Monday, August 8, 2016

Adrenaline Triathlon Race Recap

A better title for this recap might be: The Race Where EVERYTHING Finally Clicked.  I had no idea that it was coming, although in hindsight, there were signs that it might be coming. 

Race day began as all race mornings do: Stupid O'Clock alarm, shower, race clothes, load the bikes, coffee and Clif Bar on the way to the race venue.  Yesterday's race was in the town of Random Lake, WI which is an hour away from our house - or 45 minutes when there's absolutely no traffic - so we arrived about 15 minutes before packet pick up/body marking/transition opened!

Mr. R&R and I walked down to the beach and checked out the turn buoy placement.  Did I mention that Mr. R&R was signed up for the olympic distance race (.9 mile swim/28 mile bike/6.2 mile run)?  His turn buoys looked so far away to me - and conversely my buoys looked so close!  That's definitely a first since usually looking at the turn buoys freaks me out.  Looking back, this should have been my first clue that something about this day was going to be different.

Pre-Race and The Swim:

We picked up our packets, stopped back at the car to drop off t-shirts and such and pick up our bikes, and made our way into the transition area to get set up.  I actually had considerate neighbors (a first this season) who racked their bikes correctly and didn't take up more than their fair share of space so I was ready to go in record time.  I wiggled into the bottom half of my wetsuit and went in search of Mr. R&R and Yada Yada by the olympic racks.  Yada Yada was still getting set up, so Mr. R&R and I made our way back to the beach for the swim warm up.  I pulled the rest of my wetsuit, slapped on my swim cap, and stepped into the water.  It was really warm and the sand was soft under my feet.  I dunked my goggles in the water and as I did so, I SPOTTED A FISH SWIMMING 2 INCHES FROM ME!!!!  If you've been reading here for more than 5 minutes you know that a huge part of my open water issues comes from my completely irrational fear of fish. I don't know why or how, but somehow I didn't freak out.  I looked at said fish, acknowledged that he was there, splashed around a little, and he went away. I took a few more steps and found myself standing in muck that was sucking at my feet and weeds that were wrapping around my legs.  Again, I didn't freak out. I pulled my goggles on, took a breath, and started swimming toward one of the turn buoys as a warm up. I looked up to sight the buoy and was a little shocked that it was right in my face - not 25 yards away like I had expected.  I turned around and swam back to the shore; taking care not to stop until my hands touched sand because I didn't want to stand in muck if I could help it.  All of this should have been my second sign.

I crawled out of the water as the swim warm up closed and walked over to the start area with Mr. R&R so he could begin his first olympic distance tri. The elites went of as a mass start and then the age groupers went off in a time trial start.  I watched Mr. R&R and Yada Yada run into the water and kept my eyes on them as long as I could before they were lost in the sea of splashing swimmers.  I made my way across the beach to the swim exit because the olympic swimmers had to exit the water, run across a timing mat on the beach, and back into the water for a second loop. While I waited, I bumped into Texas who was there to spectate (she wasn't racing due to a broken arm).  It was nice to have company - especially company that didn't mind that I periodically went to dunk myself in the water to prevent overheating in my wetsuit!  We cheered as they guys came out of the water and ran to their second loop.  I was able to hang out long enough to watch the first few olympic racers finish the swim before I had to line up for my own start.  

Like the olympic distance, the sprint race was a time trial start - with starting order determined by swim cap color. Blue caps would start. Then orange. Then pink. Then white.  My cap was pink.  I watched the first two waves filter into the water.  Then it was the pink caps' turn.  I put myself in the middle of the pack - which should have been another sign since I usually stay toward the back.  I stood behind the starting mat and as soon as the race official said 'go', I ran into the water dropped onto my belly the second the water hit my thighs, and started swimming.  All of a sudden, something clicked.  There was no fear. There was no panic.  There was only my 1-2-3-breathe-1-2-3 pattern.  I hit the first turn buoy and found myself in a war zone of thrashing legs and arms.  I popped my head up (still not interested in another kick to the head), pushed a few legs out of my way, and put my head down and went back to my 1-2-3 pattern. There were bodies everywhere around me.  I looked up as I rounded the second buoy and was shocked to see a mix of pink and orange caps around me.  I had caught up to some of the slower swimmers from the wave in front of me! I took a second to let that sink in and it was back to the 1-2-3 pattern and shoving rogue legs and arms out of my path.  I popped my head up and swam a little breaststroke again to figure out how close I was to the end.  I was so close! Back to the 1-2-3 pattern until my hands hit muck once - twice - three times.  On my feet, goggles on top of my head, unzip the wetsuit.  Flash huge smile at Texas (who knows my open water issues well) screaming "Way to go! The hard part is over now!"  

Swim Time: 9:45 (1:36 PR!!!!)

I ran up to transition, finished stripping my suit, slammed on my bike gear, and ran like hell to the mount line.

T1 Time: 2:29 (new best T1 time ever!)

The Bike:

Going into this race, I was excited for the bike leg.  Mr. R&R and I took a preview ride on it a week earlier with Yada Yada and his training partner, BAM (short for Bad-@$$-Mother; seriously, she's ridiculous!).  I had such an amazing ride that day and couldn't wait to do it again.  I used the first mile to catch my breathe, scarf down a Shot Blok, take a drink, and get ready to throw down.  I took the turn out of town and into the corn fields, dropped into my aerobars, and started passing people.  I seriously think I spent the first 4-5 miles of the bike saying 'on your left' as I passed people.  I. Was. Flying.  I didn't get passed on the bike until 7.5 miles in - and that was by the lead olympic rider who was on his second lap of the course (they did 2 loops of the bike course)!

The only sprint racer who passed me, did so on the second part of a two stage hill in Mile 10 - and I passed her right back on the way back down.  Everything was going like clockwork.  Whenever I started getting tired and thought about easing up, I'd hear the Iron Cheerleader in my head yelling 'How bad to you want it?' or BAM telling me 'Whatever you did on this practice ride, do that shit in the race!' or Mr. R&R telling me, 'You've got this' - and I didn't let up.

Bike Time: 51:53 (16.9 mph - new speed PR!)

I dismounted right at the line and ran like hell back to my rack - almost knocking someone out of my way when she stopped short in front of me!  Off came the helmet and bike shoes. On went the socks and running shoes and I was outta there.

T2 Time: 1:31 (new best T2 time ever!)

Fatigue hit almost immediately on the run course - and I had expected it to - just not this much.  Once again, I tried to let my watch dictate my pace as I wound my way through a residential neighborhood.  I kept picking off women to the best of my ability, but my splits just kept creeping up and up and up.

Finally the finish line came into view and somehow I sped up and thundered across the line.

Run Time: 29:22 (9:28/mile)

My finishing time of 1:34:58 blew my mind - and left me 27 seconds off of the age group podium.  At first I was really pissed, but after venting to Texas for a minute, I got over myself and pride took over.  I had PR'd every aspect of the race except for the run!  I'm sitting here, 2 days later, and I'm still in shock.

I grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and Texas and I staked out some space by the final turn to wait for Mr. R&R and Yada Yada to finish. Mr. R&R looked amazing as he turned into the chute - and the finish of his first olympic tri.

It's amazing to think that this was only his third triathlon ever - and he kicked some serious ass - enough to take 2nd in his age group! Look out triathlon world, because Mr. R&R is coming for you!

As soon as Yada Yada finished, we all packed up our stuff and did what we do best: Go Eat!  The four of us went to and awesome diner and consumed and obscene amount of food before heading home and crashing hard.

I woke up from an epic nap and final results had been posted - and I'm already hungry for next year's tri season.

Overall Place: 76/150
Gender Place: 22/82
Age Group Place: 4/11 (F35-39)

Up Next: Shoreline Duathlon on August 21st.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Me vs The Flea: Round 3 (Pewaukee Triathlon Race Recap)

Shortly after crossing the finish line in Pewaukee in 2014, I swore that I would never do the Pewaukee triathlon again.  I had nothing against the course or the organizers, but I have a lot of issues with Pewaukee Lake!  It's dark, dirty, weedy, and (if the wind is kicking up) really choppy.

I really need to learn to stop saying 'never'. 

After first taste of the tri-life, Mr. R&R was itching to do another triathlon ASAP and Pewaukee fit the bill perfectly: it was a sprint distance race, 2 weeks after the race in Verona, and very close to home.  I debated the merits of racing as well, or just attending as a spectator/personal paparazzi for Mr. R&R.  Eventually I decided that since I'd be rolling out of bed at an unholy hour of the morning either way, I might as well race.  

The alarm went off at 3:30am and we were on the road by 4:30am.  Pewaukee is only about 20 minutes away, but transition and body marking were only open from 5am - 6am and we wanted to maximize the time available for all the necessary pre-race chores.  We were lucky enough to snag a parking spot 3 blocks from transition, so we pumped our bike tires, grabbed our gear and trekked over to transition.

Of the 3 triathlons I've done at Pewaukee, my assigned transition space was the best of them - right by bike/run out!  Bikes were racked, transition area was set up, and body-marking was super quick.  I wiggled into my wetsuit and we walked down to the beach for the 15 minute swim warm up time. 

The water was flat calm, which made me happy, but I wasn't too sure I actually wanted to get in the water since it was really chilly out and there was almost an hour between the time that the swim warm up closed and the time my wave started!  Eventually I talked myself into getting in the water so my wetsuit could flood in advance and I could get a look at the water clarity.  Surprisingly, the water was really warm and unsurprisingly, still the color of Guinness.

We stood on the beach and watched the international distance racers start and then it was time for the sprinters. Unlike Verona's mass wave start, Pewaukee employs a time trial start system where one athlete is released into the water every 3 seconds.  Both Mr. R&R and I were in the first sprint wave, but since he was raring to go, he started toward the front of our wave, while I hung back quite a bit to try to minimize the number of aggressive swimmers that could be behind me.

The Swim:
Finally it was my turn to go.  A race official counted down: 3...2...1... and I took off running into the water.  As soon as the water was thigh-high, I dropped down and started swimming.  I had promised myself before the race that I would take the swim one buoy at a time and try not to let all my negative feelings about the lake get in the way.    It worked!  Before I knew it, I was at the first sight buoy, surrounded only by bright pink and dark blue swim caps - meaning that none of the Wave 2 swimmers had caught up to me yet!  I put my head down and made it my business to get to the first turn buoy without incident.  Again, it worked!  I popped my head up and swam tight around the buoy (not taking chances on getting kicked in the head again).  The back stretch has always been the hardest for me at Pewaukee.  I did a little bit of sidestroke, but managed to hold it together and make it to the second turn buoy without any major panic attacks.  I got a little wide of the buoys on the way back in, but I was calm and in control.  Before I knew it, my hands touched the bottom once...twice...three times.  Time to stand up!  I threw my goggles on top of my head, removed my Garmin (and carried it in my mouth), stripped off the top half of my wetsuit, and waved to my mom as I ran up the beach toward transition.

Swim Time: 12:12 (Course PR by 31 seconds!)

The long run to T1 gave me plenty of time to put my watch back on, remove my goggles and swim cap, and run through the mental checklist of things to do when I got to my bike.

I got to my bike, finished stripping my wetsuit (and inevitably got caught up on my timing chip for a few seconds).  On went my glasses, helmet, race belt, and bike shoes. I grabbed my bike and booked it to the mount line.  

T1 Time: 2:47  (Best triathlon T1 time ever!)

Almost immediately I was on some rather bumpy roads and climbing hills - although my definition of what constitutes a hill has been drastically altered after Verona!  Less than 2 miles out of transition I started hearing a horrible rubbing sound.  I looked down and realized that the bumpy ride had caused my aero bottle bracket to shift and my water bottle was now rubbing against my front wheel.  I let off a string of curse words as I pulled over to try to fix it.  I managed to force the bracket back into place, but spent most of the bike periodically jamming my fingers under it to keep it from moving again.

It took a solid 9 miles before I found my groove on the bike - which has changed a bit since my first two attempts at this race.  The bike course is now 16.4 miles instead of 14.  My top speed (flying down a monster hill) was 33.4mph!

Before I found my groove
I was pretty happy to take the last turn back into transition due to the aforementioned water bottle issue and my bike saddle was starting to get pretty damned uncomfortable.

Bike Time: 1:00:32 (16.2 mph)

My legs felt surprisingly good off the bike and I actually ran my bike back to the rack instead of walking it.  I racked my bike, waved to my mom again, off came the the helmet and bike shoes, on went the socks (after a brief hiccup trying to get the left one on) and running shoes and I was outta there.

T2 Time: 1:53 (Best triathlon T2 time ever!)

5k run left - and it was mostly flat!  I felt fantastic coming out of T2, but I decided to let my watch dictate the pace, just like I had in Verona.  It was a good choice since my initial pace was in the 8:40's!  I dialed it back a bit, but probably not enough.  On my way to Mile 1, I heard someone shout 'Go TriWis!" followed by, "Atta girl, you know what to do now!"  In case you haven't already guessed, it was the Iron Cheerleader - there to cheer on his current (and allegedly final) group of newbies - and any graduates that happened to run by.

I hit Mile 1 in 9:16 - a little too fast, but not insanely too fast.  I hit the turnaround and walked through the water station so I could grab a drink and pour another cup of water over my head.  I passed the Iron Cheerleader and another newbie-herd alumnae from my year, L.  Of course the Iron Cheerleader had some more motivation for me. He started yelling, "How bad do you want it?" and my response was, "Almost as bad as I want a beer at the finish line!"  He promised I could have one of the beers he'd brought to celebrate with his herd.

I could feel myself slowing down as I approached Mile 2, but no matter what I did, I couldn't force myself to pick up the pace. It was getting hot and my feet were starting to burn.  Mile 2 was an abysmal 9:46. I started thinking about what the Iron Cheerleader had shouted - how bad did I want this?  The answer was: pretty damn bad.  I started ignoring the burning in my feet and focused on putting one foot in front of the other as fast as I could.  It worked because my average pace started falling again.  A few more turns and a brief cross-country section later, the finish line came into view. I picked up the pace a little more and watched the two dudes I had been trying to run down break into a sprint for the finish.  I wish I'd have had enough gas in the tank to try to go with them!

Run Time: 29:05 (9:22/mi) (Fastest triathlon run time ever!)

I crossed the finish line of my fourth triathlon in 1:46:27 and I couldn't be happier about it.  I PR'd pretty much every aspect of the race!

Rocking some spectacular swim cap/helmet hair

I grabbed my medal, a lukewarm bottle of water, and an enormous peanut butter cookie and met up with my mom and Mr. R&R (who turned in yet another awesome performance and is officially hooked on triathlon).  I tried to wait around for the Iron Cheerleader since he owed me a beer, but eventually the desire for breakfast and a nap won, so we said goodbye to my mom and made our way back to transition to collect all our stuff.

Photo Credit: My Mom

After a brief stop at Starbucks for coffee and breakfast sandwiches (my apologies to the other patrons for the horrendous smell) we headed home, dragged our bikes back to The Cave, devoured our food, and crashed hard for several hours.  When I woke up, the final results had been posted.

Overall Place: 248/424
Gender Place: 87/248
Age Group Place: 17/43 (F35-39)

Up Next: Adrenaline Sprint Triathlon on August 6th.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

June Totals

I know I'm probably the only person on Earth who cares about mileage totals/time/number of workouts, but I thought I'd share anyway - in case anyone is interested.

Swim: 8,835 yards (5.02 miles)
# of workouts: 9
Time: 4 hours, 26 minutes

Bike: 73.64 miles
# of workouts: 8
Time: 5 hours, 41 minutes

Run: 22.91 miles
# of workouts: 9
Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

# of workouts: 5
Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Miles: 101.75
# of workouts:33
Time: 16 hours, 24 minutes

It should be interesting to see what happens in July!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Have You Seen My Marbles?

It's Official:  ME VS. THE FLEA: ROUND 3 is happening on Sunday, July 10th!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wisconsin Triterium Race Recap

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in almost two years: I finished a sprint triathlon. 

On Friday afternoon, Mr. R&R and I loaded up our bikes and the inordinate amount of stuff required for a multisport race and headed for Verona, Wisconsin - a small town just outside of Madison.  We swung by packet pick up, sat in some spectacular traffic thanks to a PGA event in the same town this weekend, and finally checked into our hotel.  

I've never traveled for a multisport race before, so figuring out where to park two bikes in a standard hotel room presented an interesting challenge.  Fortunately, with a little furniture rearranging, we managed to squeeze both bikes into our room and headed out in search of dinner before an early bedtime.

Stupid O'clock (4:15am this time) came very fast like it always does, but we were both showered, dressed, packed up, and ready to rock and roll by 5:30am.  

Instead of driving to the race, we opted to ride since we were only a mile and a half away and Verona is a very bike-friendly city and it was a great way to burn off some of the nervous energy we'd both built up.

We rolled up shortly after transition opened at 5:45am, went through body marking (they write your race numbers on your arm and calf with permanent marker), and made our way into transition to rack our bikes and set up our transition areas.  Mr. R&R and I were on opposite sides of the same rack, so we were able to spend a little time together before the race started - which did wonders for my nerves.

After getting everything set up, I took a quick walk from Swim In, to my rack, to Bike In/Out, and to Run Out trying to memorized the path, and then I pulled on my wetsuit and we made our way down to the beach. I threw on my swim cap and goggles and went for a really short swim just to make sure that my suit was on perfectly (sometimes you can't tell if something's wrong until it's wet) and that my goggles were adjusted correctly.  The water was much cloudier than it was when we went to check it out a few weeks ago and I was hoping it was just due to all the people in the water kicking up the sand near the shore.  Mr. R&R had swam out farther and reported back that the water was very dark/murky and there were a lot of weeds further out.  Great.  We made our way back onto the beach, bumping into Mr. R&R's trainer (who was competing in the Olympic distance race) and my newbie herd teammate C in the process.  

Before I knew it, someone was singing The Star Spangled Banner and the elite and relay waves were starting.  
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Triterium Triathlon

Mr. R&R and I hung out together until it was time for his wave to get in the water.  I wished him luck on his first tri and watched as his wave swam out to an area between a buoy and a dock, and an airhorn blast sent them on their way.  

Once he was underway, it was time to focus on myself, my race, and all my open water demons.  As much as I've tried, I have yet to conquer my fear of open water - and my last attempt at an open water swim (a week earlier) included a huge number of panic attacks.  Overhearing locals talk of weeds, murk, and water snakes in the lake combined with the fact that I've never done a full wave start, much less a deep water start was unnerving to say the least.  I took a deep breath, pulled my goggles on, and swam out to the designated spot; seeding myself in the center of the back line and trying not to expend too much energy.

The airhorn went off and it was on.  I swam a couple of strokes with my head out of the water until I figured out where the other bodies were and then I put my head down and swam.  I felt amazing.  I was drafting off a woman in front of me, sighting every 6-9 strokes, and swimming straight at the first turn buoy, and in the mix without being in a war zone. I made it to the first buoy feeling like a million bucks.  Everything was going perfectly and then someone to my left decided to swim breaststroke around the buoy - and her right foot slammed into the left side of my head.  The kick to the head knocked the wind out of me and I rolled onto my back to try to catch my breath and calm down. I pulled it together enough to make it to the second turn buoy, but then the negative thoughts and panic started to get the best of me.  I rolled back onto my back to try to calm myself down again. One of the lifeguards sitting in a kayak must have seen the hit because he paddled over to check on me.  He offered to let me hang onto his kayak for a minute, but somewhere in my panic-stricken brain I knew that if I grabbed that kayak I was done.  I thanked him and kept backstroking until I felt a little better and then began a routine of alternating between front crawl, sidestroke, and backstroke until the second to last sight buoy.  

At that point, I was one of the last people in the water and I wanted out.  I put my head down and swam until my hands touched the bottom and I stood up.  I should have kept swimming until my hands touched 3-4 times, but I was so over the swim by that point that I didn't care.  I threw my goggles on top of my head and reached for the leash on my wetsuit zipper.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Triterium Triathlon
Official Swim Time: 11:21 (dead last out of the water for my age group)

I held my Garmin in my mouth, peeled off the top half of my wetsuit, pulled off my swim cap, and put my Garmin back on on the run/walk to T1.  It was that long of a run!  I hit the transition area, finished stripping my wetsuit, threw on my glasses, helmet, and bike shoes and jogged out to the mount line.

Official T1 Time: 3:34 (I blame the long run for the pokey time)

I knew from talking to Mr. R&R's trainer that the bike course started on a hill, so I already had my bike in granny gear and started spinning in hopes of catching up with the back of the pack and fixing my near-dead-last position.  All I can say about the bike course is: HOLY HILLS, BATMAN!  These things were no joke.  I spent so much time in my granny gear, gripping my base bars, and chugging up hills, it was painful. Fortunately, I was able to pass a decent number of people in the hills, never got passed, and the downhills were magical.  I was going over 30mph down some of them!  In the last few miles I was finally able to settle into aero, take in a couple of Shot Blocks and some water, and make up some more ground.  I think my favorite moment was seeing Mr. R&R, sort of waving to him, and realizing that he was so focused that he didn't even see me!   I stayed nice and aero until the final turn into transition, nailed my dismount, and actually ran back to my rack. 

Official Bike Time: 43:50 (15.1 mph avg.)

I got back to my rack and discovered that some jerk had decided that my rack space belonged to him/her.  Not cool.  I shoved that bike over, racked my bike, and proceed with T2 as scheduled.  Off came the helmet and bike shoes.  On went the socks and running shoes and I was out of there.

Official T2 Time: 2:03

It was time for Run and Done.  Whether it be a duathlon or a triathlon, I always come out of T2 running way too fast because my lower body and my brain aren't exactly working together.  This time was different.  I depended on my watch to dictate my pace instead of just running by feel and it worked.  I was pacing in the low 9:30's and it was perfect.  I focused on maintaining that on my first lap of the run course and kept passing people. If you were in front of me and running slowly or walking: you were my next target.  I saw Mr. R&R almost immediately, waved, and was amused again that he didn't recognize me.  Another TriWI member ran by me on her second lap and we exchanged encouragements.  I saw Mr. R&R again due to the layout of the course and this time he actually recognized me!  I kept my pace almost perfectly at 9:30 until about 1.5 miles into the run. I slowed down a bit on my second lap due to a big hill and a walk through the water station to get a drink and dump a cup of water down my back, but still managed to have the fastest triathlon 5k I've ever had!

Official Run Time: 29:56 (9:38/mi avg.)

I was so happy to take that final left turn into the finish.  I saw Mr. R&R (Yay! He's a triathlete now and rocked his very first tri!), and sped up a little as I ran under the finishing arch.

Official Finishing Time: 1:30:41
Overall Place: 152/202
Gender Place: 60/92
Age Group Place: 13/14 (F35-39)

I turned in my timing chip, collected my medal, and Mr. R&R met me by the bottled water.  We enjoyed some post race food in the grass while waiting for transition to reopen so we could pack up our stuff and head back to the hotel.  After we got our stuff out of transition, we staked out some space in the shade to wait for Mr. R&R's trainer to come in from the Olympic bike course and passed the time by taking pictures and rehashing the race.

Hey...I'm finally smiling in one of these pictures!

We're officially a two triathlete household
Once we cheered for Mr. R&R's trainer we rode back to the hotel with plans to shower, etc. before heading home, but opted instead to just change clothes and get on the road.  We couldn't wait to see our boys!

Welcome Home, Humans! Please go shower now.
Overall, I'm happy that I ended my break with triathlon.  It went well, but of course it could have gone better.  My final thoughts are:

  • The swim was 100 yards longer than Pewaukee, but somehow (despite getting kicked in the head), I swam it faster than either of my two previous triathlons, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn't gotten kicked.
  • I ended up freaking out on the swim.  I'm going to keep tri-ing until it stops happening!
  • The bike was short, but really hard.  I need to ride a lot more big hills and I need to come up with a better pre-race fueling strategy so I don't need to chew on Shot Blocks during a sprint.
  • If all my triathlon runs felt like this one did, I'd be thrilled. 
  • Recovery was easy.  No delayed soreness. No tummy troubles.  Just a huge dinner, followed by a 4 hour nap,followed by another 7+ hours of sleep.  Yes, please!
What am I going to do next?  I'm seriously considering Me vs. The Flea: Round 3 in two weeks.  I have a few days before I have to make a decision.  I don't relish the thought of having to swim in that nasty piece of Guinness-colored, gasoline-tasting water, but it's soon, it's local, and I want to do another one.  Anyone out there have any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

If You Build It, It Will Come

So, picture this: It's 8pm on a Tuesday night and I'm sitting on the kitchen floor attempting to give myself something that resembles a pedicure and it occurs to me that I haven't updated this space in a while -  long while.  Why?  Because after working all day, training, and spending some time with Mr. R&R and the fuzzballs, there's not a whole lot of time left for much else.

After countless weeks of base training, I've entered the build phase.  What does that mean exactly?  Hopefully it means that I've created a solid enough fitness foundation that I can build a successful (by my standards) triathlon season on it. The build week is 4 weeks long and will culminate with my first triathlon since 2014.

Week 1:

It may have been a holiday and a scheduled rest day, but I don't know if I call pruning the hell out of some seriously overgrown lilacs resting.  Perhaps it was more of an active recovery sort of day. At any rate, the lilacs look about 1000 times better and now I just have to wait for my dad to come over with his truck to haul the mess away.

Mr. & Mrs. R&R: Tree Hackers

Long weekend is over.  Back to work.  Tonight was the first swim of the build phase and it was definitely a jump from the base phase.  1450 yards and I felt surprisingly strong during all of it.  All those base-building workouts may have started paying dividends.

Time to cover up the gray hairs.  I left work a little early and beelined it for the Mane Wrangler's chair.  On the way to my long overdue wine/chat/maintenance I came across a wild turkey. In the middle of the road.  And in no hurry to get across said road!

Why did the turkey cross the road?

25 minute treadmill run followed by a 30 minute ass-beating from my trainer.  I know I keep saying it, but she always finds such interesting ways to challenge me. I asked her about how she comes up with some of this stuff and she said I'm kind of her guinea pig since I'm willing to try just about anything she throws at me.  I'm sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I left the gym dripping sweat, sore, and happy.

I'm so happy it's finally staying light out later.  It means we can occasionally pull off an after work bike ride instead of being relegated to riding on the trainer in the basement.  Instead of driving over to the trail, Mr. R&R and I have taken to riding the 4-ish miles to the trailhead at a very slow pace to get warmed up, resetting our watches, riding the 13-14 mile trail, resetting again, and slowly riding home to cool down.  All those low speed/high cadence trainer rides must be working because I rode the 13.25 miles at an average speed of 15.8mph - and if I hadn't had to stop at road crossings (and there are a bunch of them), it would have been 16.7mph!

I was almost to the turnaround point when I came across a family of Canada geese (complete with goslings) grazing alongside the trail.  I couldn't help myself and stopped to take a picture before riding on to meet up with Mr. R&R.

Of course, by the time we turned around, the goose family was in the middle of the trail and had no interest in getting out of our way.  Mr. R&R finally managed to scare them off to the side and we got hissed at as we sped by.  Note to self: Geese will f*ck you up!

Post ride, we stopped home long enough to change out of sweaty spandex before heading out for dinner and a beer.

Unplanned, but very needed rest day.

Mr. R&R and I were up and out of the house ridiculously early in order to drive the hour and a half out to Verona, WI so we could check out the swim venue for our upcoming triathlon.  Oh, did I mention that Mr. R&R has decided to give the insanity of the tri life a shot?  It's been great having someone to train with - even if he's usually miles in front of me.

The plan was to go for a short-ish swim when we got to Verona, but it turns out that the lake wasn't open until the following weekend! Ugh.  At least it wasn't a total waste of a trip.  We were able to get close enough to see that the water is very clear and I could almost picture myself swimming around the entire lake.

That's some VERY clear water

We were both a little annoyed at missing out on a chance for an open water swim as we headed back to Milwaukee.  There was some discussion of driving up to the lake by YadaYada's house, but I was under a serious time crunch since I needed to make an appearance at my step-niece's 5th birthday party that afternoon and there was no way to pull off both.  We ended up stopping at Pewaukee Fleawaukee Lake on the way home.  As you know by now, I have a lot of history with that particular lake - most of it negative.  Of course, the lake in Verona had been crystal clear and glass-calm.  The Flea was nothing but chop and weeds.  I flat out refused to swim outside the buoy line due to the waves and it's a damn good thing I did.  I was getting buffeted by waves every other stroke and could only breathe when my head was facing the shore.  It was slow, but I covered 400 yards in that miserable piece of water, did a full deck-change in a parking lot (hopefully I didn't flash anyone), sped home, rinsed my wetsuit, jumped in the shower, and hauled ass to the birthday party.  Fortunately, a 5 year old doesn't care if you're wearing a baseball hat and no make up, as long as you bring the gift of Frozen Legos!

Week 2: 

It was just me, the trainer, and an hour of intervals - oh and Captain Jack Sparrow for entertainment.

Power is Pretty

1500 yards in the pool - including 8x100 intervals.  I was feeling okay about all of it until my foot decided to cramp during my cool down. I think I spent most of that last 200 trying to swim with my right foot flexed in a feeble attempt to get the cramp to go away.  On a positive note, I didn't get stuck in the lane next to the old guy who insists on wearing a teeny tiny speedo!

SuperRun 5k.  I haven't run this race since 2013 when I was training for my first triathlon with the newbie herd.  The course has changed somewhat since then, but there's still a monstrous hill right after Mile 2.  My only goal for the race was to run faster than I did in 2013.  My splits for the first 2 miles were unbelievable.  Mile 1: 8:22  Mile 2: 8:42  I was unintentionally on track for a monster PR and then the hill hit.  The blazing pace of the first 2 miles combined with the hill put me in a hole I couldn't climb out of.  Mile 3 was a disastrous 11:12.  I crossed the line in 29:21 (almost a minute faster than 2013), but absolutely furious with myself for coming unglued in the final mile. I found Mr. R&R (who turned in a monster PR), grabbed a beer, and had a little reunion with some other members of the 2013 newbie herd - so it wasn't a total loss.

Yesterday's race kicked the crap out of me.  My head ached, my legs were sore, I need a day off - so I took it.

Hooray for the return of summer hours.  I had grand plans of leaving the office by 1:30, running, and squeezing in a 3pm training session, and having dinner at my mom's. That went out the window when my trainer texted my at 8:00am that she was sick, I didn't get out of work until 2:30pm, and the mercury soared to over 90 degrees.  I came home, took a nap, did a 30 minute strength workout in the basement, and still had dinner at my mom's.  Dinner was delicious.  The cocktails were strong. I slept like a rock!

My day started with a green monster (yeah, those are back!) and chucking all that lilac detritus into the back of my dad's truck so it could be hauled off to the dump.  I'm amazed that it only took 2 trips, and Mr. R&R and I took my dad to brunch at BelAir Cantina.  By the time we left, I was convinced that I didn't need to eat again for a week, but it was damn good!

Our next stop was Endurance House so Mr. R&R could get a tri top and try on a wetsuit.  He ended up coming home with a really nice BlueSeventy (hmmm...maybe I should upgrade) and naturally that meant it needed to go for its inaugural swim in YadaYada's lake.  By the time we got up there, it was 3:00pm and the place was absolutely crawling with people.  We got some really crazy looks from people as we waded into the water clothed neck-to-ankles in neoprene, but as soon as we started swimming toward one of the buoys on the other side of the lake, we had the water to ourselves.  My initial plan was to swim out to the buoy (about 200 yards) and then turn around and swim back to the beach.  I swam slowly, but managed to get there without my usual open water panic attack(s). When we reached the first buoy, Mr. R&R said he was going to go for the second buoy, so I decided to follow him - with the understanding that I would be swimming straight back across that lake once I reached it. I had a small panic attack on the way to that second buoy, but I made it.  Mr. R&R decided he was going to go for the third and final buoy to complete the lake loop.  I wasn't feeling up to it, so I said I'd swim diagonally toward the beach and he could pick me up on his way in.  That didn't last too long.  About 50 yards and another panic attack, I decided that I would rather suffer being exhausted and freaked out following him, than suffer being exhausted, freaked out, and alone on a different trajectory.  As soon as I got to the third buoy, I grabbed my emergency trailer buoy and held onto it until I calmed down and recovered a bit before beginning the long swim back to the beach.  I panicked a few more times on the way back (random clear spots where there were suddenly weeds in my face), but I made it.  I hauled myself out of the water feeling both annoyed that I freaked out so much and proud that I had swam over 1000 yards in open water (longest open water swim I've ever done) and had swam around an entire freaking lake!

You know race day is getting closer when there's a brick on the schedule.  45 minutes on the trainer followed by a 10 minute run.  The ride was decent (and a good reminder that chamois butter is a requirement), transition to running shoes was fast thanks to my newly installed speed laces, and the run was really good.  I didn't experience any of the usual jello-legs feeling off the bike, my breaths were coming easily, and I held a pretty good pace for that 10 minutes. If only I could feel like that right off the bike all the time!

Week 1 & 2 combined totals:
Swim: 1.73 miles
Bike:  41.79 miles
Run:  6.70 miles
Strength: 2 sessions
Total Distance: 51.05 miles
Total Time: 7 hours, 25 minutes

Two weeks down. Two weeks until race day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Guts & Glory 5k Race Recap

Yes, I know this post is beyond overdue. No, I don't have a good reason why I didn't get it written and posted sooner.

On Saturday, May 14th, Mr. R&R and I ran the Guts & Glory 5k.  The race was a fundraiser for the Crohns & Colitis Foundation and Mr. R&R's trainer was the co-race director, so we rolled out of bed on a chilly May morning to run for a cause. On the way to the race I joked that it was ironic that we were racing for a charity devoted to gut issues because my stomach was in baaaaad shape that morning.  I seriously considered staying in the car while Mr. R&R ran because I thought I was going to toss my cookies!

We pulled up to the race site and were greeted with one of the friendliest and most organized packet pick ups I've ever seen.  It was a tiny race (only 62 people), but the race directors and volunteers behaved like it was a much bigger race - and the extra effort didn't go unnoticed.

Right on schedule they called us to the line (net gun timed race again) and after a few words from the race director, the airhorn blasted and we were off!

I went out faster than I should have, but I felt good so I thought I'd ride it out and see what happened. Almost immediately, we took a sharp right turn and headed up a small hill.  I could see the runners strung out in front of me and started figuring out where I was in the pack.  At the half mile mark, I was the 5th female overall.  That changed quickly when a woman pushing a jogging stroller came charging past me.  There was no way I was going to catch her, so I let her go and focused on putting one foot in front of the other - happily passing a couple of 20-something dudes who had sprinted the start, crapped out, and were now walking!  I hit the Mile 1 mark in 8:45.

I was doing okay for the first part of Mile 2, but the combination of tummy troubles and my over-ambitious first mile started to take their toll.  I hung on the best I could, but could only muster up a 9:46.  My race was headed in the wrong direction and just when I thought it couldn't get too much worse, a woman who looked to be around my age passed me.

Mile 3 was a death march and I'm pissed about it.  I know I was capable of running better, but my mind basically gave up and another woman passed me.  At that point, I was a) furious at myself for pushing too hard in the first mile b) in pain and more than ready to be done and c) 99.99% sure I wasn't making the podium at this race - especially since they were using 10 year age brackets instead of the usual 5 year brackets.  My final mile was an atrocious 9:53.

I tried to muster up something that resembled a sprint for the final tenth of a mile and it was finally over. At least the course measurement was 100% perfect.

Miserable and In Pain
Once the dreadful 'Oh god, I'm going to puke' feeling passed, I found Mr. R&R and we made our way to the post race food/water and commandeered a sunny picnic table to recover, snack, discuss our respective experiences,and wait for results to post.

Apparently Mr. R&R had one hell of a fight on his hands in the final mile.  He ended up in a sprint finish against another guy in his age group - and he won.  Mr. R&R took second in his age group by 1 second!

I ended up 4th in mine - by 37 seconds. (I will note that the 3 women who came in ahead of me were all between 30-34.)

Mr. R&R collected his medal, shook hands with the guy he nearly killed to get it (I saw the guy depositing his breakfast in a trash can), and headed home.

This race reminded me of 2 valuable lessons that I learned a long time ago, but seemed to forget on race day:

1) NEVER eat ice cream (or pretty much any other dairy product in large quantities) the night before a race.


Time: 29:13 (9:25/mile pace)
Overall Place: 20/62
Gender Place: 8/36
Age Group Place: 4/10 (F30-39)

Again, I can't say enough good things about this race.  It was inexpensive, well-organized, perfectly measured, and the post-race food was fantastic (whole bagels, bananas, water, gatorade, and a profane amount of cookies).  I'm already looking forward to redeeming myself on that course next year.