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.

IMG_0061

Hands on the hips. Always.

IMG_0077

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.

IMG_0105

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!

IMG_0112

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.

IMG_0116

Have a great week!

Advertisements

My First Open Water Swim

Eventually I will get back to writing about running, but I just had to write a post about my first open water swim. From the girl who couldn’t swim freestyle less than a year ago, this was a huge deal for me. I once thought  it better to not know what’s coming and tackle challenges as they come, but in training for this half Ironman – where a time cutoff is my biggest concern – I need to face my fears head on. What better way to do that than to jump out of my comfort zone and dive in! (pun intended)

I found an open water swim clinic on Octane Athletics‘ site. There would be coaches (major plus), lifeguards on the water (double plus) and Trishop was bringing Orca wetsuits to try out for the swim (major double plus). Oh, and they were going to be separating beginners from advanced swimmers. It’s like the whole day was set up just for me! I registered for it and then talked my running buddy into registering for it too.

I’m working on getting her to do an Olympic distance this year with me, but she said I’m on my own for the half Ironman. 🙂

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m getting a lot better being around groups of strangers. I’m no longer intimidated by the triathlete crowd. I’ve been in the running community long enough to know that everyone has different levels and goals. It’s all about bettering myself, and what I can do to get there. I’ve read up as much as I can, so I am familiar with some of the typical concerns of open water swims – wetsuit tightness, panic, limited visibility, etc… My main concern was that my brand new (just purchased that morning) mirrored goggles would leak, and I would have to wear my too tight, limited vision, foggy goggles I wear at the pool.

Putting on the wetsuit was a little tough. I thought it would be like getting pantyhose or compression gear on, but no. It’s not the classiest look either trying to get everything in place. Once it was in place though, I never needed to adjust it.

IMG_7552 IMG_7550

The beginners (and the ones who needed a refresher) were in one group with a coach. We practiced going out in groups: 10 strokes, turn around and come back; 15 strokes, turn and come back, and so on. I was a little timid, and didn’t want a foot in the face (which is what happened to my friend), so I think I was holding back some. Then on one of our starts, I had someone swim over me. That was different!

IMG_7549

We also practiced getting our heart rate up and calming it in the water. I never really got panicked though. Maybe because I’ve had lots of practice calming myself in the pool. Our group got smaller as more people moved over to the advanced group. We practiced beach starts. Running from the sand into the water is a lot harder than it looks!

IMG_7548

Special thanks to my husband who got several pictures of me with my hands on my hips. 🙂

We then took our turn swimming out and around a buoy, and coming back. We buddied up and someone else led us out. I struggled with sighting and the feeling that I was way off course, but I eventually made it to the buoy, treaded water to regroup with my buddy, and we started back to shore. I wasn’t prepared for the current on the way back. Fortunately, I breathe to my left so I didn’t get a face full of water every time, but I sure swallowed my share of the lake fighting it. We rested for a minute, and completed one more lap. This time I worked on sighting better. I found a landmark to keep in my view, and it helped. You can see on the map how off course I was coming back the first lap.

IMG_7561

When we got out of the water, my friend said, “I can’t imagine getting on a bike after this!” I felt the same. We had been in the water for over an hour, and we were wiped out! Oh, and so hungry! But I am grateful that I had the opportunity to do this. It was so beneficial to me, and the $20 I spent was well worth it. I learned a lot and I no longer have fear of the unknown, but I still have a lot of work to do. Swimming is my weak link, but it’s not going to keep me from my big goals.

 

Building Distance (Week 3)

I had almost forgotten what it’s like to push my body to “new to me” distances. Week 3 of half Ironman training started that again for me, and there will be several more to come. The challenge of new distances has kept me on my toes, and I’m enjoying the variety with the three different sports.

(I first intended to combine the last two weeks of training into one post, but I want to give last week’s activities justice, so I’ll hopefully get that post up later this week.)

I finally pulled my bike off the trainer for my long ride on Easter weekend. Up until this point, my longest ride had been 24 miles with a couple of friends back in the summer. It was me trailing them without really knowing what I was doing.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I do know I need to be on the road as much as possible to get my confidence and experience level up. So on Good Friday, I set out for 30 miles.

It was a little cooler than I preferred, but I wore my long sleeves and compression socks to help me stay warm. The wind was up a little, as it has been every time I’ve gone for a run lately. It’s definitely springtime here!

My husband and I mapped out a route. A boring out and back route, but there were a couple of hills and a wide shoulder to ride on. By the time I got back home, I was tired from the wind and the distance, and very hungry. Once I had my chocolate milk for recovery, I noticed my appetite vanished for a few hours. It reminded me of when I first started running long and I would lose my appetite after a run.

IMG_7507

 

The next morning, I went for a long run with the Saturday morning crew, and then went to the pool after picking up my younger daughter at home.  She’s been begging to go swim with me, so I got her up and we hurried to the pool. We had to be done before the 10 am Aqua Zumba class, so I was on a mission to finish my distance. The pool was busier than I expected for a Saturday morning, but it was good because the water was choppier than when I usually swim. Abby was in the same lane as me, using the kickboard so that was good experience as well. I finished up my longest swim session thus far, and called it a day.

IMG_7503

It was actually 1200 yds, but I had a calf cramp that started another length.

Except that we still had an egg hunt to do. I was surprised that my oldest daughter wanted to hunt eggs too. After the first round, they told me it was too easy. So I had to go back and hide them again.

 

IMG_7518IMG_7515

I love that these kids can do things together and enjoy each other’s company.

Easter was damp, cool, and windy, but I had a short bike ride planned. I enjoyed a nice recovery ride with my ten year old, with a lot of loops around lightly traveled streets, and time in the school parking lot. I practiced starting and stopping, turning and clipping in/out. There’s only one way to get better on the bike. Practice, practice, practice.

IMG_7529 (1)

 

It may not have been speedy or far, but I was able to combine family time with training, and to me that’s a win.

70.3 Training: Week One

Last week I started my half Ironman training for Buffalo Springs Lake, and I ventured into uncharted territory.

I have never put my focus completely on training for a triathlon. I use the word “never” like I’ve been doing triathlon for years, but this journey started over a year ago with my first running injury. Cycling was a substitute, then a supplement, and it evolved into triathlon.

When I was trying to pick a plan a few weeks ago, I hit panic mode when I saw the quantity of workouts. They all pretty much follow the same format of three bikes, three swims, three runs weekly. I talked to a friend who assured me I wouldn’t be able to get it all in. “You’re a mom. You just do what you can.” That means I will run the miles scheduled even though I will crave more running. I will pay attention to my body and not push myself to injury point. I will take recovery seriously, and continue to hone my nutrition and eating patterns.

With last week being spring break, I lucked out in being able to get in the groove of training. I actually completed all the workouts. One child was gone from Tuesday through Sunday, and the other two went to visit grandparents from Wednesday through Saturday. So I was able to get my three bikes, three swims, and three runs done – guilt free. Some of those were two-a-days, which I know will not be possible on a weekly basis. None of the workouts were too long or too hard, but the quantity of work began to contribute to some soreness. It’s an adjustment for sure.

On a more positive note, I am eager to see how the increase in swimming and biking will enhance my fitness. Last summer when I trained for my first triathlon, I was surprised to see some definition in my arms and shoulders for the first time in my life. I am also hoping the change in training will help my metabolism and get this marathon weight gain off. It’s been hanging around far too long.

On Sunday, I will be running the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas with Team Chocolate Milk. This is one of my favorite races all year! I’m not going to adjust my triathlon training, so I will be running the half marathon on tired legs. I think that’s good practice for a half Ironman, don’t you?

 

 

 

Settling with my Running Pace

Well, I’m still waiting on that routine to fall in place, but….it’s getting better. I had an emotional week last week. The first part of the week, I was struggling with different things with the kids. I was irritable, edgy, and ready to crash by 8:30 every night. By Thursday, things started to turn around. It started when I was notified of the races I’ll be able to register for sponsored by Team Chocolate Milk, and that night we found out my daughter was picked up for the Navy ROTC scholarship for her top school choice – the University of Texas. As you can imagine, that was a pretty emotional moment – with more to come. 🙂

Also, last week’s training went pretty well. It included a ride on the bike trainer, a weight session at the gym with a friend, and a swim. All that, and I still managed to get over 40 miles of running in.

IMG_7138

I also got my heavy medal from doing two Rock ‘n Roll races this year – as a part of Team Chocolate Milk.

IMG_7152

The only drawback was Saturday’s long run. I felt okay starting off, running with my friend (who also decided to do Cowtown), and we were running 9:30s up until about mile 6. I felt sluggish and blah. As the miles continued, we slowed. I wasn’t warming up much either. My friend was feeling as blah as I was. We (I) decided not to worry about pace and just get the miles done. This was harder for me than for her. I’m usually pretty pace oriented on my long runs. I know that every run can’t be great, but I tend to be a little hard on myself sometimes. Or so I’ve been told. At least the sun finally came out around mile 12 to warm us up a bit.

Mittens are still on so it must be cold!

Mittens are still on so it must be cold!

After bouncing some ideas off my husband later that day, I decided to quit being so worried about my running speed. I need to spend some time getting ready to train for the half ironman. It won’t hurt me to cut back a bit on the run miles to work on my weak areas. I’m not under the pretense that I can knock out a sub four hour marathon 10 weeks after a strong 4:17 – and I’m totally okay with that. In fact, the bike and swim will probably help me more at this point.

I’m trying to look at the big picture. Right now, this is what I see.

IMG_7078

 

 

 

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.

IMG_0259

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.

IMG_6409

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.

IMG_6679

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!

 

 

Tri-Rock – My First Triathlon

Wow, I don’t even know where to start with this recap, so hang on as I try to condense a lot of information and emotion.

For my first triathlon I felt ready and totally unprepared all at once! Fortunately, I didn’t allow myself to visualize going through the whole race until the night before the day before (no that’s not a typo) – because then I kind of started to freak out. Then on Saturday, my youngest was sick and that pretty much took my mind off the race except for wondering if I was a sitting duck for the stomach bug.

I had one major panic moment Saturday evening while getting my things together. Less than five minutes after airing up my back tire, it blew. It was then, at 8 pm, that we discovered I only had one spare tube. So while I attempted to change my tire, my husband patched the tube. In case of emergency.

Now, I had already changed a flat in the front and the back with help from my husband a few weeks ago. Also, earlier in the week, my Ironman friend went over transition with me and helped me practice changing tires. But I still didn’t feel confident – or fast. I was able to get it changed okay, but when trying to put it the wheel back on I almost dropped the chain completely off. It was not pretty. I was in tears asking my husband to fix it for me. Tough love. He made me figure it out. “What are you going to do on the side of the road when I’m not there?” Cry. That’s what I’d do. But I got it done, and I was ready to sleep. Someday I will thank him for that learning moment.

So much stuff!

So much stuff!

We left early the next morning to make sure we were there before transition opened. I tend to get a little high strung when doing something new (first 5k, first half marathon, first marathon), so I needed to be there and have a little time to chill. I went into the Rockwall Aquatics Center to search for a restroom. Then I saw the pool. It was huge! I have been doing my swimming in a pool that is 25 meters long. This one was much longer, larger, and deeper. My nerves went into overdrive. Imagine how bad I’ll be for an open water swim. I headed outside to get my transition area set up, body marked, and pick up my chip. Also, I was thankful I talked my friend into doing this with me. It made me less nervous.

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

IMG_6143

No hiding your age in triathlon…

IMG_6150

New things are more fun with friends.

We were asked to line up in numerical order by our race number. I remarked to someone that it was strange walking around looking at people’s calves. My number was 152, so I had some time to watch. I didn’t feel as nervous (since I had done a warmup earlier), but still the swim was the struggle I knew it would be. I couldn’t seem to coordinate anything. 300 meters, six lengths of the Olympic size pool and swimming under the rope in each lane. It threw me off jumping in, sinking down, and not having the wall to push off from every 25 meters. I felt like I was being passed in droves. I have never been so happy to get out of the pool – and hey, I wasn’t last.

IMG_6153

Transition went fine and I know what I need to change to make it smoother and more efficient. My husband videoed my transition, so I can see where my time went. I was biking in my running shoes, because I didn’t want to try to learn to clip in yet. Once on the bike I was glad for a chance to catch my breath and let my legs do the work. The bike was almost 13 miles of an out and back course. There were some nice downhills, but some fairly decent uphills too.

IMG_6144 IMG_6147

Off the bike in the second transition, I was much faster. All I had to do was rack my bike, take off my helmet, and put on my visor. I was outta’ there and so excited to run. Yay, it’s a 5k! The run was a two loop course around the parking lots of the complex. I anticipated the heavy feeling in my legs and ran solely based on effort. I was without my Garmin, since it would do me no good on the swim and bike portion. Also, I wanted this race to be about the experience. The goal for the first one is just to finish, right?

I felt strong on the run, and passed a bunch of people. I was thankful for strong legs and the experience of running on tired legs. I had no idea what pace I was running, and there seemed to be a lot of people walking the run portion. I must have been breathing pretty hard, though, because several turned back to look as I was coming up behind them. The second loop was harder, but I felt my speed picking up and I passed by both aid stations to keep up momentum. I had a bottle of Nuun with the Nuun Plus on the bike, and it carried me through the run. According to my official splits, it was my fastest 5k ever. But I think the course probably wasn’t exact. I sort of wish I’d worn my Garmin so I’d know. Or maybe I should never wear it in a race anymore. 🙂

IMG_6154

I still can’t believe I tackled my fears this way. I have been kicking the idea of triathlon around for a while, but it overwhelmed me. How to balance three sports when I tend to fall apart during peak marathon training? My plantar fasciitis injury helped me realize the need to change things up. My foot is not completely back to normal, and the swimming and biking have helped me become stronger and more fit. I feel like a better, balanced athlete and a stronger runner because of it. I believe this will serve me well going into marathon training. Oh, and I had fun with it too!

IMG_6145