Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Augusta

Ironman 70.3 Augusta was my second half distance tri back in 2013 and I remember enjoying the current-assisted, wetsuit-legal swim, relatively flat bike course, and super flat run.  So I signed up for this last winter after what was (for me) a successful fall racing season with the goal of breaking 5 hours. Training has gone pretty well, and going into the week I thought this still seemed to be a realistic goal.  However race week brought some unexpected twists, including (1) learning of changes to the bike course that added a little distance along with 700+ feet of elevation gain over the old course and (2) seeing that the forecast was predicting high temperatures around 90.  After racing Raleigh in June and completely blowing up in the heat, I knew I needed to adjust my race plan given the conditions.  I decided on a slightly slower pace and decided ahead of time that I would walk through all of the aid stations to try to keep my core temperature under control and make sure that I was hydrating.  These changes to the plan made it pretty unlikely that I'd finish in under 5 hours, but when life gives you lemons you just try to cross the finish line and not end up in the medical tent. 

Made it to my hotel just in time to see the sunset on Friday night
After driving down to Augusta on Friday, Saturday was pretty low key.  I went for a quick spin to make sure all systems were go with the bike, met up with Tim for lunch and bike check-in, and then met some friends for dinner.  Other than that the day was just spent getting things together, hydrating, and lazing around watching football.

Race gear ready to go
Sunday morning I walked over to the Marriott to catch the bus to T1.  While I was walking I overhead several people saying that the swim wasn't wetsuit legal, but they'd announced the water temp to be 74 on Saturday - a full two degrees below the cutoff - so I thought they must be mistaken.  Unfortunately they were not.  The water temperature had somehow risen to 77 in one day.  Part of the reason I'd chosen this race was the wetsuit-legal swim with the current, so that was really disappointing (and the conversation I had with myself in my head may have contained an expletive or two).  I know that relying on the wetsuit is sort of a cop out, but because I'm not a strong swimmer, the extra buoyancy and improved body position really helps to cut the gap between me and the front of the field. At least we still had the current!

Looking over the swim course from the bridge nearest the start

It was 50 minutes between the pro start and my wave, so we watched the pros go out to try to see what the best line would be.  We were instructed to stay to the right of the buoys but the pros were using both sides, so I decided I'd stay as close to the sight buoys as possible. 

It's an in-water start, and we had to work at treading water and moving backward against the current, which I thought was a great sign.  Unlike my last two 70.3s, which were very choppy, difficult swims with portions against and across the current, the Savannah River was blissfully calm and the point to point swim is with the current the entire time, so I was actually feeling pretty comfortable when the horn sounded.  My comfort was pretty short-lived.  I guess I just need more practice in crowds, but I just can't find a rhythm with people bumping into me from every direction. One woman seemed to be trying to draft off of me and kept grabbing my feet, and it was frustrating me to no end.  Thankfully I was eventually able to find my own space, stayed on my line just right of the buoys, and the second third of the swim went by uneventfully, which for me is a victory.

When I did Augusta 3 years ago, I finished the swim in 30:35.  Originally I thought I'd be able to take a couple of minutes off of that time, but without the wetsuit I wasn't sure how it would go.  So I was content to see 31 minutes on my watch when I exited the water.  Though I had the current to thank for most of it, that is still BY FAR my fastest non-wetsuit open water swim.  

2013: 30:35, 104/159
2016: 31:28, 54/159

I made the run up to T1 and found there were still a lot of bikes on my rack, which made me smile given my questionable swimming ability and my struggles in the early portion of the swim.  I put on my helmet, bike shoes, and sunglasses and was out of T1 in under 4 minutes.

While I was not thrilled about the added elevation on the bike course (hills are not one of my strengths), I was excited to get on the bike.  I'd hit the 56 mile mark at Patriots in about 2:38, and though I was better suited to that course I thought something at least close to PR would be a possibility.  The first several miles were incredibly crowded.  People were riding three wide and it was very difficult to avoid drafting.  There were three women in my age group close by and we played a bit of leap frog for a while as we were weaving in and out of passing lanes, going around people, and avoiding some of the men from the wave behind us that were flying by at mach 7.  Once things started to spread out for a bit, I found that they were pulling away.  I thought about trying to stick with them, but knew it was going to be a long day, especially with the run in the heat, so I decided to stick with my plan to ride around 160-165W and just hope that they'd come back to me later in the race.  I took it easy up the hills, used the 5 mile split beep on my garmin as a reminder to eat a couple of chomps and drink some gatorade, and just tried to ride steady.  I ran out of fluids before both the first and second aid stations, and was disappointed to find that they were so far apart (#1 at almost 20M, #2 around 38M, and #3 at 46M or so... not the best spacing), especially given that temperatures were already in the 80s, but overall I felt ok.  Despite seeing some slow bike splits, I fought the urge to ride harder and actually dialed it back a little as the temperature rose, not wanting a repeat of the Raleigh run disaster.  The last 12 miles or so are mostly flat and downhill, so I was actually able to maintain a decent pace without blowing my legs out.  Overall I'd say it went pretty much to plan, with a final normalized power of 160.  That put it on the low end of my target range and I finished with a an average speed of 20.2 mph, but with the heat that was probably not a bad thing.  Though of course I wish it'd been faster ;)

2013: 2:56:00, 38/159
2016: 2:46:18, 8/159

According to my garmin data, it was 88 degrees and 49% humidity at the start of my run.  My legs felt good and even though my legs wanted to run in the 7:30s (my original target pace), I made a conscious effort to slow down.  I felt that if I could stay in the 7:40-7:50 range with short walks through the aid stations, that would be a solid run given the conditions.  Again, I thought about Raleigh, and though it was awful at the time, at least I learned from my mistake of going out too hard, too soon.  It also helped tremendously that I've been training in the heat for the last 4 months!

As with the bike course, I thought the aid stations were poorly spaced.  While I'm used to having one every mile, several of these were spaced one and a half miles apart or more.  That might not sound like a huge difference, but when it's 90 degrees and sunny, a half mile can feel very long!  I was also disappointed to find that the majority of aid stations were not stocked with ice, especially since they'd known for quite some time that it was going to be an extremely hot day.  Thankfully I still felt (relatively) ok, and though my pace slowed a bit and my walks through the aid stations got progressively longer, most of my splits stayed in (or at least near) my goal.  As I was walking through the second to last aid station, a woman in my age group ran by.  I thought of taking off immediately or speeding up to catch her, but stayed with the plan and it wasn't long until I ran by her and pretty quickly put some space between us.  The last miles were tough, as could be expected, but I managed to finish strong...  a far cry from my last 70.3.  Even with the walking I ended up with an average pace of 7:47 per mile.  Though it's not my fastest half run split, it's not far from my 70.3 PR of 1:40:37 last fall, which was run under more pleasant conditions.

2013: 1:46:09, 14/159
2016: 1:41:59, 3/159

6th Female 35-39
14th Amateur Female of 900+ finishers
Though I was fairly satisfied with my effort and execution, I knew it was unlikely that I'd placed high enough to have a shot at a World Championship spot, but I'd hoped to crack the top 5 and get onto my first Ironman podium.  After getting a massage in the finisher area, I anxiously retrieved my bag from gear check and looked up the results.  Sixth.  For the second straight Ironman 70.3.  Though it's not a terrible finish, I missed out on fourth by three and a half minutes and fifth by only 2 minutes.  So close but so far, and I'm definitely a little disappointed because I know I could have found a few minutes out there, be it not getting frazzled by the foot grabbing in the water, pushing just a little harder on the bike, or not walking through the final aid station on the run.  Thankfully the three Championship slots were accepted by the top three finishers, so I am not beating myself up over missing out on that as I would have if one had rolled down to fourth and been within only a few minutes of my reach.  

I am trying not to dwell on the disappointing parts and to look at the positives as well... Though it wasn't ideally suited to my strengths with the changes to the swim and bike course, I finished less than 9 minutes from a World Championship slot.  I'd started to question whether I'd been overambitious in setting that goal for myself, and though it's still a sizable gap, it is inside the realm of possibility and in that sense I am feeling more confident despite falling a little short this time around.

So now it's back to work and on to Ironman 70.3 North Carolina.  Hopefully I can finally find that fine line between going out too hard and blowing up (Raleigh) and leaving a little too much in the tank (Augusta).  Time will tell... 

Monday, September 5, 2016

The heat index is somewhere between OMG and WTF

Despite not being able to swim for the first week of August thanks to the bruised ribs from my crash, it's been a really solid and productive month.  The heat has been miserable, even for North Carolina, but I've checked off a 100 mile ride, a time trial on the bike and corresponding new 20 minute max power PR (220W), and some really good speedwork on the track and the trail.  My only disappointment was to have finished one week with 198.5 miles... had I realized that I would have at least gone out for a short easy run to hit 200!

Swim - 18.3
Bike - 581
Run - 113
Total time - 60:09:33
Total miles - 719
It's crazy to me that I (1) survived the entire month without a rest day and (2) actually put in more miles on my bike than I did last August (while swimming and running only slightly less) even though this year I'm only training for 70.3s.  Hopefully this means that 5 hours on race day won't feel that long :)

Tarwheels Bikefest Century
Sunrise at the track
2 x 400 @ 1:25
6 x 800 @ 3:05-3:10
A few screenshots of the weather
at the end of my August bike rides
Five-0 Memorial Ride

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August already?

I complain about the heat and humidity quite a bit, but the truth is I LOVE summer.  I get so excited about seeing my training volume grow to 12-15 hours a week, spending hours at a time on my bicycle, logging double digit Sunday long runs, and eating pretty much all of the ice cream in the greater Triangle area.  

Swim - 18.6 miles
Bike - 384 miles
Run - 83 miles
Total time - 46:47:44
Total distance - 495 miles
Swim - 8.9 miles
Bike - 293 miles
Run - 117 miles
Total time - 42:07:22
Total distance - 429 miles

It seemed like I was doing comparable volume to last year, though I was training for a full and this year only have half iron distance races on the schedule.  I decided to look back, and sure enough my totals were quite similar.  

June 1 – June 30
Total time
Total distance
Swim distance
Swim speed
1.8 mph
1.9 mph
Bike distance
Average power
139 W
140 W
Run distance
Average speed
7.5 mph
7.1 mph

 If that was a solid base for a strong 140.6 in October, hopefully that is a good sign for what's to come in this fall's 70.3s.

July brought a shift to running and a break from swimming and cycling thanks to a lovely two week vacation in the Pacific Northwest, so I filled the gaps with lots of trail walks and mountain hiking.  It was fantastic to run in pleasant weather rather than the hot, humid, miserable North Carolina summer, so I definitely enjoyed that while it lasted.

Raleigh RunDown Downhill Mile
8th female in 5:08
(A new mile PR with an asterisk)
First female and 2nd overall in the Maggiano's 5K
And kudos to Margaret for winning her age group!
Second female in the Point 262
Short races are so much fun!
Found some inspiration watching
US Olympic Track Trials at Hayward Field
When in Eugene...
Added a 5K to the schedule at the last minute
and surprised myself with a new PR (20:07)
Several of my runs in Oregon included steps...what?!
Exploring trails in Eugene
Trail running with Jenn
More lovely trails
Hiking with Jeannelle
Logged several beautiful miles in Vancouver
Unfortunately a crash during a group ride at the end of the month left me with bruised ribs, a bone bruise on my elbow, and a lot less skin than I started with.  Though I missed a couple of days of workouts and the rib pain kept me out of the pool for a bit, I am thankful that it wasn't worse and that I was able to resume training fairly quickly.  And though the injuries made it impossible to push on the swim or run, I was able to finish second overall at the UNC Wellness Super Sprint just four days after the crash.  Despite the injuries, my time was only 26 seconds slower than last year, so hopefully that's indicative of progress across the board.   In any case, I am grateful to be healing and can't wait to see what August will bring!  

8 weeks and counting!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ironman Raleigh

Ironman Raleigh was my first 70.3 back in 2013.  It was a really tough race on a very hot day, and I said I'd never do that one again.  Yet somehow last year I found myself signing up.  I guess it's that selective amnesia that allows us to keep putting ourselves through the same pain!  With the knee injury setting back my running, my longest run had been about 8.5 miles, and I knew the weather was going to pose a challenge. Those concerns left me feeling a bit nervous, but I still came into this with high, though tempered, expectations.

Despite getting up at 3:30 to get to Raleigh and take a shuttle to Jordan Lake, the morning was quite pleasant and I was feeling good going into the race.  After arriving at Vista Point, I got my stuff set up in T1 and then just relaxed and chatted with friends while waiting the 3ish hours until my wave start.

Unfortunately this photo does not reflect actual race conditions

It's an in-water start, so I found a spot on the inside around the middle of the pack.  I tried to calm my nerves, listened to the countdown, and we were off.  Despite the initial crowding and rush of adrenaline, I felt more calm than I have in previous open water races.  I settled into a comfortable pace and stuck to my line just inside of the sight buoys.  I thought, "wow, this is the best I've ever felt during the swim!" and just continued along.  After making my way around the first turn buoy, that thought quickly disappeared.  That part of the lake was very rough and choppy, and suddenly it felt like a completely different swim.  I tried to time my stroke and breathing with the ups and downs of the waves, and when I'd look up I saw several swimmers holding onto paddleboards and kayaks.  I felt my pace dropping and a mouthful of lake water led to some coughing, but I felt like I was still managing ok. Then *bam* a wave to the face knocked my goggles off of my eyes (but thankfully not off of my head altogether).  I stopped and readjusted them, but couldn't seem to get them quite right and the right side kept taking in water.  I paused a few times to try to adjust them, but didn't have any luck.  Between the waves and trying to use only one eye, sighting was a challenge, so I started to just follow a few people in front of me.  It was slow going, but I thought I must be well over halfway there so thankfully it will be over soon.  A few minutes later, I heard some yelling and looked up to see a volunteer on a kayak heading our way and pointing off to the left.  I stopped swimming for a second and heard that we were going off course.  UGH.  I drained the water from my goggles, spotted the turn buoy we should have been swimming toward, changed course was on my way again.  From that point until I made the last turn was a huge struggle, both mentally and physically.  I was upset with myself for blindly following other people and veering off course, I thought I might actually get sea sick, was coming way out of the water for sighting, and despite making swimming motions I didn't feel like that buoy was getting any closer.  I finally rounded the turn buoy and headed toward shore, thinking surely it would get easier.  Nope.  I kept looking but every time I checked the end still seemed so far away, and my thoughts were punctuated by a lot of words that are not appropriate for a G-rated blog. After what felt like an eternity, I got out of the water.  I saw almost 50 minutes on my watch, so technically I guess it wasn't "an eternity" but it was 8-10 minutes slower than what I'd been hoping for.  On the bright side, the swim was over.

First half: feeling comfortable and swimming well under 2:00/100
Second half: am I even going anywhere?
Official time: 49:33, 45th female 35-39.

I made it to my bike and was surprised that there were others still on the rack as well.  At least I wasn't last.  I probably could have hustled a little more in transition, but made it out and onto my bike in just under 3 minutes.  As disappointed as I was with the swim, I reminded myself that I had a bad swim in Williamsburg as well and still managed to PR there, so I just needed to focus on what I could still control and try to execute the rest of my race according to plan.


Thankfully the bike portion of this report is far less eventful.  My plan was to ride around 160W, and with the exception of the last split into downtown Raleigh, they all ranged from 158-164.  The ride starts mostly uphill and includes one 180° turn, so I knew I would be off to a slow start, but because I don't even have speed on my watch display I was able to avoid getting too caught up in that.  Once we made the turn onto 64 I settled in and felt like I was flying as I passed a ton of riders.  I didn't feel like I was working too hard, took in nutrition (3 packages of shot blocks) and hydration (mostly water) throughout, and felt great. There was one incident where I was cut off by another cyclist trying to get water and neither of us were able to grab one, but I managed to snag a gatorade further down the road and we avoided a collision so it all worked out.  I also lost the plastic top to my built in bento box and was stuck in a group of cyclists behind vehicular traffic a few times later in the race, but otherwise it was all smooth sailing.  I ended up averaging 159 watts (exactly the same as in my last half IM) and though it was starting to get warm was feeling optimistic for a decent run.

Official time: 2:41:16 (20.84 mph), moved up to 7th in my age group.

I felt a little unstable running in my cleats, so I took it down to a fast walk until I racked my bike. There were a lot more empty spaces now than there had been bikes on the rack when I left T1, which meant I'd passed a fair number of women in my age group while I was out on the bike and that was a nice confidence boost after the awful swim.  Quickly changed my shoes and was out of T2 in less than 3 minutes.


According to my garmin data, it was 82 degrees with 74% humidity and a "feels like" temperature of 88° when I started my run.  Knowing the weather was going to be a factor, I'd lowered my goals from mid-7s to high-7s in pacing the run.  A smarter person would have started out even more conservatively, as will soon become apparent...

The run is a double out and back, with a turnaround at roughly mile 3.3.  The way out is mostly an incline, then back down to complete the first lap, back up to the turnaround, and finally down to the finish. I felt good coming out of T2 despite it getting warmer and had to make a conscious effort to slow down off the bike (as usual).  I saw several friends out spectating (thanks for cheering!) and focused on just running steady from one aid station to the next with the intention of walking through each one just long enough to take in some fluids and maybe throw some ice in my tri suit.  I figured pacing in the high 7s with aid station walks I could still average in the low-8 minute mile range and put my finish time somewhere in the mid-5:20s.  Not a PR by any stretch, but given the conditions and the math I'd been doing, still a time that I would be happy with.

Part 1: Miles 1-3, from T2 to the turnaround

Some time during the 2nd or 3rd mile, I realized that I'd forgotten to put on my race belt with my bib. I could picture it there laying on the ground in T2 next to my bike, but in my haste to switch shoes and get out on the run, I never put it on.  Once again, my thoughts were primarily filled with expletives and me kicking myself over making such a stupid mistake.  The rules say "Failure to wear race number is STRICTLY PROHIBITED and may result in disqualification.  That capitalization is actually in the athlete guide - I didn't add them for embellishment - and I remembered reading that so I realized that it was a serious mistake. @#$&%!  Ok, just get to the turn around. You will figure this out...

Physical status: Getting hot but feeling ok. Feeling like I should probably eat something but nothing is appealing.
Mental status: Upset with myself and worried about the possibility of being disqualified.
Splits: 7:42-7:57-7:45.

Part 2: Miles 3-6, back toward the finish area

As I made my way back downtown I was more concerned about not getting a DQ than what I was actually doing and was not having much fun at all. My aid station walks were getting a bit longer, as I took the opportunity to cool off with the cold sponges and ice down a bit before resuming my run.  I also started drinking a little coke along with some water, hoping that the calories, sugar, and caffeine would help my energy levels since none of the food options (gels, pretzels, fruit) were even remotely appealing.  I think I was somewhere between miles 4 and 5 when I saw Anne with her bike, and stopped to ask if she might be able to ride down to T2 and ask a volunteer to grab my bib. Unfortunately she had to get to work, so I decided that I would just have to go back for it myself and hope that the race officials didn't notice in the meantime.

Physical status: Increasing temperature and decreasing energy level, but still functioning fairly well.
Mental status: Focused solely on bib retrieval since a decent finish time would be irrelevant if I were DQ'ed.
Splits: 8:05-8:09-8:39

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

From the initial run from T2 to the course (where athletes in earlier waves were already on their second lap when I started), I knew it was a few blocks from transition to the looped part of the course, but I wasn't sure how far.  When the rest of the athletes around me turned left to go back out for lap #2, I took a right and headed back to transition.  I told some volunteers by run out that I'd forgotten my bib and told them my race number and one went off to get it for me.  I found a little spot of shade to stand in while I was waiting, and a few minutes later the volunteer reappeared with my race belt and bib in hand.  With that problem solved, I then faced a new set of problems... including the day growing ever hotter, the task of getting going again after standing still for a bit, and trying to mentally move past the fact that my mistake had cost me valuable time.

Mile 7 moving time: 7:59, elapsed time between 10 and 11 minutes.

Part 3: Miles 8-10, from T2 to the turnaround, take 2

Getting running again was a challenge.  I tried to think of it just as little pieces: run to the next aid station, catch up to the friend you see up ahead, get to the turnaround, but suddenly it was a strugglefest.  My walks through the aid stations were longer and I stopped completely a few times to dump cups of ice water on my head and finish my little cup of coke.  I caught a friend and we tried to encourage one another, but no one seemed to be having much fun by that point.  When I did get running again, my shoes were squishing and squeaking from all the water I'd been pouring on myself, so I stopped and wrung out my socks.  I could see my chance of a good time melting on the asphalt and yet I could not get myself to push any harder.

Physical status: Hit a wall.
Mental status: Hit a wall.
Splits: 9:02-10:11-11:08

Part : Miles 11-13, from the turnaround to the finish line

Once I made the final turnaround I kept telling myself that it was all downhill and I just needed to put one foot in front of the other.  I was disappointed in myself for the day's stupid mistakes (swimming off course, forgetting to put on my race belt) and for not finding a way to push through it.  I took walk breaks, more ice water mini-showers, and sipped more coke.  Around mile 12 a spectator was offering icy pops so I took one.  I slowed to a walk in order to eat it and part of me thought "You're almost done, just toss this and start running," but another part of me said "This is so cold and sweet! It just might be the best thing you've ever eaten in your entire life!"... the latter part won.  With a little less than a mile to go, I started jogging and told myself there would be no more walk breaks, and I actually managed to return my pace to the 8s for the rest of that mile.

Physical status: Hot, tired, ready for it to be over.
Mental status: Overwhelmingly disappointed.
Splits: 9:40-9:43-9:48

After making the last turn, it's about 4 blocks to the finish, and the wind had picked up giving us a serious headwind to run into.  There was a relay runner in front of me and as soon as we turned onto Fayetteville Street her hat blew off and she had to run several yards in the wrong direction to retrieve it.  I needed all the motivation I could find to not just jog it in and I knew she'd be right behind me, so I gave it what I could to finish strong without being passed in the finishing stretch.  My average pace for the last .34 miles was 7:46, and even though that's slower than my open marathon pace, it really felt like I was sprinting.

Official time: 2:00:52, moved up to 6th in my age group.

I was both happy to cross the finish line and unhappy with the way the day played out.  I missed getting in under two hours but somehow actually moved up a spot to 6th in my age group despite all of the walking and the detour.

Final time: 5:37:28
6/79 Female 35-39
78/664 Female
373/2283 Overall

Compared to 2013

Swim: 7 seconds slower this year. That year was wetsuit legal and pretty calm. In hindsight, I'm less disappointed in my time because several good swimmers I know finished in about 40 minutes.

Bike: 23:06 (2.6 mph) faster. The first year I did this I was riding a road bike with clip-on aerobars and thought 56 miles was a long ride. Between that race and this one, I have significantly upgraded my bike and I've ridden nearly 11,000 miles, so it's not surprising that my time would be quite a bit faster even though it felt quite a bit easier.

Run: 2:02 slower. The new course is much flatter and the weather was probably comparable (82 degrees at the start of my run each year, though this year was more humid), so even with the extra quarter mile and waiting for the volunteer to grab my number, I feel like I should have run faster and/or walked less.

Moving forward

I am trying to get over the sting of disappointment from this one and look at it as a learning experience.  I feel that I wasn't as strong as I'd hoped, either mentally or physically, and am still kicking myself because with a decent run I would've found myself on the podium in my age group. Fortunately my two A races for this year are not until the fall, so I have a solid 4 months of training ahead to prepare for those... hopefully my next 70.3 reports will have happier endings!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

That's more like it

Despite very little running to start the month due to some nagging knee pain, May was filled with some solid training and a lot of fun, so I have no complaints!

Swim - 13.5 miles
Bike - 450 miles
Run - 82 miles
Total time - 45:42:02
Finished the Raven Rock Ramble 62
despite stormy conditions
Gears and Cheers winery ride in Gibsonville
Jordan Lake 1.2M Open Water Challenge
Long Course Duathlon Nationals
Over 20 minutes faster than the same race in 2014
Storming of Thunder Ridge
Roanoke Beer Mile
1st place female in 8:30

Monday, May 23, 2016

TOA Sprint

On April 30 I ventured out to Falls Lake for my first triathlon of the season, the Triangle Orthopaedic Associates Sprint Triathlon.  After the knee injury and a fews days off from training while I was in Mexico, I had a decent week of workouts.  Unfortunately my knee was still bothering me for the first mile or two of each run, so that was a concern, but I was excited to get back to racing and really wanted to see how my fitness was progressing. 

I arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare, checked in, set up in transition, chatted with some friends, and got in a brief swim warm up with my TMS-IOS teammates.  It was my first time in the wetsuit since October and my first open water swim in just as long, so I was a bit apprehensive about that but felt ok during the warm up and the fact that it was only a 750 meter swim helped to calm my nerves. 

The race was an in-water start and though it was cool, the water temperature was not as cold as I'd expected. I found a spot off to the outside, a few rows behind Cari, Doracy, and the other fast swimmers.  The plan was to accept the fact that I'd be way behind the leaders coming out of the water, but just try to swim comfortably hard. It took a while to feel "comfortable," but after making the first turn I settled in and swam what I thought felt like a reasonably steady pace.  My sighting could use work, and in the end my garmin said I'd added an extra 72 meters, but I was out of the water in under 15 minutes.  To my surprise, the majority of bikes were still in the transition area when I got to mine, so I already knew that meant a marked improvement over previous seasons when I was in the bottom third or so coming out of the swim. I'd hoped to swim in the 1:40s/100 yards, and officially I averaged 1:51/100 with the run to the timing mat, so overall I was happy with that.

I had a bit of a hard time getting out of my wetsuit, which was no surprise given my lack of recent practice, but I made it out onto the bike without any major holdups. 

This was my first race with the new bike and gear, and I was excited to get out there and see what I could do. The 15 mile bike course had a few rolling hills but nothing terrible, so the plan was to just keep my power in the 180s and pick people off.  It was an out and back course, so I tried to count the women in front as the leaders came back, and it appeared to me that Doracy was the 1st woman, followed by Cari, two other women, and then me at the turn around.  After catching the women who I though were 4th and 3rd, I came into T2 thinking our team had a shot at sweeping the podium, as long as I didn't blow it on the run.  I ended up right on target, averaging a 187W and little over 21mph on the ride, and my biggest concern was how the knee would feel out on the run.

The run was also an out and back, with more incline on the way out and then a nice gentle loss of elevation on the way back.  Though I typically hate running up (even if "up" is only 50 feet per mile), for some reason I prefer that off the bike as it helps my legs settle into running.  Unfortunately the bike was not enough to quash the knee pain, and the first mile of the run was fairly painful.  I felt like I was barely moving and limping along, but told myself it was only a 5k and it would all be over soon.  Thankfully toward the end of the first mile the pain level was down to a 2 or 3, so I was able to pick it up a bit and settle into something a little under 7 minute/mile pace.  When I saw Cari I realized that I was too far from the turnaround to have a shot at catching her, but also knew there was an NC State girl not far behind me and I was not about to give up my position, so I managed to find at least a little more speed to finish strong (7:31-6:57-6:52-6:25 pace for the last .17).  Even with the knee issues, it turned out to be the second fastest female run of the day, so I did take some encouragement from that.

My first race representing the TMS-IOS Elite Team
Unfortunately it turned out that I had missed the lead female, so we actually finished 2-3-4.  I am pretty sure this was the first time I've ever been disappointed to learn that I'd won my age group, not for myself, but because I'd envisioned a team sweep, and that was extra motivating.  It really is nice to have the support and encouragement of teammates!

We hung out for a while after the race, while several of my friends and teammates collected both overall and age group awards. As expected, the race confirmed that I need to work on my swim and transitions, but I was pleased with my effort on the bike and am optimistic about my running potential for coming races, especially if I'm able to run pain free.  All things considered, it was a great start to the season.  Next stop: the USAT Long Course Duathon National Championship!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Starting from scratch?

Well the January knee injury was definitely a setback, with no running at all for three weeks.  On the bright side, I had no pain on the bike and got to the pool more often, so the month wasn't a total loss. Since getting the green light to run, things have gone pretty well, and I've built my training back up from 6-7 hours per week to around 11.  I reaggravated the knee while I was on vacation, and it takes a mile or two of running for the pain to subside, but I'm working through it and thankfully it seems to be improving.  Hopefully I can get back to feeling 100% and it will be all smooth sailing from here...

Swim - 21.5 miles (That is not a typo!)
Bike - 209 miles
Aqua jog - 7 miles
Run - 5 miles
Total time - 30:51:32
Swim - 13.2 miles
Bike - 305 miles
Run - 73 miles
Total time - 35:19:50
Swim - 12.1 miles
Bike - 338 miles
Run - 90 miles
Total time - 39:56:31

Spring highlights
Riding with Jens Voight
Definitely among my favorite athletes of all time,
so this was really exciting for me!

Upgraded to a Felt IA10
Step 1 to getting faster on the bike:
Get a faster bike

Thanks to IOS for setting me up on my new ride!

Riviera Maya with Janet
Took a couple of days off from training
for some sunshine and R&R in Mexico

Ran a new 5K PR at the Cary Road Race
Given the lack of recent run training this was a pleasant surprise
Now if only I could crack 20 minutes...

Aside from the knee pain, I am feeling ok physically.  But with the Cary Duathlon and Raleigh 70.3 only a few weeks away, I am not feeling very confident in my fitness.  I guess the only thing I can do is take things one day at a time, stick to the training plan, and hope that that's enough... I guess we will soon find out!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Turning more pages on the calendar

Unfortunately my knee continued to bother me throughout December and January, so my running was quite limited.  On the plus side, I've spent significantly more time in the pool and am starting to see some improvements.  I've also spent a good deal of time on the bike and didn't always mind having to ride inside where it was warm since I couldn't get out and run in the cold.  After giving up hope that my knee issue would resolve itself, I finally had an MRI, which confirmed multiple meniscus tears.  As long as there are no mechanical issues from the damage, the strategy will be pain management, so they gave me a cortisone injection on February 4.  From there it's one week of no lower body activity, two weeks of light cycling and elliptical, and then I am cleared to run.  I am crossing my fingers that the cortisone takes care of the pain and I can finally get back to training!

Swim 8.5 miles
Bike 189 miles
Run 60 miles
Swim 13.5 miles
Bike 306 miles
Run 24 miles

Trail running and hiking
while visiting Jenn in Portland
Club Throwdown Duathlon
Swimming, biking, and running over
Christmas vacation in Key West
Sunrise run in Key West