Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Conessions of a Complete Hypocrite

In light of my last post, Coach Eric sent me my "bank statement" showing my training data from the last five months.  There were a lot of holes in there from times I had not reported my workouts so I went back to my log and my data and filled in as many as I could.  In the process I took a close look at my day-to-day workout reports.

Here's the thing...I would have said I did about 70% of the workouts as written.  Uh...maybe up until the last couple of months...(I didn't go back and look at every day)...but from mid March until now I have either made excuses for not doing the work out at all, doing a different workout for whatever other excuse, or made excuses for why my workout wasn't up to par.

Let me talk in terms of my bank account analogy...I think that will make it easier for me.

I have "always" been very good at managing money.  By that I mean I can take a meager salary (by my own standards) and stretch it to get what I WANT while still paying my bills and not paying with credit most of the time (and not ever without a plan on how to pay it off).  What I want has typically revolved around travel.  As a single mother I took my kids to Florida, the Grand Canyon my son to Europe and my daughter to New York City.  (My daughter had a trip to Europe too, but that was funded by my sweet husband.)  All the while I made a sizable house payment and paid my bills on time.  I was able to do this because I watched EVERY SINGLE PENNY.  I didn't buy Starbucks unless I could legitimately afford it in my budget.  I planned out about a year in advance for everything.  I played nothing by ear and took nothing for granted.

The key to a good budget is knowing exactly where/how you spend your money, knowing exactly what your monetary goals are, having a plan and FOLLOWING that plan.  I did that for the most part.  I might modify things along the way to accommodate various changes (I want some new shoes so I have to give up some entertainment money).  I didn't let opinions about my salary control my spending (my opinion or others').  I took what I earned (my deposits) and made it work for what I wanted (my withdrawals).  I didn't live beyond my means and I didn't squander my earnings then turn around and say "I can't afford what I want because I don't make enough money."  I also didn't play it by ear then wonder why I didn't have the things I wanted.

Bringing this back around to my training...in the past I have tried the strategy of just going out and doing what feels okay at the time (playing things by ear).  I have tried having a plan and not following it closely, doing part of the workouts or not giving them my all (not following the "budget").  I have tried thinking I could do better on race day than what I have prepared for ("living beyond my means").  These have all lead to frustration.  I think the thing I really didn't fully see is just ow far off I allowed myself to get in training and how it has all added up.

I can't honestly say I have wondered why I haven't had better results.  What I can say is that I have lazily settled for results below what I truly desire.  But...here's why I'm a hypocrite...I have seen other people do this and have preached to them exactly what they need to do.  "If you want to do your best on race day...all you have to do is follow the plan AND do your best in training."  "You say you can't do a workout because 'life got in the way', all you have to do is make a plan to make it happen...don't allow life to be the boss of you!"  "Make, and follow, a plan or plan to fail." I've spent the last two and a half years beating myself up over not meeting my own expectations (usually unspoken) when I've been in control of not only the goal, but also the plan, and the effort.

Here's the thing...I am NOT saying everyone has to be a competitor.  But don't say you are and then fail to train and compete.  I'm not saying everyone has to train, but don't be upset if you don't meet a goal.  I'm not saying everyone has to have a goal, but don't be upset by the fact you don't seem to be getting anywhere or that you don't like where you are.

I see this more often in the area of food.  People will say they want to lose weight, but they have no idea how much, or what kinds of foods they are eating.  I have said I want to lose weight but have made choices along the way to give up what I want MOST (to lose weight) for what I want now (just a tiny piece of chocolate pie). 

I'm a hypocrite because I KNOW the "right" things to do, and am critical of myself and others for not doing them.  It's one thing to read Coach Eric's status updates on FaceBook that say, in effect, if you aren't having the results you want, take a look at the effort you are putting forth and seeing my own data staring me in the face.  For the record, he has never said to me, "HEY!  YOU, DANA, aren't doing what you are supposed to be doing--that's why you aren't having the results you desire." ...he just allowed me to discover this on my own, which is having a very powerful effect on me.

I just hope I can hold on to this determination to seriously go after what I know I want MOST--to figure out what my best really looks like and to DO IT.  The hard part is knowing what that means.  It's "easy" to say "I want to save up for a trip to Venice" and them make that happen (at least it would be for me).  Knowing what "my best" is and getting there is something no one else has any control over or say in.  Eric can't tell me if I am giving all I have in a work out on any given day.  Eric can't tell me how fast I "should" be able to run/bike/swim. 

I want to be VERY CLEAR here...I am NOT beating myself up.  I'm taking an honest evaluation of myself.  In terms of the money analogy, I'm looking at my income and my expenses and financial goals, coming up with a serious budget and making firm plans to follow the budget.  In terms of the food analogy, I am taking a serious look at my food diary (with no exceptions made for just a bite of this or a taste of that), coming up with a realistic diet, buying the food to make it happen and making a firm commitment to sticking with the plan.

I'm writing this out because I know I'm not the only one in this boat.  It's too easy to change goals mid-plan.  It's too easy to "decide" I don't really want to compete, I just want to have fun.  I know that's now what I really want (the desire I believe, for whatever reason, God has put in my heart) because of how disappointed I feel after the fact.

Again, I am not saying everyone should want to compete...some people I've known have had just the opposite experience.  They have this natural ability and compete VERY WELL but are unhappy...because their heart's desire is to just have fun and not allow the competition to have the control.  They need to leave the Garmin at home and just have fun.

I'm boldly saying I believe God made me a competitor.   He didn't make us all the same, thankfully, but He did make me this way and I'm ready to embrace it, to submit to it and to stop questioning it.

Man...three posts in less than 24 hours...I'm on a roll here.  :D
Thanks for stopping in again...come again soon!

Balancing My Account

The Runner's World Daily "Kick in the Butt" quote yesterday said:
Games require skill. Running requires endurance, character, pride, physical strength, and mental toughness. Running is a test, not a game. A test of faith, belief, will, and trust in one's self. So hardcore that it needs a category all to itself to define the pain. When game players criticize, it's because they aren't willing to understand, not because they're stronger. Running is more than a sport; it's a lifestyle. If you have to ask us why we run, you'll never understand, so just accept. --Jessica Propst
I read this as I was getting ready to go run Cotton Row.   This quote came on the heels of Coach Eric's quotes on FaceBook:
If you want your dreams to come true you had better be prepared to work for them. Hard work pays off, doing nothing gets you nothing.
You are the catalyst needed to take your performance to the next level. DECIDE to push the next workout or the next 5 minutes, DECIDE that it's going to hurt and accept it gladly, DECIDE that you are in charge of your performance, DECIDE to be the athlete that you dream of being.
I knew the truth was I wasn't up for a "test" (especially one of my own will and belief), I hadn't prepared or worked and I had not made the necessary decisions prior to race day in order to be in charge of my performance, so I shifted my expectations on the front end of the race.  Doing this allowed me (probably for the first time) to NOT beat myself up (even in my mind) after the fact.

Here's the thing...I want a different race day experience.  You've heard it said crazy is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.  Well, in order to have a different experience, I know I have to do different things. 

Eric is right...I am the catalyst needed to take my performance to the next level.  My perceived ability is not the catalyst.  The main reason for that is how flawed my perception is regarding my ability.  Also, the whole POINT of training is to make ability better.  If I allow my flawed perception of my ability to determine what I do in training I am not going to push and will not ever be the athlete I dream of being.

Think of training as making deposits into an account.  The amount of the deposit is directly related to my effort and my adherence to the training plan (yes, it's also directly related to the quality of the plan, but I believe I have a top notch coach which equals a top notch plan so that is the constant in this equation).  The more effort I put into the workout and the more closely I follow the training plan  exactly as written, the more I will be depositing in my account. Side note...Following the plan "exactly as written" means easy is easy and hard is hard.  The more I deposit into my account, the bigger the withdrawal can be on race day.

Think of it like working on commission!  When you work on commission and there is only one constant (ie WHAT you are selling), you are completely in control of your pay check.  You can make excuses about it ("No one wants to by ice in Alaska, I can't sell it.") but the truth is you are in complete control (move to Arizona).  The one constant in this equation I've set up is the training plan (and even that could be changed if I didn't trust my coach...which I do).  All I have to do in order to have a big balance available to me on my next race day is to DECIDE to follow the plan exactly as written and to give everything I have in every workout.

Rather than making excuses for poor performance or for missing workouts I want to see what it would be like to give everything I have to the training process.  In the past I have settled for less.  I've given less in workouts because I've been tired or scared or lacking in confidence in my abilities.  Then on race day, in the back of my mind, I tell myself I have more to give, which sets me up to have a higher expectation of myself than what my training had prepared me to have.

I've seen other people do this...not train for a race and still do very well.  Other people can do it, but I haven't yet found the way to do this.  ((I think the reason other people can do it is because they've done the hard work at some other time in their lives and have confidence in their abilities or are willing to push HARD in a race and accept the consequences, like being really sore, afterward.))  I think I'm more of a "live within my means" kind of gal.  I have been burned by credit before so I like to know how I will pay for things before I buy them.  Yes, I'm talking about real money right now, but the same way of being transfers into athletic training as well.   Knowing how I am, how I think, helps me in all areas of my life.  Knowing I most likely won't push harder in a race than what I've prepared for in training tells me what I have to do--and it's NOT to expect myself to push harder in a race.

I have decided I want a different racing experience.  Instead of beating myself up after the fact because I didn't make a bigger withdrawal than what I had deposits to support...I'm going to make the necessary deposits each and every day in order to CASH THAT CHECK on race day without going into the red!

Thanks for stopping by, come again soon!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Managing Expectations

goofy pre-race pose
Memorial Day, for the third year in a row, means it's time for the Cotton Row 10K Race.  This is the only 10K race I've ever done (not including the 10K at the end of a triathlon).   Today wasn't a race though...I should really just call it a 10K event. 

Hold on...let me start by saying I feel "good" about today's results.  I mean I don't like what happened, but it's what I expected.  I got exactly the result I should have gotten for the training effort, planning and mental preparations I put forth.  Could I have done better?  Yes, I'm sure I could have.  How do I know?  I was talking and laughing the whole time.  I wasn't struggling most of the time.  I was very relaxed.  I left the race thinking I could probably go run another 10 miles fairly easily.  I came home, weeded the flower beds, mowed the lawn and didn't even feel like I had really worked out.  Did I get what I planned for?  Yes.  My plan was to keep my heart rate right at 170 the whole time (except for climbing Mountainwood), and I did just that. 

This is the third year I've run this course with out a strategy.  Not again.  Next year I will have a plan for how I want to RACE this event!  I know the course, I know how I run it.  I will prepare and I will blow my time out of the water.  Mark my words.

But...back to the race...I had a sinus infection all last week.  I finally went to the doctor and got a steroid shot and some meds on Thursday.  That would have been bad enough, but I woke up this morning with a rolling stomach.  Reading last year's recap, I see that was the case then, too, but I think for very different reasons.  Last year I attributed my stomach issues to nerves.  I can remember getting ready for the race the night before and being so anxious.  This year, I actually forgot to pick up my packet!  I went this morning to get it and ended up helping out because there was only one guy trying to get packets and tshirts for a growing number of participants!

Can you spot me?
After I left packet pick up I went to meet a friend of mine to warm up a bit.  I think we did about a half mile or so.  This is the first race I have ever done that I did not use the bathroom at the race site!!  I thought about it just before they started pre-race announcements, but by then it was too late.  I didn't really have to go, I just thought I should since I usually go at least twice before gun time!  The friend I warmed up with runs a lot faster than I do.  She wanted to run with someone, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with her so I told her she didn't need to wait on me. 

Looking back on it, there's a SLIM chance I might have been able to hang on to her but it would have hurt and I hadn't planned to, or expected to, hurt today.  I "wanted" to break an hour, but I also knew I had not been running a lot lately, I hadn't planned or trained, I hadn't prepared mentally...I hadn't made the "training deposits" necessary in order to expect to be able to make a "race withdrawal" in the amount of a sub-60:00 Cotton Row 10K!

I think part of why I get so upset with my results is that no matter what kind of training I have done, no matter what kind of preparations I have made, and no matter what I am mentally ready for, I expect to have a different outcome than what matches with reality.

Let me try to explain something I haven't quite put my finger on just yet...

Last year I didn't train to race a 10K, certainly not Cotton Row (it's not an easy course).  Somehow I expected to break an hour out of sheer will.  I had run a sub-30 5K but really beyond that I didn't have any training that would warrant realistically expecting a sub-60 Cotton Row result and yet, I did.  I hadn't planned mentally, I didn't have a race strategy, I just thought I could go run and get to the finish in under an hour.  My blog post says I was happy with the result, but that's not the way I remember it.  I remember feeling mostly okay at the finish, disappointed, but okay.  But as time went on, I was more and more upset over that stinking 24 seconds...thinking about all of the things I could have done on race day to have had a better outcome.

I have noticed that I go into races with a certain set of stated expectations, and another set of unspoken ones.  I may meet my stated expectations (which usually match up with reality fairly well), but when I don't meet my unspoken set of desires for myself I am upset (if you know me you know that's the case pretty much all the time).

right before I tossed my water bottle
I honestly think today is the first time both sets of expectations matched...not only each other but also with reality.  I wanted to break an hour, but I didn't think that was realistic, all things considered.  Could I have done it?  Sure...I was only 20 seconds off.  There are any number of things I could have done differently.  Am I upset that didn't happen?  No...how can I be?  I did what I did, there's no reason to be upset.  I truly feel like I got out what I put in.  I didn't train, I didn't plan, I didn't prepare, I didn't meet my hope of breaking an hour.  I also didn't hurt, I didn't ever think I couldn't finish.  I didn't ever want to quit.  I felt great the whole time.  (Well...there was one time I didn't feel great...I was carrying a water bottle I barely used.  As soon as I tossed it to my sweet husband at mile 5ish my mouth went completely dry and cottony...I almost panicked, but realized very quickly that was silly and stopped that nonsense!)

I will say as soon as I finished the race and realized I missed breaking an hour by 20 seconds I was VERY UPSET....but only for a few minutes.  After I thought about it I decided there was no reason for those feelings.  I had a good time and my result matched what I had trained and planned for.

The key for me is to put in the training and planning...and, I'm certain I'll get exactly the result I should!

  • 2010 -- 1:18:23 (gun time) 86/100 age group and 1920/2048 overall
  • 2011 -- 1:00:24 (chip time) 39/111 age group and 930/1878 overall
  • 2012 -- 1:00:20 (chip time) 40/125 age group and 1076/2013 overall
headed to the finish line
Next up...Mach Tenn long sprint tri this coming Saturday.  I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm sure I'll have a plan!  :D

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm so excited!!  I'm going to be heading up a beginner tri training group for the YMCA!  I know many of you would have to commute by plane to get here, but I think it's going to be worth it!  :D

It's going to be an 11 week training group geared toward beginners.  There are actually two goal races.  The Soggy Seal on August 4th (after 9 weeks of training) and the Huntsville Sprint Tri.

We'll meet on Wednesday and Thursday nights 5:30-6:30pm and then on Saturday mornings (we'll have to determine the time at our first meeting).  You don't have to be a member of the Y to join, and you don't have to come to every session.  I'll be giving training plans, coaching, tips and ENCOURAGEMENT all along the way.   If you've ever thought about doing a triathlon--now is your chance to make that thought a reality!!  Call the Y (256-883-9622) today to sign up-space is limited!   And, tell your friends! :D

Thanks for stopping in...I'll be telling you more about this in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"That's a GREAT tri suit!!"

I have been waiting to post about the awesome trisuit I wore in NOLA until I could download the professional pictures taken at the race.  However, that's taking longer than I anticipated so I'm going to write about it, and then I'll post the pictures later.  I do at least have one...my goofy pre-triathlon pose:

I have to admit it...I did something stupid, something that could have been detrimental to my whole race...well, a couple of things actually, but only one of them pertains to this post.  I wore a trisuit I had not adequately tested out in pre-race workouts.  I have known since this suit came out last year I wanted it, but I just kept putting off buying it because there always seems to be something I "need" that takes precedence over the things I "want".  Before I knew it the race was here.  Let me back up...

Back at the end of last year (November probably) I think I saw a FaceBook add about these really cool looking animal print tri suits.  I "liked" their FaceBook page and quickly found out their suits weren't even being sold yet, but would be soon.  I couldn't wait to get one!!  Then I started training for NOLA.  In the blink of an eye, the race was only a few weeks away and I hadn't yet ordered my suit!!!  I contacted Karen at the company and asked if there was any way I could get it in time (they're in Great Britain).  THANKFULLY she said she would send it to me special delivery so I would have it in FIVE days!!!

The package it came in was as cool as the suit-a zebra print mailer with zebra print tissue!  I had planned testing the suit out with a long swim, long ride and long run...but I was already in taper (and full-on freak-out if I'm being honest).  So,  I biked and ran for a few miles and called it good.  I figured the worst thing I could imagine happening was chaffing, and I haven't ever had that problem before.  I made sure to have a little thing of Body Glide in my Fuel Belt pouch just in case...  (by the way...that is so NOT the worst thing that could have happened...)

I opted for the "high performance" suit because it sounded like it might be a better quality product, and since I was going to be wearing it for 6ish hours I felt like I would need all the quality I could get!!  As far as the butterfly design goes...that's how I was feeling...like a caterpillar about to break free from the chrysalis.  ((I didn't feel like I would be racing like a cheetah, but I think I might get that version for some PR setting later on!!)) 

Let me say, I LOVE this suit.  I love the colors.  I love the fact it looks like a heart right in the middle of my chest.  Most of all, I love that it honestly felt like second skin.   The legs are a little longer than what I've been used to; I was worried that might bother my thighs, but I never even felt them.  Also the underarms felt just a tiny bit tighter than I've been used to (I really like racer back tops), but again, I never felt any part of this suit at any point in time. 

I'm the one on the right...
I'm VERY small in the chest department (built like a pear) so I wasn't sure what size I needed but I ended up trusting the size chart and ordered a small (yet another reason to love this suit!!).   The interesting thing to me was the bra.  When I first put it on, I didn't think it was going to provide enough support. I was surprised and a little concerned since I didn't have a good back up option (not one that would match, and come on, that is important!).  However, when I did my test run, it felt great--again...like second skin. 

Another great thing about this suit...the material is called "cool max active performance" (some magical blend).  The tag says it will "wick away moisture...keep you cool dry and comfortable...lightweight, soft and breathable..."  My experience was ...the tag was RIGHT on every count.  I can't say it enough--it felt like second skin.  It wasn't like I was naked because it offered the support for all my jiggly parts which my own skin lost years ago!!  But it also didn't feel like I was wearing some kind of compression suit either. 

I didn't think I would like a one piece suit (...I'm a pear, "one piece" usually means only one part, either the top or the bottom, will fit properly), but this suit stretched in all the right places.  One thing I noticed about the one piece that I really liked compared to my tri shorts...I didn't feel anything on my waist.  (Well, not until I put on the fuel belt....)  Also, I didn't have to keep pulling my top down since it was all connected!! :D

I think the best part about the suit was the number of times I heard "that's a GREAT tri suit!"  No doubt about it, I was noticeable...and unique.  Yup...second skin, in more ways than one!!

TRIZOO.ORG...if you order one, tell them you heard about them from me.  No, I won't get a kick back or anything I just think it's cool.  :D  ((And, to be clear, I haven't received anything from them to write up this post...it's my own opinion about my own suit, which I love, in case you were still wondering!))   BTW...they have really cool suits for men, too!

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon.  ((Maybe then I'll have some pictures to share!))

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NOLA Duathlon Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts on the race:

First of all, I want to be very clear on something.  There is NO WAY I could have finished this race as "well" as I did without the coaching of e3Multisport.  Any complaining I do about not doing as well as I wanted is not a reflection of the coaching I received...it's a reflection of me and how I do life in general.  Anyone who has been reading my blog for long, or anyone who knows me very well at all, knows I have a terrible case of the "woulda'-coulda'-shoulda's".  I have bigger eyes in the back of my head than I do in the front.  I can pick the past apart with a fine tooth comb and forget today's workout before I even start it.  I'm also a fairly decent revisionist historian (just ask my husband).  I will look back on something and forget key aspects of a workout or a race which made it turn out a certain way.  To combat these tendencies I know I have I am trying to stay more focused.  (That's a bit like trying to watch hummingbird wings in my case.)  In workouts I'm trying to stay focused on the task at hand and not think about anything else ("What am I going to cook for dinner?.....oh, stink, is this 250 or 300 ((yards in the pool))" or, "boy I don't know if I can climb that giant hill I'm going to be at 30 miles from now, I better slow down to conserve energy".....sadly, yes, both have happened-more than once!).

In the race I think I did a good job of staying focused until the last lap of the run.  I realized a couple of days after the race...I didn't have ANY electrolytes on the bike.  For fuel I used a drink called Genr8 which I think worked well...but it doesn't have any electrolytes in it at all.  I knew this and packed some Nuun water on my Fuel Belt for the run---planning to drink at least one bottle (10 ounces with one tablet) as soon as the run started.  However, I didn't do that.  I thought about it probably around mile four or five, but then just sipped on it.  I wasn't focused enough on proper hydration needs.  I drank water, but I'm pretty sure I didn't get enough electrolytes.  Now...I'd really like to think if I had added in some SaltStick caps I would have improved my performance (can you hear the "woulda-coulda-shoulda" coming out?), but who knows.  The time I got was what I did on that day with that set of circumstances.  However, the good part of "W-C-S" is that I do try to learn from every experience.  What thing can help me do better next time.  (Honestly, it "always" boils down to training harder--whether it's physical, mental or "preparational" training, it's all training!)

Fueling:  For anyone who cares about this kind of thing....I ate normally in the days leading up to the race, I hadn't been training hard so I felt like eating a normal diet would adequately replenish my glycogen stores--no need to "carb load".  I'll be writing more about this in the future since I'm currently following Bob Seebohar's teachings on metobolic efficiency.  I haven't been doing it long enough to give an informed personal opinion on it, but from the things I've been learning in my Personal Training Certification course, it all makes perfect sense--our bodies will do what we train them to do.  If we train our bodies to expect carbs for energy every 30 minutes, that's what it will "need"...if we train it to use our fat for energy, that's what it will do!  Anyway...for breakfast I ate a package of instant oatmeal (maple and brown sugar flavored) with coco added to it.  I drank about 10 ounces of grape flavored Genr8 as I set up my bike in transition (so about 2 hours before the start--way to early to have any effect at all).  On the bike I had 2 bottles of grape flavored Genr8 (2 scoops to about 24 ounces of water in both bottles).  One bottle's worth was in my aero drink bottle...I sipped on it the whole time I was on the bike.  When it was empty, I filled it up with the other bottle I had prepared.  I didn't drink all of the second bottle.  I didn't drink any water on the bike.  There are 280 calories per 2 scoops.  (The bottle I drank before the race was part of what I had mixed up earlier that didn't fit in my bike bottles...so I had a total of 560 calories available, but I didn't drink about a fourth of that, and had some of it before the race started so I'm guessing I had about 400 calories on the bike total??)  I felt great the whole time...I did have to pee when I got off the bike pretty bad.  On the run I had a Fuel belt (I'll talk about this in a minute) with 2 10 ounce bottles of water and 1 Nuun tablet each.  Like I said earlier I didn't drink all of it.  I also had a smaller bottle (I think it's 5 ounces) of vanilla flavored First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot mixed with some water.  It was less than a full "single shot", probably 200-300 calories (and, I just realized, that has electrolytes in it, too).  I had a lot of water because I drank my little bottle and then refilled as needed.  So...all in all about 600-700 calories total for 6 hours of effort-more than necessary I'm sure, but no stomach issues at all, and no bonking....so I think that part worked well.  Again...I think I needed electrolytes on the bike.

My Fuel Belt....it's a love/hate relationship.  I like carrying my own aid.  I like having it when I want it and being able to control what I'm taking in.  However, I don't like wearing the belt.  I knew I didn't want to use Gu gels this time (for a host of reasons).  I wanted to use either Genr8 or EFS Licquid shot because that's what I trained with and they were both working well for me.  I didn't want to carry a hand bottle so the belt was the best option for me.  I am going to start training differently in regards to fueling (less carbs, asking my body to utilize more fat) so I'm thinking I'll be able to change up enough to ditch the belt....although I'll then go back to a hand bottle so I can have water whenever I want it.

Post race....I had a GREAT massage after the race.  As I was waiting for my turn I got very stiff (since I was sitting in a chair talking to some other racers)...but when I got up from that table I felt like I could run again!!  (Okay, I'm sure if I tried I would have realized it wasn't true...but I felt great!)  I think I will always avail myself of the post race massage from now on-no matter how long the wait time is.  I think it helped me not be as sore after the marathon or this race.

Sunscreen.....I sprayed my legs down, but didn't spray my shoulders.  It was really cold and I didn't want to take off my shirt...stupid move.  I burned and peeled.  I will make sure to use it next time.

Wearing my watch...I decided beforehand I didn't want to wear my watch because I wanted to give my best effort the whole time.  I wish I would have worn my watch so I could have seen what my splits were.  I'm just NOT someone who can go without analyzing data.  It shouldn't matter, but it does.  That's just me and I'm okay with it.  I would have liked to know how fast I got up to on the bike, and when I was riding faster on average (to see if I had more of a tailwind assistance than I thought I did!).  I will just have to figure out a way to not allow my watch to mock me (sometimes it feels like the watch is laughing at my slowness!)...because all that does is slow me down!

I'm going to write up a whole separate post on my tri suit--I loved it that much! :D

Do you have any questions I haven't answered??  Thinking about doing a longer distance tri than what you've done before (whether that's your first sprint, an Oly, or half distance) and have some specific concerns??  I might not have answers, but I sure can find out if I don't.  Ask away!!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

NOLA 67.1 Duathlon!

(((NOTE:  I've been holding off on publishing this post because I thought I could get my race pictures ordered and include them...however, there are some pictures from "Lost and Found" I want included in my download but making that happen seems to be taking longer than I would have hoped so I'm going to post what I have...)))

About 10 minutes before the race was going to start everyone moved out to the new start line.  They kept us in our original swim start waves.  The pro guys started (all together since they were RACING), 3 minutes later the pro women started all together...then 3 minutes later the men over 50 were sent off two at a time about every 3 seconds (since the age groupers were essentially doing a time trial event).  After them, it was time for all the women 40 and over.  I was toward the end of that group.  It was super cold so my plan was to use the 2 miles to get warmed up for the bike.  We ran by the water and WOW...I could NOT get over just how rough it was!!  I am SO GLAD we did not have to swim in that!!  It felt like I was running at about a 10:00 pace...turns out I ran that 2 miles in 18:33 (9:17 pace). 40/70 AG; 968/1133 OA

When I got back to transition, because I had pre-planned so well, I easily found my bike.  It was weird having my running shoes on...I had to remind myself I needed them later and took the extra couple of seconds to place them where I needed them (instead of tossing them to the side).  I want to learn how to mount the bike with my shoes attached so I don't have to run in them because there's no doubt that slows me down.  ((You might think in the scope of a whole race a few seconds wouldn't matter, but you'd be wrong...I'll explain later.))  T1 was 1:27.  (13/70 AG)

I knew the winds were going to be horrible (duh...that's why they cancelled the swim).  I purposely didn't listen to or look at the weather because I didn't want a number haunting my thoughts (sustained winds X mph with gusts up to X).  I told myself I was going to ride as hard as I could the whole time and let the outcome be what it may. 

SIDE NOTE:  Looking back at most of my data from previous rides, I have almost always averaged 15-16 mph (on my bike, since I had it fit by Matt Blevins).  ((There was one interval ride which ended up being MUCH faster.))  I would have told you I was averaging 17 on most of my rides if I hadn't looked...but data doesn't lie.  (I don't know what is wrong with me on the bike, but I'm hoping teaching Spinning classes will help.) 

Anyway...I knew most of my "competition" would be riding faster than me and I also knew wind has been a thorn in my side on the bike.  I hate feeling it hit me...I have this mental image of trying to ride through a wall when there's even the slightest wind.  This is a really bad thing since it ALWAYS feels like there is wind because you are moving forward through air!!  I made a very conscious decision to ride my own race and just go as fast as I could go and not worry about anyone else.  A lot of people were telling stories about seeing bad wrecks in past races with high wind being the major cause.  I was slightly worried about that; I've never seen someone have a bike wreck (and thankfully haven't wrecked myself) and knew that would probably severely affect me.  Early on I did see a girl on the side of the road with two other gals, but it didn't look like she wrecked, it just looked like she maybe had a flat tire. 

The good thing for me-this is a fairly flat course (not pancake flat since there were some bridges/overpasses, but still flat).  I also believed we'd have a great tailwind half the time which would give as much as it took.  I actually only felt it one time for a short stretch.  It seemed like we had a cross wind most of the time.

I played leap frog with a girl on a relay team (signified by the R on her calf).  I don't know what happened to her but at some point I realized she hadn't passed me back (yes, that made me smile).  Iron Angel (the friend I ran the marathon with) was racing.  She is younger than I am so she started later...and passed me about 1/2 way through the bike.  I didn't keep track of anyone I passed, and couldn't count all the people who passed me, but every time either happened I reminded myself I was only racing ME.  However, there's a competitive streak in me that just won't shut off.  As we neared the end I started trying to pick people off.  I think that helped me finish as strong as I could.  My speed averaged 17.4 which gave me a total time of 2:59:39.  I had really wanted to finish the bike leg in under 3 hours...which only happened because it had been shortened by 4 miles.  However, who knows what would have happened if the winds weren't so bad (maybe I would have been slower without any help from a tail wind...maybe I could have gone faster...who  knows!)  This time put me 47/70 AG and 936/1133 OA.

I was able to run right to my spot and quickly grab all I needed for the run.  I had to use the bathroom so badly I thought my bladder was going to burst, but I knew I wanted to get out of transition first (and, yes, I even BRIEFLY contemplated peeing while running, but I just can't bring myself to do it knowing it's not going to change my ranking enough to justify smelling like urine!!).  T2 was 1:38, good enough for 16/70 AG.

Lucky for me, portopotties were just beyond the timing mats and I didn't have to wait...lucky for the man who didn't lock the door of the first one I tried to go into that he had his back to me!! :D  I lost some time there, but I felt like I gained comfort which was certainly more important!

I mentally negotiated with myself the whole half marathon.  As I stared to move (it didn't feel like I was "running", but I know from experience I was going faster than it felt) I told myself I had to keep going until the first aide station where I had planned to take some Aleve.  I know all the dangers associated with taking NSAIDs during exercise, but I figured as long as I stayed hydrated taking them was better than not taking them.  When I got to the aide station, I walked about 20' (long enough to get the Aleve out and get some water) and then started running again.  I then told myself I would only walk every other aide station (they had them set up every single mile!!). 

This plan came in handy when I reached some tiny inclines.  There were no hills, but there were some overpass areas which caused a rise in elevation which caused my legs to think I was running up a hill which caused my mind to scream "IT'S TIME TO WALK!!!"  But I remembered that "WE LOVE HILLS" and I reminded myself how happy I would be if I stuck with my plan of only walking at every other aide station. 

I used all kinds of mental games during the run...I intentionally wore pink Yankz to remind myself of my 91 year old grandfather who is currently kicking breast cancer's butt, and my mother who has won that same battle twice.  ("I mean, come on, if they can both have a boob cut off and go through radiation every day for weeks on end, I can surely run a measly 13.1 miles...this is nothing.")  I prayed.  A lot.  I pretended I was only running a half marathon (and forgot about the other 54 miles).  I reasoned it was a lot easier than when I ran the marathon (and it was even though the total mileage was higher in this race ).  And, yes, the competitor in me picked people to pick off (I can't help it).

One of my favorite things to think about was the tri suit I was wearing.  I intentionally picked this suit because it's a butterfly...so I imagined myself with wings, coming out of the chrysalis for the first time and how amazing that would feel!  ((Funny story about that...one of the aide stations was playing that annoying Miley Cyrus song "Butterfly Fly Away" as I was running by.  Yes, I ran a tad faster for several reasons!))  ((I'll tell you more about my tri suit later on...it deserves its own post!))

At some point in that first loop (I think it was), one of the guys from Huntsville came running up behind me.  I was surprised he hadn't passed me on the bike...until he showed me his shoulder and arm and leg.  He had wrecked as some point and had pretty bad road rash.  I tried to hang at his pace (or what's probably more true is that he held back at mine for a little bit) until I realized I just couldn't keep up.  I told him he obviously wasn't hurt as bad as it looked because he was running pretty darn strong as he easily left me in his dust!

All those mental exercises worked pretty well until I came around to the beginning of the second loop.  See...I really DON'T LIKE loops.  That's one of the MANY reasons I picked this race-no loops.  Thanks to storm damage on the route, the course had to be changed.  I can't say it was a bad change because there is something to be said for knowing what's coming up...at the same time, that "something" might not always be good!  On the second loop I walked a little more than every other aide station.  Not only that, I saw several familiar faces...all of whom I thought were in front of me.  I got very depressed thinking I was moving at a snail's pace.  I intentionally didn't wear my watch because I wanted to give 100% regardless of what my Garmin said.  I knew if I had worn it I'd have been too focused on what it had to say instead of what my body was saying.  Unfortunately, on that second loop I wasn't very focused on anything for a period of time.

As I got closer to being finished I reminded myself how upset I was going to be if I didn't pull myself back together.  About that time I saw a tri shirt that said "work is speed entering the body".  I read it out loud and reminded myself I was still running a RACE and it was time to WORK...not time to moan and cry about how slow I thought I was, not time to think about "unicorns and butterflies"...not time to do anything except decorate my pain cave.  And...as I worked, speed entered my body and I passed the guy wearing the shirt!!  I told him  how much I liked that saying, "work is speed entering the body".  He said, "she says as she's passing me!!"  I laughed and told him he inspired me.  I saw him after the race; he came up to me and said I had proven to be a great rabbit for him to chase to the finish!

As I got about a mile from the finish line I told myself it was about to be all over and I knew I only had one more mile to give all I had...but I was tired.   I came up on someone who was walking in front of me and, in an attempt to be encouraging to her, and to me, I said, "ONE more mile to go!"  She turned to me and said, "oh how I WISH I could say that!"  Not only did I realize she still had 8 miles to go...but it was a friend of mine-a multi-time Ironman finisher friend!!  She told me another one of the girls we had come to the race with had a bad bike crash at the beginning of the course. 

....Remember the girl I thought had a flat tire on the side of the road??  That was my friend who had wrecked...and my other friend who was helping her remember her name and where she was!!  Come to find out the gal who wrecked had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance and we had no idea where she was.  (She had a concussion and some road rash on her shoulder, but was returned to the race site about the time I was loading up my bike and was back to about 80% as of a few days ago.)

All I could think of was how I had seen her and didn't stop...but I didn't know.   Now on top of being tired, I was feeling guilty, too.  Another guy apparently saw my energy flagging and he sweetly offered me a piece of candy (a wrapped up wintergreen starlight) saying, "it will help"...so I took it.  Yes...I took candy from a stranger.  Shoot me.  And, he was right...somehow it did help.  I shot by him, thanked him for the magic candy and then I gave all I had to sprint to the finish line.  I heard someone say, "WOW...What a STRONG finish!!"  (I have no idea who they were talking about, but in my mind at that moment, they were surely talking about me!)

It was bizarre because after I crossed the line, there was a person handing me a medal and a hat and telling me where to turn in my timing chip.  I wasn't emotional as I have been in the past when finishing such an important-to-me race.  I wasn't exhausted.  I wasn't hurting.  I felt strangely normal.  As if I did that sort of thing every weekend.  I really didn't feel like I had just done anything special.  I also felt very wrong for accepting a medal and had that said "70.3 finisher".  Yes...I know, I didn't have control over the race and everyone there got the same medal and hat...and they had no way to make up "67.1 duathlon finisher" medals and hats.  But, still...

I ran the half marathon in 2:18:51 (My second fastest half out of the 5-including this one-that I've done), good enough for 42/70 AG and 846/1133. 

My overall time was 5:40:05.  Remember how I said transitions really do make a difference??  Well...if you look at the fact I finished the first run 40th/70, the bike 47th/70 and the final run 42nd/70 in my age group ((968/1133, 936/1133 and 846/1133 OA)...you might be surprised to find out I finished 40th out of 70 in my age group and 809th out of 1133 over all!!  That is from transition times!!!  That shows you how important they can be in the scope of a race (if you are racing anyway...not everyone is, and I get that, and that's completely okay).

Naturally I have more to say about the race....but I wanted to go ahead and get this posted since it's already been two weeks since the race (only 2 weeks, but already 2 weeks...).

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon!