Monday, July 21, 2014

Drying off After the Dog

You know me.  I am known for beating myself up after a race.  People say I'm too hard on myself.

Maybe I am, but, you don't get better by going easy.

Hold on now.  I'm not going to beat myself up, but I am going to evaluate where I am and then set my intention for the future.

Let me be the first to say it...all things considered, I did well yesterday.  I'm not disappointed with the results I got.

But, I'm also not satisfied.  I want more/ to be better/to be faster.  That's part of why I enjoy doing races.  The racing part.  The competition part.  There is nothing wrong with competition.  For some reason people want to make competitiveness a bad thing.  It's not.  It's not wrong to want to win a race.  I don't want to win at the expense of others, in fact I want everyone to have their best day.  And I want to have a better day than anyone else!   Now, I'm smart enough to realize that there will always be women faster than me but that won't keep me from striving.

So...I'm going to evaluate what I did yesterday without a bat in hand.  It's a matter of seeing what I need to do in the future in order to improve.

First up...let me be clear, I KNOW I just had surgery 6.5 months ago.  The doctor and the physical therapist say it will be about a year before I'm completely healed.  So, the first thing that has to happen is time.  Yes, I get it....and in the mean time there are some things I can do.

I really struggled with swim endurance.  I had speed that I've never had before.  That was AMAZING.  I know it's there.  I have to train to increase the endurance with the speed.  Although I slowed way down in the second half, knowing the speed is there is very encouraging, it's just a matter of training to hold it.

I am pleased with my bike performance.  I think it would have been faster if the roads had been dry because I was a tiny bit timid.  I need to work on jumping on the bike and getting off.  I need to get a new battery in my power meter so I can actually use it.  I need to climb HILLS to get STRONGER.

In order to make my run better, first of all, I need to get my iron levels up.  I am supposed to be taking a supplement, but I don't like the way it makes my stomach feel (not to mention other things...if you've ever taken iron, you know what I mean).  I have tried three different ones and dislike them all.  I know of another kind to try so I'll try that one.

I also need to get this extra weight off.  I do not enjoy the way my body feels when it's heavier.  Ten pounds might not sound like a lot, until you put on a 10# vest and go run.  Ten pounds is a lot of extra to carry.  And I'll say this, it's not about a number, but how I feel.  I'm not comparing myself to anyone else.  I don't care how much anyone else weighs.  I care about how I feel with this amount of weight on me.  I have been enjoying food a lot more than I have been thinking long term.  And it's the kind of food I've been having that hasn't been good for me.  (A little dairy here, a little gluten there...)  I have cared more about what I think I want NOW than what I know want later.  The weight has to come off.  At the same time I can't be so strict with it that I feel like I'm being deprived.

Overall, I have to modify some of my "goals".  After surgery, I started out thinking I would be able to do Atomic Man the first weekend of September.  I backed down to doing Rocket Man in August.  It's not just the race distances that are a bit much, but I also have A LOT going on in my life.  We had a water damage incident in my house and were without flooring or furniture in most of our house for 2 solid months.  If you think that won't disrupt your life, you're WRONG!  Everything we own is covered in concrete dust (it's sticky and heavy, not like normal dust).  I've been at my max on adult athletes all summer, I've been coaching a kids team and a teen group at the Y,  I've been teaching Spin 2-3 times a week,  I've helped with two kids races this summer, and now, I'm directing a brand new kids triathlon at the end of August.

Ultimately my goal is to race Ironman Chattanooga in 2015, but I think I will only race three more sprints this year.  This is not a backing down...this is a regrouping.  I know I want to be fast.  The best way to be fast is to work on being fast not work on going longer distances.

Finally, I have to get my life in better order.  My house has been completely turned upside down since the first weekend of May.  Talk about a life stressor!  I'm going to actively work to get it put back together.   There are only so many things one person can fill her time with.  Not everything can be a number one priority.  However, life isn't a list.  It's more like spinning plates, or juggling.  We can't just focus on one thing at a time until it's done.  With that in mind I just want to keep all my plates in tact and my knives in the air, catching them only by the handles as planned!  But...I do want to give attention to my house and make it a short term priority.  Getting things clean and orderly will help me in the other areas.

So...with that in mind, I'm off to do some laundry!  :D

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It Was a WET Wet Dog 2014

After the initial panic (over the thought that I wasn't really registered for this race) settled down and I found out I was indeed signed up, I was more than ready to get to the start line.

Race Morning

I woke up about 3:50.  I usually take a shower the day of races, but it was forecasted to rain all morning so I decided there was no point.  After "taking care of business", and eating my normal breakfast (Vanilla Protein Energizer powder in chocolate Almond milk with a banana), I got my car loaded up and headed out.  I got checked in (I still can't figure out why I can't find my confirmation or why I didn't get an email?) and got my transition set up.

I finally got up the courage to try starting with my shoes on my bike so I got them attached and rubber-banded in place.  I also had decided to not wear sock.  Since it was going to rain I didn't put any baby powder in my shoes because it wasn't going to help anyway!  A simple transition is the best transition.  It's not just for speed.  Imagine if you knew exactly where your keys were all the time (maybe you do, but I surely don't).  You wouldn't ever have to find them in order to leave.  Stress levels would stay down and efficiency would stay high (at least with regard to leaving the house!).  The less you have to think about what you are doing the better.

Then it was time to get in the water and warm up as best I could in the COLD air!!  (I think it was about 60*, completely overcast and sprinkling rain every now and then...and of course the ground was soaked.)  The water was totally opaque.  I couldn't even see feet of the person swimming in front of me.  I couldn't see my own hand a foot in front of my face.  And did I mention it was cold?!   I didn't swim more than a few strokes.  I didn't want to have any negative thoughts stuck in my head...I had decided I would just start out nice and slow and then hold stead or pick it up at the halfway mark so I would use the first 100 or so as my warm up.  Not to mention I was number 171 so it would be a while before I would start anyway.

Pre-race pep talk, prayer and the race started.


I don't know what happened, but when the guy said go, I WENT.  My "dive" into the water was less than pretty, but only because of my hands.  I was pushing the water instead of slicing the water.  But as soon as my face went in, I started swimming as if I was being chased by a shark!!!  I wish I could see the pace for the first 100...that had to be the fastest I've ever swam in my life.  When I realized I was almost at the turn around I got really out of breath and had to force myself to slow down/calm down and remember to just BREATHE.

According to my Garmin data, IF the distance was correct, I swam the first 200 in 3:00...and that was after I slowed down little.  And that's supposed to be meters!!  (I'm really thinking it was short, but I haven't heard anyone else say that.)

Once I got to the turn around though, I slowed WAY down.  I even breast stroked a few times to catch my breath.  The second 200 was 5:46.  Now, part of that was me getting out of the water, but even still...that was pretty slow for what I usually swim (it works out to about a 2:30 pace/100 yards).

This race includes the run from the water to bike transition in the swim time (because of placement of the timing mats) so the official swim time was 9:32, 6/23 in my age group.  Last year for comparison was 9:16.  Only :16 slower isn't bad.  In fact, it gives me a HUGE amount of hope for what will happen with my swim when my shoulder isn't bothering me!!


I know it's silly, but I LOVE transitions.  I know people who say they don't care about transitions but I'm not as fast in the swim/bike/run part so transitions can usually make a difference in my race.  Not only that, it's something I do really well.  Last year I had a pretty fast T1 (:46, 1st in my age group and 5th for all women).   This year was faster....  :32!!!  I had the fastest T1 of all women, and I tied for 2nd with the men (1st was :31).  I'm proud of that.  Again...I know it's silly, but it feels like an accomplishment!!  :D

Like I said, I had my shoes attached so there wasn't anything to do except put on my helmet and sunglasses.  (I didn't wear them because of the sun, it was to keep the rain out of my eyes and to keep from getting hit by anything.)  I LOVED simple and EASY.


I didn't have a "flying" mount.  I wasn't planning on it but even if I had I might not have done it because the roads were very wet.  Instead I mounted as usual and started riding.  I was able to get my wet feet in my rain-soaked shoes fairly easily, but the strap didn't want to get tight.  As I was fiddling with that I was passed by a small group of riders.  It slapped me back into the reality of the RACE I was in!

This course is a simple out and back with only a couple of turns and naturally one turn around (but it's WIDE).  I tried to push hard the whole time, but I know I held back a tiny bit because of the road conditions.  I didn't count but I'm confident I passed more people than the number who passed me.  

I had been practicing a flying dismount.  Coming back in I was able to get my feet out of my shoes fairly easily.  I don't take my leg behind me, I go over the top tube.  I've done it a handful of times in practice, and (thankfully) I haven't fallen.  However, in that moment, there were a lot of cyclist around me.  With the wet roads I didn't want the first time I did fall to take someone else down with me so I stopped and dismounted as usual and ran in.

I finished the bike in 28:00 (last year it was 26:23) which tied me for 4/23 in my age group.


There are a lot of people in this race who wear tennis shoes.  Their T2 is so simple...they take their helmet off and go.  I had a little trouble getting my shoes on because they were full of water from the rain!  But other than that it was smooth as silk.  Bike up, helmet off, shoes on, grab my "stuff" and GO.  (I had a race belt, water bottle and a hat in case it was still raining; I didn't take the hat since it had stopped.)  :47-1st in my age group (last year was :54).


After I got out on the run I put my number on and settled in.  My run hasn't been what I would like it to be, but I've gained 10 pounds since last year that I can't seem to get rid of (because I won't stop eating! :D) and I know that makes a HUGE difference.  My goals were to 1) not stop running for any reason and 2) to push as hard as I could on this day under these circumstances.

It had stopped raining and I was HOT.  I was so thankful I'm neurotic about carrying water with me because I was able to squirt myself several times to try to cool down.  You aren't going to hydrate your body in such a short distance, but having a dry mouth really gets me mentally so I squirted a little in my mouth every now and then too.

I knew I was running hard when I didn't want to talk to people at all.  I cheered for some people and I told pretty much everyone who passed me (and there were a lot of people who did) "great job" but I didn't care to talk.

My legs felt done.  But I have been working on what goes on in my head when my legs "feel" finished.  This run was about staying mentally strong...and I DID.  If I had been able to have this mental state with the body/running legs I had last year, I would have completely smoked that run.  I can honestly say I gave all I had to give, mentally and physically.  29:29 9/23 in my age group.


I had a little mental lapse on the swim but other than that, this was the strongest I've raced mentally in a long time (maybe ever?).  I didn't feel like I was doing battle the whole time.  I felt mentally solid, which is a new thing for me!!  :D  And, other than feeling "slow" (fatigued is probably a better word) my body felt pretty darn good overall.  My shoulder was passible on the hurt a bit on the bike and I was aware of it on the run, but it wasn't a limiter.

A note about my age group.   This race uses over 45 as the Master's group.  The top three master's women came from my age group.  So, really I was three down from where it looks like I was.  So, 8/26 overall, 9/26 in the swim, 7/26 on the bike and 12/26 on the run, with the first place in both transitions.

Next up, my post race analysis.

Until next time...

Would I Be A Wet Dog in 2014?

People started talking about the weather for Wet Dog about a week before the race.  I did my best not to look.  I heard it was going to rain, but really, who cares?  I knew I was going to show up for the race and if it wasn't cancelled, I was going to do it.  That simple.

Well...not quite that simple.  Getting to the start line is generally speaking the REAL journey.

After my surgery in January, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do this race or not.  It was only six months post procedure, but it's also "just" a sprint.  When I went to my last doctor visit I asked him if I would be able to do it and he told me "register for it and train"...he didn't say "YES, of course you'll be able to do that then." But I remember going home and looking at the Wet Dog registration and thinking I might need to wait until I could swim 400 again without stopping.  Then I saw a FaceBook post that RACE PIN was coming to Wet Dog!! (More on this later.)  And I remember registering right then.  I remember telling my husband what I had done and why (I HAVE TO GET THAT PIN!).

Then the training began...but it didn't happen like I expected it to.  I never swam as well as I wanted to.  My run wasn't coming back like I had hoped it would.  I wasn't pain free on the bike like I thought I would be.  And, I've been busier than I ever imagined.  This last week my shoulder was hurting so bad I started wondering if I could finish the race.  Not so coincidentally (since I believe in a God that cares about the details of our lives and one who interacts with us in ways that are meaningful to each individual), I had numerous conversations with various people about not being attached to an outcome in a race.  Just go and do what you can on that day and be happy that you are out on the course enjoying this sport you love.  Well...okay then...I got my brain ready to race as hard as I could (because that's what I ENJOY about this sport, the act of racing, even if I'm not super fast).

And yet I found myself slightly regretting that I had signed up.  Don't hate me for saying this, but there is an aspect of racing mentality that thinks, "what's the point of racing if you aren't in top form to race as hard as your body is capable of going?"

The day before the race there was a lot of talk of storms.  Again, even if it stormed that morning I was going to drive the 30 minutes to Decatur to get my packet and to wait for the official word about what would happen.  And, I was going to get the pin to remember this race.  Then people started talking about an email they got.

I didn't get an email.  

I looked at the website the race uses for online registration to "make sure" it was listed as one of my wasn't there.  I frantically started searching my email (all the accounts I have) for a confirmation.  Nothing (well, I found a confirmation for 2013, but that wasn't going to help me.  I started searching my various methods of payment for races.  Nothing.  But I just knew I had registered as soon as I found out about the Race Pin....

All of the angst I was feeling about racing (or not being able to race like I wanted to) vanished into sheer disappointment of not being able to do the event at all.  I had the chance to jump into a relay, but I didn't want to just bike...I wanted to TRI.  Within minutes I was reminding myself that I thank God for all the things that seem to go the way I think I want them to...I have to thank Him when things don't go the way I think they should as well.  I'm not going to say the disappointment completely vanished, but I can say I completely let it go and decided it would be fine no matter what.

The Tree
The Forrest
Maybe I was registered (I didn't see that as a possibility since I couldn't find any evidence of that).  If not, I would race on the relay.  And, maybe the race would be cancelled because of storms.  My shoulder had been feeling really bad all week, so maybe this was a blessing in disguise.  I know sometimes I can't see the blessings through the disappointment (the forrest for the trees).  And I will never see the really big picture from God's perspective.  But I do know that "all things work together for good" and I trust that God has a plan for my life.  That plan is less about what I DO than about who I AM.

"Bird's Eye View" From Above

Miraculously, I found out that day (from someone who went over early to pick up the packet) that I was in fact registered!  I'd like to say I kept the lesson I just learned and didn't get anxious about the race.  I can at least say I was less anxious.  In fact, I can probably honestly say I wasn't anxious, I was nervously excited.

Race report to follow...

Until next time...