Sunday, July 31, 2011

Long Course Training Camp

I have so many things to say about camp I don't even know where to start.  Maybe the I should just start at the beginning?? 

I got to the camp (Camp Maranantha in Scottsboro) about 2:30 for packet pickup and check in.  Check in sounds like I was at a spa...uh, no.  I was given my awesome 140.6 camp shirt and a goody bag I have yet to investigate.  After unloading my bike I took my stuff to the bunk house to stake claim on a bottom bunk.  When you're young you fight for the fun of the top bunks, but the fun factor is negatively correlated to age (as age goes up, the "fun" of sleeping on a top bunk goes WAY down!).  I had several bags-my clothes/toiletries bag (which should have included the towels I left behind in the dryer*), my tri bag (with all my workout and transition stuff), and two bags of food (because with all my allergies I brought all my own meals).  I also had my bike pump and bike stand (which I didn't use).  I should have had the big comfy pillow I left on my bed at home but hey, why bring something to make a camp bed feel more comfortable, right?

After making up my bed and taking a look at the schedule, I changed into my tri kit, grabbed up all my transition stuff and headed to the bike racks to get set up. here's where I'm going to go into "quick" mode just so I can record the bare bones.  I'll be writing MANY posts about various parts of camp, but for now I want to get a summary lest I forget.  You know when you wake up from a vivid dream and at first it seems real but the longer you are awake the further away from the "reality" of the dream you get??  That's how I'm if I don't write it all down I might wake up next week and all that happened will be gone.

Friday we had some transition and swim instruction, swam 2 "laps" around some buoys, ran straight up to transition, hopped on the bike for a 24 mile "social" ride and then ran about 6 miles which ended in the pitch black dark.  ((Running in the dark could have been a real downer however.....upcoming story..."Being a Doug".  You know when someone is known for something their name becomes sort of synonymous with that thing?  One of my reader's husbands, Doug, was at the camp.  He had a way of pointing out the silver lining in every situation.  Being around someone who is so positive is unbelievably encouraging.  I'm going to have to devote a whole post to this later on.))  We ate dinner, showered and collapsed into bed about 10pm.  Although none of us slept, there was surprisingly little (read: NO) chit chat and talk going on.  (Yet another thing that changes with age I guess.)

Saturday morning started with the alarms (we had all agreed on) at 5:30.  We had a long day ahead of us which started with a mile warm up run, 10K race and a mile cool down.  After breakfast we swam.  Following some bike instruction we rode for 56(ish) miles.  ((I think the little group I was with may have made some wrong turns at the end and cut it short a couple of miles, but we rode the last 10-15 miles in the pouring rain so surely that has to count for something.))  We finished the long ride by putting on soaking wet shoes to run 3 miles.  After lunch and some awesome instruction on nutrition we had a nice short ride back to the camp where we ran a mile on a nice trail (even with the rain it really wasn't too muddy).  The final workout before dinner was supposed to be 1000m relays, but I cut that WAY short along with many other campers.  After dinner we had a panel discuss the road to IronMan---VERY INTERESTING information.  Showers and even less talk ushered in the second night of fitful sleep.

Sunday morning someone flipped on our light before the alarms even went off.  I'm glad I had the honor of being around Doug so much on Friday and Saturday or I might have been inclined to be something less than positive.  I think that's all I have to say about that...  Following some speed work instruction and a mile easy warm up, we had a mile of guessed it... speed work.  Okay....again....Doug was a significant influence on me here.  That coupled with the fact I had chosen to wear an FCA Endurance team shirt (knowing I'd need to be reminded I run for God's glory on this final day of camp) had me focusing on the positive instead of wondering what kind of person would plan to have speed work on Sunday morning after all we had done the two previous days.  What could be positive you might ask??  I'll save that for another post as well.....  After breakfast and some more instruction we had a "non-racing" sprint tri.  I'll say more about that later but for now let me say I finished feeling very strong.  Showers, lunch, door prizes and FINISHERS SHIRTS rounded out the camp weekend.

It doesn't seem to sound like much in three short paragraphs....but I think this weekend was pretty life-changing for me.  I don't want to make more of it than it was...but it was actually a lot more than I can put into words right now.  I know I might always have bugs to work out in my brain as far as confidence goes, but I found myself thinking (and more importantly BELIEVING) "I CAN DO THIS" significantly more than any negative this weekend.  The bike is the hardest leg for me, but seeing how far I've come in swimming has me "being a Doug" when it comes to the bike.  ((By the way...I really can't wait to write up the "Being a Doug" post...stay tuned!))

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon!!


*Thanks to one of my Dixie Daredevil teammates for sharing her towel supply with me so I didn't have to dry off with my washrag!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grab Bag

I've started many different posts that I haven't finished for one reason or another.   So many things are going on I'm having trouble keeping up with my life so there's not much hope for keeping up with my blog!

This will be a random thoughts post--popcorn style with no rhyme or reason to the order and certainly no flow.  ...sort of like a grab bag, you never know what you're going to get!

Long Course Tri camp is this weekend!  I'm excited and VERY nervous.  I've had to stop looking at the schedule because it was making my stomach hurt.  I'm going to have to take my own food because of my allergies.  I have no idea how that's going to work out.  However, as nervous as I am, I'm SO EXCITED I can't stand it!  There are going to be some amazing athletes there, all ready and willing to share their experience.  I'm going to cover 140.6, not in 17 hours or less as in a real Iron Man, but over the course of a whole weekend.

I'm getting faster.  I can feel it.  Even in the heat I feel stronger on my runs.  In the pool I can feel the catch and pull and the tension in my shoulders (that used to not be there)....and my times are getting faster.  I swam 30 100s the other day and didn't realize I was swimming meters instead of yards (10% more distance!).  When I saw the splits I just about cried because they were so slow compared to what I had been swimming.  I haven't looked closely enough to compare my long course times with short course (since there is a distance difference I can't just compare 50y to 50m), but I was incredibly happy to have finished the whole workout.  Now if only my bike times would improve.

Someone said the other day it took them 3 years to get better on the bike.  I think his word was "good" or maybe "fast".  I've only been riding for about 7 months now so I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself.

God has been so unbelievably good to me.  He has given me so much more than I could have ever even asked for...more blessings than I can name.

According to my doctor my metabolism is not slow just because my thyroid is not working since I take Synthroid.  He also says I am at my ideal body weight for my height.  However, he did say it was plus or minus 10% which means I could still lose a little weight and still be within ideal.  It's not really that I want to lose weight per se, but there's some fat I would like to get rid of.

I'm going to join the Marathon training group through Fleet Feet.  My only real concern is that I am planning on also doing a half iron this fall so I'll have to keep up my biking and swimming.  I'm not exactly sure how I'll fit it all in.  Ideally I'd like to have a tri coach, but I can't justify the expense right now.

My baby will be a senior this year.  My oldest child will most likely be a Marine before this time next year.  I can't believe how fast the time has gone.  When I was pregnant for the first time people told me becoming a parent would be unlike any experience I had ever had.  I remember thinking, "I've had a dog, how different can it be to have a child??"  Then I had my son.  A few years ago a friend told me having a senior was unlike anything she's ever known...and I remember thinking I was glad I wasn't going to get that mushy about it. was bad enough last year but knowing my BABY is about to graduate high school???  WOW.  And to think my grandparents are 90....I can't even fathom all they have experienced.

I really do miss my grandparents.  I wish I lived closer so I could go see them more often.  I think I need to just hop in the car one day and take off to Dallas to see them.  It doesn't seem real that they are getting close to being a century old.  They don't seem 90.  They seem like they are maybe 60.  People ask me all the time if they live by themselves.  Heck, they cared for my aunt when she got hurt recently.  They are the most amazing people I know.  My grandmother has had her hip and both knees replaced and is going stronger than the energizer bunny!  Naturally they have aches and pains, but they are in better shape than a lot of people half their age.  My grandpa still mows his own lawn and has a garden and does all his own home maintenance, and probably all his own vehicle maintenance too!

Hood to Coast is in one year.  Well...MY Hood to Coast is in one year.  My teammates ROCK.  I still can't believe we have raised the required amount to guarantee our entry into the race (I don't think I've announced that here fact I haven't announced it on the team blog yet either...but we have!!!)  We are going to start raising funds for our travel expenses next month.  And, we'll start to figure out all the logistics involved in running the race too.

I'm not quite "talked" out of random thoughts, but my bed is calling me.
Obviously not my bed..but I am an almost princess!!
Thanks for stopping in.  If you read the whole thing let me know, I owe you a cookie!!

Come again soon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wet Dog-Good News, Bad News

I did my third tri Saturday....

The overall good news is:  I met my goal!!  The bad news is:  I didn't set a very ambitious goal!

The Swim

NOT a picture of this race....
I'll start with the bad news.  This race has an individual wave start.  Participants are supposed to line up in numerical order (numbers are based on the projected swim finish time you supply when registering for the race) and they send you into the river one at a time about every 5 seconds.  That part was good.  The bad part about this was I had NO IDEA what my swim time was going to be.  I THOUGHT wanted to be toward the back so I didn't get passed by too many people trying to swim over me and so there would be no pressure.  ( pressure for me in a race?  As if that's even possible!)  That left me waiting a LONG, LONG time to enter the water.  The race was supposed to start at 7, which didn't end up happening (it was more like 7:20-7:30 maybe).  I didn't go into the water until 8:20 according to my Timex data.  The worst part about starting so late - I had my pre-race banana at like 6:30.  (More on this in the bike section.) 

Racers did NOT line up numerically.  I think I could have gone in anytime I wanted to....but I was NERVOUS.  In Frank Maples (which was reverse order, so the swim was at the end) I did the back stroke the whole way (400 yards I think).  In Iron Girl I did the breast stroke the whole way (500 or so meters).   Starting as far back as I did meant I was with all the people who really couldn't swim (or were as nervous as I was!).

The good news about the swim??  First off I met the only goal I set, to swim freestyle the whole way and stay calm.  Other than a few "catch my breath and see where I'm at" breast strokes I DID IT!!  I made GREAT time (for ME) on the swim.   I didn't panic.  I remembered my training and used my arms more than my legs.  I sighted well (until my goggles fogged up a bit).  I'm very pleased with my swim.  Yes, it was slow, but I can get faster.  The most important thing is that I really SWAM, and I did feel like I could have kept swimming longer!  (I finished 12/24 in my age group.)


The good news first.  My T1 time was 4/24 in my age group!

The bad news:  The finish mat for the swim was about maybe 300-400 meters away from the water's edge which was strange.  The only reason that makes sense is the fact there wasn't a good way to keep the participants away from a mat at the water's edge since the swim was an out and back.  Anyway...that meant some of the swim time should have been counted in T1 time, but not that big of a deal really.  

Not my bike...

The good news??  Uh.  Um.  Well....  I didn't wreck.  That's good.  I didn't fall over at dismount like I did at Iron Girl.  That's good too.

The bad news...I TANKED, I completely TANKED on the bike Saturday.  I thought it was my worst showing on the bike yet, but actually when I went back and looked, I did much worse in Iron Girl.  However, Saturday was 9 miles, Iron Girl was 18.  Saturday was pretty flat, Iron Girl was hilly.  I've been training HARD.  I'll talk more about what I think happened at the end but right now I'll say I just couldn't get my legs working.   I finished 18/24.


The good news...I finished 5/24.  The bad news most likely would not have changed that ranking so I can't completely call it bad.  I was so disappointed about my showing on the bike I wasn't thinking.  When I racked my bike and changed shoes, I ran the wrong way (toward the bike route instead of the run route) and lost a few seconds.  However, the 4th place T2 time was 12 seconds faster and I don't think I lost that much time....although it would have moved me up at least one place in the total standings.  

The shoe I wear, but not MY shoe...

The bad news is I had a HORRIBLE cramp/stitch under my right rib for the first mile and a half.  It slowed me down much more than I wanted.

However, the good news is I finished strong.  The last mile was the fastest and I could tell.  My average pace was 9:37 and I finished 13/24 which isn't horrible, considering half of it was slow. 

As usual I sprinted in full on at the end.  It was kind of funny.  To get to the finish you had to run straight down a road, make a right and then to the finish.  There was a girl who ran past me to the end of the road to the cheers of all her friends.  She thought she was done and stopped.  She was wearing head phones so she didn't hear everyone yelling at her to keep going....  I ran past her motioning for her to come on ...and EASILY beat her in the sprint to the finish.  When I looked at the pictures my husband took, she had been behind me all down the road and must have thought she was shooting past me at the end.  

I finished 15/24 in my age group.

Lessons Learned

First off...FOOD.  Yes, it's always an issue with me and I'm trying to get that down.  Long story short I didn't have enough calories the day before the race (net of about 350 total...I didn't realize this or I would have eaten more)....I only had a banana before the race but because it took me so long to get in the water, it ended up being almost 2 hours before the start.  And I didn't take a Gu until half way through the bike.  I think that might have been what contributed to my cramp/stitch.  That combined with the fact I only drank a few sips of water and a few sips of Nuun/water (maybe 8 ounces total, if that).  I really think lack of fuel is what caused my poor performance on the bike.  I think the Gu hit and allowed me to finish the run feeling strong.

So.... 1)  EAT MORE FOOD the day before.  MAKE SURE to get enough GOOD FOOD leading up to a race.  2) EAT first thing on the bike, even if I don't think I need it.  I know you can't catch up on fuel if you get behind.  I know it.  I've heard it over and over again.  But, this race was so short I didn't really think I would need fuel even though I had it on my bike just in case.  Combined with the lack of food the day before and the prolonged start time, I was racing on NOTHING.  3)  DRINK on the bike.  I don't know if this really affected me as much as it could have because it wasn't as hot as it could have been.  (The weather was as perfect as it could get in my opinion!!)  However, I know once you feel thirsty it's too late.

Overall I'm not displeased.  I'm pretty proud of my swim performance.  I timed the swim only and (if the distance is right) my pace was as fast as/faster than I go in training---in a pool, with rests between laps.  (Who knows if the distance is right??  I heard people saying it was actually longer than 400 yards, but if that's the case then I went even faster than I thought!)

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Firecracker 5K

Thanks to a sweet friend who gave me an encouraging pep talk during a grueling hill workout, I decided last minute to enter a 4th of July race, the Firecracker 5K.  The talk was the result of a statement I made, "I'm afraid to race and I don't really know why."  My friend tried to draw out where that "fear" was coming from but I just couldn't pinpoint what it was all about. 

In Sunday school my husband (the teacher) said something he says all the time, but it hit me in a different way...
We do what we do because of what we think...we think what we think because of what we believe.
I got to thinking about where that fear could be coming from.  If you've been reading for long you know I have a "fear of success".  I went back and re-read that post and a couple of things struck me.  First of all back then I was shocked to see myself running a 10:15 pace comfortably.  That's my warm up pace now!!  Now the shocking-to-feel-comfortable pace is more like 9:00.  The other thing that "slapped me in the face" was this: long as I'm not trying my hardest, I'm failing before I even start.  I'm obviously NOT very afraid of failing since I run into it with arms wide open as if to embrace a long lost love.  Failure is my trusted companion, my comfort zone.  Success on the other hand feels as foreign as I imagine it would feel to walk on stilts or ride a unicycle.
When I wrote that post my friends had challenged me to embrace my inner racer.  I took the challenge and ended up setting my 5K PR in the Rudolf Run (28:45).  After that race, I set a goal of running a sub 25 minute 5K by June.  That was before I decided to jump into tri training.  With all the workouts I feel like I've gotten stronger, but racing tests that thought.  As I said before, "failure" has been comfortable to me...going all out, laying it all on the line, giving it my "best" is (has been) foreign.  So, I've developed this unreasonable fear to race.  It's not like the fear is new.  It's been there for a while.  This is why I have set myself up as a pacer.  ("Well, I didn't run my own race, I was pacing...")  Now that I'm not coaching, I can't use that excuse anymore.

So...I wanted to "face that giant" and RACE Monday's 5K.  I did something I know you aren't "supposed" to do--I picked three people I believed to be faster than I am and put targets on their backs.  One of them is considerably faster so she was my "shooting for the moon" target.  I thought my main competitor had a 26:00 5K PR (I was wrong about that), and we ran most of the Rudolf Run together so I felt like I should be able to keep up with her....but I wanted to beat her!!  I just hoped to keep the third target in sight.

When I went to warm up I realized just how stinking hot it was out there.  Not only that, pretty much the whole race was going to be in the sun.  Daisy was going to run, but not as a race, so I started thinking I might just hang out with her instead of racing.  Thankfully, just as the gun went off,  I caught myself attempting to run into the arms of "failure" (stopping myself before I even start) and regained focus on my targets.

The fastest target shot off, and although I could see her, it was clearly not going to be possible to stay with her.  Target 2 was just barely ahead of me.  Within seconds I was beside my "Bullseye".  She had told me she wasn't going to be running her best, but I knew if I was running beside her she's competitive enough to bring it for a race.

My watch had not acquired satellites so I didn't have my pace and had no idea how fast we were going but it felt a little slow and VERY comfortable.  My best guess was 9:15/9:30.  Bullseye told me we were running 9:15....and seconds later 8:45.  I honestly felt I could run that pace all day at that point, but I also knew it was early....and HOT...and we were running in the sun.  Mile 1--9:15.

The course was an out an back on a greenway.  As we neared the turn around the front runners were headed back.  Katie was going for a sub 20 5K PR (that's a 6:26 pace in case you were wondering!!).  Jane was about mid-way between Katie and me.  Target 1 was just slightly behind Jane.  I had no idea what pace I was running, but Bullseye and I were side by side.  It felt like I was slowing down a bit so at the turn around I made up my mind to pick up the pace.

There wasn't a split timer at mile 2 but the 1 mile guy was still there and that time was 18.  WOW... I had sped up, considerably!!  And...I was feeling good.  Not to say I didn't have pangs of doubt that I could hang on.  The sun was so stinking hot and there was no shade to speak of.  I could see the finish line but it looked so far away.  And then I heard Coach Eric's voice in my head...telling me to PUSH and to give it all I had.

I have this little "game" I play with myself when I'm doing faster runs.  I basically count down distance or time.  It never fails to speed me up.  (.99 to go, .99, .99... .98 to go, .98, .98...)  Yes, it's INCREDIBLY boring sounding, but it works.  Almost without fail it's right on target and it takes my mind off what I'm doing and how I'm feeling.  The game didn't work this time.  I wasn't being able to count backwards!!

Just before the race my pep-talking friend had given me an FCA bracelet to wear.  It was big enough to bother me when I put it on my wrist so I had sort of wrapped it around my fingers.  When my "game" started failing me I remembered the bracelet and started praying.  I remembered the competitor's creed (see the right side-bar)...and particularly the last line:  The results of my efforts must result in His glory.  I remembered that He doesn't care what my finishing time is...only that I rely on His strength and not my own...and that I don't listen to doubt, but that I run the race in such a way that I might win the prize (1 Cor 9:24).  Verses I have hidden in my heart came popping into my head and I was renewed.

About that time I saw a lady who had been just ahead of me the whole time walking over to the side.  I said, "Come on, we're almost done now!!" and she started running with me.  Then I saw Target 2 walking.  (I told you--the sun was BRUTAL!!)  So I said the same thing to her and she started running.  I had lost Bullseye but I knew she couldn't be far behind me.  The thing about her is her killer finish line KICK.  I knew the only way to beat her was to put time on her before we got there and then bring my own kick.

At the end of the greenway is a little rise.  It's too small to be called a hill, but it would have been easy to slow down there.  Instead I told the walking girls, really telling MYSELF, "DIG!!!!" and surged up the incline.  At that point there was about a quarter mile to go.  I tried to calculate what I needed to PR, but I just couldn't do math.  I decided to do my best to do my best and leave the results out of it.  I reasoned that if I didn't PR at least there was the sun and heat to factor in.

At the 3 mile mark Target 2 had fallen back and walking girl was still beside me...I had no idea where Bullseye was, but my best guess was she was putting on the wings she uses to sprint past everyone at the finish!!  I told walking girl, again, really telling myself, "ONE TENTH TO GO...HANG ON"  She said she was hurting and I told her I was too, but I realized that wasn't actually the truth.  I knew I hadn't pushed with all I had.  I glanced behind me and sure enough Bullseye was right there so I kicked as hard as I time to see "27:37" on the time clock as I crossed the finish line.  Bullseye was 1 person back.  Walking girl ran through the chute and straight over to the grass to puke!  One of these days I want to push myself that hard!!  (She thanked me for pushing her...but I did feel bad seeing how sick she was.)

Negative splits and one minute eight seconds off my 5K PR.   GREAT RACE!!!!  Afterward a friend of a friend was talking about how she doesn't race she just competes against herself.  I realized I actually seriously enjoy RACING.  I liking thinking through how it is I need to run in order to best a competitor.   

Next up...Wet Dog Triathlon on July 16th.  Time to put my competitor to the tri challenge!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Would You Rather...???

My friend Jane made a recent post called Would You Rather, which she borrowed and modified from Run the Edge...which I'm going to borrow and maybe not modify here!!

1.  Would you rather run for two hours around a putrid smelling landfill or run for two hours in a mosquito infested swamp wearing nothing but a sports bra, split shorts, and shoes?  

Jane's answer...This question was asked of Tim (minus the sports bra) and he replied that he'd choose the mosquitos.  I disagreed, and my reasons were for exactly what took place this morning.  I figure you can get used to the smell, so that it is not so strong (although I may be wrong about this - skunk smell sure does last), but mosquitos will go in your eyes and nose and mouth, stick to you, etc.

I have to agree.  I can handle smell much better than BUGS.

2. On a hot summer day would you rather run a marathon barefoot or in snow shoes?

Jane's answer:  I'm gonna say barefoot, even though it will not be pretty.  I'm also going to confess that I do not really know what snow shoes are, but they sound big, bulky and hot!  I don't think I want to run a marathon on a hot summer day period, but given these choices I'd revert back to my childhood days of constant shoelessness, and try it barefoot.

This is why I don't like Would You Rather...I don't like either of these choices.  But since that's not an option, I'd have to say barefoot, although it might take me 12 hours to finish! :D

3.  Would you rather run 3 miles naked at 5am or 5 miles in a string bikini at 5pm?  Location: your daily running route (neighborhood). 

Jane's answer:  This question is modified from the original question, but my answer remains the same for both.  Its the birthday suit for me.  You've got fewer miles and shorter time, plus if you've seen my running route at 5am versus 5pm, you know there is a good chance no one will spot me in the morning, whereas the entire town will view the string bikini at closing time.

Again, I'd have to agree...

4.  Would you rather finish last in a race, but run your best time or win a race with a very slow time?

Jane's answer:  This one is tough.  It is fun to win a race, but it is also very satisfying to PR.  My reasons may be different from what Tim and Adam had to say (being that I am rarely if ever in the spotlight while running).  I'm going to choose the personal record.  I rarely remember if I place in a race, but I know my best times in all events I do, and I am constantly chasing those.  I think I'm more fulfilled by beating myself than beating anyone else.

Yes...I know it seems I'm taking the easy way out by agreeing, but so far that's just the way it's fallen...I think if I won with a very slow time I would feel like I had picked a race that was way too easy.  However, if I PR last--boy what competition--I must have been in the Triathlon Nationals to be taking the line with athletes like THAT!!  Someone has to be last-at least I got a PR out of the deal!

5.  Would you rather get caught by race spectators squatting behind a bush to pee mid-marathon or finish on camera with it running down your leg?

Jane's answer:  The first part actually happened to my mom during a marathon.  She squatted behind a bush thinking no one could see her, but she was in full view of a balcony full of spectators.  They cheered for her and she waved.  She has no shame.  I think I'd go with that one, although whose to say a camera would really notice it running down your leg, unless the announcer called it out.  "Now finishing is Jane Reneau from Alabama and, oh my, it looks like she couldn't wait!" 

FINALLY an answer we disagree on.  I look forward to the day I'm running so fast I don't want to stop to pee!!!  Not only that, come on, who's going to notice that it's pee--it could just as easily be SWEAT.  Not only that, we all stink to high heaven so not like that's going to matter either!  I don't know that I could really actually DO it, but again if I'm ever to the point I am running strong enough for a couple of minutes to matter, I'm going to HOPE there's a camera to capture the finish!

So sorry for stealing Jane's complete post--so lazy of me.