Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Madness

If you remember, last year I registered to run the McKay Hollow Madness 25K but storms that day cancelled the race.  Since I had been training, and looking forward to that day for so long, and since the shirt we were given is a "finishers" shirt, I decided to "earn my shirt" by running the course the following Monday.  I set out to run it as if I were racing, until I saw how beautiful parts of the course were overflowing with water and I couldn't stop myself from stopping to take pictures and videos!!  I didn't pause too often but ended up with a time of 4:11 and change.  I was happy...and made it to lunch (almost) on time.  (That will make sense if you read the recap.)  More than numbers on a watch, I had a FANTASTIC time running the course.

This year I've been training for my 70.3 race (WHICH IS IN LESS THAN 30 DAYS!!) and haven't put much time in on the trails.  Additionally I've been battling some stomach issues.  I'm not sure what's going on in my gut, but it feels like digestive war!  I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I've been weak all week (longer really, but there have been times I've rallied).

I went to bed Friday night not knowing if I would race/run the next day or not.

Saturday I woke up feeling better than I have in a long was the first day all week I woke up without a headache!  As soon as I opened my eyes I smiled knowing I would certainly run.  I ate some super oatmeal (minus the protein powder, raisins and maybe I should call it almost-but-not-quite-super oatmeal), got my fuel belt armed (with EFS Liquid Shot, Nuun-water, and water) and took a not-so-quick wake-me-up-and-get-me-ready-to-get-muddy shower.  (I learned this trick from Katie and love it; taking a shower before a race is like a pre-warm-up!)  Since my sweet husband had agreed to come out to the race with me, we left early enough for him to grab breakfast and enough diet coke to last the morning.

Before I knew it we were all moving out to the road for the start of the race.  As I visited with friends, without warning, we were off and running!  I found myself beside the "Ocular Triathlete", a member of Team Rev3, a long course triathlete and Team Rocket Tri's president.  I don't know her very well so I was glad to get the chance to chat a bit as we ran.  As we were running along the road that leads to the trails we heard something in the woods to our left.  Looking over we saw a HUGE deer!!  All of the sudden it shot out in front of us (well, not right in front, there was about 25 feet and 15 people between us and the deer) and crossed the road.  **What a cool start to a race!!**

I've heard time and time again how important it is to get out in front on trail races because once you get to the single track areas it's hard to pass.  However, since I had been battling stomach issues and since this was not going to be a major race for me, I decided I was not going to worry about that and just have a good time.  Kristen had the same idea so we stayed together about 3 miles or so until I realized my steady pace was her warm up and she slowly pulled away from me.  (I think she may have gotten tired of hearing my bear-like breathing.)  I told myself it was okay and that I'd be happy if I finished within 15 minutes of her.  (Yes, I do gauge myself off others...because there are people who I respect as athletes and I feel like they are a good litmus test for me.)

Within a short time I was toward the front of a train of people.  It was nice because we had settled into an even pace that was comfortable for me, but still faster than I would have been going if I were all alone out there.  Being a "middle car" in a train of people, I was "forced" to keep running through the places I would have normally resorted to walking, but at the same time I was "forced" to slow down just a touch on the places I would normally be "flying" slightly completely out of control down rocky inclines.  It was a good compromise.  After a particularly difficult (for me) uphill section, I peeled off to the side to catch my breath and allowed the train to pass me up and took the spot as the caboose.  I didn't stay there long as I passed some of the slower "cars" once my breath caught up to my body.

Just before the first aid station is one of the tougher sections, Warpath Ridge.  The name is misleading because the trail basically goes up TO the ridge not ALONG the ridge.  Our train got a little scattered on this section.  When I got to the top I was so happy to see my husband waiting!  The aid station is on a trail and not in a spot you can drive to.  He had walked out to it with a chair and had been waiting for me (because I shamelessly begged him to be there!).  Seeing him always gives me a shot of energy and this time was no different.  I  refilled my water bottles and ran off to find "my group" who had all left because they didn't have spouses to kiss!!

Each section of this course has some challenges.  One challenge in the second section is a very rocky down hill narrow path.  I had to keep in mind I would have my "A" race in less than a month, so I intentionally took this part a little cautiously.  This course is beautiful from start to finish and it's hard for me to not get caught up in wanting to "hike", taking time to look around and soak in God's beautiful handy work.  But, I kept reminding myself it was a race and I could come back without a number on my belt if I wanted to take my time to sight see!!  I could tell I was getting a little tired, but I also knew I was getting close to the second aid station (mile 10), where I hoped I would be able to snag another kiss from my husband!  Sure enough...he had made it there in time.  He said he had JUST gotten there so it was a good thing I was a little slower than I had hoped to be!  I got a shot of cola and started out on the last section.

I thought I had lost my "train" and was feeling a bit discouraged when I run up on them not too long after leaving the aid station.  I think that coke, and seeing my husband, really gave me a boost because I was able to pass a few people and get back in the game.

Just after the 2nd aid station is "SOB ditch".  It's really not a "ditch", it's more like a ....well, after spending 15 minutes looking for a word to accurately describe this thing, I'll just have to let a picture suffice.  (This was taken from my Garmin data map...)  The marker is right at mile 10, if you follow the red path line to the right you can see the "ditch".  If you compare it to the roads on the left, you'll see it's wider than a two lane street!  This is one of the better known spots, but FAR from the most difficult to navigate.

The hardest section to navigate is the VERY LAST mile!  You have to travel up a little more than 700' to the finish.  As we got closer the little group I was "running" with started saying we were not going to run when we got up to the top...we were DONE and just glad to be finishing.  However, there's a point on that climb when the spectators can see you and they start cheering for you.  Combined with the fact that once you get beyond the steepest part you still have about .2 miles of flat ground to cover, makes for a good "race to the finish".  I lost the person I was with as she stopped to hug some friends who were waiting for her when I found my "finish the race" gear and ran it in.    My time this year, 3:36:10.  I didn't get any cool video this year, but 45 minutes off last year?  I'll take it!  (And, it wasn't NEARLY as pretty this year anyway!)

****Yes...this is being posted nine months late...but better late than never!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon! :D

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wow...Another Year Already

It's almost that time take a look at the closing year before I set my sites on things to come.  I figure the way things have been going lately, I better go ahead and write this post now instead of waiting until the end of next week.

Once again, it's so hard to believe how much I've changed in one year, how different my life looks today than it did just 365 days ago. 

In my 2012 "Looking Ahead" post I said in the coming year I wanted to:
  • consistently work toward my goals, even if that means allowing the iron to get red-hot in the fire.  The difficulty with this will be knowing what pieces to work (goals to work toward) and which ones to stick back into the fire.  (See my last post if this doesn't make sense.)
  • add P90X to my training plan for strength workouts.  I wanted to do this last year and tried for a while, but it became too hard to manage.  The difficulties with this will be scheduling (there are only so many hours in a day), and making sure I get enough (quality) calories to support all the work.
  • follow the training plan I have outlined from now til my first half iron race (April 22), maintain my fitness level (coast) until after my daughter graduates from high school in May and THEN make decisions about the rest of the year/what comes next.
  • come up with a nutrition plan so I don't end up drinking a venti soy latte for breakfast and eating potato chips for lunch (as I have done today).
Let's see...I changed my mind about P90X after just a few days and I scrapped my own training plan and started getting coached by Eric (best decision!!).  But, I did somewhat come up with a nutrition plan (for the most part) and I did consistently work toward my goals.

Here were the races I planned:
  • McKay Hollow Madness -- March 24th.  With that in mind, I hope to run most of my longer runs on trails. ((I wasn't as prepared for this race as I would have liked because my bigger focus was on IM70.3, but I did complete this race and felt GREAT ...I just realized I didn't even finish writing my race recap!!))
  • IM70.3 NOLA -- April 22nd.  With that in mind, I have a detailed training plan on my Training Peaks calendar that starts Sunday (January 8th) and runs through race day.  ((I traded in my plan for Eric's and that was the best thing that could have possibly happened...although this race turned into a 67.1 duathlon, I felt very prepared and had a great day out there.))
  • Frank Maples -- ??.  I'm not sure when this one is, but I know I want to race it this year.  ((Ironically, this race was on the same weekend as NOLA.  Ironic because it was my very first ever tri, and just one year later I was about to complete a half iron!))
  • Cotton Row -- May 28th.  Time goal: under an hour.  ((I learned a lot about "Managing Expectations" and didn't quite make my goal.))
  • Wet Dog -- July 14th.  Time goal:  better than last year! :D  ((CHECK!!!  I had a pretty darn good race, although I'm certain I will do better in 2013.  I cut 10 minutes off my 2011 time!!))
  • Hood to Coast -- August 25th.  Time goal:  every leg with an average pace under 9:30.  ((I did this event, had an unbelievable experience but I didn't keep every leg under 9:30, but that's a whole other story...  Our team ended up placing so we got an automatic entry into next year's race so I'll have another chance!))
  • Frantic Frog -- September 8th.  Time goal:  better than last year.  ((I ended up not being able to do this race either...I was in Providence, Rhode Island getting my USAT Level One Coaching Certificate!!!))
  • MAYBE Beach to Battleship -- October 20th.  I'm going to wait to pull the trigger on this until after IM NOLA.  ((I did the smart thing and decided to wait on doing a full until I had some more time on my legs and in my glad I decided to wait!!))
  • Turkey Chase -- November 22.  I'm a streaker on this one (I've done it every year it's existed) so this one will certainly be on the list.  Time goal:  Sub 23:30 and beat my husband who has said he will run it this year!! :D  ((Another race I didn't get to do...we didn't travel to see my husband's family this year...I'm super sad about missing this race.))
Some other things that happened this year that I didn't even consider a year ago...I became a life guard as well as a preschool swim instructor!!!  I also became a certified TRX Group Suspension Trainer.  Two things I did expect-finishing my Personal Trainer Certification (that was one of the hardest tests I've ever taken!) and earned my Spinning cert from Mad Dogg.  I think the biggest thing that happened to me this year (on a personal level) is becoming a USAT Level One Coach.  I was able to run a triathlon training group at the YMCA and now coach eight athletes! 

I seriously hardly recognize my life.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon for the year in pictures and to find out my plans for the coming year!! :D

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm Not That Great

Boy's been too long!  You can tell how hectic my life has been lately, I only posted one time last month.  So much to say, so little time to get it all out.

I haven't even told you about all the cool things that have happened the last couple of months.  I mentioned how I got my USAT Level One Coaching Certificate (hands in the air--whoop whoop!).  I also just went Friday and got certified as a TRX Group Trainer (fist pump!).  Have I mentioned I'm currently coaching, count them: NINE athletes??  Yes--NINE.  One more and I'll have TEN.  Oh...and I'm training for IRONMAN LAKE TAHOE!!  How I wish I had the time to go search for a super cool sound effect to insert right here...but I can't because in a little while I'm going to be taking the written part of the test to finish up my AFAA Personal Trainer Certification!!!  OH YEAH BABY!!!

AND...I now have my very own FaceBook Page:  Dana Trains.  Go LIKE me now!   (Yes, anyone can have a page, but I feel like mine is legit since I really do have a business....that's still such a foreign thought!)  ...Wait, did you go LIKE me yet??  No?  Click the link, it opens a new page so you can come back to finish the post...  :D)

Now that you're back...

The other day I went to check out a new fitness studio (doesn't that sound cool? "fitness studio") called SWEAT (even cooler name, huh?).  I had already signed up for my TRX training so decided I might want to go take a class since I had never been to one!  LOVE that place, love the workout, love the instructor!!  Afterwards I came home, was looking at their website and found the blog.  At the end was a little "challenge":
...I have 5 copies of Dr. Daniel Crosby’s new motivational book, “I’m Not That Great” and I want to give them away to 5 people bold enough to reveal how being regular has made them do things they never thought possible.  Be bold!  Share your story on our Facebook Page to let us hear the story of your journey!  The contest will run from today through Friday, November 23rd.
I had missed the deadline but made a comment on FaceBook about it anyway...and, wouldn't you know it, Jeidi told me they still have a book and I was welcome to make a post.  ((As if I could tell how NOT great I am in one comment!)) being regular has made (me) do things (I) never thought possible....

Seriously, this makes me cry.  Yes, literally.   I know better than anyone how inconsequential I really am.  I don't "rock".  I'm not "awesome".  (And, I'm REALLY NOT fishing for compliments here! :D)  I have NEVER been an athlete.  I don't have "muscle memory" muscles didn't ever learn how to work in the first place.  I've talked before about how I only passed ONE of my PT tests in the army over the course of 4 years.  (I was usually SECONDS late so I was allowed to squeak by.)  Three years ago I didn't KNOW how to swim.  I didn't own a bike.  I didn't own running shoes!  (GASP!!)  In the last 36 months I've learned it's not where you start from that matters...and, more importantly, it's not where you think you'll end up.  "It" is about the process.

As you begin to think about New Year's Resolutions, I want to challenge you to consider what it is you want out of life.  What experience do you want to have.  Do you want to be striving to get to a finish point (lose X number of pounds, run a (fill-in-the-blank) K race in XX:XX time, be able to run X miles or swim X number of laps...).  Or do you want to be intentional about living life every day, getting the most out of each moment but with the bigger picture of life in mind?

When I think about what I'm going to eat for lunch, I'm not going to think, "oh, I need to eat as little as possible because I'm trying to drop some weight"...I'm also not going to think, "I can eat what ever I want because I'm getting the most out of this moment in life" ...I'm going to have the bigger picture in mind (dropping some pounds) and couple that with the fact I've worked out hard today, and still have some left to do, and then I'll make some deliberate choices about what food will best fuel my body.

Until the day I die I'll be in the "process" of living.  The fact I know I'm not that great means I need to work hard to get the most out of the days I have left, however many that may be.  Go pay attention to your intention...unless you really are just that great you don't have to!! :D

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.  I'm committed to updating more often...I really am!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nutrition-Part Two

Diets.  I really hate the popular sense of that word.  "I'm going to go on a diet."  Yuck.  How about just changing daily habits to healthy ones and allow your body to change naturally?  Rather than eating grapefruits and rice cakes for a few weeks to drop some pounds, try eating a balanced array of foods and be healthy?  Don't get me wrong, I've been there more times than I can count.  That's why I feel qualified to say I hate them.  It's honestly a lot easier to just drink Slim Fast for a while than it is to change the foundation of your daily habits FOR LIFE.   It's a heck of a lot simpler to print off 14 days of a meal plan to follow than to walk the aisles of the grocery store trying to figure out what are the best items to put in the basket and how to combine it all into nutritious meals for yourself and the picky-eaters you have banging forks on the table every night!

yes, this is a picture of my real cart one time!
I have to be honest, I do not do this well.  It's one of those things I "know" and don't always "do".  I ate popcorn for lunch and dinner yesterday.  I don't believe there is any redeeming nutritious value to popcorn, and on top of that, it generally makes me sick.   However, I sure do like the way good popcorn tastes while watching a movie.  It's a habit and I know that, but not one I can easily seem to break.  So, yesterday I gave myself permission to indulge and today I'm paying the price.  And THAT is one thing I want to try to address in this post.

There is a cost to everything and our food choices are no exception.  Eating "healthy" means different things to different people.  I do not believe there is a set diet that works for everyone out there.  But if you are eating well for your body the "cost" may be not eating some things that your tongue wishes you would.  You may not get to have the birthday cake someone brought into the office, or the "hot" donuts that look and smell oh so good....or you may not get to "enjoy" popcorn at the movies.  But the pay off comes later when you feel good for your workout, or you are able to wear those jeans you haven't been able to fit in since high school!  The opposite is true as the cake, those donuts, or that popcorn and your taste buds are happy, for a time, but there will be fall out from that taste explosion in your mouth.  It may not happen immediately (most of the time it doesn't), but just like small doses of radiation may not show up right away, repeated exposure will certainly be devastating.

Most people would never consider just writing check after check without knowing if they have the money in the bank to cover the spending spree, but they will eat morsel after morsel without having any idea what they are putting into their digestive system.  Are you a label reader?  Do you know the ingredients of what you ate for your last meal?  You don't need to have a bio-chem degree to figure out some things aren't as useful to your body as others.  Why did you eat what you did for lunch yesterday?  Sometimes that answer is, "because it TASTED good" and I'm not saying that's not okay--ONCE IN A WHILE--just like it's fine to splurge every now and then when spending money.  However, the bill always comes due.  Some people who would never consider writing hot checks are effectively doing that every day with what they are eating.  Those people are the ones gaining pounds year after year.

Now, before you start talking to me about "but my metabolism has slowed down over the years" or "I watch what I eat, I don't know what's happening"...stop.  If I were to go to the grocery store week after week and purchase the exact same items in the exact same quantity...the bill would not be the same each time.  The same is true for how our bodies metabolize food.  What fuel I need will depend on not only what exercises I'm doing (and everything else tied into that -the intensity, duration, time of day, season), but it will also be impacted by the time of month and the amount of other life stress I'm under, not to mention the natural aging process among numerous other factors.

Also...most people have NO IDEA what foods are best for their particular bodies.  It took me a very long time to figure out I had a list of foods which were causing me problems.  I just have never been very observant when it comes to consequences (which is also how I ended up in some serious debt in my youth!).  But, if you are interested in being healthy (or let's face it, some people just want to look good in their jeans), you have to be a student of what's going to work unless you enjoy the "diet" cycle...go on a diet, pull out the skinny jeans, end the diet, pull out the "comfortable" jeans..."suddenly" realize you've gained weight, go on a diet and start the process all over again.

Here are three principles I think are key:

1)  Make CONSCIOUS choices about what you are putting into your body.  Don't allow your taste buds to make the decisions.  Allow the rest of the parts that make up your whole being to weigh in on your food choices (pun completely intended).  I do think it's important to allow the taste buds to win every now and then, but they can't be the dictator.

2)  Have a plan.  Know what you are going to eat and stick to it.  There have been times when I would have eaten anything but because I had a plan about what was best for me, and I had some resolve to stick to the plan, I ate the food I knew was good and then found myself not wanting the other things quite so much.  (That usually works all but one week out of the month...but again, having a plan is the key!)  Keep in mind, it's just the same as having a spending budget.

3)  Get back on track sooner rather than later.  We will all find ourselves "off track" every now and then (some more than others).  When you realize you've fallen off the healthy food wagon, don't wallow in the muck, get back on as quickly as possible.  When I'm at the store after a workout it's very hard for me to keep my wits about me.  I usually want to load up on every unhealthy carb I can get my hands on (because that is what my body thinks it "needs" because accessing stored fat is harder than taking in sugars to replace glycogen I just burned).  I've been doing pretty good at telling myself "step away from the Oreos; step away from the multi-grain tortilla chips".  However, when I come home with something like a container of vanilla frosting (with the best intentions of "I'll just allow myself one teaspoon a day") sometimes I have to throw away "good food" because it becomes painfully obvious I just don't have the self control I'd like to think I have.  Instead of going ahead and sucking down the whole container to get it out of the house, remind yourself, the only difference in it being in the trash or in your mouth are the inches on your hips (or thighs, or stomach).

The overriding key factor is to be kind to yourself.  This healthy eating thing is a process.  You have to eat to live; it's not like you can just give it up.  And, there's no single "right answer".  Be proud of yourself for caring enough to try to do the right thing.  ((Make no mistake, if you read this whole post, you are certainly trying to do the right thing!!))

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Several people have asked me questions recently about nutrition.  I have to make it very clear...I am NOT a nutritionist.  I don't remember if I heard it, or if I read somewhere that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but you have to be licensed to have the title "dietician".  Well...I did some research today and found that to be incorrect, at least in the state of Alabama.  (See the rules and regulations here.)  So...let me state again, I am NOT a nutritionist.  I'm not a dietician.  I'm just a person who eats food!  :D

Here are some things I believe.

You have to eat if you want to lose weight.

Yes...that's what I said.  If you want to lose weight, you have to eat food.  If you try to stop eating your metabolism will slow down, your body will not know when to expect you to fuel it again so it will start storing everything as fat.  Now, you have to be smart about what you are eating and when and how much...but not eating does NOT work.

Losing weight is not (usually) a simple matter of calories in/calories out.

That's's nutrition not mathematics.  Back when I first started running I couldn't understand why I wasn't losing weight.  I was accurately counting everything but it wasn't working.  Well, come to find out the types of foods I was eating were causing me to basically retain water.   (Yes, water...not food.  That saying "you aren't retaining water, you're retaining food" sorta ticks me off...)  When I cut out those foods, I lost weight.  It's very important you understand, I kept the same AMOUNT of calories, and I cut out "good-for-you" foods like milk, garlic (not many calories lost there), eggs.

When I eat those foods now, I can gain 2-3 pounds in one day.  Those 2-3 pounds are NOT due to excessive calories (1 pound is 3,500 calories....I can tell you I'm pretty sure I haven't had 10,500 in a day, ever).  You need to know what works for your body and what doesn't.  Naturally if you are eating more than you are burning you will gain and theoretically vice versa, but that equation is too simplistic for such a complex process.  And, going back up to my first point, if you reduce intake too much, your body will store what you eat and you could end up gaining weight when, on paper, you should be losing.  Part of the reason you may gain is the "calories out" portion is going to be wrong.  If your metabolism slows down, you won't be burning as many calories as you think you are.  And, if you restrict too much, you're bodily functions will shut down and you'll die.  (Cold hard fact of life.)

If you want a healthy body, you have to give it healthy fuel.

If you have a car that runs on unleaded gas but you decide to put diesel in it instead, it won't run very long.  However, if you put gas mixed with a little water, it will run, just not very well.  Everyone knows you have to eat food to live, but a lot of people eat the "wrong" kinds of foods to allow their body to function at its best.  Everyone is different.  I do not think our bodies are "one diet fits all" so I am NOT saying you need to follow a "boxed" plan.  However, I am saying you need to be a student of what works for you.  Some people I know function at their best with a higher protein diet, others seem to do better going vegan.  The key is to know what works best--FOR YOU--and to DO IT.  This requires you to 1) pay attention to what you are taking in, 2) pay attention to the results and 3) follow through.

I remember when I was a teenager.  I went to see a dermatologist for typical teenage acne.  I wanted him to give me a list of foods I shouldn't eat.  He told me there are no foods that cause breakouts.  I told him I noticed every time I would eat chocolate my face would break out.  He said, "then don't eat chocolate".  I remember asking him why he couldn't just tell me that in the first place; he explained  chocolate doesn't cause everyone to break out.  He also said it may not be causing my breakouts; it may have been merely correlated in timing.  (Maybe it was hormonal; the same thing that was causing the breakouts caused the chocolate cravings.)

That doctor said the same thing I've been hearing my whole life-I need to know my own body better than anyone else, because I live in it.  Although there are some absolutes, after all, no one can live off rat poison!; there is far more grey area than black and white when it comes to food.  How many calories I need to eat, what kinds of foods will upset my digestive system vs rev me up, how long it takes for my stomach to process food to avoid intestinal distress during a race....these kinds of things (among others) are what people have to figure out for themselves.  Yes, there are some good guidelines and some starting points that work for a majority of people, but what works best for you requires a level of self awareness most people simply do not care to have.

Take the time and effort to get to know your's the one you'll have the rest of your life!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Atomic Man 70.3 Race Recap


It was an in water, wave start with the young men starting first, then the masters men, then all the women.  As I started swimming, I knew I was going out WAY too fast.  The director made a point to caution us against that.  Instead of reverting to breast stroke a bit to catch my breath, as I have done so many times in the past, I just made a conscious effort to calm down and to keep on swimming.   I had the urge to look behind me to see if I was the last one... but before I knew it, I was passing a man!  Then another man!!  I told myself there was no way I was the last woman.  As I was headed back to the beach it felt like my timing chip was coming off my ankle.  When I got out of the water, before starting my second swim loop, I was trying to fix it when the course marshal came to my rescue and re-strapped it for me.  I know a few people passed me then, but at that point, I didn't care.  I believed fully I wasn't going to be last out of the water, and that I could in fact do another loop.

When I got out of the water, both times, I heard someone cheer for me!  What great motivation to be called by name at a race!  I was very discombobulated coming out of the water.  I wasn't thinking well.  I knew I needed to get my wetsuit off, but my brain wasn't fully functioning.  Running up the hill to the transition area I was trying to remove my watch so I could strip off my wetsuit, while taking off my goggles and swim cap.  The timing mat was at transition so that's where I stopped my watch.  I finished the swim in 48:13 (for comparison, my OLY was 45:17 so I have improved!).  ((Looking at the results, it appears there were only 4 or 5 people behind me in the water.))


When I got to transition, instead of focusing on speed (as I usually do), I was focused on being comfortable.  I had arm warmers out, but decide not to wear them.  On the swim I wore my tri shorts and sport bra with the wetsuit, so I put on a bike jersey for the rest of the race.  When I put on my sun glasses, they were fogged up already so I stuffed them in my pocket.  I also had a Bonk Breaker*** that I had planned to eat on the bike that I put in my pocket as well.

When I'm in transition I don't typically even notice if any other bikes are there.  I don't look around to see where I'm at in comparison to anyone else, I'm usually just focused on getting out of there as fast as possible.  This day was no different, but about the time I was getting my helmet on two of my friends were leaving with their bikes.  I knew they had gotten out of the water before me, but I was THRILLED that I was as close to them in the swim as I was.   My T1 time was 2:00.  That's a "long" time for me considering where the mats were and how small the area was.  It's not a bad time, but I really felt like taking the bit of extra time to calm down was going to be helpful in the long run.  I don't think it mattered.  I think I'd rather be fast and then calm down on the bike.  :D


Because Coach Eric MADE ME bike out of the transition area the day before the race, I had my bike gears exactly where they needed to be to help me get up the hill we had to start on.  I would NOT have been in that low of a gear if I had not practiced this.  So, when I got on the bike, I knew exactly what to expect.  We had ridden the first couple of miles and I knew the course was hilly, but I didn't know to what extent or for how long.  I have the tendency to freak myself out about hills (I know, shocking, right?) so I decided this time that it didn't matter what the course looked like, I was doing the race no matter what.  I knew Eric was preparing me for what was to come.  I knew I had just ridden a CENTURY (109 miles thank you very much...OH MY GOSH...I haven't written about this yet!!...well, it had a 3.5 mile CLIMB at about mile 40).  I knew I was going to be able to ride up anything that could be on that course.  Well...I'm not going to lie.  It wasn't easy.  However, it wasn't nearly as hard as the climb on the century ride I just did a few weeks back.

Bike Course Elevation from my Garmin data

As it turns out the first seven miles or so where the worst, but none of it was "flat".  It was basically a big "T" where we went out 7 miles (did I mention they were hilly?), turned right for about 3 miles, turned around for 17, back again for 17, then turned right after 14 to go back to the start on the same 7 (still hilly) miles.  At the first turn around I really needed to go to the bathroom.  I didn't want to stop, even though they did have a por-o-potty.  I tried to make myself pee on the bike (yes, I really did), but ...that wasn't the only reason I felt like I needed the latrine.  I hoped the feeling would pass, or at least wait until I got started on the run.  By the time I got down to the second turn around, I thought I was about to bust....but there was no port-o-potty there (there was a convenience store, but NO WAY I was going to that much effort).  So I rode 17 miles wondering if I would make it back in time and beating myself up for having bodily functions I couldn't control!

Just before I got to both turns my IronMan friend, who was just ahead of me, yelled out that I better hurry up if I was planning to catch up to her.  As bad as I wanted to catch up--and pass her--I HAD to stop.  I don't know how much time it cost me because I wasn't willing to look.  Let's just say, the stop was well worth it no matter how long it took.  When I got back on my bike there was a guy I had played a serious game of leap frog with earlier just in front of me, along with several other people I had already passed.  So I started picking people off, in search of my friend.  As I passed the guy I said, "tag you're it" to which he replied, "fair enough".

As made the right turn to head back up those hills I didn't have anyone in sight.  It was just me and the road.  On one down hill section (not a steep one), I saw a big, beautiful doe standing in the middle of the road.  About that time I could hear a car coming from behind me.  I was scared to death.  The deer might run for me, the car might swerve to miss the deer, the car might hit the deer, throwing it onto me.  I started yelling, "RUN DEER RUN!!!" and waving my hand up and down like a crazy person.  Thankfully it ran off (away from me) and the car slowed down so no harm was done to anyone!

As I was headed up one steep section.  I was huffing and puffing, scared to death I would slow down and fall over (and hurt my bike).  I rounded a corner and came upon a man walking his bike up the hill.  I couldn't speak as I passed him.  I'm sure I sounded like an asthmatic trying to take in oxygen.  He smiled at me and said, "you are stronger than I am".  I couldn't speak.  I wanted to say, "no, I'm just afraid if I tried to stop I would hurt my bike so I have to keep going!"  I was rewarded when I got to the top with the thrill of getting to go DOWN!!  (Although I haven't quite gotten used to going down full speed so I do brake a little bit and I sit up a little which also slows me down.)  My top speed during the whole race was "only" 32.9 (I've ridden faster than that before, but not many times).  My fastest average mile of the race was 23.6 (not the same mile).  I rode 19 miles in the 19+ range but my average over the whole 56 miles was only 17.3 (it was 17.4 in NOLA...but it was flat there).

When I got back to the dismount line I was actually a bit scared to stop.  The day before in practice I grabbed my front brake a bit too hard causing my back wheel to come off the ground-a good bit actually!  The dismount area was down a little incline so I knew I might have a hard time stopping well.  So I slowed down a good bit, remember to stay on my back break more than my front, and didn't have an issue.


T2 was rough for me.  My stomach was giving me fits, I knew if I had a good run I would be well under my expected finish of 6:30, but I also knew the run was hilly.  I had only taken in about 100 calories on the bike (EFS Liquid Shot) and I could feel a spot rubbing on my ankle (I thought it was the timing chip, but it was my shoes).  It was hot by that time, but I didn't want to take off the cycling jersey and there was a man standing in transition putting on sun screen (something I did not do before I got on the bike...I did have it out but I did not want to take the time).  My thoughts were JUMBLED to say the least.  I knew going in I wasn't going to focus on speed so I didn't change my laces speed laces, and I took the time to put on my race belt and hat in transition (things I usually do on the run).  I usually go into both transitions very clearly focused but not that day.  I do NOT like feeling like that at all.  T2 ended up being 2:56.


As soon as I started the run my left shin muscle (the anterior tibialis) started hurting.  Bad.  I've had this happen before and I knew if I stopped and stretched it that it would stop hurting.  I didn't want to stop because the run was a two loop course (two out and backs) so I knew Eric had to be coming back from his first loop any second.  I did NOT want him to see me walking!!  AND, I wanted to catch, and pass, my friend.  But, in those three miles I ended up stopping a few times to stretch it out.  I also used this time to take in some more Liquid Shot***. 

I LOVED this run course.  You get to see everyone at least once, but most people twice.  It's country back roads that are really neat to run on.  There was VERY little traffic out there to contend with, and everyone was driving super slow.  And...I do actually like to run on hills much more than I like to run on flat road.

As soon as my leg loosened up, my stomach started throwing a fit.  I prayed for a port o potty, and asked several people if they knew if there was one at the turn around point...until I got a definitive "no"!.  I seriously contemplated going in the woods...but I had a bad feeling toilet paper was going to be necessary.  Just before the turn around I saw my friend.  I told her I was coming for her and she told me I wasn't going to catch her!

Just before the second turn around I saw my friend again and told her, "I'm going to go to the bathroom then I'm going to run you down!"  To which she replied something like that wasn't going to happen because she was running really fast.  About that time a sweet kid asked me if I was going to want Gatorade, water an energy gel or some chomps at the aide station.  I said, "no...but I need you to see if there's anyone in line for the port-o-potty and if so, I need you to beat them up for me!!"  This sweet boy ran up ahead of me and then yelled out, "you're good, it's open!"  I yelled back as I ran in, "THANK YOU--I LOVE YOU!"  I wish I could say when I came out I was ready to go again...I wasn't.  My stomach did NOT feel good.  (This is a result of a lot of different factors, not just race day nutrition...), but I knew I didn't have long to catch my friend.

Run Course Elevation Profile from my Garmin Data I stared running again...there was that guy I played leap frog with on the bike again!  He was doing a walk run thing, but his run was pretty fast so I was having a hard time catching him.  I did try to "run my own race" and stay in the moment, but there is something about RACING someone that really motivates me.  (Someone I can see.)  As he started walking again, I passed him and said, "you'll catch me when you get your run back on".  He laughed and said, "oh, no.  I'm coming right now!"  We chatted just a bit, basically he said he was cramping and I said my stomach was giving me fits.  I told him I was trying to catch a friend and I really needed him to stay in front of me so I'd have a rabbit to chase at least until I caught up to her.  I told him I expected him to make me hurt because I had been trying to catch him for a while and he was a much faster runner than I am.  He played his part well...I only managed to pass him once when he was getting Gatorade, and only caught up to him one other time after he passed me again.

At the last turn around I saw my friend.  She was getting water and told me, "you are out of time".  At that point she only had about 3 miles to go, I had about 4.  I started giving it all I had (that was my fastest mile at 9:11).  I wasn't able to maintain that pace, but I kept looking at my watch trying to do math.  I wanted to finish under 6:30 so bad but I knew I had to run those last 2 miles under 10 minutes to make it.  (I hadn't been running that strong up to that point and still had a hill to climb.)  Thankfully my rabbit was in front of me so I mentally grabbed on to him and held on.  The finish is mercifully down a nice hill.  The whole time I was running in I was scanning up ahead, hoping against hope, to no avail, I would see my friend.  My rabbit found another gear, as did I (but his was turbo charged).  As he crossed the finish I heard the announcer call out his name.  I had to laugh.  With a name like DeBardelaben, there's no telling how they were going to say my name.  (Dana Deb-a-deb-en...uh...Dana D!!)

After the finish line

Eric was waiting to give me a big first words, "how long has (my friend) been here".  He told me only a couple of minutes.  It's funny because her first words as she crossed were, "I beat Dana!!"  She not only beat me for the first time, she beat me by SIX MINUTES!!!  It was almost all on the swim and some on the bike.  Although I made up some time on the run, it wasn't enough on that day.  I told her I wasn't going to let it happen again!  We love each other.  We were cut from the same competitive cloth so it's GREAT that we both get it and can be like that with each other.

As it turned out...because it is such a small race, made up of mostly men, I won 1st in my age group, and my friend won first in her division!  The prize was a super cool transition mat!  No more towel for me!

It was funny, the guy I was playing leap frog with, my rabbit, was telling someone after the race he saw me come out of the bathroom from the bike and he intended to hang on to me, until I got to the first hill and (he said) I "took off like a bullet" and left him behind.  That, coupled with the comment from the guy walking up the hill really gave me a boost.   But the truth is, it will always come back to what I'm choosing to believe is true about myself.

Post race thoughts

All in all...this was a GREAT race.  I'm very pleased with my performance.  Yes..I said it, and this is the day after the race (although it hasn't been a full 24 hours yet, the depression hasn't set in fully...maybe reading this will serve as a reminder).  I was a little slower on the swim that I had hoped to be.  I had hoped it would be 45 minutes but when I tack on the time it took to get out of the water, get my chip restrapped, get back in and the time it took to get from the swim to the transition area, 48:13 doesn't seem too bad.  Although my transitions were slow for me, they weren't slow comparatively speaking.  I'd really like to have a power meter so I could have some hard data to compare, but since I don't, I'll just have to remind myself NOLA was flat (but windy) and my average speed was basically the same.  I'm just going to continue to get faster on the bike as I get more comfortable riding it. (BTW, another thing I haven't written about...I got a new bike!!)  The run was slower than what I would have liked, but I did run negative splits, and, even with the hills and the leg and stomach issues I only ran it about 4 minutes slower than NOLA.

This time next year I will be in full recovery mode from IronMan Lake Tahoe.  That is very hard to believe!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon! 
***A note about race nutrition.   I do not have this figured out yet.  I haven't had many REALLY long training days to practice this and there are so many factors to think about with food/hydration and electrolytes, I don't think I've ever gotten a good handle on it.   Consequently I usually have a variety of ideas.

Atomic Man Half--Thoughts and Pre Race Recap

I always get depressed after a big race.  I didn't think it would happen this time, but I can feel it starting to wash over me like a drizzling rain.  When it's drizzling, you don't really notice you're getting wet, not like when it's pouring down rain.   There are a lot of reasons this happens.  I used to blame it all on being upset with my performance.  No matter how I did I wasn't happy.  However, this time is different.   I'm not terribly unhappy with my performance.  That's not to say I haven't already analyzed the things I need to do differently next time, but I'm pleased with what I did yesterday.

When I went to NOLA, I expected to finish in 6:30.  I hoped I would do better, I was going to be satisfied with anything better than 6:45, but I honestly expected to finish right at 6:30.  This time I really wasn't sure what to expect.   Hurting my knee earlier in the season caused me to be out of training for about a month, then I had so much going on with taking my daughter to college, going to do Hood to Coast, going to Rhode Island for my USAT clinic...and the list goes on.  I can honestly say I've been able to get about 80% of my training in, but only for the last month.  Let me be clear, a month is NOT long enough to effectively train for a half IronMan!  But, I also believed I had a decent base I could fall back on.  I wasn't ever worried about not finishing the race, but I wasn't sure 6:30 was realistic all things considered, especially looking at the course.

I haven't ever done a pre-race workout on the course.  My workout plan calls for a 20 minute swim/20 minute bike/20 minute run workout at transition, but this is only my 2nd race where it really applied, and it was raining and practically storming at NOLA so all I did that was was run 20 minutes.  Saturday I was with a friend who is training for her second IronMan (I need to come up with a name for her), as well as my coaches.  I didn't want to swim but had to do it anyway.  I didn't want to ride my bike but had to do it anyway.  By the time we got to the run my knee was hurting for some strange reason so I didn't want to run...I did run, but ended up walking quite a bit because I didn't want to "really" hurt myself the day before the race.

After the pre-race workout, I really didn't know what to expect at the race.  I wasn't swimming well and my knee wasn't feeling 100%.

Race morning I was strangely calm.  I have pretty much stopped having pre-race jitters.  Excitement, yes; jitters/nerves no.   But...I did NOT want to start swimming.  I didn't want to get in the water in the first place--it was COLD out there.  I was afraid I would be last out of the water.  This was a small race with only a few women (maybe 40 at most) and it's a tough course so the majority of people who show up aren't playing around.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Discuss" is Such an Interesting Word

The other day on Face Book a member of a group I'm in posted the following:

Well...when I read the article I was instantly riled up.  I wanted to "discuss" but I was on my phone and I can't type very fast with one finger (no I haven't yet learned how to type with my thumbs!).  So, I waited until I had the time to pick this "article" apart word by word.  As I sat down today to "discuss"...I quickly realized my diatribe would be longer than a simple Face Book comment would allow, so, in true Dana fashion, I'm "discussing" the "article" here.  ((I have a hard time calling what was written an "article" much the same as I will "never" call a blog post of mine, full of personal opinion, the same.))

Indulge me as I go point by point. 

The linked article within the article titled "Excessive Endurance Training Can Be Too Much of a Good Thing, Research Suggests" says (although I find it hard to believe) that Micha True would run 100 miles A DAY.  It goes on to say "chronic excessive endurance training" blah blah blah.  Well...what the heck are they calling "chronic excessive endurance training??  Someone on the couch could look at the training I do and give it that label, while I think I'm barely giving enough time to get by.  Also...correlation is NOT causation.

Back to the original article...Ben Greenfield says: "Specifically, completion of an event such as an Ironman triathlon (or even a relatively shorter marathon) was shown to cause structural heart changes and elevations of cardiac inflammatory biomarkers."  Nope...that's not what I read in that article.  Already I don't trust this guy (and, unlike Eric, I have no idea who he is...). 

He goes on to correctly state the linked article says there is as much as a 5-fold increase in the prevalence of a-fib.  Well...okay...where did that number come from??  I haven't been able to find that figure anywhere (maybe 30 minutes of web-surfing wasn't long enough to uncover it?).

"For those of us wanting to be around to see our grandkids, this is important information to consider."  Really?  Can you say FEAR MONGER??   After I finish my diatribe I'll link an abstract as a rebuttal to that preposterous statement...

"What this ((the "fact" that Kona-bound athletes train an average of 3 hours a day)) all means is that an Ironman triathlete falls quite perfectly into Dr. O’ Keefe’s category of high potential for cardiac abnormalities."  Really??  I've read and re-read O'Keefe's article and I'm not finding the same information Greenfield did.  In fact, The Science Daily article ends with this statement:  Lifelong vigorous exercisers generally have low mortality and disability rates and excellent functional capacity, Dr. O'Keefe notes.

By the way...there is a video download of Dr. O'Keefe speaking of his findings you can find HERE.  If you take the time to download and listen to what Dr. O'Keefe is saying, it doesn't match up with the picture Greenfield paints in this "article".

Okay....moving along...trying to remember the request was to "discuss" not "debate"...

Greenfield sites an athlete named Sami Inkinen and himself as example of why less training equals better results (not exactly what he SAID, but what he's implying by his "minimalist IronMan training strategies").  But...did you get the part where he called himself and Sami "exceptions to the rule"?  Are there athletes out there who can "not train" and "do well" at any given event?  Sure there are.  But, for the rest of us normal people the 10 strategies Greenfield lists just simply won't work.

I'm sure these "strategies" are what the FaceBook poster wanted to, here I am, I don't know 500 words into my rant...about to "discuss".

Strategy 1: Do Short Swims.  Greenfield says you should only have one long swim (no more than 60 minutes in duration) a week and then "pepper" brief (15-30 minute sessions) throughout the week (he gives two examples of 1K swims.  If I thought for one second swimming 1000 yards or meters a few times a week coupled with one intense interval session would allow me to successfully complete 4,224 yards in a mass start open water IronMan swim...I'd be all over that like white on rice.  But, that doesn't make any sense at all.   Maybe if I had been swimming my whole life.  Maybe if I didn't care about performance, or, I don't know, drowning.  (Sorry...fear mongering myself I guess!)  Can anyone become PROFICIENT let alone competitive in something with such little practice??  Maybe with natural ability and talent....but not for the average triathlete.

Strategy 2:  Mostly Bike Indoors.  I'm sorry, I can't resist breaking this one all the way down.  What Greenfield says is in black, my response is in RED below:
Cycling can involve dressing, prepping tires, getting gloves or toe warmers, filling water bottles (yes...all true, only one of these things would not be true of indoor cycling...I don't know of anyone who cycles in the nude at home, who doesn't have to load a bike on to a trainer--which for me means changing a wheel, or who doesn't get a water bottle ready for that trainer fact, when I ride on the trainer, I also have to set up fans) meeting with a group (you are ASSuming people can't ride alone??) and other activities that can take 15-20 minutes (again...trainer rides can take me even longer than that to set up...maybe that's just me?) before you’re even on the road training. And once you’re finally out there, traffic lights and stop signs can significantly detract from the efficacy of your workout.  (...hhhmmm...ever thought about planning out your ride so you aren't dealing with traffic lights and stop signs?  Oh, wait, that would take more time, huh?)

So if you want to maximize your cycling bang for your buck, find a room in the house (he must have a bigger house than I do...) to be your “pain cave”, set up an indoor trainer, and do 1-2 short, intense indoor bike trainer sessions per week. You’ll stay focused and structured with this approach. For these, I like indoor workouts like 40-60 minute Sufferfest, Spinervals or Computrainer sessions.  (Ah...yes...Computrainer, because everyone can afford one!)  Am I saying you have to train for hours a day on the road?  Of course not, but if you want to prepare your body to be on the bike for 5-7 hours, you better be getting some long rides in.  YES, I COMPLETELY agree quality over quantity...but you have to get used to riding in the elements if you are going to compete in them.  The thing I have found that derails me the most is wind.  If I didn't train in wind I would NOT be able to ride in wind.)
Strategy 3:  No Early Season Long Bikes.  Okay...I can say I agree with this sentiment. 

Strategy 4: Bike Alone.  Okay...I completely agree with this statement, for the most part.  But not for the reason he states:  "group rides not only require lots of time investment to get a group together and head out for the session, but these rides also include lots of drafting, socializing and pace fluctuations."   I'm sorry.  I'm sure he's trained many a great athlete.  I'm sure he's written many a popular "article", published in well-respected magazines.  But, come much time is invested in posting on FaceBook "I'm riding from this place at this time...all the cool kids will be there"?  But, to say an athlete who is training for IronMan WILL be drafting, socializing and allowing their pace to fluctuate because of a group is idiotic.

I agree you should train alone because you will race alone.  You need to be focused in your training time and not chatting and group-dependent.  However, riding in a group can be safer (it's much easier to see a group of riders than it is to see one; remember when I needed a TIRE in order to complete a ride...if I had been alone I would have had to call for a ride home) and a group ride can make you ride faster than you normally would out of fear of being dropped (or out of a desire to keep up with the big fish).  If you can't be honest in your training, you certainly won't have the results you want come race day.  Yes, bike alone, but WHEN you bike with a group, make sure you are fulfilling the purpose of the training session.

Strategy 6:  No Long Runs (with long run being defined as 2+ hours).  He says "short and intense runs of 80-90 minutes are all you really need to get you ready for the Ironman marathon."  For the most part I agree with this...however, I think you can achieve the same results of a long run by stacking several shorter duration runs (doing say a 45-60 minute run in the morning, again in the evening and then again the next morning with conscious attention paid to recovery between them-ice baths, compression, foam rolling...).

Strategy 7:  Run On Short Courses.  Greenfield says, "you should stay away from long courses, like 3+ mile loops or lengthy trails, because the longer the course, the more likely it is that you’ll take your time and run it slow. Instead, choose to run on tracks, neighborhood blocks, or short loops, which are far more conducive to brief, high-quality and intense intervals." comes back to being honest with your training and knowing the purpose of the session.  I can get brief, intense intervals ANYWHERE.  I don't have to make myself dizzy running around a track.  I think more often than not people who run on short courses will end up cutting their sessions's too easy to leave or quit.  If I'm running 10 miles, most of the time I'm going to run five out and five back.  Getting tired at mile 7 is all the more reason to PUSH myself. again, honesty is the key.

Strategy 8: Lift.  I think Greenfield once again ASSumed people would not click on the link he provided when he said "multiple research studies have shown"...I didn't read all the studies...but, as you can see for yourself, a quick glance says these articles are NOT about lifting weights as related to IronMan athletes.  Greenfield suggests 1-2 full body weight training sessions a week.  I agree strength training has its place in the plan, but how often and for how long is highly individualized. 

Strategy 9:  Recover.  Again...I agree with the sentiment, but not everything Greenfield has to say.  YES, by all means recovery is a HUGE part of any plan.  But, it should be built in so to speak.  This is where a good coach comes in.  A good coach is going to be paying attention to all the factors that play a part of proper training, and recovery is one of those factors.  However, I don't know of any taper that should last 3-5 weeks.  I do have a lot more to say on this point, but I'll save it for another day so I can get on with the "discussion"....

Strategy 10:  Diet.  And, yet again...the gist of what is being said--essentially lower carb intake and PAY ATTENTION to what you are eating--is spot on.  But his statement, "...especially if you’ve grown accustomed to eating anything you want, then training your ass off with chronic cardio to burn those calories."  ASSumes that's what us normal, hard training athletes are doing.  Eat to train don't train to eat.  Period.

I think this article is like a sexy deodorant or toothpaste ad.  It sounds really appealing.  Train less, get better results.  There's an aspect of that which is MUST have a purpose for every single training session you set out to complete.  But if "easy" really worked for most people, everyone would be doing it.  I'm sure if you interviewed every IronMan finisher you'd find a huge range of training philosophies out there, some work for one person but not another.  Knowing there is not a "one-size-fits-all", cookie-cutter training plan that will work for every single athlete is why coaches have jobs in the first place.   A good coach will get to know what works for each individual he/she is training and won't try to stuff everyone into the same plan.  That process takes time and trust and honesty.  If my athletes** aren't being honest with me about what they are doing in training, there's no way I can effectively train them to reach their goals! 

Thanks for hanging with me through this "discussion"...let me know what you think.  Come on, you don't have to write a novella in order to "discuss" it!!  :D

**yes, I did say "my athletes"'s another post I've been working on, but I PASSED MY USAT LEVEL ONE COACHING CERTIFICATION TEST!!!!  I'm officially a coach now!!!  (more on that later!)  :D

Monday, September 3, 2012

Birth of an Idea

Conception always starts with an idea.  It may be the idea of what the outcome will be, or it may be an idea of just having a little fun, but there's always an idea that drives it.  Even before the idea comes the introduction.

The Dixie Daredevils' Hood to Coast race actually started at a community Fourth of July cookout.  That's where I met Casey (AKA Turtle).  She said she had just started running.  I had started running seven months earlier but was coming off five weeks of being sidelined due to injury.  A few months later I told her about a movie I thought we should go see about a crazy relay race out on the West Coast.  She was as excited about it as I was since we shared a common running obsession.

The only day the movie was to play (January 11, 2011), the roads were icey and snow covered.  Being from the south, I knew there was no way I would be able to get us to the theater.  Thankfully Casey was very adept at driving in the snow, being from Ohio and having lived in Virginia prior to moving here to Huntsville.  We sat down to watch "Hood To Coast, the Movie", from the opening scene to the closing credits we were enthralled.

Casey's immediate reaction was, "WE HAVE TO DO THIS RACE!!"  I told her I wanted to do it some day, but with a daughter in high school it didn't seem feasible in the near future for me.  Not only that, I explained to her how hard it is to get into the race.  There are more than 2,000 teams who try to enter, but only about 1,000 who get to do it.  They have a mail in registration that is only open one day.  Every team wanting to race must have their entry post marked and mailed in on that day.  The top six teams from each division from the previous year's race are given a guaranteed entry, and then the remaining spots are filled by a lottery system.  I went on to tell her it might be possible for us to get a spot on an existing team, but we may not end up on the same team going that route.  (Teams end up looking for runners to fill holes in their roster.)  Her eyes were bright with excitement and confident enthusiasm.

The very next morning Casey called.  Almost shouting she said, "I found a way we can do it!!  All we have to do is raise $15,000 for American Cancer Society by August and we will get a guaranteed spot in the race!"  I told her I couldn't do the race that year because my daughter was going to be a senior; then she explained further.  We had to raise the money by race day 2011 for entry into 2012's race.  I'd like to say I was as certain as she was that feat was possible.  I wasn't.  Then the part of the equation she doubted came out when she said, "but, can you find 10 other girls who want to do this race?"  I laughed.  "Are you serious?  It won't be a matter of finding 10, it will be a matter of limited it to 10!"

Casey was very new to the running community.  She hadn't yet made all the running friends she has today; she didn't know the obsession we shared was as widely held as it is.  I, on the other hand, knew, without a doubt, filling our team would be the easy part.  I told her we'd have a team by the end of the week, and we did.  The idea was conceived.

Just like the gestation of a baby is marked by trimesters, each with their own set of challenges and rewards, the progression of the idea of doing this race to getting to the start line was marked with the same.

At our first meeting we came up with our team name.  We wanted something that would caption our drive and our southern, Alabamian origin.  Dixie Daredevils fit the bill nicely.  Heather Armstrong volunteered her brother to come up with a logo for us.  The specifics about how we could raise the money needed to be entered into the race were discussed.  Conception gave way to concept and plans were set in motion.

Over the next eight months we sought out corporate sponsors, we sold raffle tickets, we passed "The Shoe", we held a Fun Run and a Pub Run (also a fun run thanks to the Rocket City Hash House Harriers who organized it for us), we Zumbaed, we hosted a Premier Jewelry and a Pampered Chef party, and we had a lot of meetings along the way!  We lost some teammates who were replaced by others, but we were ever driven to our fund raising goal.  On Casey's 30th birthday, the money raised at the Pub Run (which was originally going to be a simple birthday party but quickly turned into a fund raising idea) put the team's balance over the $15K mark and put us in the race!

Once our American Cancer Society commitment was fulfilled, we turned our attention to the idea of working for the money to get us all to the race.  We had high hopes of earning enough money to pay for the vans, gas, hotels and airfare, although we knew it might end up requiring each of us contributing a chunk of personal funds.  The next ten months were tough for most of us on the team.  Job changes, divorce, the birth of the youngest Dixie Daredevil, moves, significant others being deployed, stress fractures, all happening alongside each of us training not only for this race but also for our personal fitness goals.

Any woman who has ever been pregnant can tell you the joys and the challenges of being "with child".  I remember when I was pregnant with my son.  The first trimester was exciting and fun, but also scary and uncertain and marred slightly by morning sickness.  The middle months were the best.  Everyone could see my growing belly, I felt fantastic, I had more energy than I had in a long time, and I loved everything about the process.  The final months were a struggle to say the least.  By the time my due date came (and went) I was ready to have the process be over.  I was ready to be done being pregnant.

I think the birth of the idea of this race was no different for any of us (except maybe the newest member of our team, Patti, who came onto the team in the final stages).  We were ready to get to the start line.  At 9:30am Pacific time, the gun went off at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and Ashley started the first leg of the race for our team.  Just under 30 hours later, Melissa crossed the finish line at Seaside finishing out our endeavor.

Ironically, the day my son was born I started thinking I might want to do this thing again.  Remember when I told you the top six teams in each division get an automatic guaranteed entry into the next years' race?  We came in sixth according to the posted results....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Flurry of Activity

Boy howdy I have a lot going on right now.  It started with vacation last week.  My husband, daughter and I went to the Smoky Mountains with my brother and sister-in-law and their two girls (well, I might as well say three girls because the oldest has a best friend who is more like a sister than just friend).  It was a great trip.

The list of activities of the next eight weeks is topped with my daughter leaving for college.  I'm going to miss her more than I can express in words.  ...I can't even say more than that about it or I won't be able to finish this post...

I didn't intentionally plan all the things that will take place after "the departing" it just kind of happened that way.  I personally believe it's my loving God taking care of me in ways I wouldn't even consider.

Since the college she is attending is six hours from home but also six hours closer to my grandparents' house, I decided to take the opportunity to go see them after "move in" day.  Since I have to be in Portland at the end of that week, I decided to fly out from Dallas instead of driving 12 hours back home to turn around and fly out from here.  In case you're new to the blog you might not know why I'm going to Portland.

If I could find a way to make that sentence animated and sparkle in neon flashiness, I would!!  (...oh, wait, with Google anything is possible!!  Thanks to this great site, I DID do that!!) 

I am SO GLAD I have that race to look forward to.  I've had a hard time getting beyond ...the other thing... that has to happen first, but when I allow my mind to venture beyond "D(eparture) Day" to think about the race,  I go from being overcome with sadness to being overcome with excitement!!  It's hard to believe after over a year and a half this race is finally going to happen for our team in just SIXTEEN DAYS!!!    Our team is number 440 and we have a start time of around 9:30 am.  I am runner number 10.  It will take us between 30-31 hours to complete the adventure!  30-31 hours in a Suburban with 5 other women (well, except for my time running which will be less than a total of about 3 hours).  I've been so consumed with other things I don't even honestly know how far I'm running or what the legs of the race look like...I just know I'm going to RUN!

The flurry of activity won't stop at the finish line.  After I fly back to Dallas, and visit with my grandparents a bit more, I'll drive back through to spend some more money on my daughter as I'm sure that will end up being necessary!  After I tear myself away from her yet again, I'll come back home just in time to leave again...this time for the USAT Level One Coaching Clinic in Rhode Island!!  I'm super excited about this clinic!  I absolutely LOVE coaching.  It feels like I'm about to enter yet another new stage of my life.  ((Although part of that new stage involves being an "empty nester"...but I don't want to talk about that part...))  It's hard to believe less than three years ago I wasn't even a runner, I didn't even really know how to swim and I didn't even own a bike!  I love this sport and have such a passion for helping other athletes realize their potential I can't wait to have the credentials to back all that love and passion up!!

But wait...the flurry doesn't even stop there!  Just like the infomercials say, "THERE'S MORE!!"

After I get back from Rhode Island I will have just under 3 weeks to finish up training for my first half ironman race!!   ((Yes, it will be my first since the swim was cancelled at NOLA70.3.))  I don't even know how ready I will be able to be for the race since there's so much going one between now and then.  Funny...there's no doubt in my mind I will finish the race.  That's a really good feeling.  The question becomes how WELL will I finish?!

A lot is going to happen before that question can be answered.  I'm just so very thankful the flurry of activity happens AFTER the big send off that I don't want to talk about instead of before.  I have things to look forward to after that day.... 

How about those Olympics, huh?  .....

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.  :D

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tunnel Vision of Wet Dog I sit down to start writing up my race recap, I hardly know where to begin.  The truth is, that was a great race all things considered.  The other truth is I don't make a habit of considering all things, right?  I have good intentions of writing from the "all-things-considered" perspective, but please bear with me if I slip back into my usual tunnel vision perspective.

First of all...I haven't trained in almost FIVE full weeks.  I was "cleared" to train a week ago, but every time I tried to swim my right calf cramped up and my whole leg ended up hurting.  My training this past week consisted of teaching 3 Spinning classes (one of which was a good workout for me, the others were done very cautiously*), and running a total of almost 5 miles (but never more than 2 at one time). 

When Dr Olsen (P3 Chiropractic and SportsCare) and I were talking two weeks ago about whether I should take another recovery week or start working out again, he asked me if I felt I could do the Wet Dog Sprint tri without training leading up to it.  After a second's hesitation, I realized I actually could do it, and feel good both at the race and the next day, at my current level of fitness.  THAT was a GREAT feeling.  I've heard those people who say "I didn't train, I just came out to do the race" but I always thought they were either 1) lying, or 2) crazy.  Well, I'm not lying and ...well...crazy is a subjective assessment but I don't think I am so that has to count for something!

Because I've been coaching the Tri @ the Y group, I used this race as a classroom so to speak, and one of my athletes was going to be racing her first tri here, so I had something other than my own pre-race nerves to think about yesterday morning when I woke up.  I had packed up everything the night before so there wasn't much to do when I got up except eat a bit of breakfast and get to the race.

I can remember how nervous I was last year.  Thankfully I've gotten to where I'm not such a ball of nerves anymore!  I didn't know what I could expect having not trained for almost five weeks, but I was feeling pretty good overall.  I knew I could complete the race, and felt like I would actually do "well".


Like I said, I was using this race as a teaching moment for my Tri group so I walked "my" athletes through my pre-race routine.  I showed them how I set up on race day and how I walk through the race logistics so I will know where everything is before the start.  I learned this last year...if you remember I started to run out the wrong way--I haven't made that mistake again!

I did make a new "mistake" this year.  (Not really a mistake, but I did something I haven't done before, and I didn't like it, so I've made a mental note not to do it again if I can help it.)  I put my bike on an end spot to where my left shoulder was by the end of the rack (instead of my right).  I don't know why this seemed so horribly OFF to me, but it honestly felt like trying to write with a broken arm--just plain awkward.  So, I've made a note-to-self, line up with my right shoulder to the end.  (Yes, this was a choice because I was the first on one this rack so I could have done it either way.)

Let me say, I LOVE local races.  There's really not enough time for me to talk to everyone I want to, but I love seeing so many people I know and catching up as much as I can with as many as I can.  A couple in my Y group made signs for both me and the first-timer...other than the marathon, I think that's the first time that's happened!!  I felt like a celebrity, even though really I'm sure they really wanted to make the sign for the first-timer and decided to make one for me so I didn't feel bad (and I'm SO glad they did!!!).  :D

I don't usually get in the water to warm up, but at Mach Tenn, Coach Eric told me to do it...and I KNOW warming up is a good thing, so this time I did it all one my own.  And...those first couple of strokes felt FANTASTIC.  I knew right then it was going to be a good swim!


After a few, mostly unintelligible, words from the race director, people started lining up.  I have no idea what I put down as my projected swim finish time, but I was number 203.  An Athens-Sports-Hall-of-Fame friend of mine (seriously, I had to add that many Hall-of-Famers do you know??)...was a few numbers higher than that.  I "knew" there was no way I could swim as fast as her, let alone faster, so I elected to let her go first.  My goal at that point became to stay right on her feet the whole time.  ...long story short...that's EXACTLY WHAT I DID!! 

There were several times I could have even passed her, but I didn't want to get ahead of myself.  I felt very comfortable staying right with her.  I wasn't pushing, but I wasn't completely slacking either.  There's no way to tell what might have happened if I had gone around her, I may have lost confidence or pushed too hard and ended up dropping back or I might have cut a little bit of time off my swim.  Last year I met my goal of swimming the whole time in this race...this year I met my goal of staying with this person the whole time.  ***NOTE-TO-SELF...once again, I need to set higher goals.  Period.

Keep in mind, the mat to end the swim time is all the way across the street from the swim area, not at the swim finish.  So, even though the swim is only 400m, there is about .15 mile transition included in the time.  Last year my time was 12:22.  This year it was 10:24!!  (right at TWO MINUTES off)  I tied for 10th place out of 24 in my age group.  (Last year I was 12/ looks like pretty much everyone had a faster swim this year.)


Okay...I had THE FASTEST T1 time in my age group and THIRD FASTEST out of all 155 females!!!  Smokin', even with the weirdness I felt about how my bike was racked.  What can I say...I can transition pretty darn fast.  I think the two women who beat me probably have their shoes attached to their bikes...that would have been the only thing I could have done to make it faster (other than racking the other direction which may have cost me half a second on T1).  (For comparison, last year it was 1:21 4/24 AG, this year... 52 seconds!)


I have to say it...I think this is my fastest average per mile race speed so far.  (Mach Tenn average was 17.8.)  I did the nine miles in 28:12 which was an average pace of 18.8.  It didn't feel good.  It's a flat course and there was really no wind at all.  I feel like, based on what I had been doing in training before I got hurt, I "should have" been able to go faster for nine miles.  But, there were several times I looked down to see I was going over 20.  I passed several people, but also got passed by several.  I think all-in-all, it was a solid I hope to improve on.  It was good enough for 5/24 in my age group.  ((I'm going to say those other 4 have Tri bikes with racing wheels and then quickly remind myself it's not about the machine, it's about the engine.  Learning to bike faster on my road bike will only help me when I get a new machine!!)  (Last year:  35:24 18/24AG-yes, I stunk it up on the bike last year...maybe I was riding on flat tires?!)


My T2 wasn't as fast as it could have been if I had the guts to run with out socks.  I keep saying I will practice, but I just haven't.  I don't want to take the chance to get blisters so I have only done it once.  Putting on socks just takes time.  Also...learning to dismount with my shoes still clipped would have saved some time.  Once again, this is a fear issue.  My time was 1:02, good enough to tie for 6th/24 in my age group.  (Last year was 1:11...and that included the time it took for me to try to run out the wrong way.)


Okay, I'm not going to belabor this section.  I am not happy with my run AT ALL.  I don't know why I couldn't seem to get it in gear, but I just didn't have my best run and that's all there is to it.  Last year I ran it with a 9:37 pace for a total time of 29:51.  This year it took me 30:31 to run the 5K (9:51 pace).  I'll write a longer post later about the run as well as my post-race recap....I have a lot more to say about it than I have time to write at this time!  I placed 15/24 in my age group in the run. 

Overall...ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, it's okay.  I'm so disappointed in my run it's hard to keep things in perspective, but, when I stop to think I cut off TEN minutes from my race time last year and came in the top 4th of my age group (6/24 overall...but since the first place gal was pulled for an overall award, really it was 5/23)....and this is after being injured and not training for 5 weeks.

It's better than's good.  I did well in this race overall.  There...I said it.  I did well and OVERALL I'm happy with what I did.  (No...that doesn't mean I'm happy with that stinking run, but that's another post!)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mach Tenn Swim

I don't know when I'll learn to write up everything I have to say about a race immediately afterward.  When I wait to do it I lose a lot of the ...euphoria... surrounding it.  However, most of the time it's not that I don't want to write it up, it's that I don't have the opportunity.

You would think after almost FOUR WEEKS* of not working out and having two of those off work** I would have had a lot of extra time on my hands.  I don't know why, but that has not been the case at all.  ((*I had my first taste of working out Thursday when I did a portion of the Spin class I was teaching, and then again on Friday when I did more of the same.  Yesterday I did a little bit in all three disciplines-emphasis on LITTLE.  **I feel guilty calling what I do "work" but I do have a job teaching preschool swim lessons at the Y; nI ended up taking four days off because of my knee and then we had the week of July 4th off as well.))

As I am sitting here thinking about my planned workout for today (a swim), I am reminded about how I teased you with the promise of a write up about the Mach Tenn swim.

So...I told you I entered the wrong time for my estimated swim finish when I registered for the race.  When I looked at it, I thought it was 6 HUNDRED but really it was 6 HUNDREDTHS (of a mile) (.6 not 600).  So I put down a guess on how long it would take me to swim 600 instead of 965.5 meters...bit of a difference!!  Because of this little mistake, instead of having a starting number in the 300s, I had a number of 42.  I was more than just a little freaked out. 

Okay...for all my non-swimming/triathlete friends/readers who might be asking why this matters, let me take just a minute to try to explain. a staggered start everyone lines up according to their race number (which is based on the time you enter when you register for the race as your estimated swim time).  The faster swimmers go first so they don't have to worry about maneuvering around people who might wind up doing the doggy-paddle/breast stroke/zigzag-like-a-drunkard thing some very courageous non-swimmers resort to in order to get out of the water alive so they can complete a triathlon. 

Now...there are any number of reasons having a low number might be upsetting.  As I was talking to friends the most common thought everyone had was that I wouldn't LIKE being passed by the faster swimmers.  That wasn't it at all.  I don't necessarily mind being passed...I just didn't want to be in the way.  It would have been obvious to anyone I had entered the wrong time down.  It would be like lining up at the Tour de France in a Huffy, or trying to start the Indy 500 in a Prius.  I didn't belong in the 42nd spot...I belonged in about the 309th spot.

Thankfully,  that's exactly where I was allowed to start.  That whole mix-up worked to take my mind off the fact this was going to be my first race in a wetsuit.  That distinction should have belonged to NOLA 70.3, but we all know how that turned out (cancelled swim).  Although I had done some practice in it, racing is just not the same so I was a little nervous.  Interestingly enough I don't remember being nervous about the swim.  I had prepared my mind for a 600 yard swim so finding out it was really 1056 yards was a tad shocking, but only for a split second because I had been doing over double that distance in workouts for a while.  (That was a GREAT feeling!)

When I entered the water, I had to remind myself to relax.  I remembered my commitment to RACE the swim portion to the best of my ability and set out to do just that.  I started swimming fairly fast and straight, for about 50 yards.  Nothing really fell apart, I just did what I usually do (my mind started working against me) and I had to bring myself back to positive thoughts.

After it was all said and done, I think this was the first time I could say overall I felt confident in that leg of the race.  Not confident in my ability to go the distance, but to be "competitive" with others in my category.  Here's the thing, I don't put myself in the same category of swimmer with the people who have been doing it their whole lives.  I also don't put myself in the same category of swimmer with the ones who are still afraid, the ones who wind up doing the back stroke, the ones who (right or wrong) believe they have to hold on to a canoe in the middle of a race to catch their breath.  It would be unfair for me to have any sense of accomplishment about passing people who are out there simply trying to survive from point A to point B.  It would be just as wrong for me to beat myself up when I am passed by the ones who have been swimming like a fish their whole life.

There are some people who say, "just do your very best and let the results be what they may."  Those people have more confidence in their own abilities than I do (although I am getting there).  I am still in the stage where I gauge myself based on others.  There's also something else going on in me.  I truly am a competitor.  If you listen to any fierce competitor, they aren't usually saying, "well, I'll just do my best and see what happens" they are saying, "how far do I have to dig in to win".  This is why elites/pros all toe the line together and don't use chip timing to determine the winner of the race.  It's not about who can complete the event in the fastest time by themselves, it's about who can beat out all the other people who are there trying to do the same thing.

I'm going to say most of the time the winner is determined in the mental game.  All of the competitors in the front of a race are really fast/strong.  They are also all hurting.  Whoever can dig the deepest when they know everyone else is doing the same thing wins.  I have had plenty of races where I start off thinking I want to compete, but then give up mentally and allow myself to let up because it's hard.  I'm not about to say that completely changed in this race, especially not in this swim.  However, the thing that was very different is that I kept coming back to one thought the whole time, "I CAN race in the swim."  Don't go thinking I'm delusional.  I'm not talking about coming in first in any category (gender, age, masters) least not for a while (hey, if I keep working, I think I can take those 70 year old women on!!).

Now...even though I kept coming back to that thought, I didn't do well at all.  I feel like I should have been able to do that distance in about 19-20 minutes, especially with the help of the wetsuit.  I could tell you how stinking HOT I got out there (wetsuits might help you have better body position, but they also keep you warm in cold water...mine works very well).  I could also tell you I could not see because of fogging goggles.  But those things don't matter.  Even though my time wasn't good (22:14 9/13), it was one of the best race swims I've had mentally.  I was able to continually bring myself back to positive thoughts fairly easily.  (That might be thanks to swimming so slow, but that's okay, I think it's still a step in the right direction!)

That's a wave to my friend who was cheering as she was snapping the picture!
My swim just keeps getting better.  I don't know what taking four weeks off will do to me, but Wet Dog is next weekend so I'm going to find out. 

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!