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.  

June
Swim - 18.6 miles
Bike - 384 miles
Run - 83 miles
Total time - 46:47:44
Total distance - 495 miles
July
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
2015
2016
Total time
46:05:44
46:47:44
Total distance
505
495
Swim distance
11.7
18.6
Swim speed
1.8 mph
1.9 mph
Bike distance
382.3
383.5
Average power
139 W
140 W
Run distance
100.9
82.7
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
Swim

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.

Bike 

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.

Run

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!


May
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
https://bicyclrman.smugmug.com
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...


February
Swim - 21.5 miles (That is not a typo!)
Bike - 209 miles
Aqua jog - 7 miles
Run - 5 miles
Total time - 30:51:32
March
Swim - 13.2 miles
Bike - 305 miles
Run - 73 miles
Total time - 35:19:50
April
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!
#shutuplegs

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!

December
Swim 8.5 miles
Bike 189 miles
Run 60 miles
January
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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 in review

I thought I'd set the bar pretty high for myself this year, so I am not sure how it happened but this year exceeded all of my expectations! 



Training Summary

Running: 1190 miles 
Cycling: 3855 miles
Swimming: 139 miles

Including yoga, cross-training and ElliptiGo-ing, I spent nearly 570 hours exercising in 2015 and covered over 5,300 miles.  Though I ran only slightly more mileage than last year, I significantly upped my cycling totals and it really paid off. 
Total calories burned (as calculated by garmin): 315,258.  Obviously were I not exercising so much I would (presumably) eat less, but that translates to over 90 lbs (yet I only lost 5)...  Crazy!

Race Summary

With my focus fully on B2B and preparing for a full iron-distance triathlon, I raced far less than I have in recent years.   My finish at B2B made all of the training and reduced "fun" race schedule 110% worth it, but despite throwing most things in without much of a taper or recovery period I had a fair amount of success in my shorter races this year as well.  Despite missing out on 1:29:59 for a second consecutive year, all three half marathons went quite well (4th overall in the Bahamas, 1st Athena and a division course record in Utah Valley, and my first overall female win at the Tour de Force Half Marathon).  I also finished on the overall podium at the Pi Day Pi K, Tar Heel 4 miler, Cary Du Classic, and UNC Wellness Super Sprint triathlon.  Until very recently I was always thrilled to just place in my age group, so to be placing overall still seems crazy to me.



Goals for 2015
1. Sub-12:00 Ironman at Beach to Battleship
    10:27:42... SUCCESS!!!

2. Age group podium at the Patriots Half Ironman and B2B 
     2nd F35-39 (6th overall) at Patriots and 4th overall at B2B... SUCCESS!!

3. Sub-1:30 half marathon
    1:31:25. Still a PR by 96 seconds, so I don't want to call it a failure, but I still can't 
    check this one off the bucket list.

Goals for 2016

1. Qualify for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship 
I'm racing IM Augusta 70.3 in September and IM North Carolina 70.3 in October, so I'll have two shots at this.  Qualification is not based on time, but will most likely require finishing in the top 3 in my age group.  As for time goals, I'd like to shoot for sub-5:00 at Augusta and maybe even sub-4:50 in Wilmington.

2. Qualify for the 2017 ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championship
The qualifying race for this will be the MiamiMan 70.3 in November.

3. Top 5 AG finish at the Long Course Duathlon National Championship
Based on the 2014 results, this would mean taking about 20 minutes off my time from that year when Nationals were held on the same course. 


Special thanks... 

To my AMAZING training partners.  5,000 miles is a lot of miles.  I probably wouldn't have made it through all of them without my friends, and I definitely wouldn't have had as much fun doing it.  

To my coach for coming up with what turned out to be the perfect training plan. 

To Bull City Running Company and the Bull City Track Club for your support both on and off the roads and trails. 

To Esprit de SheNuun, and Honey Stinger for the Ambassadorships.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Back at it

Well, after a week of absolutely zero exercise (but all of the food and all the beer) following B2B, I was feeling pretty good and ready to get back to training.  Though I do miss spending most of my Saturdays on the bike or starting Sundays with a 2+ hour run with my friends, I've enjoyed the short but high intensity intervals (things like 50s and 100s in the pool, 4x5 minutes at 220 watts on the bike, and 15x30 second sprints in the middle of an easy run) that have made up much of this month's return to activity. Of course, regardless of whether I like it or not, it's what I would be doing anyway since I have zero doubt that my coach knows exactly what he's doing.



Swim: 5.5 miles
Bike: 153 miles* 
Run: 70 miles 

Total time: 26:29:47
Total miles: 237
Total calories: 14,718

November highlights:

Shortly after B2B I got the very exciting news that I was chosen for the 2016 TMS-IOS Elite Triathlon Team!  Even though I still don't feel like I fit in with "elites," I'm really excited to train and race with this group of exceptional local athletes!

The weekend before Thanksgiving we went up to NYC to watch Duke play in the 2K Classic Tournament at Madison Square Garden.  While I was there I managed to get in lovely runs on the Hudson River Greenway and through Central Park.   


Hudson River Greenway
Central Park
This Thanksgiving we flew down to Florida to visit my dad and Mary at their winter condo. All of us ran the Punta Gorda Turkey Trot 5K and despite the humidity and some pretty awful knee pain I managed to run a PR (20:42) and win my age group.  It wasn't quite enough to make up for the massive amounts of calories consumed over the weekend, but at least we had fun doing it :)

The return of the turkey hat

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Beach 2 Battleship

Wow... I am not even sure where to start with this race report.  The entire experience blew my expectations out of the water and I am almost in disbelief that everything worked out the way it did.  I am still on cloud 9, but here goes... 

Going into the race, I was quite nervous because on top of the anxiety over attempting a new race distance, my last two long rides were washed out by rain and I had been sick for the three weeks leading up to the race.  Thankfully I felt 98% better by the end of race week, but I was feeling far less confident than I had been in early/mid-September. 

My dad flew down to Raleigh on Wednesday night, so Thursday was a nice relaxing day including a very short run, a pool swim with friends, and a nice carb-filled pasta dinner with my dad.  On Friday morning we headed out to Wilmington, checked into the hotel and went to the race expo.  As I was standing in line for packet pickup, it really hit me that I was about to race an ironman, and the nerves and excitement both picked up yet another notch.  



After checking out the expo we headed over to the transition area in Wrightsville Beach.  I took the bike for a quick spin to be sure everything was working well and to loosen up the legs a bit before racking the bike in T1.  From there we went down to check out the swim exit and I did a walk through from swim out to my bike and then to bike out.  


Bike check-in at T1
I planned to check my transition bags in the morning rather than on Friday, so the only thing left to do was to eat and rest.  We stopped by the Fish House and had a lovely dinner outside (salad with chicken for me while everyone else enjoyed some nice coastal seafood) before heading back to the hotel and calling it an early night. 



I was awake well before my 4:00 alarm, but stayed in bed and tried to at least rest while visualizing the race and trying to bolster my confidence by thinking of all of the training I'd put in leading up to this day.  I got up at 4, took a quick shower, and had a Clif bar, a bottle of nuun, and some coffee.  I put on several layers of body glide and my trisuit, double checked my transition bags, mixed my UCan, and left for T1 around 5:15.  There wasn't much traffic at that time in the morning and I arrived without any issues. I set my helmet, shoes, and sunglasses up at my bike and then dropped my T1 bag with a towel and arm warmers at gear check.  I put on my wetsuit, took once last look over my T1 setup, and boarded the bus to the swim start.

After being dropped off near the marina, I made the short walk over to the start area, used the porta potty one last time, drank my UCan, and chatted with a few other athletes.  With the breeze from the water it was a little cold just standing around, but with my wetsuit and swim socks it wasn't all that bad.  Before I knew it, it was almost time to start, and we made our way down the beach.

The full distance is a single start with nearly 700 athletes, so it was by far the largest swim start I've ever been in (previously my wave at Augusta was something like 150 women).  I know I'm not going to set any speed records in the water, so despite the lack of a start timing mat, I went out near the back of the crowd, content to trade losing a few minutes for a less frantic start.  Despite that, it was crowded for quite a while.  At times there were so many other people around me that I really had nowhere to go, so I just breast stroked and tried to scope out some space.  Though I did feel like there were a lot of swimmers around me the entire time, I eventually found a little room and settled into a comfortable pace.  I was barely kicking at all (boy I sure do love a wetsuit legal swim!) and tried to minimize my energy expenditure since I knew I had a long day ahead of me.  I actually felt so relaxed that I thought there was a good chance I was almost last, so after the last turn I picked it up a little and put a little more effort into the final yards to the dock.  

I climbed up the ladder and jogged over to the wetsuit strippers.  There was a bench, so it was easy to sit down and they just pulled it right off.  My watch got caught up in the wetsuit but the volunteers were helpful and soon enough it was off and I was up and jogging to T1.  Because my watch had been under my wetsuit, I had no idea how long I'd been in the water, and was very pleasantly surprised to look down and see 55 minutes!  Officially, my swim time was 57:36, which includes wetsuit stripping and about 200 yards of the run to transition.  With the current, the time itself doesn't mean a whole lot, but I was really pleased to later learn that my swim was 46th out of 150 women.  Given my (lack of) swimming ability, I will take finishing in the top third of the swim any day.

I had planned to at least rinse my face off in the warm showers, but as I ran through the shower tent, all of them were taken.  I decided that I'd just quickly towel off rather than waiting, so I continued on into T1.  I grabbed my bag and went into the women's tent, where I intended to just put on my arm warmers and then roll out.  Even though temps were in the 50s, the sun was out and I didn't feel particularly cold, so I decided that the arm warmers weren't really necessary, quickly wiped off, threw my wetsuit, goggles and cap into gear bag, gave it to a volunteer and headed out to my bike.  

It was congested at the mount line and I was cautious exiting the transition area.  Once I got going, I heard a very annoying rubbing/squeaking noise coming from my front wheel.  I'd ridden it right before bike check in the night before and everything seemed perfect, so I had no idea what it could be.  I pulled over to the side of the road and checked the wheel, hoping it was simply something stuck in the spokes, but couldn't see anything unusual.  My biggest concern was that there was something wrong with the wheel that would lead to a flat tire or serious mechanical problems, but thankfully it never got worse.  Unfortunately it meant over 5 and a half hours of listening to squeaks, but by the third hour I really barely noticed it anymore.  I saw my family around mile 5 and that was a nice boost and good distraction.  Shortly after that, I rode by a guy pulling back onto the course from the side of the road and he asked if it was my bike making that noise.  When I confirmed that it was, he said he was glad because he'd just crashed and thought it might be his.  Apparently he'd run into a cone and hit the pavement pretty hard.  I noticed his road rash and asked if he was ok and he said "well, not really, but pain is temporary."  That kind of set the tone for the day and I tucked that mantra away, knowing that in all likelihood I would need to remind myself of that later.


Heading out on the bike. Only 5 hours in the saddle to go!
My goal for the bike was to keep my power in the upper 130s and hopefully finish under 6 hours.  I don't have speed showing on my watch, so I didn't know how fast I was going, but with the headwind I just felt very slow.  A few times I clicked my watch over to speed and saw numbers like 16.8 or 18.3.  I knew I needed to average over 18 to get in under 6, so I was tempted to push a little harder, but my coach had said that if I felt like going harder than my planned power I should remember that it was going to be a long day, and with that in mind I just stuck to the plan.  About an hour into the ride I realized that I'd done a great job of hydrating, and despite my desire to not make any stops on the ride I opted to pull off at the second aid station around mile 40 to use the porta john.  I also took that opportunity to reapply some anti-chafing cream and despite losing a few minutes I think that stop was definitely the right decision.  

After that it was mostly smooth sailing.  I was passed by a few guys and one woman, but for the most part I was just sticking to my plan and picking people off.  The course was mostly flat, and with the exception of a section around mile 80-90 that was rough and full of seams, the pavement was pretty decent.   I was pleasantly surprised to see my family again shortly after I hit 100, and yelled to them that I felt great so far and all I have left is a marathon.  Even I had to laugh at the fact that I could say that and really mean it.  


Passing guys around mile 105
I guess that headwind finally turned into a tailwind at the end, as I was still riding on target but averaged over 23 mph for the split from mile 105 to 110.  I spun it out for the last couple of miles, which had a bunch of turns anyway, and though I was not sad to see the dismount line, I actually felt really good.  In the end, I averaged 138 watts on the bike - exactly on target - and a speed of 19.9 miles per hour.  I kind of wish I hadn't stopped because then I would have been at 20 mph, but I guess that will give me a nice even number goal for the next one :)

I gave my bike to a volunteer and ran into the convention center.  It was definitely the nicest transition area I've ever been in, largely because it was inside and there was a real restroom available.  I grabbed my T2 bag off the rack, went into the changing tent, laced up my running shoes, used the restroom (apparently I did a fantastic job of hydrating on the bike), threw my helmet and shoes in the bag, gave it to a volunteer, and took off on the run.  As I started the run, I flipped my watch over to the total race time display and was really surprised to see that I had made it through the swim, bike, and both transitions in under 6:45.  My stretch goal was about an hour on the swim and under 6 on the bike so I could give myself 4 hours to break 11.  My goal pace for the run was high 8s/low 9s, so I realized that I had a chance to finish in the 10:40s if I could just put in a solid run.  I think I did that math over and over about a dozen times because I really couldn't even believe it!  

The hardest part of my transition runs in practice was slowing down to my goal pace (8:40s-8:50s).  Though it wasn't a huge deal in training when the brick entailed a 4 mile run, I knew that going out too fast could really cost me later, so I did my very best to slow it down.  Despite my best efforts, and despite the fact that I felt like I was barely moving, my watch kept showing low 8s.  I took my coach's advice to walk through the aid stations, even though I didn't feel that it was necessary.  I started out drinking Heed and would just walk briefly enough to take a few sips, throw away the cup, and then start to run again. Even with the walk breaks at every mile, my splits were consistently in the 8:20s and I still felt fantastic.  It was a double out an back run, so I cheered and encouraged all of the half IM runners that I passed as well as the IM leaders as they started to come back.  I tried to count how many women were ahead of me, but it was difficult to tell because of the relay teams, who also had purple bracelets.  

Around mile 10 my feet and legs started to get a bit tired and I didn't want more Heed or anything other than water, but I was pretty excited to have made it through over 8 hours of the race before those feelings even hit me at all.  Mentally I just told myself I had another 2 miles before seeing my family again, then 1 more to finish lap 1, then 10k out, 10k back, and I would be an Ironman.  I finished my first lap in 1:50, and knew if I could just hold onto 9 minute pace and run the last half marathon in under 1:55 I would finish my first 140.6 a full half hour faster than my best case scenario goal of 10:59.  As I headed out on the second lap, it felt a little harder, but my pace remained in the low 8s and even with the walk breaks, my splits were under 8:30 until mile 18.  That's when it really started to get tough, and though I largely kept my moving pace in the mid-8s, my walk breaks were getting longer each mile.  I started taking ice and drinking coke, and would then tell myself I just had to run one more mile and I could walk again. My splits edged up into the 9s, and it was discouraging to feel like I was working harder and harder yet going slower and slower.  I pulled out all of the motivational mantras and thoughts that I'd tucked away for such an occasion, and was determined to not let 9 hours of hard work and a shot at 10:30 go out the window.  Just. Keep. Moving.  

Once I got back to downtown, there were tons of spectators and I knew all I had left was a nice little downhill, a run on the boardwalk, and then I would see the finish line.  With the rush of adrenaline from knowing I was about to finish and my pace back in the low 8s, I actually felt strong again through the last mile.  Making the last turn and seeing my family and the finish line was such a great feeling.  It was such an emotional last 0.1 mile run... I was overwhelmed by how well the day had gone, by the fact that I was actually finishing an ironman, and by the realization that I had absolutely crushed even my stretch time goals.  


Down the homestretch with the finish line in sight
A second lap split of 1:53 gave me a marathon time of 3:43:53 and an overall race time of 10:27:42.  I kept looking at my watch and at the clock, but still couldn't believe that could be right, and even as I write this I am not sure how that happened! 



I made my way through the finisher chute and was greeted with congratulatory hugs from my family, walked back to the hotel, and took the longest shower ever.  I followed that up with a nice little session in my new Normatec recovery boots and then we went out for dinner around 8:30.  I was shocked to find that I felt ok and was pretty much walking normally, so even a mile+ walk to/from dinner didn't seem that bad.  As usual, I wanted a burger, so we found a place where I could get that and a post-race beer.  We sat outside and watched as runners were both coming in and going out on the run course, and as I sat there wearing my finisher pants and drinking a beer I realized what an epic event it really is.  


I did in fact wear this out to dinner at a restaurant
After dinner we walked back to the finish line to return my chip and check to see if I'd placed in my age group.  Based on the results from the last few years, I knew that I had a good shot at an age group award if I finished under 11 hours and getting on the AG podium was one of my goals at the beginning of the year, so I was pretty excited to see how I'd placed.  The overall results were scrolling on a TV, so we had to wait a bit and then I would just have to count how many women 35-39 were ahead of me.  The top three were pretty close together (9:25-9:33-9:40) and then there were a bunch of male results before I saw the next F come up.  To my surprise, that next female was me! I thought I must've missed some or counted incorrectly, so we stood around and waited for the results to go all the way through again, and sure enough... 1, 2, 3, me!  I was soooo happy.  As an added bonus, there is a cash prize purse for the top 5, which meant I ended up with $250 and a really cool award.  The other 4 women in the top 5 are all professional triathletes, and to be the only amateur on the podium in my first full distance race was definitely beyond anything I'd ever even imagined.  The race was also the USAT mid-Atlantic ultra distance regional championship, so now I can add age group regional champion to my (very short) resume as well.  




Official splits:
Swim: 57:36 (46th)
T1: 4:44 (8th)
Bike: 5:37:22 (19.9 mph; 9th)
T2: 4:10 (8th)
Run: 3:43:53 (8:32/mile; 6th)
Total: 10:27:42 (4th)

I thought after the very long training cycle and finishing my first 140.6 I would want to take a break from triathlon for a bit, but now I am more excited than ever for next season!  I am recovering surprisingly well and actually felt a lot better than I did after Boston.  After this week off I will resume light training, and I can't wait to see what my coach has in store for this next training cycle :)

Thank you all for your support throughout this journey, for the many good wishes before the race, and for all the sweet congratulatory messages - I am lucky to have such great friends and to be a part of such a phenomenal racing community!