Just Keep Swimming

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Are you on of those triathletes just just jumps into the water and wings it for a sprint or Olympic distance tri? I am! One of the biggest pieces of feedback I got from the 3 coaches I met with before signing up for Ironman 70.3 Eagleman was…don’t do that!

I’ll be in the base building phase of training until early 2018 when things kick into high(er) gear and part of that means becoming a more well rounded athlete at all 3 sports. My goal for this cycle is simple:

  1. Meet with a swim coach to analyze my stoke, breathing techniques, and maximizing my swim effort
  2. Get in the pool and swim laps one night a week
  3. Figure out what this open water swim (OWS) panic was all about

So where am I now about 2 weeks into training?

  1. I met with a swim coach, Katie Scott, and she was fantastic. I highly recommend her if you are looking for a swim coach in the DC area. She was a NCAA collegiate swimming and recently swam the 34 mile English Channel in 13 hours and some change — insane. Even in just our first lesson I learned so much that a casual summer pool swimmer would never have been able to figure out. For example, how to properly finish my stroke, when to change arms (I am a fan of the catch up drill now), proper breathing, better use of my legs and efficient kicking. We’ve got a ways to go but I look forward to more lessons throughout the year.
  2. Aside from my coaching session I did get in the pool one night this week and more importantly — figured out my pool options. Thankfully, I can swim at my near-by alma mater as an alumnae (but their hours are a little late in the evening…coffee maybe??). As a second option, passes to the county rec centers are reasonable and I purchased a 10 swim pass for about $40 so that should help fill in the gaps for days I want to swim early in the morning or swim earlier than 8pm-10pm!
  3. I am still working on the panic bit and it is hard because it does not happen in the pool. I think it is a mix of a few things like being kicked and punched in the water during the insane fight to get going and not being able to see anything in the murky water. One of my tri coaches also pointed something interesting out that I have a bad OWS habit of doing that has to do with my breathing. When I go into survival mode when a panic attack sets in I start holding my breath when my head is in the water which means I am both exhaling and inhaling while my head is out of the water/to the side. Holy high heart rate bat man! Talk about inefficient! So breathing techniques will be a big focus for me along with getting in some OWS session closer to Eagleman.

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So what does training look like?

AM – run/walk to the pups (so that is not on Strava cuz it has a lottttt of stop and go…no shame!)

PM – 1 day pool, 1 day hill repeats on bike, 4 day run, 1 day long ride on bike

That’s all for now!

 

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Signing Up for My First Ironman 70.3!

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When I first raced my first triathlon in 2011 I thought to myself…could I ever do an Ironman event? Iroman has 2 distances — a half Ironman (70.3 miles) and a full ironman (140.6 miles). The more I raced, the more I biked, the more I signed up for I could not shake the feeling…should I sign up for a 70.3?

The last couple of weeks have been filled with countless conversations and the affirmation I needed to FINALLY his REGISTER! On June 10, 2018 (God willing) I will be competing in my first Ironman event at Ironman 70.3 Eagleman in Maryland!!

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A half Ironman or 70.3 consists of:

  • 1.2 mile open water swim
  • 54 mile bike
  • 13.1 mile run (half marathon)

…and you have time cut offs to hit and 8.5 hours to finish it from start to finish when all is said and done (if you make those swim and bike cut offs – ahh). Doubt, lack of self confidence, fear all kept holding me back until I finally set up a couple of coaching sessions with professional triathlon coaches (3 total). All of them had similar feedback after analyzing my data, my sprint times, and my Olympic times:

  • I would make the cut offs (giant sigh of relief)
  • I will be an hour or more from that final cut off (even larger sign of relief)
  • My bike is my strongest suit and will probably save me some time when making ti jump up to 70.3 (it’s where you spend the most amount of time)
  • My goal for the next couple of months should be to continue building up my base mileage and come the new year I should hire a coach to get me into peak racing shape
  • I need to find a way to get into the pool more because my “don’t train for the swim and just go wing it”‘ mentality that I take with sprint and Olympic distance tri’s won’t cut it for an Ironman event
  • Don’t underestimate weight training
  • I am already signed up for 10k’s and a half marathon for this training cycle so I’ve got some great built in mile stones to hit

So I took all of this and prayed and prayed and prayed and talked to my husband (who will kick my butt this training cycle) and prayed some more….and then hit that big red register button!! AHHHHH!! I am so excited and scared and happy all at the same time. This blog will be my refuge and voice for the next year or so as I train and compete. So come along on this 70.3 mile journey with me!!

Swim, Bike, Run…(sort of…like a turtle…)

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After a great weekend celebrating friends, family, and birthdays I had the chance to compete in the City Island Triathlon. It was an odd distance for me with the swim and bike a bit longer than a usual sprint. .8 mile swim in a river, followed by the a 14.5 mile bike, and a 3.2 mile run — my goal was to just finish under 2 hours (transitions and all). I knew I could do the swim in under 20, I knew I could do the bike in under 45, and I knew I would fall apart in the run. But last night as I broke down my results I really broke down mentally along side them.

…I was 3rd in my age group heading out of the swim and spent barely a minute in transition and that included downing a Gu…

…I climbed up to 2nd in my AG by the time I got off the bike and again about a minute in transitions…

…then came the run and I dropped down to 9th…

I am a slow runner and have gained weight that I know doesn’t help any of the 3 disciplines but seeing me drop so hard in the run hurt. I am an OK swimming, a stronger rider, and a horrible runner – and that needs to change. I know I am capable of a podium finish and one day I want to look back at this post and remember how far I have come.

Up until that point I was running on a high!! Despite a long delay for the swim start I had a great swim. I always have a slight panic attack in open water swims where even with goggles on you see nothing but brown (yuck). After some deep breaths, mantras, and back strokes, I got myself in gear and just followed the red bouys down the river.Not seeing any of the next waves swim caps around you is always a good sign!Β Β I felt strong coming out of the water even though I used my legs too much and not enough of my arms (always a swim goal of mine to save my legs). Not swimming for a year will do that to you! Heading on the bike I was passing people left and right and mentally really strong. Coming into T2 and seeing my bestie and little bestie on the side of the transition area helped! Then I headed on the run and made it maybe .5 miles before my shins and calves cramped HARD. From there it was a slow march to the end. I finished 1:49 – 11 minutes ahead of my goal – but I wouldn’t have done it without the help of a teen tri-team member named Emily. She helped me run-walk-run to the end! At the finish her dad was standing there running along the chute cheering her on (because he had finished well ahead of us) and I couldn’t help but think of me and my dad — he was just like him. I told her to be proud of the fact that her old man kicks her butt and that even at 28…I still have not been able to beat mine!

The best part of coming into the finish chute was seeing even more first and little besties there! Kyle, Addi, Doug, Caro, Leslie, and Baby J were the icing on top of my first tri in almost 2 years – and so were the cinnamon roll pancakes we had afterwards.

High: Getting back into tri racing and having my friends there with me

Low: the run

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You’ve got to re-start somewhere…

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This year has been a rough one for little ‘ol triathlete me. I’ve fallen out of shape, gained back weight that I worked hard to work off, and slowedddddddddd down to a painful speed. My passion is back and a combo of running/biking outside again and morning gym workouts will get me back there but I really wish I could rub a magic genie in a bottle and get back to my lowest “race weight” if you will. It doesn’t mean I have not competed or workouts out this last year – I just have not had my heart in it and my body took notice.
Yesterday I ran the Parks 10k – the furthest I’ve run this year. Boy oh boy was it the wake up call that I needed! My only goal was to not finish dead last and I did that…but barely. I was using run-walk-run before I even hit the first mile marker and my shins were screaming by mile 2. This is a race that I could have done in my sleep a year ago. So what’s changed?
1) I stopped seriously running. I am talking planned out routes with intervals some days and maintenance miles on others.Β 
2) I have done little to no weight training. I have not gotten my butt into the gym and I need to.
3) I stopped learning. I used to be glued to info on form, nutrition, pace, techniques…but I could not tell you the last time I bought a Runners World magazine. Actually it was at the airport a few weeks ago…but that was the first one I have bought all year!
It’s gonna take time to get back down to by goal weight and form…but if I don’t stick to my plan I’ll never get there. If anything, the 10k I ran this weekend reminded me that we all have to start somewhere (or re-start…).
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Getting back into the swing of things…

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Back when I started blogging in 2013 the #SweatPink community and this little slice of the internet helped me reach goals I never thought possible. This little blog helped me lose over 30 pounds, helped me run PRs, and helped me find my strong. Since my last blog I’ve ridden multi-day Bike MS rides for the MS Society, competed in my first Olympic distance triathlon, conquered my first open water swim…and have fallen a bit off the wagon!

So I’m starting back up again and sharing my journey along the way. Keep an eye out for swim/bike/run training tips, cross training workouts, inspiration, delicious and probably not very health recipes, and more! I’m no pro – just sharing my love for swimming, biking, and running while holding myself accountable through this little slice of the inter-webs.
SO what’s up next for me? The 2016 Reston Century!
Β This is probably the most difficult century I’ve ever ridden. It’s late August HOT, incredibly hilly, and for most of the ride we rode in packs…FAST packs…think crit racing tight and fast. Hopefully my dad will be back to run with me (and possibly push me up a giant hill or 10) but I’m stoked for my next century…and the post-century nap.
Stay tuned!

Race Recap: MCM 10k

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Marine Corps Marathon weekend in Washington, D.C. is one of my FAVORITE weekends in the city. Flags line the streets, signs are up all over the place, the expo is huge, and and runners from all around the country head to our Nation’s capitol to take part in “The People’s Marathon.” It’s different than other marathons…there’s no huge prize purse, the winners are often members of our Armed Forces, and the course is one heck of an emotional roller coaster. Each year the organizers offer a 10k (the last 6.2 miles of the full marathon) and that’s right up my alley. Perhaps one day I will get to full marathon status…but I’m sticking with my 13.1’s for now!

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This year I was lucky enough to run with my bestie Christy (check out her blog here), Amanda, and her bad ass dad. We met bright and early at 7:00 AM on the National Mall and headed to the security check points — and the weather was already pretty warm! Thankfully, we didn’t have to use any of the mile long porta potty lines and were able to line up in the 1:20:00 finish time zone easily before giving a round of hugs to our cheerleader Matt and starting off. Up in the sky, Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter parachuted down with the FASTRAX sky diving team carrying a 7,800 square-foot American flag as the National Anthem played down on the ground. How can you not get emotional? The cannon *yes…cannon* shoots off and the music starts pumping as we make the long trek down the shoot and get ready for this beauty of a course:

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Just a few weeks ago Christy and I set our new individual 1/2 marathon PR’s at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and some medical problems sidelined me for much of my training time that followed. So training for this was…well…non existent! It consisted of a 2 mile run about 15 hours before the race to make sure I would be ok…but more on that in a later post! Stay tuned! So I turned to Christy at the starting line and asked her what her game plan was. She said she was shooting for a 13 minute mile, so I asked her if we could shoot to stay just below that and push it!! She agreed to my craziness and the next 6.2 miles were AWESOME! I could not be more proud of her (and thankful that she didn’t kill me)!!

About a mile and a half into the race we were passed by the leading hand-cycle from the FULL marathon course with his police escort and everyone cleared a path and cheered like crazy for him. The inspiration on this course if my favorite part: people running with photos and signs of their loved ones, single and double amputees, soldiers running in full combat gear, veterans of all ages! By mile 3 we grabbed our first drinks at the aid station and at mile 4 we ate our energy (a Gu for me and ShockBlocks for Christy) before heading into the final stretch. We were consistently hitting just above a 12:00/mile pace just like we wanted and at mile 5 we ran into Sgt. Carlos Torres who I read about after last years MCM 10k in an photo that because quite famous. Check out his story HERE. We chatted for a bit and thanked him for all he’s done before continuing on.

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A porta potty stop put us a minute or two behind where we wanted to finish…but we still came in at 1:20:31 at a 12:58 pace…2 seconds below Christy’s goal!!!!!! We sprinted up that final hill and were SO excited to see our favorite cheerleader (Matt) waiting for us at the finish. After getting our medals and taking out obligatory photo with the Iwo Jima Memorial we met up with Amanda and her dad who finished just a few minutes behind us. OORAH!

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IMG_4980Pictured from left to right: Mr. Brian (Amanda’s bad ass dad), Christy, MEEEE, Amanda

The energy around this race isΒ absolutelyΒ electric. We left the medal area and made our way to the snack bags and then to our cheerleaders. The MCM does food RIGHT! Our bags had water, chips, protein shakes, fruity snacks, granola bars, bananas, and more! YUM! Then the delicious watermelon festival people were at the finish line as well and you know I ate two of those πŸ˜‰ delicious!

Every time I run this race I carry with me those who have served, currently serve, or are getting ready to serve with. My USNA brothers from Christy’s family like Matt (who supported us today!), Coleman, Ross, Jener, and Hunter are in there…Max’s best friend Evan who is deployed in Afghanistan right now was there…my cousin Eric was there…all of our veterans…they’re all with me when I run this race! I love it! So thank you to all of sacrifice everything to keep our great country free. God bless you! This one’s for you!

Race Recap: The Reston Bike Club Century

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Today I finally rode over 100 miles.

Today I got pushed up hills like a baby by my awesome and wicked strong rider dad.

Today I rode in my first organized ride.

Every year for the past 32 years the Reston (VA) Bike Club hosts the Reston Century and it draws 1,500Β riders from all over the area. This was my dads third time riding this century and it was my first. Now that the pain is over and done with and the muscles are icing up, I can say I loved it!

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They offer 3 routes:

  • Half metric (35.7 miles)
  • Metric (67.4 miles)
  • Century (103.5) — or a little longer if you miss a cue card or sign (woops)

The biggest different for my between cycling and running is trying to remember that this is an organized ride and NOT a race. That’s does not mean that we are going slow by any means…but it does mean that I need to remember that each person that comes up to me is not trying to race me (you hear that, dad?!).

To save an hour of sleep in the morning I decided to spend the night at my parents house. We had a healthy power dinner of grilled chicken, brown rice, and a lot of spinach and veggies…oh and then we split a Lindt chocolate bar (woops). We were in bed by 7:30 pm and up at 4:00 am to start getting ready. Oatmeal and eggs over toast for breakfast with 2 cups of coffee for both of us! We arrived in Reston at 6:30 am and were on the road at the starting line at 7:00 am. Looking around at all of the DC Velo and pro-team jerseys I know that I was in trouble!

Throughout the entire ride there really were few spots where we were ever on our own out on the road. The first sections were a little crowded for my liking (eg. where all 3 routes were rolling together) but then it thinned out as different routers headed in their own direction. I was pretty proud of being able to keep up with the “big boys” for the most part. Mom met us at the finish line and it was great to see here there so proud!

A few observations:

  • Cycling is a very male-dominated sport. At every rest stop I would run into 1 maybe 2 other ladies and 20+ men. Let’s change this ladies!
  • The RBC did a fabulous job of staffing and filling the rest areas. Every 15-20 miles there were marked rest stops in community centers or parking lots. Each stop had mechanics from bike stores, water, gatorade, bathrooms, racks for your bike, maps, and tons of food (PB&J, muffins, breads, trailmix, vanilla waffers, rice krispy treats, bananas, oranges, cheese-its, power bars, fig newtons).
  • RBC also did a great job keeping riders safe! There were electronic signs saying “cycling event, share the road, etc), state troopers at major intersections, SAG wagons for those who needed to quit or got hurt, and my favorite was the motor bike that took the main front group we were in through a particularly confusing area so that we knew where to go…I felt like I was on the Tour de France). Everything was very well marked!
  • RBC (again) did a great job with their post-race party. The finish shirts look great and there was a delicious spread of salads, pastas, chicken, fruits, an ice-cream truck on hand to give out ice cream treats, and a massage company there to help role you out.
  • I was so proud to see so many riders out rocking their Bike MS jerseys. I spoke with each one I saw and thanked them for their help!

What I want to improve on:

  • I want to be stronger! My poor dad had to push me up some gnarly hills (check out those peaks in the map! I am sure you can guess the 2 “hills” that were the killers). Big strong riders were stopping on hills from cramps, pulling off to the side of the road, it was bad. Dad would not let me quit and kept coming back to get me, give me a push, or (literally) push me up the hill in our granny gears. I cried on those hills…they will be scars in my mind for a while.
  • I need to eat and drink better on rides. I didn’t eat as much as my dad did on the century (my total for all of the rest stops was: 2 half PB&J sandwiches, half a bag of pretzels, half a bag of cheese-its, half a bag of trail mix, 2 orange slices, a Gatorade snow cone, and 1 banana). On the bike I had 2 gu gels when I really struggled, 4 shock blocks, and over 10 bottles of water).
  • Stop drinking gatorade. As you know, I am a HUGE Nuun fan. 2+ years of drinking Nuun as my sports drink of choice reaffirmed how sugar loaded Gatorade is. I got sick to my tummy today from it. WAY too sweet and sticky.
  • Intervals. I need to dedicate a day each week to interval training to get those muscles built.

All in all a GREAT ride, full of hills (the should re-name is the Never-Ending-Hills Century), and I am so proud of us!

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Look at all of that food!

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(right) How I actually felt about dad after that ride/hills/telling me it was a “flat course”/convincing me I could do this

(left) loving my pops

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Riders enjoying the massage section and all of the great food

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Feeling strong after completing my first century!!

Final States:

Miles – 103.5

Kilometers – 167

Time – 6:46 (5 rest stops with about 10 minutes at each stop for stretching/restrooms/filling water/eating)