Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Getting So Close...

As my first triathlon inches closer and closer on the calendar, I've found that it's taken over more and more of my thoughts.  When I first set out to train for this thing, I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I was willing to give it a shot. Now, I believe that if the race was tomorrow, I'd be able to finish it.  I wouldn't trade the next 2 weeks of training time for anything, but I'm starting to get antsy. I just want to do this thing!

Monday, June 24th:
Another Monday night. Another open water swim.  I squirmed into my now-functional wetsuit and followed the herd into the water for what would be my last open water swim before making my final attempt at open water certification this coming Saturday.  We started out with some sprinting to simulate the adrenaline surge that usually occurs at the beginning of any race and followed it up with recovering and settling into a sustainable stroke.  It wasn't the greatest swim, but I definitely felt better about my ability to sight and deal with having other swimmers around me and occasionally getting smacked/touched. I was just happy that I didn't have a repeat of last week's kick to the face!

Tuesday, June 25th:
For once, my need for a rest day fell on the day prescribed by the Iron Cheerleader.  My legs are still a little sore from Sunday's bike ride and my arms hurt from yesterday - swimming in a wetsuit definitely takes some getting used to.

Wednesday, June 26th:
In case you were wondering why the Iron Cheerleader gave us Tuesday night off, it's because he expected us to race tonight!  I was the only member of the Newbie Herd that joined the local running club for their "Hot Dog" fun run - and Mr. R&R came with me. This was another run that lived up to its name. It. Was. Hot. (and humid). Of course, I started out a little too fast and paid for it later. It was a pretty straight forward course, the first half mile was on my favorite stretch of road in that particular park, so I was happy right from the start and running along at a good clip. I hit Mile 1 in 9:01. Once the awesome stretch was finished, we turned downhill and onto city streets around the perimeter of the park until we reached the North entrance, complete with one long, miserable hill just past the 1.5 mile mark.  I know that hill well since it stands between home and the start of the Rail Trail I've been biking on lately. I  have trouble staying in my saddle riding up that hill, so it comes as no surprise that I had to drop to a walk and catch my breath a couple of times on the way up. After the hill came a long, flat stretch - including a loop around a pond.  I enjoyed seeing all the mama ducks with their little ducklings and the geese with their goslings sitting on shore and gliding across the water, but I didn't love having to try to avoid the "landmines" they left all over the path!  Mile 2 ticked by at a much more sedate 9:44.  I tried to pick it up for the last mile, but I was fading fast.  I did manage to sprint like hell down the last hill and kept sprinting the final flat all the way to the finish line.  Mile 3 was a 9:44.  It may not have been better than Mile 2, but at least it was an even split.
Afterwards I met up with Mr. R&R, grabbed a beer, and chatted with the Iron Cheerleader for a little while.  (I think I managed to get roped into volunteering at an event in August in the process...damn enthusiastic Iron Cheerleader.)  The running club was grilling up hot dogs, but Mr. R&R and I passed in favor of burgers and shakes from a nearby custard joint.
Not that kind...I promise!
Thursday, June 27th:
My last night at the pool before Saturday's open water certification attempt - I went in with a mission.  My goal was 400 yards without stopping...and I did it! I managed to slow down, relax, and just let it happen.  The result was 400 yards in 9:46 - well within the time limit imposed by the Pewaukee Triathlon.

After I was done with those laps, I still felt pretty good so I stuck around and swam a little longer, with a few breaks, hoping to simulate what it would be like having to swim 400 yards for the certification when I was already tired from having to tread water for 10 minutes.
Of course, now I'm mad that I didn't swim another 50 yards to make it an even 1000!

Friday, June 28th:
My work week resembled a cross between juggling and lion-taming. Perhaps I should join the circus?  Instead I settled for the couch, really good cheese, and really bad tv.

Saturday, June 29th:
I rolled out of bed at 6:30am so I could take my time getting ready. My big goal was to be as relaxed as possible when I got to the lake.  A light drizzle began to fall as I was driving, but somehow it really didn't bother me - probably since I was going to get wet anyway!  I arrived at the lake with plenty of time to spare, so I used the extra time to wiggle into my wetsuit while I watched the early morning group finish their certification and chatted with some of the other triathlon first-timers who had started to gather on the beach.  There was also a family of ducks that had absolutely no fear of humans that came to check us out.  They were so close and so cute!  Did you know they make a little squeaking noise? Before long, two of my fellow newbie herd members (A & T) arrived, and I relaxed a little more. I told myself that this was no different than our usual Monday night open water practice. The only downer was one guy on the beach who kept making cracks about our wetsuits (we were the only ones wearing them) and sniping about how this whole thing was just a piece of cake.

The certification instructor arrived on the beach and went over some open water basics (stuff that A, T, and I had already been taught by the Iron Cheerleader) before sending us into the water. Once we were in the water we were instructed to swim about 100 yards parallel to the shore as a warm up.  I took off, sandwiched between  A & T, at a comfortable pace and when we finished the 100 yards, we discovered that we were toward the front of the pack!  Naturally, the next step was to swim another 100 yards back to where we started.  The three of us hung back a little this time which proved to be a bad choice since it seems that the people around us had no clue how to sight, so we were constantly dodging flailing limbs.  Oh and learn.

Next up was the swim out to deep water, and the nastiest patch of weeds ever, for approximately 10 minutes of treading water.  This was much better than the last time.  Instead of 10 minutes of treading with legs only, it was: 2 minutes of general treading, 2 minutes legs only, 2 minutes hands only, then moving from back-to-belly-to-back a few times, demonstrating the ability to stretch/squeeze out cramps, and finally removing our swim caps and goggles and putting them back on (ladies were allowed to keep our caps on in the interest of not having to try to shove our hair back under them).  I will say, that the wetsuit made a huge difference here. I still hate treading water, but I definitely felt more comfortable among the weeds.

At last the big moment was upon us.  Due to the limited number of available lifeguards, they placed a single turn buoy about 200 yards out and we were instructed to swim out to the right side of it, swim behind it, and then back to shore.  I took a deep breath and started swimming.  A & T were right near me on the way out, and we all swam with our heads out of the water more than we should have due to the huge amount of weeds near the surface, but we all made it! I lost my girls at the turn buoy, but it was all good until someone swam up behind me and grabbed onto my ankle and didn't let go when I kicked.  This is a huge no-no.  I kicked really hard and he was still there.  At that point, I'd had it and started kicking really hard.  My non-grabbed leg ended up making contact with his head.  That worked and he let go.  I popped my head up, looked back, and realized that my ankle-grabber was none other than the sniping guy from the beach. He complained about the kick to the head, but I just couldn't bring myself to feel bad about it. I guess he didn't like getting "chicked"!

Once I made it back to the beach, I was pleased to find out that 37 out of the 38 people who went into the water had passed - and A, T, and I were among those 37. I definitely saw and felt the benefit of the Iron Cheerleader's coaching today.  I knew what to do and I did it!  I took my soggy self back to the car, stopped at a nearby bakery called Simply Cinnamon for celebratory pastries, and made my way home in the pouring rain.  Rain be was a fantastic day!

I also owe a special thank you to everyone in my life who has listened to me fret, whine, bitch, and just generally freak the eff out about this certification.  You all believed in me...even when I wasn't able to believe in myself, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, June 30th:
Mr. R&R and I ran together this afternoon. Our only goal was: slow. Neither of us has gone over 3 miles in a while and since we were going to be running in the hottest part of the day, we decided we'd rather run at 'grandma pace' and actually make it the full distance.  I loaded up my fuel belt with cold water (and immediately remembered why I hate running with that thing) since there was only one drinking fountain on our route.  It was a slow run, but it got the job done. 5 slow miles followed by lunch...yes, please!

When I got home, next week's training plan was waiting in my inbox...2 weeks to go. I'm starting to feel ready to do this thing.

Week 9 Totals:
Swim: 2024 yards
Bike: 0 miles
Run: 8 miles
Total Time: 2 hours, 24 minutes

June Totals:
Swim: 4294 yards (2.44 miles!)
Bike: 89.9 miles
Run: 24.58 miles
Total Distance: 117.12 miles
Total Time: 13 hours, 52 minutes

Sunday, June 23, 2013

3 Weeks to Go!

Obviously this week started off incredibly crappy, but turned out pretty good by the end.  I swear, the ups and downs are going to land me in therapy by the time this is all over!  I saw this quote the other day and I think it's one I need to repeat to myself - often.
Tuesday, June 18th:
I was still feeling pretty sulky today, so I moved Wednesday's planned rest day to today and it helped. Sometimes it just helps to do n.o.t.h.i.n.g. Okay, I wasn't a total sloth - I did read more of 'Triathlon for Every Woman' by Meredith Atwood.  I can't wait to follow her progress on Sunday at IMCDA.

Wednesday, June 19th:
It was perfect running weather tonight: cool, sunny, gentle breeze.  I wasn't really sure what kind of run I wanted to do, so I set out for "an easy 3". Oddly, I ended up doing a tempo run - my least favorite kind in the world - without trying!  I knew I was pushing a little, but had no idea that I was running so close to my 5k PR pace.  Maybe all the cross-training is paying dividends?

Thursday, June 20th:
I met up with the Newbie Herd at a local park for a quick "Transition 101" lecture from the Iron Cheerleader followed by a bike/run brick.  After the first mile on the bike, it became very obvious that some of us were comfortable on our bikes and others needed a slower pace and extra advice, so the Iron Cheerleader split us into two groups. To my amazement, I was sorted into the "fast" group!  Granted, 'fast' was a relative term, but I really enjoyed flying down hills and grinding up hills with that group. 30-ish minutes later we circled back to meet up with the slower group to grind out another nasty hill.  I'm pleased to say that I located my 'granny gear' and kept my ass on the saddle for the entire hill.

Once we arrived back at the park, a teammate's teenage son volunteered to babysit all of our bikes so we could run without fear of bike theft. What a great kid! Everyone shed their helmets, yanked on running shoes, and took off in pursuit of the Iron Cheerleader.  The jello legs sucked - as usual - and then the Iron Cheerleader made it worse by directing us up a steep, grassy hill  before allowing us to head back to the park.  It served to remind me why I am not a cross country runner!

 At any rate, I made it back to my bike still breathing and promptly agreed to go for a beer with one of the other girls instead of stacking on bonus mileage with the Iron Cheerleader and some of the boys.  That's another benefit of the Newbie Herd - meeting new people who are into the same things I'm into.  Who knows, maybe I'll come out of this with a new friend or two!

Friday, June 21st:
I think my week for 'summer hours' at the office came just at the right time.  I left work around 1pm, dashed home to pick up my swim bag and my 'broken' wetsuit, and hauled ass to the wetsuit shop.  I felt a little foolish, but incredibly relieved, when the guy there managed to get the wetsuit unzipped in about .0002 seconds.  It seems that a teeny tiny piece of fabric somehow got caught in the zipper and jammed it.  Wetsuit Guy was kind enough to show me what to do if it happens again and sent me on my way.  One of the major causes of Monday night's meltdown had been resolved and I felt like a 50lb weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I drove over to the pool hoping for a really good swim.  My goal was 400 yards in under the cutoff time for the Pewaukee Tri.  I made it by just under 4 minutes! Now I just have to hope that I can pass that obnoxious open water test next Saturday.
I knew I was running short on time, but I really wanted to swim a little more, so I tacked on an extra 150 yards. Who am I? When did I start liking the water? I voluntarily swam more than what was required?
I probably would have stayed in the water longer, but I needed to get home and cleaned up since I'd promised to meet a few co-workers for drinks in celebration of someone's last day with the company.  I may have showed up with my hair in a wet bun, but I made it, so I think that counts for something.  I rewarded myself for the good swim with a Mudslide - which I haven't had in for-ev-er.  Yum!

Mr. R&R and I also enjoyed a nice Date Night at Balzac, complete with duck nachos, a small cheese plate, and some wine.  Wine is much better than whine!

Saturday, June 22nd:
All the neglected chores and annoying little project on my 'To Do' list were bugging me, so I spent most of the day tackling some of them.  I know that work is about to get crazy and the workout schedule isn't going to let up any time soon, so rather than stress about it, I did something about it.

Sunday, June 23rd:
New Personal Distance Record (PDR) Today!!!  It wasn't particularly fast, but I enjoyed it a lot.  Mr. R&R and I rode from our home over to Rail Trail I rode last weekend. When we reached the end, we decided to throw all speed goals out the window in favor of trying to follow some crazy city streets that eventually connect to the Glacial Drumlin Trail (the site of my previous PDR set 11 months and 1 day ago).  After a few extra miles and a dicey traffic moments, we found the Drumlin's trailhead, refilled our water bottles, sucked down a GU, and turned for home since we were both getting pretty tired.  The ride back to our original trail was much less eventful and the remainder of the trail (6 miles) was completed at a nice, speedy pace.  We stopped again at the end of the Rail Trail to top off our water bottles and discuss the best route to take home.  We settled on a route and rode the last 4 miles as a slow speed cool down.
Now I'm tired and slightly sunburned, but incredibly happy.  I think that riding 12 more miles than the training plan called for counts as a reasonable substitute for a long run. Don't you?

Week 8 Totals:
Swim: 915 yards
Bike: 35.24 miles
Run: 4.13 miles

Looks like I'd better step it up on the running.  8 weeks down. 3 to go!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Crybaby Rant

Monday, June 17th:
(Warning: This is a very stream-of-consciousness rant. I do not promise to make any sense whatsoever.)
Tonight was not a good night. I got to open water practice late, so I had to scramble into my wetsuit and catch up with the rest of the herd, so I was already flustered. Once I was finally in the water, I kept swimming up on other people's feet and the only good option I had was to pop up and tread water for a few seconds to avoid getting kicked in the face.  This lead to the Iron Cheerleader admonishing me for 'putting me feet down' (even though I wasn't) and 'sighting incorrectly' (which is a known problem of mine).  I know it was rude, but I got so sick of listening to him, that I swam away mid-sentence before I ended up just stomping up the beach and calling it a day. To the Iron Cheerleader's credit, I think he recognized that I wasn't in a good place in my head and pretty much laid off on me for the rest of the workout.  I managed to finish the workout feeling much better than I had when I first got in the water, but that feeling wasn't going to last for long.  As we were stripping off wetsuits, drying off, etc., I mentioned that I'd received an email from the Pewaukee Tri race director saying that the swim certification requirements were: 2 minutes treading arms only, 2 minutes treading legs only, demonstrate ability to do more than the freestyle stroke, and swim 200 yards in deep water.  This sounded much better to me than 10 minutes of treading with legs only, followed by a 400 yard open water swim.  In fact, I was downright buoyed by it (pardon the pun).  Yeah...that happiness didn't last long. The Iron Cheerleader said he'd seen that email too and forwarded it to the certification organization for clarification.  According to that organization, the 10 minute legs only tread and the 400 yard open water swim is what's required. I. AM. PISSED.  Why? Because I'm tired of not getting a straight answer without having to hunt it down. I'm tired of people (see race director/certifying organization) failing to communicate with each other - and being on the losing end of that lack of communication.  Quite frankly, I'm tired of chasing a moving target.  I said goodbye to everyone, dragged myself (and a sopping wet wetsuit) back to the car, and proceeded to call Mr. R&R to vent my frustrations.  Once I got home, I hosed off my wetsuit like I was supposed to and hauled it inside so I could hang it in the bathroom to drip-dry. When I went to unzip it, the zipper wouldn't budge.  I tried. Mr. R&R tried. Nothing.  So right now, I have a dripping wet suit draped over the shower rod in my bathroom and it's virtually useless unless I can get that zipper down. I really didn't need this...I'm already having a hard enough time tonight. I think the craziness of all of this is finally starting to get to me. I'm tired. I'm frustrated. I'm stressed the %&#@ out. Yes, I know I'm being a crybaby right now and I said no more crybaby moments, but at the moment, venting here is the only thing standing between me and sending a very angry email to that race director (and I know that emailing under the influence of rage is a bad idea) or throwing in the towel altogether.  I also know there is absolutely nothing I can do about the wetsuit tonight - but it needs to be fixed - and pronto. I've only worn the damn thing one time!

I have a plan:  I'll be calling the shop that sold me the wetsuit first thing tomorrow morning and crossing my fingers that they'll be able to help me with the stuck zipper issue.  Once that's out of the way I'm hoping I'll have cooled off about the open water certification debacle and be able to send an intelligent email to the race director asking 'what gives'.  I also plan to pretty much destroy myself in the pool this week - doing everything I can to make sure I can pass that f-ing certification. I may not be able to control any of these situations, but I can react to them - I just need to make sure I react like a normal, sane, human being - not like a stressed out, over-emotional crybaby. This is the dark side of training for me...I am almost guaranteed to lose it at least once.  I've trained for enough races to know that I always have some sort of mini-breakdown in the process - and this seems to be it for this cycle.  Intellectually, I know that the wetsuit will get fixed somehow. I know that if I fail my open water certification that the world will not come to a screeching halt, no one will die, the only thing that will be harmed is my ego.  I just need to remember that.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Trails and Whales

Week 7 is history. Am I really this close to having to actually do this whole swim/bike/run thing? *gulp*  I feel like there's no way I'll be ready in time.

Monday, June 10th:
Another open water swim in Fleawaukee Pewaukee Lake with my fellow newbies - this time with a wetsuit.  The nice people at a local bike/tri shop held a wetsuit clinic on the beach last night and not only helped us determine what size wetsuit we needed, but instructed us on how to put them on/take them off, and encouraged us to wear them into the water. Talk about a great way to "interview" a wetsuit!  Once I was all suited up and ready to go, it was like a whole different experience in the water. It's amazing what a difference a few millimeters of neoprene can do for a girl.  First of all, I was much warmer - that water is still pretty chilly. Second, I felt a lot more calm in the water since the weeds were hitting the suit, and not my bare arms/legs.  Don't get me wrong, I was still a little freaked out since the water is really murky and I couldn't see 2 feet in front of me, but the wetsuit at least took the edge off my anxiety.  Finally, the extra buoyancy the suit provided almost completely negated the need to kick. I only had to flutter my legs a little bit every so often to keep them afloat, which saved a load of energy.  I have plans to go back this weekend and try on another size since I'm right on the cusp between sizes and acquire a suit of my own.

Of course, the wetsuit didn't solve all my open water problems - like my inability to site worth a damn.  I think the picture below sums it up better than words ever could.

After we returned the wetsuits and dried off a little, myself and 3 of my fellow newbies piled into my car in order to take a quick tour of the bike course. It may only be 14 miles, but holy $#!% it's really hilly. I can see that I'll be doing my long rides out there from now on or I'll never make it!

Tuesday, June 11th:
The Iron Cheerleader's plan called for a bike/run brick tonight, but in all honesty I'm still a little sore from Sunday's bike ride - if you know what I mean.  I decided to move Friday's rest day to today in order to recover a little more before tomorrow night's 5k and to do some long-neglected grocery shopping. I desperately needed to restock my cabinets and freezer - or risk succumbing to the siren song of the Qdoba up the street. 

Wednesday, June 12th:
Super(Soaker)Run 5k - This race was ridiculous enough to deserve its own post.

Thursday, June 13th: 
Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a bike clinic put on by my favorite bike shop owner/fellow tri team member/former Olympian, Brent Emery.  As it turned out, myself and one of my fellow newbies were the only ones able to attend, so we got a lot of one-on-one time with Brent.  We rode a lot of slow loops of a local playground, learning to control our bikes one-handed (accomplished by riding with one hand stretched out and touching Brent's shoulder), riding very close to another rider, group riding skills, and a whole lot of other good stuff.  I also learned that I'm not starting and stopping correctly.  After a little practice, one near tip over from a dead stand still, and multiple chain tattoos, I started improving.  If I learned nothing else tonight, this little gem alone was worth it.  He also took each of us out individually on a little jaunt through a neighborhood with a massive hill to work on our gear shifting techniques.  I've never felt that good going up a hill and it was fun riding with someone who is so talented.  I'm grateful that he was willing to give up his time for a couple of newbies.

Friday, June 14th:
It was back out to the lake today to test out another wetsuit - and this time Mr. R&R came with me!  After I got all suited up - quite the project - we did a short swim together so I could see how the smaller wetsuit felt compared to the one I tried on on Monday.  Honestly, the smaller suit fit better in some ways (around my torso/hips/thighs), but not as good in others (felt kind of bunchy in the arms and legs and pulled a little across my shoulders). Ultimately, I went for the medium. I'd rather have a suit that's a little too big in a few spots, but allows for greater freedom of movement.  Here's hoping I made the right choice because it was a final sale!  Funny enough, when I first started looking at wetsuits, I said I only had 2 requirements: I didn't want any pink on it and I didn't want the word Orca printed across my chest.  Go figure which one worked best for me!


Saturday, June 15th:
Mr. R&R were going to go for a run, but it started raining buckets about two seconds before we were going to leave.  My only thought was "Oh hell no! I just got my shoes dried out after Wednesday's insanity." We parked it on the couch.  I did download Triathlon for the Every Woman by Meredith Atwood to my Kindle. So far, it's really good - which doesn't surprise me since I'm a huge fan of Meredith's blog: Swim. Bike. Mom.

Sunday, June 16th:
I was supposed to meet some teammates at the beach this morning and we were going to ride the 14 miles of soul crushing hills that make up the Pewaukee Triathlon bike course, but somehow I managed to oversleep and couldn't quite get it together fast enough to meet them. Rather than writing off the workout completely, I loaded my bike up and drove over to the trail that Mr. R&R and I rode 2 weeks ago.  I realized that I had never gone on a solo long ride, so this ride was long overdue.  I started off nice and easy, just spinning easy and letting my legs warm up.  I'm glad I was going slow too, because within the first mile or so, a crazy deer kept running back and forth across the trail! I wasn't messing with that, so I stopped my bike, stopped my watch, and waited until he was done with his little game of Frogger since I'm pretty sure that in a deer vs. bike collision, the deer would win.

After that, I picked up the pace and was thoroughly enjoying myself - taking in the scenery and feeling unbelievably grateful just to be out there.

If you look closely, you can see a family of geese on the water
I was cruising along happily until a bee flew into the partially open zipper on my jersey, down my shirt, and eventually stung me in the ribs. It felt like a tiny white hot poker in my side. I stopped to make sure that a) the bee was out and b) the stinger wasn't still there.  I don't think I've been stung by a bee in at least 25 years so I also wanted to make sure that I wasn't about to have an anaphylactic reaction.  Once I figured out that I was okay, I doused it with some water from my bottle, and pedaled on.  That'll teach me to keep my jersey zipped up all the way - heat be damned!  I turned around just before the 8 mile mark and headed back toward my car.  On the way back, I was on fire!  I clocked a mile at just over 20mph and it didn't really feel all that difficult! The return miles flew by and I made it out to the end of the trail and back to my car in just under an hour.  What a great first solo long ride!

Week 7 Totals:
Swim: 350 yards
Bike: 22.13 miles
Run: 3.1 miles
Total Time: 2 hours, 59 minutes

Friday, June 14, 2013

SuperRun 5k

I think this race should have been renamed the SuperSoaker 5k.  When I left for the race, it had just started sprinkling a little bit.  By the time I got on the freeway (5 minutes away) it was raining much harder. Another 5 minutes on the road and that light drizzle had become a torrential downpour!  I contemplated turning around, but figured that I'd at least drive down to pick up my shirt (since I'd spent $20 to run this thing) and see if any of my teammates were there.


By the time I got down to Lake Park, the rain had tapered off to a drizzle again and, from the parking situation, it looked like half the free world had showed up to go for a run.  I did make a last minute decision to leave everything (read: phone, iPod, etc.) in the car and only carry my car key with me.  This would prove to be a very good move.

I jogged the 4 blocks from where I parked up to my tri team's tent, said hi, and headed off in search of my bib/timing chip/t-shirt.  Once that was out of the way, I was left with the problem of what to do with the t-shirt. I didn't have enough time to run it back to my car, so I ended up tying it to one of the cross poles in the roof of the team tent!

The IronCheerleader gathered his herd and gave us some last minute advice: go out slow, this is not a PR course so forget about it, the monster hill is at about 1.25 miles, and HAVE FUN!


The gun went off and I forced myself to hold back. I know I could have easily run a sub-9:00 minute first mile, but I would have died on the Ravine Road hill.  I settled in around a 9:45 pace and focused on trying to avoid the larger puddles as much as possible. This was an exercise in futility since my feet were pretty much soaked after half a mile.  I rounded the corner onto Lincoln Memorial Drive and let my pace drop a little as gravity took over on the only downhill of the entire race. I hit Mile 1 about 2/3 of the way down the hill at an even 9:30.  I probably should have pulled back on my pace a little for the rest of the downhill, but I knew that the evil of Ravine Road lay ahead so I banked as much time as I could leading up to it.  As I made the turn onto Ravine Road, it was drizzling a little harder, but I was too focused on running up that hill as long as I could. About half way up, I needed to drop to a walk for about a minute to catch my breath.  After I recovered a little, I ran the rest of the way up the hill.  Just as I topped out on the hill, lightening lit up the sky  torrents of rain began pouring.  Everyone was instantly soaked to the bone. I could have bailed right there, since I wasn't too far from my car at that point, but I decided that quitting this far in was equivalent to a Crybaby Moment, so I kept running along with just about everyone else.  The rest of the course was mercifully flat, but the pouring rain definitely added a serious challenge - both physically and mentally.  I hit Mile 2 and my Garmin flashed 9:41 for it.  Okay, not what I was hoping for, but after the misery of the hill, it was reasonable. The last mile was a killer.  The rain somehow picked up (how that's possible, I don't even know) and the wind whipping off the lake was freezing cold.  I started to have a few thoughts of 'I don't want to be doing this anymore.' and 'What the %#@! am I doing out here?'  My pace really started to suffer.  Finally, I reminded myself that there were to be no more crybaby moments and that I was dangerously close to being a crybaby - this last mile could suck for 10 minutes if I ran or longer if I stopped to walk.  I ran.  I hit Mile 3 at 10:00 even. I took the final turn and saw the race clock ticking away in front of me and I sprinted toward it.

Official Finish: 30:13.  Not a PR by any means, but considering the hill, the conditions, and the fact that this was my third race in seven days - it was much better than I expected to do. 

I worked my way back to the team tent, drank a watery beer while standing out in some seriously ugly weather, and then jogged back to my car.  I toweled off as best I could (so happy I'd thought to shove a beach towel in the car, covered the seat with said towel and headed home - shivering all the way!

At the moment (2 days later), I'm still trying to dry out my running shoes since I need them this weekend!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Too Many Crybaby Moments

Between training and racing it's been a very full week. I can feel myself getting stronger in some areas, but others - like swimming - still need a lot of work.  I also need to work on my mental toughness since I had far too many crybaby moments this week.

Monday, June 3rd:
Tonight's swim was a train wreck. I got stuck in traffic on the way to the pool and felt like crap the whole time I was in the water.  I pulled off the full 350 yards, but not in the combination that I was supposed to.  I needed to take a breather every 25 yards.  This does not inspire confidence in my swimming abilities.  Sigh. I will be redoubling my efforts on Thursday.

Tuesday, June 4th:
After yesterday's disastrous swim, I needed tonight's brick to go well since it was my last chance to cram one in before this weekend's race - and boy did it ever. Granted, these miles were all done on the trainer, but still...I'm not complaining!

After my stellar ride, I threw on my running shoes, dashed up the basement stairs, and headed out for a 1 mile run.  Not bad at all.
If I can translate any of this to the road, Sunday's race should make me very happy.

Wednesday, June 5th:
 Tonight's workout was a short track workout with the whole tri team (we only did 2x400).

After the track workout, we walked across a parking lot to join the local running club for their weekly 5k "fun run". There's no chip timing, no course support, just a course and a clock.  I knew that this wasn't going to be a p/r run for me since I was already a little tired from the track workout (what is it with repeats and kicking the crap out of me?).  There were a few words from the club's president and then he shouted 'Go'. I took off and settled into a relatively comfortable pace for the first mile as a light drizzle began to fall. Mile 2 was a little rough. I had to stop and walk it off a little - which annoyed me to no end.  I picked it up and started running again.  After a while, I started hearing one of my teammates over my shoulder and I figured that since I had stayed in front of her for this long, I wasn't about to let her pass me!  Go figure, the course was .19 miles longer than a 5k, but overall it was a pretty good run, but there's always room to improve.

It got even better when the running club invited us to join them for beer and a cookout in the parking lot.  We hung out in the rain eating brats and sipping Miller.  It's nice to have my first race of the year out the way, so hopefully that will take care of some of the nerves before Sunday's duathlon.

Thursday, June 6th:
I was supposed to go to the pool tonight, but my legs were just completely shredded from last night.  I realize that swimming probably wouldn't have been that rough on my legs, but I'm being extra cautious since I've got 2 more races in the next 6 days - yeah, 3 races in 7 days was not the smartest thing I've ever done.

Friday, June 7th:
After a particularly un-fun morning at work, I left at 1pm (yay, summer hours!) and headed home to change into my swimsuit and grab my forgotten flip flops before driving out to the pool to cram in last night's missed workout.  I pretty much threw the Iron Cheerleader's swim workout out the window and focused on figuring out how to breathe on my right side (I can sort of do it, but my head comes up so far that my legs sink) and how to do a catch up stroke (helps protect your head/face in a triathlon swim).  I was by no means fast, but I did put in 50 yards more than the Iron Cheerleader called for!
After that, it was a quick trip to the grocery store and then some last minute cleaning before Little Sister, The Boyfriend, and Mason came over for dinner.  I haven't seen Little Sis in a few weeks and I haven't seen Mason since February!  Don't worry, he's still as cute as ever - all 5 lbs of him! So, without further ado, here are the pics.

Saturday, June 8th:
Mr. R&R and I drove down to Cudahy early this afternoon to pick up my race number for tomorrow's South Shore Duathlon. It was uneventful, as usual, and we took the opportunity to take a little walk to what I remembered as 'The Hill from Hell' last year.  It was even steeper and nastier than I remembered!  Fortunately, we were able to stop and enjoy the view at the bottom - something I won't be doing tomorrow morning. The water was so clear, it almost looked inviting!

 The rest of the day was spent figuring out how auto-multisport mode works on my new Garmin, gathering my race gear, and hydrating like it was my job.

Sunday, June 9th
As always, the alarm went off too early.  I showered, put on my race clothes, strapped my bike to the car, and Mr. R&R and I were on our way back to Cudahy for the 2013 edition of the South Shore Rock 'n Ride Duathlon.
"Breakfast" was consumed enroute
Once we arrived, I inflated my tires, racked my bike, set up my transition area, and picked up my timing chip.  I also took a few minutes to walk myself through where the bike in/out and run in/out areas were - which is good since they changed a bit from last year.

As gun time drew closer, I followed the herd into the starting area and watched as the speed demons from Wave 1 took off. 30 seconds later, it was my turn since I was in Wave 2 this year.  As soon as the gun went off, I settled into a comfortably miserable pace since I knew I needed a time cushion to help mitigate the damage that the Hill From Hell would do to my pace.
All smiles at the start
 Mile 1 ticked by in 8:48, just before the top of the hill. The run down the hill was fun, except for dodging and weaving around some people.
Going Down
Unfortunately, the free speed boost of running downhill was quickly nullified by having to run back up the hill!  It's a very twisty path and I swear that every time you turn a corner, you think that it's got to be the top, but no...there's more hill.
Going Up
Once I was up the hill, I did the best I could to recover my pace, but the hill definitely did a number on it.
I jogged through transition, switched to my cycling shoes, jammed my helmet on and hustled out to the mount line.

T1 Time: 2:39 (Not good. Not good at all. I've been lax about practicing transitions and it showed. This was just downright sloppy.)

I jumped on my bike and started pedaling furiously.  The first 2 miles were awesome.  Miles 3-5 were terrible. Miles 6-8 were decent. Mile 9 was a friggin' trainwreck. Mile 10 was passable.

See...I don't just ride it in the basement!
I don't exactly know what happened on the bike leg, but I suspect that it was a combination of being in the wrong gears (even though my cadence was amazing) and some serious crybaby moments - both of the mental (mind started quitting) and physical (chafing somewhere really bad) variety.  Whatever the case may be, I need to figure it out and fast.

At long last, the bike leg, and it's accompanying mental breakdown, was over. I hustled into transition, re-racked my bike, ripped my helmet off, and switched back to my running shoes.

T2: 1:45 (better, but still could use some work)

The first part of the second run wasn't too bad since I don't think my legs had figured out what was happening yet.  Like last year, the second run was a reverse of the first run, which meant that the Hill From Hell came up early on.  I ran down it, but mostly power walked up it - another huge crybaby moment. By the time I got to the top, I just wanted to be done - especially since the final climb to the top is just ugly steep.
My legs felt like lead for the last mile and the cramps in my quads were quickly becoming unbearable.  I ended up run/walking most of the  last mile - and I paid for it. I got passed in the final 1/4 mile. That stung.
At long last, the finish line came into view and I did my best to sprint in.

Ready for it to be over.
Official Finish Time: 1:26:54
That's a full 4:54 slower than last year. I've narrowed the cause down to a couple of factors: 1) both run courses were quite a bit longer than they were last year 2) my transitions were slower because I was switching from running shoes to bike shoes to running shoes 3) my bike time wasn't as good as it should have been.  I could throw a tantrum about this, or I can learn from it and improve going forward.  I'm pretty sure that tantrums qualify as crybaby moments, so I think I'll take the learn/move on approach!

Week 6 Totals:
Swim: 800 yards
Bike: 20 miles
Run: 9.3 miles
Total Time: 3 hours, 9 minutes