Monday, October 20, 2014

Here we go again #140.6redeux

So here we are again.  Race week.  This gap between IM Choo and B2B has felt a lot like the movie Groundhog Day.  I woke up and basically repeated everything I did for the past weeks leading up to IM Choo.  I'd look at the assigned swim set in my Training Peaks account and think "that looks familiar.... oh yeah I did this workout 4 weeks ago.".  Of course it seemed I repeated all the crazy long swim sets too, not the short ones.  :)

In addition to obsessing over the weather and worrying about sharknados (check out this feeding frenzy in NC - no joke!), I am anxiously waiting to find out my bib number.  There was a little debacle in my transfer from the half to the full which I have straightened out but don't know my number yet.  The last number assigned was 665 so am hoping I am not 666.  Normally not a good omen but, at this point, I think that would just be funny.  I'll let you know!

In the past three weeks, I basically had two weekends of long rides and runs and then was right back into taper.  That first week, I was cursing myself for jumping right back into another race.  It felt like I was in remedial IM training.  If there was a summer school equivalent to triathlon, this felt like it.  I didn't *quite* get it done during the regular season so was doing extra credit to make it up.  Strange feeling.  I think mostly because in that last month or so before an ironman you keep telling yourself that if you can just get past this weekend you are done and it will be break time.  Now I am going through all those emotions again.  Serious deja vu.  I finally unpacked all my gear from the race a week or so ago.  Not sure why.  I should have just let it sit there ready to go for the next one!

The last few weeks have included a couple of 80+ mile rides.  One of those rides was a solo ride in which I felt like I nailed the nutrition and that gave me a big boost.  That same weekend I also pulled off a hilly 18 mile run which was another feather in the cap as they say.  Made me feel a lot better about my fitness level and that maybe that race in Chattanooga was just an off day.  In my solo ride, I was ON TOP of the nutrition.  I have tried different things over the past two IMs without great success so am going back to what I know worked for me in 2012.  A bottle of skratch every hour, a couple of bites of a bonk breaker every 20 minutes and a salt tab every hour.  I know I have to be on top of things at B2B if I don't want a repeat performance.  Feeling pretty good about it!

In other news, this weekend I ran a 5k.  I also WON a 5k.  I think there were 9 participants.  It was a benefit for St. Jude Children's Center put on by a small gym down the street.  I go there from time to time and needed to get a run in so thought I would support the cause.  The race started at 8:00, I pulled into the parking lot at 7:45 and there were no signs of a race.  No people milling about, no registration table, nothing.  I sat there for a minute and finally saw a few people do into the building. I followed them in to register.  I knew the race would be somewhat small but had no idea how small.  In driving over I had not noticed any race signs or cones to indicate the route.  In the pre-race chat, the race director seemed to be very specific about giving me directions so was getting worried about getting lost on the route.  Luckily I was only a mile from home so worst case, I knew I could at least find the main road and get back to my car.  I am a true survivalist.  No bug out bag necessary.  If the zombies come, I'm your girl.  ha ha.  Anyhow, we walk out to the start.  "I'll say go and start my watch.  The finish is that crack in the sidewalk there".  One of the guys said a prayer and we were off.  Let me tell you, this is the first time I have ever led a race (as you might have guessed) and it is a strange situation to be in.  I kept thinking surely someone must be right behind me.  Pacing is also weird because you don't have anyone to chase, you are just running.  Anyhow.  Long story short.  I did not get lost. I ended up 1st overall and got quite the trophy for my efforts.  I will say I was a little disappointed that there was no finisher's tape for me to break through. ha ha.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IMChoo. Sometimes you finish. Sometimes you don't.

I debated whether to even write a post.  Not because I didn't have anything to say but because I have left this blog hanging for three months.  It doesn't have the instant gratification of likes that instagram or facebook have or the favorites of twitter.  I am not much of a twitterer although I do log in from time to time when Dancing with the Stars is on to see what people are saying about the contestants.  (LOL and sad but  true).  And while it might not get instant gratification, sometimes you have a story to tell and this is the perfect place to do it.  So here goes...

IM Chattanooga was on Sunday.  I did not finish.  The end.

My finish line for the day. I kind of love that Rick got a shot of that exact moment.

Totally kidding...  I have a story to tell, remember?  I won't bore you with my details of checking into the race and how much I love the backpack SWAG.  (which I do love, BTW).  My story actually goes back to a half iron race I did in August and you could maybe even trace it even further back to Louisville.  If you recall, back in Louisville I basically walked the last 13 miles due to nausea.  That race has been in the back of my head for the past year.  Not entirely sure what went wrong there but had pretty much chalked it up to the heat.  Flash forward to Toughman Alabama.  Blazing hot as you would expect from Alabama in July.  Ended up getting sick there too.  Gah.  Again, I assumed the heat but also started to pay more attention to the nutrition just in case there was more to it.  I wasn't all that worried about it but was definitely praying for cooler temps in Chattanooga.

Saying bye to Rick and getting on the bus to the swim. For some reason this always chokes me up.

I got my cooler temps at IM Choo.  Got up race morning and tried to eat some yogurt and a banana.  I knew I would be waiting in line for a while at the swim start and had a PBJ with me to eat a little closer to the race.  I could only get down about half of the yogurt which was kind of odd.  I mean, they are little cups not like a I was eating a quart of it.  Later on, in the swim start line I tried to eat the sandwich and could only get down half of it.  I was a little worried at that point because you really don't want to start the day with that little food in your system.  Jumped in to the swim and was on to the bike.  Felt GREAT on the first loop of the bike.  I was on top of eating, drinking, keeping the pace where it needed to be, etc.

For some reason, I associate the beginning of the end with special needs at mile 53.  I don't know why.  In past races, I have taken my bag gotten off to the side, mixed my bottles, port o potty, etc., and move on.  This special needs felt crowded.  Spectators were screaming for the participants, bikes were whizzing by, there just wasn't a lot of room.  I was handed my bag and proceeded to go through it while still holding my bike.  Tried to mix my bottles while holding my bike and my bag and it was just a bit of a mess.  Nothing that would have ruined the day but WAY more chaotic than I had experienced in previous races.  It rattled me a little bit.

Got to the start of the second loop and felt great.  I looked at my watch, I was on pace to be done with the bike leg at about 6:30.  Was super pumped but it didn't last long.  Not long after making that turn, I got that feeling in my stomach.  Again.  You feel like if you eat or drink anything you will be sick and as much as you KNOW you need to figure it out on the fly, you aren't sure what to do about it.  In addition to my infinit, I had bonk breakers which I was eating along the way and had brought some Huma gels with me just in case.  I decided to take a gel drink plain water give it 20 minutes and see how it went.  Nothing really changed all that much so I kept on with my infinit and a couple of bites of bonk breaker every hour.  As the miles wore on, I knew this was not going to end well.  I was fighting back tears because I knew how much walking that last 26.2 miles would hurt.  I passed aid stations and debated whether or not to stop and ask them call race support.  This went on for 50 miles.  I kept going because I wasn't sure how Rick would find me if I quit early and didn't want him standing out there at the bike finish wondering where I was.  So I kept riding.  My 6:30 finish had long since gone out the window.  I was just riding along making plans to sell my bike and cursing myself for buying a new helmet because what would I do with it now that I am selling the bike.  Duh.
This is me finishing. Smiling because I am glad to be done!
Finally made it to the finish and saw Rick screaming my name, taking pictures and being the super fan he always is for me.  (He even scoped out where my Run bag was in the pile so I could get to it quickly - he was trying to tell me where it was when I was handing off my bike - love that.).  Anyhow, I grabbed my bag and was trying to run along on asphalt in the bike shoes.  Recipe for disaster. Rick yells "how are you feeling" and I just look and shake my head to keep from crying.  I keep running.  Darn shoes, I thought, I should just take them off.  I get to the tent and met a lady who was somehow affiliated with my tri club, she asked how I was feeling and I told her I was going to stop my day here.  She sat with me for a bit and then told me to just sit for a bit and decide.  I changed into my running shoes, took of my timing chip and handed it to a volunteer as I was heading out of the tent.  I ran into a couple I sort of knew from the gym who chatted with me for a bit and helped me get my race bags.  I ducked out the back entrance which felt perfect and odd all rolled into one.  I mean, I didn't want to make a big production but at the same time it made it feel even more like a failure of sorts. Rick had been watching and met me around back and we headed back to the hotel.

A couple of bright sides from the day - 1.  I went sub one hour on the swim.  The current was ridiculous.  2.  That was my longest bike ride ever at 116 miles.  (the IM Choo course was longer than the traditional 112).  and 3.  Despite my ever slowing speed on the last 50ish miles and the extra four miles on the course, my split for Chatt was better than my split at Louisville.  I'll take that.

And where does that leave me today?  well...  It is kind of a weird feeling.  I wasn't all that upset about things once I got off the bike and made my decision to quit.  I knew there was no way I wanted to gut out a marathon at that point and am not even sure that I could have done it had I made the decision to continue.  Had this been my first IM, I probably would have at least tried to keep moving.  I think the part that does make me sad is that I knew a ridiculous number of people doing this race.  Seriously, I could probably name 50 people off the top of my head.  Seeing all their pics and posts on facebook stung a little.  Not that I wasn't happy for them but disappointed with myself and sad that I missed all the fun of the spectators on the run course.  The run is my favorite part and I missed out.  The reality is it was one race.  it doesn't change who I am.  I have crossed that finish line three times already so am still an Ironman.  I mean, no one has called me to ask for my medals back or anything.   Yet.   :)

I won't say that it didn't leave me feeling incomplete.  All that training, you know.  Luckily, my favorite race of all time, Beach2Battleship is in three weeks.  I was planning on doing the half but upgraded to the full.  Two weeks to train and then taper.  Sounds pretty perfect to me!

So what went wrong Sunday?  Really, I don't know.  I am stepping into pre-menopause so it could be a hormone thing. I can no longer blame the heat so it makes it even more of a mystery.  For now, I am just going to be super careful about my nutrition, try some ginger chews for nausea and hope for the best.  B2B is October 25th so here we go again...



Monday, June 30, 2014

90 Days #imchoo ...

90 days.  It feels like plenty of time and not enough all at once.  90 days until I plunge into the Tennessee River to start a journey to my fourth iron distance finish line.  It all sounds so dramatic, doesn't it?  I feel more nervous this time around.  Not sure why.  Or maybe I do.  It probably has to do with Louisville not going the way I had hoped last year.  I sort of feel like I did when I was training for B2B the first time.  Not sure I can go the full distance (which seems crazy because I have done it three times before).  So many doubts in my head right now.

This past weekend, I raced in the Chattanooga Olympic Tri.  I did this race in 2011 leading into B2B.  It is a nice race but have not worked it into the schedule again until this year.  I mean, I am doing the IM in Chattanooga so it seemed like a good time to revisit this race course.  Just like I am nervous for the race in September, I was oddly nervous leading into the race yesterday.  I had no real time goals other than a hope and a prayer that I would be faster than my time in 2011.  (I would like to think I have improved somewhat in the last three years!).

By the time the race start rolled around, I was feeling better about things.  I saw more than a few people I knew.  I chatted with a new friend on the bus to the swim start, hung out with a group from Atlanta Tri Club while waiting for the start and chatted with another racer while we waited our turn in line to get in the water.

The race is a time trial start meaning you go off one at a time a few seconds apart.  You might bump into a person here or there but in general it is just like a big open water swim practice.  Only faster.  The swim course was point to point which makes it even easier.  Get in, swim a straight line and get out.  My goggles fogged up to the point where I could not see buoys about halfway through so I had to clear them super quick and get back after it.  I probably wouldn't have bothered to try to clear them except that I could not see anything and, well, sighting is kind of important.  :)  

Swim - 1500 meters  28:23  - This was actually 2 minutes slower than 2011.  Oh well.  Not too worried about it.

The stairs from the swim exit to transition.  Stairs seem to be a theme of this race as they are also on the run!

On to the bike...   The course is decently hilly and this was the part of the race where I was most anxious to see if my training has paid off.  I recently added a power meter which I think has helped me tremendously.  As compared to others, I am still not leading the pack BUT it has helped me recognize when I am not giving enough effort as opposed to going by feel.  It is definitely a game changer.  People passed me as per usual but it felt like not quite as many were flying by me this time around.  I ended up spending what felt like 10 miles going back and forth with this other girl.  I am sure it was getting on her nerves.  She would pass me on the climbs and I would pass her back on the flats and downhills.  I guess our strengths were perfectly opposite of one another...

Bike - 26 miles - 1:29 - TEN minutes faster than 2011! 

...  and we are running.  I felt good on the run.  I think this was where all the long distance training pays off - you get this warped sense of distances.  A 10k starts feeling like a short run.  In this case, I was thinking all I had to do was run 3 miles out, 3 miles back and I was done.  I walked a couple of short steep hills at the end (which I regret now), but other than that was happy with the run mostly from a nutrition perspective.  I felt like I must have done OK with nutrition on the bike based on how the run felt.  I think I might have started to get the nutrition dialed in which is a big relief!

Run - 6.2 miles - 56:13 - eight minutes faster than 2011!

Overall time 3:00:31  (you see why I am cursing the hill walks now - JUST missed a sub 3:00.  Darn!)   In 2011, I had a 3:17 so even though I lost 2 minutes on this swim this year, I still came out 17 minutes ahead.  I am making progress!

All in all a good way to head into the last 90 days before IM Choo.  Still nervous but am going to focus on the good things from the race this past weekend to get me through until my next race in August!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Keeping a journal, or not...

I was doing a much needed purging of the home office this week and came across no less than 7 journals.  Brand new journals.  Not one entry in any of them.  I have never actually kept a journal but clearly am obsessed with little notebooks that have fun covers.  I am forever making myself notes to buy this or remember to do that, I suppose I thought that the journals would be perfect for that purpose.  Maybe my first entry in one of the newly found journals should be to start a journal.

As I was neatly stacking my unused journals on the shelf, it occurred to me that I could use them to document my training.  ...and then I remember I had a blog.  One which I started to document my training.  Oh yeah.

Hi, its me Margaret.  I mean Karen.  I guess it has been three months.  Here is a little sampling of what I have been doing...   A little swimming, a little biking, a little running...  

Waiting for SAG with Debbie and Stephanie

Robin and I are twinsies!

Love friends who remember to take pictures!

Annie chillin' at a rest stop

At the state line during the Gulf Coast Relay!

Ironman Chattanooga is still top of my mind.  I think we are 17 weeks out as of now and I am knee deep in training.  Two a days, three a days.  I am a hamster on the training wheel!  Some days 17 weeks doesn't seem that far off and then others it feels like I have all the time in the world.

I rode the Chattanooga course two weeks ago.  There was a large group up there for a training weekend.  I had originally thought I would do a little train-cation and then decided just to go up there for ride.  (I tend to over schedule myself so have been trying to keep it simple and low key lately.  There is a lot of 'fear of missing out' that happens but it is just mentally better this way).  Anyhow.  Back to the ride.

I met up in the bi-lo parking lot with the group.  It was raining and the radar didn't look too good.  Lots of people decided against the ride.  Several brave souls (myself included) forged ahead thinking we came all the way here, we might as well ride.  It might rain on race day so, why not?  We ended up doing one loop of the course - it is an out and back with a double loop in the middle - and it rained the whole time.  Not torrential downpours but a steady rain.  I was questioning my sanity for riding in the weather in the beginning but in the end, I am glad I stuck it out.  The route turned out to be not as hilly as I had expected.  Obviously, depending on where you are from, hilly means different things.  In my mind, the ride had great potential to be one hill right after the other.  I had envisioned a little repeat of what I had seen for IM Louisville.  To me, this seemed much tamer than Louisville with a nice mix of some flat sections and climbing.  A really lovely ride!  I don't know how fast I will be able to do it on race day but at least I will have good scenery along the way.  :)
On the race nutrition front, I am trying out a new product this week.  I just purchased a sample from Tailwind Nutrition.  It is an 'all in one' product meaning you shouldn't have to supplement with food.  Tried it out on a run today and really like it.  It has a very light taste and mixes up easy which is a plus (no weird residue at the bottom of the bottle).  I am testing out on my first hundred miler of the year tomorrow - will let you know how that goes!

Have a good weekend, friends!

Focus on the positive!


Monday, March 10, 2014

IM Chattanooga - and so it begins...

When we last left off, I was sitting on the couch catching up on my reading and trying not to cough up my lungs...

Since then, CR and I have been doing a little of this and a little of that...   We took a 3-gun class with Jerry, Kay and Lena Miculek last weekend.  Pretty cool as they are superstars in the world of shooting.

I am in the midst of organizing a women's shooting club at our range.  A huge deal for me as I am not exactly a social butterfly.  I was so nervous leading up to the event but as usual found there was nothing to be nervous about.  We had a great turnout, everyone had a great time and we are looking forward to the next one at the end of the month.

A Girl & A Gun Club - we had 33 people show up!
Went to a cool class on power meters.  Had high hopes to win one in a raffle but sadly did not. (insert sad trombone).  One of my friends did and I am so happy for her!  Checking into getting one for the bike, can see where it would be a huge help to me.

And in the world of training...

I have gradually ramped up my workouts back to more of a normal schedule (normal for me anyhow)  :)   I have run a couple of 10ks and managed close to a PR in both of them which left me feeling A LOT better about my level of fitness.  You know how it goes, you sit on the couch and you can almost feel the fitness leaving your body because you feel like you haven't been doing anything for weeks.  While the speed I had gained over the winter seems to still be there, I do think I lost some endurance which is normal.  Right now, a 10k feels like a long run.  I ran a 10k this past weekend and was told to do a 2 mile warm up beforehand to which I thought 'that will be 8+ miles, I am not sure about this...'.  Says the girl who just finished 48 miles over 4 days 6 weeks ago.  How quickly our mental state changes.  ha ha.

2nd place AG in this week's 10k!

With that, I am feeling like I am good to go and actually just started training towards IM Chattanooga this week.  I started working with a coach one on one for the first time which is kind of exciting.  After having done this distance three times on my own, it is kind of nice not to have to worry about scheduling all the workouts.  I am a little Type A so this might be a good lesson in letting go, right?  :)    The Daily Mile weekly report proclaimed my training last week to be "gnarly" so I would say things are looking up!

Week one is in the books - 29 more to go!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Up in the gym working on my fitness... (or not)

Funny how quickly your mind can take you from feeling on top of your training game to feeling like you are starting over.  A little over a month ago I had just finished a weekend of back to back races at the Dopey Challenge and here I sit today trying to make it through a five mile run.  

 My plan when I got done with Disney was to take a few days off then parlay the running fitness into the Mercedes marathon which took place this past weekend.  That didn't happen.  As recently as two weeks ago I was looking at training trying to make it work but the reality is, it would have been a miserable run.  Cancelling out on it was a good call.

After Disney, I took a few days off as planned.  CR and I went out of town for work and once I got home I almost immediately came down with bronchitis.  At first I thought it would just be a day or two and I would wait it out.  (I can't remember the last time I have ever been sick for any length of time so was sure this would pass quickly).  I couldn't talk, couldn't string together a sentence without coughing up a lung.  It was crazy.  A couple of times I thought I was getting better and would head out to run only to cough every step of the way.  The never ending illness.

After three weeks of living the life of a slug (*), I headed back to the pool last Tuesday.  I knew it was going to be a long road back when I was gasping for breath after the first 1000 meters.  It snowed the next two days and we were stuck at home but I did manage to get in a three mile walk in the snow Thursday and then a five mile run on Saturday.  I am registered for a 10k this Saturday and after that five mile run, I am not so sure I can even make 6.2 miles.  Seriously.  How quickly it goes....

I went back to the pool today.  It wasn't as hard as Tuesday so there is hope.  Or there was hope ...  right up until the coach decided that we needed to practice feet first sculling on our back.  It was pretty pitiful.  I am certain the coach was dazzled by our lack of talent in this area.  I think it is supposed to help improve your catch phase somehow.  Anyhow.

Still debating the 10k this weekend.  It is actually a toss up between a 10k and a 15k, I can't decide.  Not that I am ready for a 15k but it is with some of my friends so it might be fun.  What to do, what to do...  The downside of having so many friends who are into endurance events is that you feel like you are falling so far behind when you see their posts about all their great workouts.  So hard to tune that out and not let it get in your head!  Climbing back on training wagon as we speak...

Hope you all have a nice week!  Following our freak snowstorm last week, we had two earthquakes so I am expecting a swarm of locusts in the next day or two.  :)

(*)  I will say it wasn't entirely awful having to sit on the couch in my spare time for three weeks - I did get caught up on some books and enjoyed cooking up some recipes from Well Fed.  On the book front, I finally read Gone Girl, Divergent and the latest Bridget Jones.  Enjoyed them all!  Divergent was probably my favorite.  I liked Gone Girl but felt like the ending was odd.  I didn't expect him to make that choice.  Of course Bridget Jones is just fun.  It wasn't nearly as good as the first book (or even the 2nd) in the series so not sure I would recommend it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Kicking off 2014, is it too late for a New Year's Post?...

What is the statute of limitations on a Year in Review and/or Goals post in the blog world? We have until the end of January to put it out there for the world to see, right? RIGHT?

 I have started to post three different times now. The first was deleted by my laptop mid-post. Still not sure how that happened but clearly the laptop did not deem it worthy of internet. Since all my other posts are prize winning works of literary genius, I guess it wasn't up to standards. *ahem* The second post just was a weird story about a 5k PR that really wasn't. (The person running with me at the time - who was the race directors daughter - convinced me that we were off course and that we needed to turn even though there was not a mark on the road and the course was very clearly marked up to that point. Turns out, we cut the course by a tenth of a mile or so. The daughter ended up winning 1st OA female and I had a 30 second PR. It didn't feel right. A result that needed an asterisk for explanation. I think I am going to go with my next best time in which I ran the full course.) So the guilt from unintentionally cutting the course carried over to my blog post and I decided not to hit "publish" on that one either. And now I realize given the build-up you will be expecting this post to be GREAT. ha ha.

 Some numbers from last year...

  Swim: 119 miles. (210,113 yards but doesn't it sound so much further when you say it in miles?) I swam most of that on my own leading into IM LOU in August but definitely credit masters swimming for keeping my yardage up towards the end of the year. Some mornings there are just two of us so the guilt of being a no show helps get me out of bed. I would probably benefit from being around more (faster) swimmers but this program is very convenient in time and location so I just hope that they don't decide to do away with it. I assume the low swimmer to coach ratio can't be a money maker for them.

  Bike: 2830 miles. Up from 2130 the previous year. I credit all the century rides I did with one Swim Bike Mom leading up to IM CDA. I am a little sad she isn't doing another IM this year so we can recreate some of those crazy rides. I think my personal favorite was one in Athens that had about 10 participants. The SAG wagon took their job very seriously. We managed to bring up the back of the pack for several miles until we agreed to sprint ahead to catch and pass the people in front of us thus leaving them with the SAG wagon. It was pretty funny as it was not as easy as it seemed and we felt like we had to stay just a little bit ahead for the rest of the day. You would think after all that riding my split at IM LOU would have been better. Sigh. I am sure it helped on some level. Sadly you can't really compare one race course to another so I will never know

  Run: 959 miles! I had no idea I was so close to 1000 miles for the year until I looked it all up on December 29th. I told Rick I was 40 miles short of 1000 to which he said )in all seriousness) "well, you have 2 more days". Right. Maybe this year I can break 1000. All that running must have done some good as 2013 seemed to be the year of new PRs. I have new PRs in the 5k, 10k and half marathon. Not sure how it all came about but it gave me a lot of confidence in my running potential. This may sound simplistic but really I think I *thought* I was pushing myself before but I really wasn't pushing myself to run as hard as I could. I think I was leaving too much in the tank so to speak. That 10k a month or so ago where I was up in front for the first time ever helped me realize that I can push harder and not require oxygen at the end.

 Looking ahead at 2014... I went back and read my post from this time last year. I was burnt out and needed some time off. I had been training all winter, had just run the Disney Marathon and was ready to not do anything for a while. The funny thing is training-wise I pretty much replicated last winter's training and even added in MORE swim/bike/run but this time around I am feeling ready to go! I have a few races and events early this year and then IM Chattanooga in the fall. I have been riding a lot at an indoor facility here in Atlanta, Energy Lab. They have a mix of Cycleops and computrainer options and I can already see an improvement. I am looking forward to working with them to get me to the finish line in Chattanooga! Last weekend I did the Dopey Challenge at Disney with Runner's World. I will have to give you a separate post on that one. It was so much fun and so exhausting all in one! Have a good weekend friends!