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! 😉 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). 🙂 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! 🙂

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!

 

 

 

 

A Teeny Tiny Bit of Running, and a 5k

If there ever was a time of year to have a running injury, I guess this is it. No long races in the near future, and a sprint triathlon at the end of June.

I went to Airrosti the week after the Bluebonnet Half, after limping for a couple of days. After my visit, I only ran twice that week. A 3 mile easy run, and a 5k that Saturday. I had instruction from my Airrosti doctor and my coach to stop any time I felt pain, and walk or cancel the 5k if I needed to. The goal was to not set myself back, and was mostly about supporting a local race. I did a warm up to test my foot before the 5k, and it was sore but not painful. So I went out at what felt like 5k pace for as long as I wasn’t hurting. The weather was great, but it didn’t take long for me to remember how hard it is to breathe in a 5k! My easy 3 mile run earlier in the week did not prepare my lungs! The last 5k I ran was in September, so I was a little cautious with my pace, and not really sure where my fitness was for a fast race. I made it through the first mile in 8:05, and the second one was the same. In the last half a mile, I noticed it was all male runners around me. I could see one of my friends ahead, pulling away from me. My pace was slipping, but I did my best to hang on.

 

I was pretty happy with my effort, and the fact that my foot felt the same as before the race. I was about a minute off my time from last year, and with an age group win and third overall female finisher.  My friend I was chasing was the second female, and also won her age group. I love these smaller, local races!

I’ll be testing myself again on the 19th for another 5k, so hopefully my lungs will be on board this time. 🙂

My next week of training had extra biking and swimming to make up for the missing runs. My coach has kept my running distance low to help the healing process, but the intensity in the pool and on the bike has cranked up. Let’s just say I haven’t been bored from not running. I have missed meeting my friends for early morning runs, but I have to do what’s best for me.  Even when it means getting on my bike. On the road. Away from the comfort of my trainer and Netflix…

I have a friend who is also training for a triathlon, and she came over to my house so we could ride together. I’m such a chicken when it comes to riding, and I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve fallen from being clipped in, maybe because it hurts more now that I’m older. It’s probably because I just don’t spend enough time on the road. She told me it was time to take it outside.

So we took it nice and easy, and I didn’t fall! This time…

I’m so thankful I can be my neurotic, fraidy-cat self around my friends, and they still choose to spend time with me. 🙂

Last week was still just a little bit of running. Nothing more than 3 miles. I had my follow-up Airrosti appointment and he said my foot looked really good. It was feeling much better too, especially after the tissue work. Ouch. So I’m done with the treatment unless it flares up again. According to my husband, new shoes are cheaper than insurance deductibles. He’s so right!

I have been instructed to keep the distance of a run below the point of pain, and to continue my foot strengthening exercises. This works for me because it seems that summer weather is here all of a sudden. It also times well with the end of the school year: banquets, testing, athletic tryouts, concerts, awards, and all that fun stuff. Just about two more weeks until I can join the 6 am club for the summer. It’ll be a nice change working out in the daylight.

 

 

 

 

 

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! 🙂

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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!

Setting the Right Goals for Me

As we came in from a run one evening last week, my ten year old asked me, “Your big goal is to qualify for Boston right?”

“Yes it is.”

“But you have some other goals too. Smaller goals like triathlon and Ironman. But the big one is Boston.”

Yes, smaller goals like Ironman. Ha ha!

But he’s still right.

In the past month, I’ve been thinking about the goals I have. There are the long-term goals and the ones I want to achieve right now. I’ve had to take a step back to make sure I’m working on what I want for me, and not a product of what’s great for someone else or what sounds like fun. It’s easy to get caught up in social media, or the hype around some races, medals, or challenges. Or even move on to the next big thing. Run a half marathon. Next up: marathon. Ran a marathon? Ultra. Half Ironman? Time to do a full Ironman. You know what I mean.

Not that it’s a bad thing.

But is it what you want?

Even though I finished a half Ironman this summer, the next step in my brain would be for me to do a full Ironman. But you know what? I’m not ready for that. I need a few more of those half distances to feel better about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have my heart there. Yet.

My heart is in running. It has been for the last six years. It has taken me to places I never would have imagined. I am part of a great community that supports each other whether you run a 6 minute mile or 12:00. And I love it!

So I’m keeping my focus on my passion.

My “right now” goals are working toward that sub 4 hour marathon, which will help me to reach the long term goal of qualifying for and running Boston. It will take some steps (years) to get there, but I have the heart to work on it.

Triathlon has been great for me. It keeps the running fire burning, and I am a better athlete. I will keep working at it, and I have fun doing it. It helps me to be a stronger runner, and gives me the break I need from mileage. I can see registering for a full Ironman one day.

But at this season of my life, I’m going to stick with my goals. One September, I’ll be submitting my registration for the Boston Marathon.

Now, I’m headed out to the gym for a swim. It’s great cross training for marathon season!

 

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 2 Bike and Run)

If you missed my last post about the start of my Half Ironman at Buffalo Springs, you can catch up on it here. The next part of the race was the longest and required some mental effort. I apologize in advance for being long-winded. I love to write and I love to give details. Double whammy here.

To sum up where I left off, I had completed the swim not knowing how long it took me, and made it to the bike with people still behind me. I was feeling pretty good.

THE BIKE:

I had a nice mental boost from seeing my husband and brother right off the bat, then I passed where we parked and the downhill was followed immediately by another climb. This one got to me. I was breathing heavy, focusing on my turnover when a guy passed me and said “Easier gear.” The guy right behind him said “You have two more.” I acknowledged with “Thanks” and shifted – twice. I was calm and ready to tackle the ride. Once I completed that hill, I knew I had a while before the next one.

The weather was cooperating so far with a cloudy sky and low winds. It was a nice day for a bike ride.

As I moved forward into the second major climb, I saw the athletes coming down and it didn’t seem as scary as it had in the car. This was the one that curved around with a guardrail that bordered a cliff. The downhill that kept me awake half the night. The one I was most worried about. But focusing on my climb, I noticed some riders walking their bikes up the hill. I focused my legs on a steady cadence and stayed in my seat all the way up. I honestly could’ve run a flat road faster than my speed climbing, but I got it done. My motto all throughout the ride became “the tortoise always wins.” I repeated it out loud as needed. I focused on my race, my speed, and my skills. After the turnaround when I began descending, I kept my confidence in place and braked all the way down. “That wasn’t so bad.” I knew that if I made it through that one, I’d be okay for the others. The next big climb had a sign “Spiral Staircase.” This one was steeper but there were no big drop-offs. I saw people walking their bikes up again. It definitely hurt going up, but again I focused on a steady climb. A straightway for several miles, and then a turn around right into the wind. Coming back down the Spiral Staircase was a little faster than the other hill, and scary in a roller coaster thrill way. Oh thank goodness it was a low wind day, because the rest of the ride I fought the wind one direction or another. I couldn’t get my average pace above 14.0. Even with the downhills.

By mile 50, the wind had taken its toll on my legs. They were done and I wanted to be off the bike. The sun had come out about 2 hours into the ride, and I was on my last bottle of Nuun. I was getting thirsty so I tried to ration the rest of my drink. I didn’t want to stop before I finished the bike. My bike was moving slower than I estimated, and since I didn’t know my swim time, I hated to push the time limits. Looking back, I should have had more chews on the bike instead of the extra Clif bar I never ate. At mile 55, I audibly groaned “Oh no!” as I began to climb the final hill in the park before the downhill to transition. It was a straight up hill.

I crested the top, rode past our car and began the descent. Then I saw my oldest daughter right as she turned around and saw me. She began to cheer, and I saw all the other kids, my brother, and my husband. They all began cheering so loud, people were turning to see who was coming. I felt like a superstar! I made the final turn and when I hit the dismount line, the volunteer said “Coming in smiling. That’s a good sign.”

“Yes, because I’m done,” I said.

The tortoise always wins.

Here’s some of the data from my Garmin. Ignore the elevation gain, because it’s not correct. It’s actually just over 1000′ of gain, but I wanted to show the hills on the graph!

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Side note: I can’t say enough about how wonderful it was having my family cheer coming in off of the bike. I needed that lift going into the next part of the race.

THE RUN:

Coming off the bike, I was surprised my legs didn’t feel more wobbly. My first mile I stayed busy trying to make sure I was headed in the right direction, and I didn’t pay attention to my pacing. I knew the run was two loops so when I saw the first mile marker I relaxed a bit. Not paying attention to my pace was a mistake. The first mile averaged 9:30. In the second mile, I slowed to grab a cold towel at the aid station. My second mile pace was in the 10:30s. Then I guess you could say my wheels fell off. (Good thing this wasn’t on the bike. Ha!) The third mile started the walk breaks and I had an 11:30 average pace for that mile. Oops!

My legs were fine. It was my breathing I was struggling with. I was getting hot, and somewhat nauseated at the thought of taking in my chews. I tried a couple of them after the third mile, and kind of gagged a little while chewing. I took in some more around mile 5 and had the same problem. This is the same stuff I trained with, but my body wasn’t handling it at this point. Ever since before the swim, I had felt like my food was sitting at the back of my throat. I handled it ok on the bike, but the jostling from the run made it worse.

With this kind of trouble on the run with the heat, I quickly shifted my plan to run/walk/smile. I walked through almost every aid station. Wet cold towels, ice in my visor, and taking in Gatorade to get the carbs. My stomach did okay with that and I still had my Nuun in my bottle along with some Nuun Plus. As I came across the bridge to finish my first loop, I saw my husband. I called out, “You know that 2 1/2 hour half marathon I planned? Not gonna happen.” But I was okay with it. I was the tortoise. As he ran alongside me for a minute, I told him about being too hot, and my nutrition problems. My legs were still okay, but my effort felt hard even staying around a 12 minute pace.

The second lap was even tougher. The crowd had thinned out as most people were done by now, and I still had well over an hour to go. I talked to other runners, and fell into a run/walk pattern with another athlete for a while. We chatted about goals. Mine was to finish. She added, “finish with a smile.” I thanked all the volunteers. They were so uplifting at that point in the race. The ice was wonderful and I would grab handfuls at the aid stations and put it in my hat and down the front of my tri top to stay cool. I walked up the monster hill along with everyone else and noticed one of the hand cyclists rolling up the hill backward to get up. That was a game changer for me. There I was, walking to get through the tough parts of the course with all my limbs functioning, while those guys didn’t have that option. They did the swim, the bike, and the run all with their arms and upper body. It was so inspiring to see him working up that hill, and I know he was tired but he kept going!

I began to feel a little energized in the last mile. Two of my kids ran alongside me for a couple of minutes. They told me they had been swimming in the lake. Then I saw my other daughter, then my husband, then my brother, then his wife and kids were near the finish line. I felt like I was flying at that point. According to my Garmin, it was my third fastest mile. I made the final turn and saw the finish line, crying and smiling at the same time. I heard the announcer call out my name, and just like that I had a medal on my neck and a finisher shirt in my hand.

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The finisher shirt was an XL, and I tried to exchange it for a smaller size. Then I found out when you’re near the back of the pack, you don’t have much to choose from. I could have XL or XXL.

My husband has a new shirt to wear.

That evening, I finally saw what my swim time was and it completely surprised me. Overall, I expected I would finish in about 7.5 hours, and I wasn’t too far off the mark. I was surprised at how the run knocked me out, but my goals were to finish. I was the tortoise, and that was quite all right with me.

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