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!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Passion, Not Addiction...NOT ADDICTION

I went back to the doctor knee is getting better, but isn't 100% yet.  I think we did finally find the underlying cause of the whole thing (or at least the thing that is taking the longest to heal up).  Naturally, as with everything about me, it's not a "normal" thing to be injured.  Without going into much detail I'll just say it's the gracilis muscle.   There were other things wrong by the time I finally went to the doctor, and I have no idea which issue came first but this muscle is the last remaining problem area that stands in the way between me and my workouts.

I have to give a shout out to my amazing doctor...Dr Walter Olsen of P3 Chiropractic and Sports Care.  I'll be honest, I never expected to be seeing a chiropractor for any kind of ailment.  However, he has been able to pinpoint the problems with precision (and that's not even what P3 stands for!).  I'll stop gushing before I start or I'll have to change the name of this post!!  Let me just say, I'm a complete believer in Dr Olsen not in chiropractic care in general.  It's like anything else, there are good ones and there are not-so-good ones out there.  He's a great one.

So...yesterday...when I went in.  I was a little down because after riding a whopping eight miles on Saturday and doing a tiny bit of Spinning on Sunday, my knee wasn't feeling as good as I had hoped it would.  I told Dr O how it was feeling and what I was experiencing; he felt around and found the culprit (it was easy to tell from my YOWL of discomfort).  He worked on it a bit (ART, E-Stim and ice massage) and then I had to ask him "the question"....what exercise can I do??

Dr O, being so in touch with an athlete's driven nature, and being the "get them back out there as quickly as possible" kind of doc he is, asked me what my goals are, what races am I looking at and what I am hoping to get out of the rest of this season.  Well...I have a sprint tri in just under two weeks.  But my goal race for this year is Atomic Man at the end of September (since the NOLA swim was cancelled, this will be my first half iron).  I told him I want to be injury free.  Ideally I'll be strong for Atomic Man, but my first goal is to get over this injury so it doesn't continue to hang around.  So, with that in mind he told me it would be best for me to continue not working out for the rest of this week.


As I walked out of his office I realized something very important.  I am not addicted to working out (anymore)!  There was a time when I was told to stop running for a couple of weeks and you'd have thought the doctor told me to cut my arm off.  I didn't do it.  That decision led to a five week hiatus instead.  It was that period of time of no running which led me to swimming and ultimately to triathlon because I couldn't NOT workout.  Right now I can't do anything really that involves my legs because this muscle controls the femur in a bent and straight position.  I could find things to do with my upper body if I needed a "fix" but I don't feel that same frantic desperation I did the last time I was told I couldn't do what I had come to love so much.

It dawned on me at that moment I'm okay even if I'm not working out.  I think there was a time, not too long ago, when (if I were being completely honest) I would have said exercise had become an idol in my life.  I didn't feel like I could/would give it up for anything at all.  This experience has made it clear that is not the case.

I think another huge factor at play is the fact I have NO DOUBTS about some of my abilities at this point.  Knowing I have a sprint tri coming up in just under two weeks, Dr O asked me if I felt like I could go do those distances without any training leading up to it.  I had to say yes.  I probably won't do as well as I would if this had not happened...but maybe, with all the rest, I'll do even better!  (I'm NOT bragging's just where I think I'm at right now.  Swimming 400-500m, biking 18 miles and running a 5K all in one event will not be an issue.  (I can remember the time when doing ONE of those things at a time was a HUGE mountain to climb.)

I also have NO DOUBTS I will not be stopping forever.  There was a time when I would have been afraid that taking a complete break from working out would mean I wouldn't start back again.  But I know that will not happen now.  I know I will workout as soon as I can get out there safely.

I haven't had any kind of exercise in three full weeks, and I'm okay.   Well...I did bike 8 miles...and there was about 100' in there where I peddled fast, but most of it was under  about maybe 12 miles per hour...I didn't sweat/it wasn't a workout....well...I did sweat a little in my Sunday Spin class...but not a lot...

I am NOT addicted.  I could quit if I wanted to.  I just don't want to.  I have to for a time, and I've been able to do that.  Right? 

...are these rationalizations of an addict?

Hi.  My name is Dana.  I am addicted to working out. I haven't had a fix in three weeks...okay, I haven't had a fix in 36 hours since I'm sure legalists would say my little 8 miler and my few minutes of sweat Sunday have to count.'s like an addiction to food, working out is healthy.  It's good for you.  It's beneficial. shouldn't control one's life.  I think I'm finding that sweet spot of balance.

(Not sure if my sweet husband would agree...)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pig Tails

This time last year I was thinking this time this year I would be in Chattanooga doing the Waterfront Tri.  My knee is really happy I didn't sign up.  (It is getting better but it's a process and is taking some time; I rode a whopping EIGHT miles yesterday, iced twice and no swelling today!! :D)

Anyway...the only races I've done consistently year after year are the Cotton Row 10K and the Turkey Chase.  There are some other races I planned to do every year the moment I hit the finish line ("I LOVED THIS RACE!!  I'M GOING TO DO IT EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!!).  In my opinion, an event would do well to have a registration table at the finish line with a discount (but no-refund).  If they worked it right, they could make a lot of money off people like me.

Things change from year to year.  Just look back in this blog to this time two years ago...
Yeah, things change all right.

With that in mind...can you even IMAGINE doing a race like 30 years in a row?????  When I wrote up my race recap from Mach Tenn I told you about a gal who was running just in front of me when I came out of T2.  I knew how old she was by looking at her calf (in tris they mark your age on your calf)...but she certainly didn't have the body of a 51 year old!!  She was wearing a bathing suit with shorts over it and her hair was in braided pig tails.  There was a 50 year old, tall, man running about the same pace.  I decided they both looked very strong so I started pacing off them.
When we all got to the first hill (of many...remember this course was rolling the whole time), Tall Man started walking-obviously watching his heart rate.  I heard Pig Tails and Tall Man exchange some words and I kept following her as we left him behind.   As I got toward the bottom of that first hill, Tall Man passed me and caught up with Pig Tails again.

"Okay...I know how this will work" I thought.  He is going to walk up the hills and catch up on the down (since his heart rate will climb if he runs up the hill, but will stay steady running faster down).  I didn't have my Garmin but it felt to me like Pig Tails pretty much kept a solid pace, and it felt like she (we) were running pretty well.

Close to the turn around point (2 miles) one of my friends, who was ahead of me, yelled at me to stop being a wuss, pick up my pace and pass her already.  That was the kick in the pants I needed to pass Pig Tails and Tall Man....and my friend.  :D

I already told you in my recap what happened after that...
My new target pair were both 40 years old-a man and a woman running together.  We rounded the corner and a volunteer in a wheelchair cheered loudly for us saying, "around the corner and down the hill to the finish!!" 
DOWN THE HILL???!!!  Oh yeah baby, I can do this.  About that time I realized this woman in my age group was another friend of mine.  I yelled out to her that I was coming for her when, from out of no where, Pig Tails FLEW by me yelling, "COME ON!!"

OH YES!!!!  I LOVE IT WHEN I HAVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO RACE TO THE FINISH!!  She was a little ahead and we only had about 150-200 to go to the finish. 

My first thought was, "I can't sprint that far...she got me."  In a split second I remembered so many words from Macca's book "I'm Here to Win", coupled with the verse of the day I got this morning in my email ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:13)...and my second thought was, "you will NOT beat me across that line" and I took off with ALL I HAD.
I was able to pass her JUST BARELY before we crossed the mat.

Completing an event is fun.  "Racing myself" is great---but RACING a well matched competitor is beyond THRILLING.   It's only happened a few times, but having someone "challenge me" at the finish is just AWESOME.  ((Except when it was THAT TURKEY of a man who beat me in 2010's Turkey Chase...that challenge was completely UNFAIR.))

After the race was over Pig Tails and I talked quite a bit.  She told me it was her 29th consecutive time to do this event!!!!!  Can you even imagine???  Through all life's changes she continued to return year after year.  We talked about how we love to RACE.  Remember my friend who called me a wuss and told me to speed up???  She beat Pig Tails in their division by like SIX SECONDS!!

I can't imagine what I'll be doing in 10 years, but I'm pretty sure I'll still be racing someone to the finish line!

Thanks for a great race, Pig Tails.  And, thank you for stopping in...come again real soon!