselman as our first 70.3. I knew that this year I wanted to be a part of the Musselman weekend again, so we registered for the sprint on Saturday. I had wanted to do the Double Mussel, both the sprint and 70.3, but Mike wanted to do the Boilermaker 15K on Sunday so that's what we did as a compromise.

We picked up our packets on Friday, but we stayed at our house the night before since the race didn't start until 9am. It is about an hour drive to Geneva so we left the house around 6:30am to give ourselves enough time to park, get body marked and set up our transition areas.

Mike's parents made the drive to come cheer us on, our friends Rob and Greg (who raced the 70.3 yesterday and did an AMAZING job in tough conditions) were also there to support us and we had friends racing in the sprint as well.

 Will do!

Mike and I got body marked quickly and then set up our transition areas. While doing that we saw our friend, Beth (who had just raced an Ironman two weeks ago, beast), and then later we saw our friends Sarah and Mark. All four of us would be in the same wave since they had men 25-29 and women 20-34 in the same wave.

 Mark, Sarah, me and Mike - ready to rock the Mini! (And yes, I am short)

After making sure we had everything set up, taking a few photos and getting our wetsuits on, we made our way over to the start of the race. The race director made a few announcements and led a moment of silence for Michael Coyle and Lanlin Zhang, two athletes who died last year during the Mini Mussel and Musselman races, respectively.

After the national anthem it was time to make our way over to the corral. We were in the second wave and they let us get in the water before the first wave went off.

 Waiting our turn to enter the water

Swim Leg (.47 miles) - Jamie: 10:41, Mike: 9:56

While waiting for the start of our wave, the wind kept pushing us in front of the buoys! We had to float in open water (or tread water if you didn't have on a wetsuit) for a few minutes before the start.

Once the horn sounded, we were off! Since the swim was really short, only 750 meters, I took off at full speed. I could tell I was in the main pack of the pink caps, I knew Mike was ahead of me, and I just focused on giving it my all.

The swim is in open water for a few minutes and then you enter the channel. This portion of the swim is warmer and has a lot more weeds! I got some stuck on me a few times but I didn't waste time trying to get them off and just hoped they would fall off of me. Luckily, they did.

The first wave had on light blue swim caps, and before making the turn toward the swim exit I started to pass swimmers from this wave (they started five minutes before us). I couldn't tell how I was doing in my wave but I just pushed as hard as I could.

 Mike running to transition, less than a minute before me

When I saw the two buoys indicating the swim exit, I kept swimming until my hands hit the bottom twice (some people stood up really early, but I like to swim until I can't swim anymore since it is faster).

 Running toward transition

As I ran out of the water, I could hear Greg and Rob cheering me on and then a little later I heard Mike's parents. Mike's dad told me to go get him (assuming Mike). And I ran into the transition area.

I later found out I was 5th or 6th out of the water for pink caps (Mike was first) and I was second out of the water for female swimmers in that wave (ironically, the first female was in my age group).

Transition 1 - Jamie: 1:50, Mike: 1:39

The way the transition area was set up, we had to run really far from the swim in to get to our rack. As I was running to my spot, I saw Mike running out with his bike. (Oh, and I got my watch to work in multisport mode this time, but I did hit "stop" instead of "lap" while coming into the swim in. Just have to practice some more with it!)

Before the race, I jokingly said that I was going to beat Mike out of the water since we were in the same wave (usually we aren't). We set up a bit of a competition with some people supporting "Team Jamie" and other people supporting "Team Mike". Whoever had the fastest swim plus T1 time would be the winner. Unfortunately, I let my supporters down but I'll get him next year!

 Mike heading out for the bike leg

I quickly got my stuff on and then ran out of there to get on the bike. As I was leaving I heard someone say, "you're second female, go get her"! Even though I knew I wouldn't stay in that position, it was still nice to hear.

Bike Leg (16.25 miles) - Jamie: 53:49 (18.11mph), Mike: 46:54 (20.86mph)

The sprint bike course takes you out of Seneca Lake State Park and out onto roads along the east side of Seneca Lake. This year the section that had a carpet put down over it while we were exiting the park had been paved, so that made it a lot better!

Admittedly, I do not like the first few miles of the bike course. The Mini and Musselman both start out the same way, and then the 70.3 course continues on along 96A. The first half of the sprint bike course has the majority of the hills, and this year we had a headwind to contend with.

I just focused on keeping my heart rate down and trying to not get below 15mph too much. There was a lot of drafting going on out on the course (not me), even with numerous USAT officials out there (I saw them at least twice)! I kept playing tag with two or three other athletes. I would pass them on the hills and they would pass me on the flats/downhills.

A few female athletes passed me out on the bike course, three at the most, so I knew I was still doing well for my age group (hard to always see the age on the back of people's calves so I wasn't entirely sure of my position).

The first few miles were: 16.7, 15.5, 14.8, 18.6, 17.5, 15.5 and 14.5mph. I had looked at the course map and I knew that once we turned down Yale Farm Road and started to make our way back to the park, that we would be greeted with some sweet downhills. We also didn't have a headwind to deal with for the rest of the ride.

I kept playing tag with a few other athletes and when we got on East Lake Road I knew this part of the course as well (it is the final part of the 70.3 bike course). It is helpful that we have ridden the course a few times in the race and on training rides.

I took an energy gel around mile 14.5 because I wanted to give it some time to settle before the run. When I made the final turn to head back toward the park, I drank some water and then started to think about what I would have to do when I got back into transition.

 Mike heading back into transition

As I entered the park, I heard Greg and Rob cheering me on. I kept pushing until I had to slow down toward the dismount line and then got off of my bike.

My final miles for the bike were: 18.6, 22.8, 20.8, 19.9, 17.7, 21.9, 21.3, 23.1 and 18.6mph (with 14.6mph at the end to transition).

Transition 2 - Jamie: 1:55, Mike: 1:52

This was my least favorite part of the race. The swim in and bike in were the same chute and the mat was slippery! Plus we had to run over this weird cobble-like surface to get back to our transition area (and in bike shoes that is tough to do). I actually walked a little bit to be safe and to make sure that I didn't fall.

When I got back to our rack, I saw Mike's bike, and quickly got my stuff off and on. As I grabbed my SPIbelt with my bib number on it, I started to run out of there, and then realized I still had my spare tube in my jersey pocket. I should have just kept going but I didn't want that hitting me in the back the entire run so I turned around and threw the tube on the ground (next time, just go!)

As I ran out of transition, I heard Rob and Mike's parents cheering me on and off I went to the flat run course.

 My face looks weird, oh well triathlon isn't always glamorous (or rarely)

Run Leg (3.2 miles) - Jamie: 25:07 (7:51 pace), Mike: 23:18 (7:17 pace)

Rob ran over to see me one more time before I went off on the out and back course along the path within the park. I said to him, "this is why I hate sprinting" and off I went.

As I made my way along the path, I then saw Greg and he cheered me on (along with a few other people who I didn't know, the benefit of having your name on your bib).

When I got my watch to the screen where I could see my pace for the current leg I was on, I saw 6:24 pace. I told myself to calm the eff down and settled into a better (but still fast) pace.

The first portion of the run course smelled HORRIBLE! The lake smelled disgusting in this part and it took a lot for me to not throw up (I don't handle smells well at all while running, biking, etc.) I tried to count how many females I saw out on the course, but I wasn't paying too much attention. I only was passed twice by women out on the run course.

I knew I would see people out on the run course since it is an out and back, and I saw Eric, a guy that works at our bike shop, and I cheered him on as I ran by.

The first mile came in at 7:33 pace, and I just told myself to keep pushing and that it was just a 3 mile run. I knew I would see Mike close to the turn around point, and right before it I saw him! We high-fived and I kept going on my way.

As I approached the turn around point, there was a water stop and I took some water. I ran around the turn and back down to start the last half of the run. I grabbed some more water, took a small sip and dumped the rest on myself. Luckily, while it was hot, the sun wasn't out in full force yet.

As I made my way down the course, I saw Beth and we high-fived! She looked great out there. A few minutes later I saw Mark and we cheered each other on. My second mile came in at 7:59 pace. I had slowed down a bit, but not drastically so I just kept forcing myself to run as fast as I could. I knew that in a few minutes, the pain would be over.

 Mike finishing up an amazing race!

I had my pace under 8 minute pace right up until the very end, at which time I saw Sarah making her way out on the run course! She looked great and I gave her thumbs up as I pushed it to the finish line.

I saw Greg and Rob cheering me on first, and then a few tenths from the finish line I saw Mike and his parents cheering me on. I ran as hard as I could to the finish line and I was done! My final mile came in at 8:05 pace and the last .2 miles came in at 7:25 pace.

Finishing Times - Jamie: 1:33:22, Mike: 1:23:39

After finishing the race, I saw Eric and we chatted for a bit. Then Rob and I went over to find Mike and his parents. We missed seeing Beth and Mark finish their races, but we waited for Sarah to finish hers!

After gathering our stuff from the transition area, we went over to look at the results and we found out that Mike had come in third in his age group (out of 27)! I had just missed placing in my age group by coming in fourth (out of 37).

 Third place!

 Beth being silly on the podium

We hung around to see Mike (and Beth) get his age group award and then we packed up the car, had lunch and made our way to Utica for our second race of the weekend.

 We really are unstoppable!

Mike and I had an incredible day racing with friends and we are so thankful for everyone who came to support us at our race. We pushed ourselves (something we don't get to do, speed-wise, very often with Ironman training) and we did really well. I know we are only going to keep getting better and better!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Overcoming Mental Challenges

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!

Today's topic is overcoming mental challenges!

When I was a swimmer growing up, my mom would always say two things to me: "swimming is 90% mental and 10% physical" and "the body achieves what the mind believes". 

Even though I have not always been the best at overcoming mental challenges, I truly believe that you can overcome and do anything if you just put your mind to it.

Over the short time that we have been triathletes, Mike and I have had to overcome a lot of mental challenges. Personally, for me, I can think of two times that were especially tough for me. During our first marathon, the Wineglass Marathon, seeing Mike DNF out on the course was mentally one of the toughest things that I have had to overcome. Even though I was hurting, and admittedly went out way too fast, my mind became weak as soon as I realized that he wasn't going to finish the race.

 Already crying, and not happy tears

It has actually taken me a long time to be alright with the fact that I finished and he didn't. In my mind, I didn't want to finish something that we set out to do together, but he told me to finish and I pushed through and did.

Another challenging moment was when Mike crashed his bike last year right before our first 70.3. While he was overcoming a physical (and mental) challenge, I had to overcome my fears and train (specifically bike) by myself. I didn't think I could ride by myself because I never had before. Mike told me that I could do it and even though it was slow, I completed a training ride by myself.

 After my first solo ride

As the years have gone on (really it hasn't been that long, but it feels longer), I have gotten stronger physically as well as mentally. Sure, I still have moments of weakness and doubt but I work hard to push those away.

A strong, focused mind is more important than a strong body (though that is important too). Your mind will give up before your body does. You need to train it to keep going and you need to believe in yourself.  If you think that you are going to fail before you even try to do something, you are already at a disadvantage.

One of the ways that I have overcome difficult and challenging situations is by telling myself that I CAN do it. During our 20 mile run this past weekend, I kept telling myself that I could do it (even though the previous weekend had not gone well) and I ran my fastest 20 mile training run ever.

During a marathon or long distance triathlon, I take the time to thank the people who have helped me throughout training. Thinking of those people, knowing that they are rooting for me while I am out on the course (whether it is going well or not) keeps me going.

 I can't talk about marathons and not have an MDI photo

Speaking of our 20 miler, in order to reduce my nerves about the daunting distance I break it up into chunks. A 20 miler is just four 5-milers, which to me seems a lot more manageable (even if I am just playing a trick on my mind).

And, something I still am working on, I have finally realized that it is going to hurt and be difficult at times. It is alright to hurt, it is alright for things to not go exactly as planned, but don't give up. Just. Keep. Moving.

 Musselman 70.3 finish, I hope our Ironman finish will be 1,000 times greater (and that was a pretty good one)

I may not be the fastest or best triathlete out there, but I believe that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.