Wrapping up 2016

Once the dust from last Sunday’s race settled, I went through a bit of a period of disappointment. Trying to examine what I could’ve changed, yet trying to still be proud that I did something big. Dallas was my 14th marathon, and even though I didn’t reach my time goal, that’s still kind of a big deal. So I decided to do some reflecting on my year as a whole to help myself move on past the post-race funk.

2016 was a big year for tri-ing new things and facing fears. (See what I did there.)

I conquered my first open water swim. In a group. Of strangers. Very fit triathletes. I didn’t die from embarrassment.

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I did my first Olympic triathlon – which coincidentally was the first time I swam a mile.

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I rode in my first bike rally. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I survived. I also learned not to grip the handlebars too tightly.

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I completed my first¬†half Ironman. Now that was a hard day, and I didn’t even know I could do it.

Until I did.

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I set a new PR at the Hot Chocolate 15k back in February. And I took a “shot” of M&Ms in that race too. That was a first, and not recommended. At least not at a fast pace.

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I also drank a whole lot of chocolate milk this year! ūüôā

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The triathlon adventures brought renewed passion to my running. I have decided to continue to pursue my running goals while keeping up my fitness in the pool and on the bike. I learned that I can continue to improve in many ways and continue to find new goals to challenge myself.

It’s been a pretty busy year, and I’m looking forward to 2017!

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Texasman Olympic Tri

This past weekend, I did two things that I was afraid of. I was nervous and anxious about both, but you know what? I did them anyway.

On Sunday I completed my first triathlon of the season (my first Olympic distance) and I was scared of the swim. But first, let me talk a little about the bike ride I took on Saturday with the local cycling club.

Since I’m training for the half Ironman (where the bike is the biggest portion), a friend encouraged me to¬†go on one of the group rides on Saturday. They have a distance builder where they add miles each week, and this one would be about 40. I’ve never rode in a group, and I consider myself a beginner cyclist. Falling over when stopping (while clipped in) is a highly probable event. I’m a chicken on the downhills, and I’m not real fast. Those were my excuses to not go. But I tried to rationalize my fear (what’s the worst that could happen) and think of the benefits – different route, company on a ride, learning from others. So I showed up Saturday morning and rode 41 miles with some company. I only fell once, near the end of the ride when a car came to an intersection at the last minute. Other than the car, there was only one cycling witness, and he helped me by putting my chain back on. We talked about how it happens to everyone, and even after people have been riding for years, it happens. So I didn’t die from embarrassment, and the ride was enjoyable. There were a few hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

Sunday was the Texasman triathlon. This was my first race with an open water swim, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t think much about the bike and run portion, because those distances were manageable in comparison to the swim. My first triathlon last August was a pool swim of 300 meters. The second tri was a pool swim of 250 yards. I have had two open water swim practices in the past two months, which went okay, but my confidence on the distance wasn’t in the best place. Swimming is my weakest link of triathlon, and my fear had everything to do with being able to complete the distance. I’ve done it in the pool, with rest breaks, and¬†pushing off of the wall, but there is so much to consider in the open water.

My first obstacle: the wind. There was a slight breeze, which created some waves in the water. I looked out at the buoys, and all I could think was “Wow, that’s a long way out there!” I got in the water for a warm¬†up swim. Two strokes out, two strokes back. That wasn’t helping me at all. I thought it was a negative aspect that I was in the last wave of swimmers (all female Olympic distance), but as I got to watch the other waves start, I began to calm down. I went out in the water again, and then I started to relax. By the time my wave started I was in an okay place in my head.

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Hands on the hips. Always.

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When I started swimming, I was good. I was settling into my rhythm and then whoops, I had someone swim into me on¬†each side. Even though it didn’t hurt, it shook me and I had trouble getting back into my swim. I flipped over on my back, caught my breath, and then tried again. This was a repeat process. For the mile swim, there were two marker buoys before you got to the third buoy for the turn. By the time I hit the first marker, I heard someone say “I didn’t expect to be having this much trouble so soon.” The water was so choppy I couldn’t get a good breath without a mouthful of water from a wave. At the second marker buoy, I saw a guy from a previous wave hanging on. I asked if he was okay, and he said he was. I realized my fear of being last out of the water was no longer valid. I kept on as best as I could, but I think I spent more time on my back for the first stretch, and I was well hydrated before I made the first turn from all the water I swallowed. It took me 30 minutes to get to that point. The second stretch was better, there was a bit of cross wind, but I had an easier time. It took me 10 minutes to make the turn back. This was supposed to be the easy part, where the wind pushes you back. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the effect of it because it was pushing me out to the left and I needed to head toward the right. I felt like I was swimming in circles, and didn’t think I’d ever get there. I could see the finish area, with the beach ball on top of the arch, and I wanted to be¬†out of the water like you wouldn’t believe. My arms were tired, but I was finally swimming smoothly, just like in the pool. I had my rhythm on the home stretch. Then I touched saw my husband near the exit. I touched sand, and stood up – a little woozy. It took me 1:04:07 according to my Garmin¬†to complete the swim.

This is my “I really did it, and oh my gosh I’m so tired” expression for my husband who is my best supporter ever!

IMG_0094After some wonderful volunteers got me out of my wetsuit, it was off to transition for the bike portion, where I heard other athletes talking about how awful the swim. That made me feel so much better.

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Once on the bike, it took a few miles before I could settle my breathing. It was still overcast, and I felt some sprinkles at the beginning of my ride. My quads were feeling the bike ride from Saturday, but it was manageable. I was just so happy that I did the swim, I didn’t care how the rest of the race went. I took in some nutrition and just enjoyed the road. There were some good hills, which I need so that was okay. There was one lady who I passed going up a hill who called out, “Look at you climbing like a beast.” Apparently that’s my strength on the bike, and I’ll blame my hill running. There was one kicker near the end of the course that I thought might have blown my run. There was a spectator at the top giving positive feedback. “Nice cadence, keep it up.” The bike distance was almost 25 miles, then it was back in transition to head out for a 10k.

The sun started to come out during my run and heat things up a bit. There was Nuun on the course (yay!) so there was one less bottle I had to pack. It felt strange running empty-handed, but so nice. The run portion of¬†triathlon is so different from running a road race. You have loops and people going opposite directions on both sides of the sidewalk, from all three race distances. There were a couple of times, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place, then I would see a sign or mile marker and breathe a sigh of relief. At¬†a turn around between miles 4 and 5 I lost my footing and stepped off the sidewalk. I almost fell, but caught myself. The volunteers asked if I was okay, and I responded, “I just can’t feel my legs anymore.” I was heating up, and ready to be done, but I was pleased with my running pace. I took a total of 3 short walk breaks, mostly going up a hill to catch my breath, but then I would pick up my pace after the break. There were some overhead sprinklers in a couple of places that helped me cool off too. Coming in near the finish, a young girl called out “The end is near! 400 meters if you’re on your last loop.” Hallelujah!

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As I crossed the finish, I was ready to cry. Not in pain, not in regret, but in the fact that I really did it. I did more than I thought I could, and pulled in for a strong finish on the run (with a 9:24 average pace). My official finish time was 3:51:54 (swim 1:04:07, bike 1:41:09, run 58:03).

A year ago, I didn’t have a bike and couldn’t swim with my face in the water. I was nervous starting this journey, but I have done more¬†than I imagined I could, and that is a feeling that can’t be replaced. I have five short weeks until my half Ironman, and a lot of work still to do, but I will keep training hard and pushing myself because I want to keep reaching for those goals.

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Have a great week!

Monster Tri Recap

Oh, hey there! Yes, I’m still around. I’ve had a devil of a time trying to get to this race recap. The whole marathon training, being mom, senior year, marching band season kind of takes over sometimes. Sometimes, it’s¬†all I can do to make sure the utilities are paid up and there is food in the house to eat. The latter part of that statement is getting harder to do. One day last week, my oldest daughter told me we were out of “lunch stuff.” My reply was, “That’s because we have enough food for dinner. Apparently I can’t keep up with both.” True story.

So here I am, ready to write my race recap and the time change has me ready to fall asleep by 7:30 pm.

I digress.

The Monster Tri was on the Sunday before Halloween. This was my second triathlon, and I was feeling better about my swim this time around.

The day before the race it was rainy. The forecast called for more rain. The good thing about the rain was that it moved the Area marching contest to Monday instead of the day before the race. The bad thing about the rain was that I’m inexperienced riding in the rain. We bought new tires for my bike (which still had the original ones) so that my tread would be better¬†on the wet roads. I also bought elastic laces to put through my running shoes to save time in transition.

Just so you know, it’s not the most relaxing thing to change tires and shoelaces the day before a race and practice transition. But, you do what you have to! My main goal for the race was to gain more experience – not speed.

Also, if you thought runners got up super early for races, triathlon is a whole other ballgame. Transition area opened at 6:15, and the race was supposed to start at 7:15. Body marking, laying out gear, getting organized, checking tire pressure, etc. I also have a tendency to stress over being late. Fortunately, my #1 fan gets me there on time (early). ¬†That’s his military background, but I’m not complaining.

I wasn’t as nervous for this race. My running friend was doing it too. We did a warm up in the pool, which was smaller than the first race, and I felt okay about it. They delayed the start by about 10 minutes because of cloud cover.

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The swim went okay. I started off fine for the first few lanes, but swimming under the rope into the next lane threw me off. I finally found my groove in¬†the last two lanes. It wasn’t great, but it was better than my first race when I couldn’t keep my head in the water.

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Better, but still lots of room for improvement!

Out of the water and outside to the transition was a shock to my system. Wet and then cold. Temps were in the 50s and a slight north wind. But I decided not to throw on a jacket.

I survived the bike mount. Read: I didn’t fall trying to clip in.

The bike was an out and back 16 mile ride of rolling hills. The toughest part for me was the wind. On the way out I saw several people changing tires along the way, so I figured a flat was in my future. Thankfully, I made it to the turnaround with no issues. I have noticed that one of my strengths is climbing, because that’s when I pass people. It must be my running legs. But I’m still a chicken on the downhills. Coming in to dismount, I was ecstatic that I made it on and off the bike with no falls.

My legs were wobbly to start the run. I wore my Garmin, planning to turn it on for the run, but it couldn’t locate GPS. I ran by feel and felt strong on the run, just like in the last race. I only remember being passed by one person, and she was 29, so I’m ok with that. I kind of like being able to see everyone’s age. It gives me a competitive push.

By the time I finished the 5k run, I was ready to eat! Thanks to marathon training, a later start, and forgetting my prerace fuel, I grabbed some pancakes and ate like I ran a marathon. I also managed to eat pretty much¬†all day long. I couldn’t believe how hungry I was! Later, it hit me that I didn’t get my chocolate milk recovery. I bet that’s a big part of why I was hungry all day.

I was surprised (ok, maybe giddy is a better term) when I found out I placed 3rd in my age group. It was a smaller field, but when I looked at all the times I feel pretty good about my race. My swim had improved from 10:27 (300meters) to 7:25 (250 yards). I survived my first time clipped in on the bike, and the run was strong. All this in the middle of marathon training made it that much sweeter.

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I’m looking forward to planning out a triathlon race schedule for next spring/summer. I’m enjoying the challenge.

Here’s a quick recap from the last week in pictures, because it was just a blur of band/mom stuff/training:

Cheering on the band at Area:IMG_6683IMG_6687IMG_6696

A two part Saturday long run, because life:IMG_6704 IMG_6705Halloween:IMG_6708
Next up – 2nd 20 miler of the training cycle on Saturday after the last football game Friday.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

 

Wounded Warrior Military Miles (Recap)

I had no idea what to expect when I was thinking about my upcoming race last week. On Saturday, when we went to the expo I noticed that I was a little nervous. Nervous about my foot flaring up (and starting the healing process all over again). Nervous about the distance (because of my limited double digit long runs). Nervous about going out too fast and falling apart (like I did last time).

I shared some of my fears about race day with my husband, and he reminded me of why I was running.

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I ran into two other members of Team Chocolate Milk on race morning. It was nice to chat and take my mind off of my nerves. We talked about how the course had been changed due to flooding¬†to¬†an out and back loop – one loop for the 10k, and two for the half. Some people don’t like that type of course, but I think it can be fun – especially if you know others in the race. So many races in the metroplex have been rescheduled or cancelled due to the heavy rain, so I’m thankful there was an alternate plan.

The Reason:

One of my favorite things about this race is the military presence. From the beginning with the flags and National Anthem, all thoughts of myself were pushed aside. Every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner at the start of a race, I think of how wonderful it is to be able to do this. This freedom that we take for granted. So many have sacrificed.

I’m grateful to have the¬†opportunity to give back in this way.

The Race:

I started the race, and held back from the beginning. I was sweating through the first few miles, and I wondered how¬†the heat would affect me. I was ready and armed with my handheld of Nuun and two Nuun Plus tablets. As the course wound around mile 3.5 I noticed a good-sized uphill. That would be coming up on mile 10 in the second loop. “That might hurt,” I thought.

The Tragedy:

When I stopped at the aid station near the halfway point to refill my bottle, it was the first time I stopped. After refilling my bottle, I dropped one of the Nuun plus tablets on the ground. Shoot! I briefly looked for it, for the thought of road gunk wasn’t appealing so I kept running. On my way back after the turnaround I saw my lonely tablet laying on the ground. Looking back, this was the only hiccup I had through the race.

Somewhere between mile 8-9, a runner came up beside me and asked me about the name on the back of my shirt. This gave me a chance to explain about Medals of Honor, my background as a Navy wife. She is married to a Marine. We continued to chat about bases, stations, and other military stuff as we ran. At the mile 10 hill, I decided to power up and keep my pace as steady as possible. Until my plantar fasciitis, hills have always been my strength and I could feel it returning.

The Finish:

Through the last 5k of the race, I became the chatty runner. I was thanking police officers, volunteers, veterans, and cheering on 10k walkers as I passed. I saw another runner from our local group and yelled out across the course at him and waved. I was truly grateful to be out there. I found my joy again. My official time was 2:04:25 and it was a good day.

When I finished, I felt tired – but strong. My foot was throbbing, but it didn’t affect my pace at all. Overall, I’m pleased with my effort. After a bit of icing throughout the day, my foot was good to go.

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A Sweaty Success

A Sweaty Success

 

But most importantly, because of¬†Medals of Honor, this service member’s family will be receiving the medal I earned from the race. My hope is that this race, completed ¬†in remembrance of SGT Timothy D. Statler, will offer some comfort to the family. That is why I ran.

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Half Marathon Ready

After dealing with setbacks on my speed and mileage due to my plantar fasciitis injury, I finally feel ready for my half marathon this Sunday. My foot was a little inflamed after 12 miles in the rain, dodging puddles, but is better this week.

I kept most of my weekly runs short last week, with one 6 miler and the rest under 4. On Wednesday, for National Running Day, we had a group social run. That was fun because I got to run with some new faces.

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On Saturday it was warm and humid. Even starting at 7 am is starting to feel too late. Our group starts and finishes at a park with a pool, and it’s too bad it’s not open that early because it is certainly inviting after a sweaty long run.

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My 10 miler gave¬†me enough feedback to know I’m probably not in sub-2:00 range yet, with the heat.

This morning I ran a 6 mile progression run. My fastest mile is just over what I was running half marathons at last fall.

Patience.

But I am continually reminding myself of what’s important.

I can run.

I am running for more than a medal. I am running the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon in Irving which benefits Wounded Warrior Project.

I am also running for Medals of Honor and will be donating my medal to the family of a fallen military serviceman.

As the wife of a Navy veteran, I want to do whatever I can to help our military, families, and others who have served.

That’s what is keeping me from getting frustrated with my progress.

So on Sunday, I will do my best, but ultimately I am not running for myself.

 

 

Murphy’s May

Can I just tell you how glad I am to be in a new month?

May was rough. Murphy’s Law hit us big time. It actually started late April with the dryer and washer breakdowns, then on¬†Mother’s Day with the flooding under the house. The day after prom, when I was totally sleep deprived, I got this gem of a text from my 12 year-old (who is one tough wake-up on school mornings).

From the child who hates to get out of bed in the mornings.

Note the time of this text.

 

We had more flooding exactly two weeks after the first time. Apparently we are okay unless it rains hard all night long on an already saturated ground. But it sure does bring a family together when you’re working together to bail out water. The concern was to get it down enough so our entire first floor didn’t flood.

I started back on my Racing Weight guidelines to try to shed the 10 pounds that doesn’t seem to want to move. I set out for my 10k time trial – to get a base time – on Wednesday. I found out that I can’t run as fast as I thought I should be able to. I ended up calling it done at 4.5 miles. My legs were Jell-O. After my mile cool down, I got attacked by mosquitos on my walk back to the car. I was frustrated and disappointed in my pacing. Then I had to remind myself: patience, progress. I cannot pick back up where I left off almost 7-8 months ago (peak marathon training). I am still healing with the injury.¬†I am trying to lose weight by eating higher protein and less carbs. Those three things will affect my speed, and I need to focus on¬†what’s most important right now, and that’s to get my foot completely healed and drop the weight. The speed will come later. And that’s okay. Oh, and I have lost 3 1/2 pounds since March. Yay!

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So this is my base.

 

 

On Friday we had another heavy rain that lasted all night. I don’t know how much rain we got, but it poured for hours. I couldn’t sleep for fear of flooding again. I woke up every hour to check under the house and it seemed we were okay. Until 5 am when I planned to get on the treadmill. I learned how awesome my kids are, as they got up without complaint and helped me out. My husband was driving through that mess of a storm that stretched over 500 miles. He was worried about me. I was worried about him.

Thankfully, our heavy-duty sludge pump we ordered after the second incident came in that afternoon.

How many pair of running shoes could I get for the cost of this pump?

How many pair of running shoes could I get for the cost of this pump?

We were able to pump the rest of the water out in less than 5 minutes, and now the rain is out of the forecast for the next week. Of course.

Saturday long run was in the rain, but thankfully the lightning stayed at bay so we could get the miles in. 12 done to prepare for the Wounded Warrior half and I felt pretty tough splashing through puddles like a little kid. It did bring along some major Sunday soreness though. But I feel better going into this race with a couple of double-digit runs.

At least I feel I’m getting stronger, since I’ve been on the real-life cross-training/strength routine of dumping buckets of water, mowing and weed eating, dumping more buckets, and even more buckets of water. Whew!

I’ll be doing real push ups before I know it! ūüôā

Bring it June!

Blue Red Run Half Marathon

It’s been a little while since I’ve raced a half marathon – June actually with an overcast coolish summer day. After that race, I got a registration discount to sign up for the inaugural Blue Red Run. The timing (4 weeks) before the Dallas Marathon seemed to be a good fit to test my goals.

Like most of the country, North Texas was hit with a nice early cold snap. I kept my early morning runs outdoors except for the day when the wind chill felt like 15 degrees. I know my immune system is being tested with the higher mileage right now, and I didn’t want to push my limits any more than necessary. So I did my easy run on the treadmill that day and finished dripping¬†in sweat.

Race day was cold and damp. There was a light drizzle that continued for the entire race. I was prepared with my new Target C9 hat.

37 degrees and rainy? No problem!

37 degrees and rainy? No problem!

It may not be the cutest, but I’m cheap, it was on sale, and it kept my head dry. If it had been colder or heavier wind, I would have gone with a fleece headband. My head doesn’t usually get too cold, but I like to keep cold wind out of my ears. Kudos to the guy around mile 4 who said to me “It’s beautiful out here.” At first I thought he said “flat hair” so you can see where my mind was.¬†Ha! Seriously though, it was a great course, mostly paved and through a park. Nice for being in the middle of a city.

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Three cheers for outdoor heaters!

 

My goal was to break 1:50:00 which would give me a nice new PR and big boost of confidence. My pace needed to be 8:23. I planned to negative split and follow my usual plan of running 5 miles at one pace, dropping down for the next five, and knocking out the last 5k at a faster pace. This plan worked, with one minor exception. I forgot to account for GPS difference. Miles 1-5 averaged 8:28, 6-10 were at 8:20, mile 11 in 8:22, 12 in 8:35, and the last one was 8:19 for an overall pace of 8:24 for 13.19 miles on the Garmin. My official chip time was 1:50:47 (8:27 pace). I started to feel strong around mile four, but by 9 I was starting to hurt some. It became harder to hold my pace. I took a GU at miles 4, 8, and 11. Mile 12 was my problem though. We went up a hill and straight into the wind. Unfortunately I run like I drive Рaway from the pack Рso there was no drafting. I turned my face downward since the rain had picked up a little, and pushed through. Then a turn and a small downhill took me to the finish.

Representing Team Chocolate Milk

Representing Team Chocolate Milk

Parking was close and I was wet and cold, so I headed straight to the car after I finished to get my jacket and chocolate milk. I had a guy stop me and say, “Hey, you were fast. I was trying to catch you!” I said thank you through my half-frozen lips. At this point, I still thought I had set a PR.

Mmmmm! Lowfat Chocolate Milk

Mmmmm! Lowfat Chocolate Milk

I started my recovery with chocolate milk (I love that carb to protein ratio) and headed back to the finish area.¬†It wasn’t until I checked my time at the result tent that I realized I had missed my PR by five seconds. I’m not going to lie. I was upset with myself. Darn that mile 12 where I lost 10 seconds. My friend found me after she finished. She went to check her results while I was waiting for pancakes. When she came back, she told me she set a PR by one second after being sick all week. Awesome! Oh, and I was third in my age group. What?!?

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This was my first age group place in a half marathon, and I still can’t believe it. Instead of enjoying that little victory for what it was, I spent the afternoon second guessing myself and my goals. I feel like I’ve plateaued and am not getting faster at the shorter distances. It wasn’t until I looked at the official results on Monday that my perspective straightened out.

IMG_5346For a high school girl who was lapped in the 3200 meters on the track, I’d say I’ve made some progress. Of course it’s not always about my time or age group place, but for me to know that I pushed myself to do the best I could at that moment. I can look back at this race with no regrets. Maybe a drier day would’ve been different…but it’s time to move on.¬†I’ve got a marathon in less than four weeks. My goal may still seem way out there, but I’m not going to change anything with my training. I’m just going to keep on moving.