Craig Ranch Sprint Tri

Sunday, I completed my first triathlon in about two years. Mostly to let my plantar fascia completely heal, but also because I needed a mental break. My coach was on board, and actually encouraged this switch.

The training has been good for me. I’ve seen progress in the pool, and on the bike when I took it out to the roads. I’ve run some shorter distances: track workouts, brick workouts, and haven’t run for more than hour. I was a little nervous earlier in the week, and it was about stuff that’s pretty much out of my control (flat tire, etc…). By the time Saturday rolled around though, I was excited.

I laid out all my gear after my Saturday morning easy workout, and I practiced transition a few times. I had a pretty good handle of going from bike to run (from weekly brick workouts), but I needed to refresh going from swim to bike. Once I was comfortable, I packed everything up and didn’t think about it the rest of the day.

Sunday morning was a little windy and overcast, but still warm. I met my friend Leda there. I’m so glad she lets me talk her into these adventures. We were only able to bike together once – the day before. I also had other friends at the race, including my friend who talked me into doing my first triathlon three years ago (when I was dealing with PF in my other foot).

 

The swim, which used to scare me, was 350 meters in an outdoor pool. I had some trouble in the first lane trying to get around a lady doing the breaststroke. I almost got kicked in the face a few times, and couldn’t get around because of the guys coming up behind/next to me. It was hand to foot combat! ūüėČ After the second length of trying to get by, I was able to make a big push from the wall to get ahead of her. It took me about 200 meters into the swim to get into a rhythm and slow my breathing down. It wasn’t ideal, but I survived.

Out of the pool, I made my way to my bike. Transition went well. The hardest part was running on concrete to get to my bike. My bare feet don’t like hard surfaces!

It takes me a few minutes to get settled in on the bike and feel comfortable. Then I start hydrating with Nuun. My plan was to finish my bottle about 10 minutes before starting the run. The bike was 12 miles. There was a little bit of climbing, but I consider this one of my [few] strengths on the bike. I liked the fact that it was two loops, so I knew what to expect on the second one. I settled into a decent for me speed, and didn’t wear my legs out. The wind was a little tough in places, but nothing like Buffalo Springs!

Back in transition, I swapped out my shoes, grabbed my visor and race number, then headed out to the run. This was my sport! Since my first triathlon, I’ve always looked forward to the run. It was the first time throughout the race that I felt it was hot outside. I settled into my pace, and my plan was to increase speed a little each mile. In the third mile, I picked it up and focused on finishing strong. My first and second miles were around 9:00 pace, and I averaged 8:54 overall for the 5k run. Negative splits. Yay!

I loved the finish area! I got my water and medal, then found my husband. I was able to see my friends after the race too. We had watermelon, pancakes, and Nuun. I was a happy finisher!

 

I had a lot of fun, which was the ultimate goal! I forgot how much I enjoy triathlon (when I’m not worried about swim cutoff times). ūüôā I was mostly pleased with my results. I was hoping to have a better swim time, but I don’t typically time myself jumping in and climbing out either. I was also happy with my overall placings. Usually I’ve been at or near the bottom of my age group. Progress.

 

Now, it’s time to shift back to running. I’ve got a whole 4 days of running this week, and I’m ready! I have some big goals to crush.

 

 

 

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Summer Running

We finally made it to the end of the school year, so we are finished with band concerts, banquets, awards, etc, etc…I’ve just been plugging along with my training in the meantime. I raced my second 5k for the year in May, and it was about 20 degrees warmer with much higher humidity than the one in April. I hit the first mile at a pace that kind of scared me, but ended up slowing in the second mile when there was no breeze and the humidity took over. But anyway, I was happy to see my running friends out there, and that my overall pace came down a bit. It was a smaller local 5k, to raise funds for the Denison Animal Welfare Group (DAWG).

Texoma RunnersThere were dogs everywhere and it was fun. I was surprised to see several run with their dogs and place in their age group. One woman ran with two! Maybe Cleo will be ready to run it next year. I know she likes to run, and last week I discovered she likes my Feetures running socks, when she ate one before I realized I dropped it!

Don’t let the cute face fool you!

 

My foot seems to be back to normal. Yay!! All my runs since the Bluebonnet Half have been 5 miles or less, and two to three times a week at most. I’ve been doing some strength work, along with swimming and biking too. I’ve been biking enough that I can’t wait to get back to more running! ūüôā

I will say this about triathlon: I like the training, and I feel like a better athlete when I’m training this way. More balanced. Triathlon allows enough respite from running, that my passion for it is rekindled and I will be excited to get back to heavy training. I’m still working on those big goals.

Which brings me to my other news. If you didn’t see my posts earlier this month on social media, I am now an ambassador for RunRelated!

I’ve been working with my coach since mid-December, which means I haven’t had to plan any of my training since then. After more than 7 years of doing it on my own, I am happy to turn that over to someone else. I have some big goals I’m reaching for, and my coach didn’t laugh when I told him what they were. Now, I just need to show up for myself.

Since this is the time of year when a lot of runners are planning for fall/winter races, take a look to see if it’s for you. It’s affordable coaching (you know I’m frugal), it’s specific to me and my goals/schedule, and I can text my coach with questions about workouts, planning races, etc. In the case of my injury, he immediately made changes to the next week’s training to cut the running, and upped the intensity of swimming and biking (more than I would have done on my own). If you’re looking for help meeting your goals, check out RunRelated.

I’m running another local 5k this Saturday to support a marching band. I’m trying to take advantage of this time of year to get in and support the local races. It is getting hot, so my expectations may need to be adjusted. Then, the sprint tri is a few weeks after that. Summer is here!

Stay hydrated!

 

 

 

 

Still Learning

No matter how many times I train for a marathon, or how much it can feel same-ole, same-ole – I find that I am still learning new things. This was especially true last week.

I’m still trying to adjust to different schedules, and basically have decided I just need to roll with the flow. My son’s work schedule is interfering with my sleep. It’s just not easy to get up at 4:30 when I get in bed at 11 pm. As much as I like to plan, sometimes life gets in the way of training. But I’m a wife and mom first, so I just have to give myself some grace and work it however I can. I did that last Tuesday when I tried to get through my workout, and 20 minutes in I tossed the plan and scratched the workout. I was tired and overdressed and it just felt too hard that morning. I decided not to let a bad run define my training. I got up Wednesday morning and started with the same workout plan. That day I was able to get the workout done in the planned paces. I learned that it’s okay to let myself slide once in a while.

Saturday was my planned 22 miler, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting it done on my own. But I set out to do it anyway.

It was poor planning on my part when I realized I didn’t have enough gels or chews for the long run. I did have some fig newtons though and those are a good source of carbs, so I decided to try that for my fueling strategy.

And that’s why we practice fueling during training and nothing new on race day. That wasn’t¬†a good plan.

I never felt like the carbs worked their way into my system and by mile 16, it started to show in my pace. I also couldn’t figure out why my legs were so heavy after mile 10. I know I’m better prepared with endurance than that! Around mile 18, I wondered if sitting on the balance ball at work had something to do with it. Over the past two weeks I’ve gone from alternating between the ball and my desk chair to sitting almost exclusively on the ball. I spent more time moving last week, and where my legs were aching during the run sure seemed related to the ball. I’m going to back off of it some for now.

Because I had so much trouble in the last five miles, I stopped my long run at mile 21. I didn’t see how I would benefit trudging through another mile. I was pushing 3 1/2 hours by that point, and had quit marathons at least six times.

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Truth.

When I went in the house, defeated from my run, my daughter was dressed and ready for me to take her to swim. She is going to¬†try out for the high school swim team next year, and I told her I would take her over the weekend. She took it upon herself to pick the time. As much as I wanted to eat and shower and go have a good cry, I put my mom attitude up front, and got ready to go swim. I did leave my Garmin at home so I could move slowly through the water. I’d say that counted as another mile. It probably helped work out some of the soreness I would have had in my legs from the run.

Sunday, my husband and I went to the gym. I’m still working on my upper body. That’s three times in 8 days that I worked on my arms. I think that’s a record! I will get stronger.

 

And here’s a picture of Chloe just because it makes me smile.

img_8667Have a great week!

Training Update: Getting ready for Cowtown

The past few weeks have been hectic with life and training. It seems like my weeknights have been more chaotic than they were in the fall. Typically, the blog lands at the bottom of the to do list. Apparently these other people in my house like to eat dinner and such. Now that my oldest daughter is back at college, and my husband has started his new job, maybe I can get back into my routine.

Training for Cowtown has been going strong the past few weeks. I’ve been working on some strength and mobility work, because I plan to follow the Simple Marathon Training this fall. I’ve been doing the SAM work after every run for at least four weeks, and I can tell the difference – at least when I’m running up my hills.

I had some trouble getting back to my usual paces after Dallas, but all of a sudden it clicked one day and running felt good again. It’s been difficult for me to get my mileage up with everything else going on, and running twice a day won’t work right now. So to up my training game, I started swimming again.

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It had been two months since I’d been to the pool, but once I got back in the water I remembered why I enjoyed it. I am slow, and swimming without the concern of a time cutoff had a different effect on me. When I get out of the pool my legs aren’t mad at me, and my glutes don’t whine. Now my arms are another thing. But for now I’m supplementing my running, and working my way¬†back to the strength I felt during half Ironman training. I don’t have any triathlon races planned so far this year, but I believe the swimming can only help me for the marathon.

My running buddy and I haven’t been able to get together for a long run in a few weeks, so this past Saturday I had to tackle a 20 miler almost solo. I did meet up with the group for a few miles, but everyone was going different directions and paces, so I stuck to my plan. It was nice to see some of them out in different areas though as I checked off the miles. I was pleased with my time.

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The plan was to just do the distance, and not worry about the pace. I missed an 18 miler the weekend before, so I didn’t want to shock my body too much. The first and the last mile were the only two miles over 10:00 pace (and the last one had a steep uphill). I discovered a great new gel flavor!

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Tastes just like Nutella!

 

 

This weekend I’m¬†going to do 22 miles, and then I’ll start tapering. My running buddy and several from our group are running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas on Saturday. I hate to miss it, but I’ve got a lot going on and I wanted to make sure my Cowtown training included one more long run of 20 plus.

In other news, I am happy to report that I’m returning as a Nuun ambassador for another year.

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I bought my first tube of Nuun at the Dallas Marathon expo in 2012. I almost DNFd the race the next day due to dehydration. You know, nothing new on race day. After that painfully slow race, I tried Nuun on a¬†long run. I haven’t had any issues since then. It’s easier on my stomach than other sports drinks and without the sugar. Right now, my favorite flavor is Grape.

Finally, have you been following along the World Marathon Challenge this past week? I heard Ryan Hall talk about it at the Dallas Marathon Expo stage, and it was inspiring to follow this journey. Then Mike Wardian made history as he ran all 7 under 3 hours. I can’t even imagine covering that kind of distance! This is a pretty good article¬†about it. And if you check out Ryan Hall’s social media accounts, he did videos along the way. It was interesting¬†to see how¬†he went through some of the same stages in a marathon. “I told myself I wouldn’t go out too fast. I went out too fast.”

He also talked about how he admires the everyday runners who get out and run marathons in 4, 5, and 6 hours.

Again, that’s one of the things I love about this sport. There’s a connection and a community, no matter what pace you run. ūüôā

 

Wrapping up Tri Season

Finishing up where it all began…

Sunday, I did my sixth triathlon since I embarked on this crazy journey last summer. I decided this would be my last triathlon of the year so I can focus on marathon training. I talked my running friend into doing the same race we did last year as our first tri: Tri-Rock in Rockwall.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the bike since Buffalo Springs, but at least once a week I rode either on the road or my trainer. I kept up with the swimming twice a week. Even though I’m not fast, I feel much better about my core after I swim. I’ve focused on more strength training following my swim workouts than I have in the past, and I’ve noticed a difference in my everyday life from it.

I was tired the day before the race: a five mile run with the group, one mile with my daughter, then a bunch of back to school shopping. Combining tax-free weekend with some birthday rewards from Kohl’s, JCP, and other stores paid off for us. By the end of the day, my legs were aching like I ran 15 miles. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the race, but the number one goal was to have fun, and I had my sights set on a PR.

My feelings on race morning were so different from last year. It was just the usual butterflies right before the start that quickly disappeared when it was my turn to jump in the pool.

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My biggest change from last year – being able to swim all the way to the wall without stopping. I only had one person swim by me in the pool. What a great feeling! Last year it took me 10:27 to “swim” 300 meters. This year it was 8:02. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but…progress.

On to the bike, I was ready to give it all I had. Apparently I forgot about the hills from last year. I was pushing hard though, and my legs were burning. In the last mile, I hear “Hi friend” and look over to see my friend ride past me. She had not ridden her bike once since our last tri in October, and had just pulled it out the day before. That was humbling. But in all fairness, she has more cycling experience than I do. Anyway, I still had my fastest bike split yet. Last year was 14.8 mph. This year was 15.9. So…progress.

We ran out of transition together, and my legs were feeling pretty good considering how hard I pushed on the bike. I didn’t worry about my pace too much, but tried to run steady. It was a two loop course (a little different from last year), and I worked on running each mile faster. I ended up with a 26:08 5k, and I was really excited about that. I can’t really compare the run to last year, because I’m pretty sure the course was short last year. This time I had my Garmin on, so I know the distance was right. But overall, I still set a PR in this race, and wasn’t at the bottom of the age group this time. Again…progress.

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We both had a lot of fun. My friend placed in her age group, and got a pretty neat rock for her award. I wish I could find a way to work on my triathlon and running goals at the same time, but I’m going to call this race the end of my triathlon season.

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My focus now shifts to marathon training which starts¬†on the 22nd. I know that in order to have a strong marathon, I need the mileage. I will¬†continue to cross-train¬†at least once a week either biking or swimming, so I won’t completely lose my progress.¬†¬†Then after the first of the year, I’ll decide what I want to work on next. I haven’t quite figured out a way to mesh up my big running goals and triathlon goals. Running holds my heart.

Not too shabby for a year's work

Not too shabby for a year’s work.

 

Buffalo Springs 70.3 (Part One)

I didn’t think it was possible to sum up my weekend and half Ironman race in one blog post, and once I started typing it out I decided to split it up into two posts. I’ll post the rest of it later this week, since I now have some free time on my hands.¬†There was a lot to it, and I want to do¬†my race¬†justice with my recap! I’ll start by saying the race itself surprised me with the parts I¬†expected to¬†struggle with were actually the smoothest part of the day.

We headed out on Friday the 24th. Two adults, three kids, two bikes, all in a loaded down VW.

My husband just loves the camera!

All smiles! Well, mostly.

It was a family trip to go see family, with a nice bonus of me putting in 70.3 miles on Sunday. With a little over a six hour drive to get to my brother’s house, the scenery headed west¬†just couldn’t be matched. (Ha!)

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Hey, kids, look! Another windmill.

When we got to my brother’s house we talked about the race, and what our plans were for the next day. My sister-in-law had done a little bit of research and my brother had actually been out to the lake several times to fish the past year, and even ran a couple of road races in the area.

Side note: I’m a football coach’s daughter, and my brother is a football coach. Sports were, and still are, a big part of our family. As kids, my brother and I were always brought to¬†each other’s events because my parents wanted us to support each other in everything we did. To show up at my brother’s house for a triathlon, and to see their excitement about the race meant so much to me.

Saturday morning we loaded up two vehicles and drove in to Lubbock. My brother, his wife, their three kids, and the five in my family all descended on the expo for packet pickup. I was excited to find my name on a shirt.

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…but not my size…

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After we ate lunch,¬†¬†my sister-in-law took all the kids to a movie, while my husband, brother, and I headed back to the expo¬†for a Q&A I wanted to go to. My nerves were pretty much building throughout the day. After listening to some of the questions and discussion about the hills (where the word “treacherous” was mentioned about one of the descents), I was basically a knot of nerves. We headed out to drive the bike course so I could see what was up. Or down.

I knew going into this race that there would be “five challenging hills.” But all throughout my training, I imagined climbing – not descending. I also spent so much time worrying about getting my swim pace down, that I didn’t consider much with the bike. Until we drove the bike course, and all swim worry got tossed out the window.

No, I’m not kidding.

I am still a beginner when it comes to cycling. I’m a chicken on the downhills. I slow considerably to make a turn. I’m not very fast. But I feel like I have one strength on the bike, and that’s climbing. I like to think my running background helped with that, because¬†of all the hills I run. But these hills were nothing like I’ve tackled in my training. Not even close. And it wasn’t the climbing that worried me while driving the course; it was two of the¬†descents that scared me. I was thankful that we drove the course though, because I knew what I’d be facing and tried to mentally prepare. My husband reminded me to go slow, use more pressure with my rear brake, and I would be fine.

The rest of the evening, my nerves were on full blast. I had trouble sleeping, imagining coming down the hills. As silly and irrational as it seems now, I couldn’t shake it. It kept me awake until after 11 pm. Then I woke up at 1:30 – a full hour before my alarm was set – and couldn’t sleep any more.

Race morning was a different story. I had a lot of people praying for and thinking about me. I felt calm and purposeful. I had all my gear together, and my husband and I loaded up early to get to the park before transition opened at 5:00. My brother was going to come when the race started at 6:30 and my sister-in-law was bringing all the kids later.

Even though we left so early, we were not the first ones there by any means. I thought we had the early arrival down, but this was no running race. Triathletes take it up a notch on early mornings. We parked and loaded up all the gear to trek down the steep hill (climb number one on the bike).  I got my area set up in transition. I noticed someone tied a green shoelace on the end of the rack, and I made a mental note to look for it coming in to get my bike.

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The swim was “barely wetsuit legal” (75 degrees) and I knew I’d probably get hot, but I needed all the help I could get with buoyancy. So my husband helped me into it, and I headed down the steps to the lake for a little warm up.

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It seems like the time before the race flew by. I couldn’t believe it was already time to start! I was in the third swim wave, and the first two went quickly. The time cutoff for the swim was 70 minutes from the last wave (which gave me an additional¬†15-20¬†minutes). Surely I could make that! The weirdest part was not being able to see the layout of the swim because of the way the lake was, but the instructions were to turn left at the yellow buoys.

THE SWIM:

Once¬†in the water, I settled into a rhythm. The water was calm, and I focused on really stretching out my arms. When I get in open water, I tend to forget about my stroke because there are so many other things to think about. My goggles started to leak a little, so I flipped over on my back to fix them. I had trouble with them fogging up during the whole swim, even when I tried to fix them again. Whenever I got¬†frustrated, I would somehow spot a buoy and knew I was still on track. The only other hiccup for me was the guy who slowly passed me who¬†made such a big splash every time his arm entered the water. I couldn’t get around him so I slowed until he finally pulled ahead enough not to give me a face full¬†of water. I glanced¬†at my Garmin once and couldn’t see the time, so I knew I messed it up somehow. I shrugged it off and just kept swimming until I saw the last turn and people getting out on the dock. One of the main positives was that this was the first race for me that the buoys were on the left. I’m a left side breather and it made sighting much easier. Since my Garmin was messed up, I didn’t know how long it took me to swim, but I knew there were people still coming in¬†behind me and no official¬†stopped me with “I’m sorry, but you didn’t make it in time.” ūüôā

I was grateful for the volunteer who helped me get out of my wetsuit. There is no gracious way to do it, but she was awesome! Then I ran to find my bike. It’s a good thing the racks were numbered, because I forgot about the green shoelace. Unlike Texasman, there were still quite a few bikes in transition. I ate half a Clif bar, reset my Garmin to start biking, and then headed out to face the hills.

Out of transition, beginning the first climb on the bike, I heard my name and saw my husband and brother cheering for me. I smiled and called out, “I made it!”

My first hurdle – the swim – was done.

 

Time 2 Tri & Tri It for Casa

It’s race week! I can’t believe it’s here already, and I feel so totally unprepared (even though I’ve been training my tail off for the past 15 weeks). I’m just anxious and nervous about it all, and I feel like my training has been scattered since the week after¬†Texasman. My poor husband has had to put up with my obsessive worry, and I feel really bad for him. So in order to not think about it right now and get myself worked up anymore, I’m going to take a look back.

June 12th, the day after the Collin Classic, I completed a sprint triathlon. This race was the culmination of training with a group called Time 2 Tri. This group had a weekend event back in April at Playtri, as an effort to get more women involved in triathlon. I came across their booth at the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll expo in March. I decided to go to the event, even though I wasn’t brand new to triathlon, because I want to keep learning and meeting people.

This weekend event at Playtri kicked off eight weeks of training set up by a coach: strength training, group rides, swim sessions, and track workouts. With my distance from the workout locations, I was only able to participate in some of the swim sessions. I feel like I gained a huge benefit from it. For some of these women this was their first venture into triathlon, and it was great to see their excitement about completing their first race.

The Tolltag Triathlon (Tri It for Casa) was a 500m open water swim in a small man-made lake. The main thing I was nervous about was the fact that my hands were still kind of numb from the biking. The water was too warm for a wetsuit, so I hoped my legs wouldn’t drag me down too much. I was in the last swim wave (again) but this race was much smaller and I wasn’t nearly as anxious. I felt calm in the water, and didn’t worry about my speed. The hardest part of the swim was hoisting myself up on the floating dock. Thankfully someone was there with a hand out to help me up. It was slippery! I made it out of the water in just over 15 minutes. Not fast by any means, but I felt good.

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In transition, I heard a woman come in saying “I did it! I really did it!” She was just talking to herself, but you could see the sense of accomplishment on her face. She was excited!

Then I headed off on the bike for a flat, fast (for me) 11 miles. The woman from transition passed me and asked, “Hey do you know how I make this thing easier to go up hill?” I quickly told her how my bike worked, and she was off. This was a great ride for beginners. Long stretches of straight road. Cracks and gravel were marked with paint. No crazy hills. Riding in my aerobars. I loved it. 15.3mph was a good pace for me.

Then back in to transition for the run, and I was much faster on this race by carrying my hat and number belt out with me to put on while running. The sun was starting to come out and it was getting warm, but it was a 5k. Three miles to run just sounded awesome in my head. I’m almost done! I ran steady but not all out, and I was able to negative split my run with a time of 27:10. A good brick workout for me.

It was great seeing other Time 2 Tri members out on the course. Someone had brought pink ribbons for all of us to tie on our shoulder. It was a good way for us to identify and encourage each other. The coach was at the finish line cheering everyone in, along with a couple of others who came out to watch and will be doing their first triathlon in a week with a pool swim. I had a lot of fun, and it was wonderful to be a part of a group that was so supportive and encouraging.

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So instead of continuing to be anxious about Sunday’s race, I’m going to try to focus on how far I’ve come. It was just about a year ago that I started training for my first triathlon, and a 300m pool swim scared me. I couldn’t even make it to the wall without going stopping.¬†Now I’ve done four triathlons, two with open water swims (and one that was very tough). I may not be fast, but I’m making progress. It’s me against me. That’s all that really matters.