Sunday, July 28, 2013

Back At It

This week marked my return to formal training for a road race, which meant a lot more running and a lot less swimming and biking.  I have 9 weeks to whip myself into half marathon shape, which seems like quite the project since I royally slacked on running long distances while I was tri training.  There will still be some swimming and biking mixed in because a) I don't want to lose the gains I've made in those sports over the last few months. b) I've finally found forms of cross training that I actually like. and c) I still have 2 more multi-sport races on my calendar this season.

I got out of work much later than planned on Monday night, so making it to open water practice just wasn't in the cards.  I was pretty bummed since A and I had planned to meet up and swim together.  As it turns out, she got buried at work as well, so maybe we just weren't meant to be there tonight!.  Mr. R&R asked me to run with him tonight - or at least make an attempt at it since on my best day I can barely keep up with him on his worst day. He slowed down to my snail pace and we did 6 miles together.  The first 4 miles were good. The last 2 sucked.  My run endurance is a disaster and my speed is pretty abysmal, but I made it.  The next few weeks are definitely going to be a challenge.

My Tuesday plan was 3 miles, but I realized that I needed to go out to my favorite running store to pick up a pair of shoes that they'd ordered for me.  When I arrived, I discovered that Adidas did something awful to my shoe model (Adizero Tempo) this year!
They look like a freakin' flamingo exploded all over them!
I don't know if I've ever mentioned it here, but I. Do. Not. Like. Pink. - especially when it comes to sportswear. I go out of my way to not buy anything pink, but it's getting harder and harder since most sportswear companies have decided that 'all girls love pink and only want to buy pink things'. I had resigned myself to sucking it up and wearing these things if I had to, but in a last ditch effort to avoid the flamingo shoes, I agreed to try on shoes from a different brand that had a similar weight and stability profile.  Meet the Saucony Mirage 3.

Love the colors!
They felt really good when I tried them on - and really good when I took them for a tiny "test run", so I decided to give them a try.  There's definite learning curve involved since the drop (heel height) in the Adizero's is 12mm and it's only 4mm in the Mirage.  Essentially, I need to re-train my leg muscles to compensate for the 8mm difference. This is fine with me since I've been wanting to move to a more minimalist shoe for a while now. While we were there, Mr. R&R came across a pair of Saucony Hattori's on clearance and picked them up. Talk about crazy shoes - they have a 0mm drop. They're basically the next best thing to running barefoot.
They look like slippers!  Those really have a learning curve - as in don't wear them more than a mile at a time until you're used to them and then work up slowly from there.  Of course, this meant that we needed to take our new shoes out for a run!  1 mile was just fine by both of us.  I noticed that the toe box on the Mirage is a bit more narrow than I'm used to and my legs definitely felt every bit of that 8mm, but I think with a little time, I'll get used to them.  If it doesn't work out, I'll be ordering last year's Adizero online.  Mr. R&R, on the other hand, will be using his Hattori's very sparingly since his calves still hurt two days later!

Another crazy day saw me still sitting at my desk at 6pm - and track practice starts at 6pm.  This whole "stuck at work" thing is really getting old.  By the time I finally made it home, a nice, soothing swim sounded like the best idea I'd had all day.  I threw my suit, goggles, cap, and towel in my bag and hightailed it to the pool.  I hit the water and swam 1200 yards. I contemplated sticking around and swimming another 400 to make it another even mile, but I was getting pretty hungry, so I called it a night and headed home.

Thursday and Friday were spent on the couch. I've felt a little run down lately, and I decided that getting a few solid nights of sleep sounded better than ending up sick and sidelined.  That made the photo below seem like a good idea late on Friday afternoon.
I'm pretty sure it's acceptable to drink at your desk when your boss hands you the beer.
On Saturday morning, I woke up and thought it was early September based on the weather!
There went my plans to take my bike out to the rail trail for a nice easy ride!  I ended up back out at my favorite running store this afternoon in search of shorts that actually look decent with my tri top since I plan to wear it to a couple of road races later this summer. All of my running shorts are pretty loose-fitting and they look absolutely ridiculous with the tri top - which is pretty much a second skin.  It looks fine with my tri shorts, but I don't particularly relish the thought of wearing anything with a chamois (the padding in bike/tri shorts) unless I'm going to be on my bike at some point in the race.  I ended up coming home with Moving Comfort 7.5" compression shorts.  The fit is nearly identical to my tri shorts and they have a small zipper pocket on the back of the waistband. So far, it seems like this company realizes that women might like to have some place secure to stash a key, and id, and a couple of dollars when they're out for a run!  I look nothing like the model below in them, but I'm kind of over caring if someone wants to judge the way I look in spandex. I look forward to trying them out soon - probably tonight!

While we were there, Mr. R&R noticed that there was a pair of women's Hattori's in my size sitting on a clearance table.  I tried them on and considering how cheap they were, I had to buy them.

Of course I had to try them out.  I knew going in that trying to run a mile in 0mm drop shoes with absolutely no cushioning whatsoever was a recipe for injury, so Mr. R&R and I did a nice little half mile loop around our neighborhood.  Running in these shoes was a very different experience. They forced me to land on my forefoot every single time and the impact of each stride was absorbed by my feet rather than being dispersed through the cushioning of a traditional shoe.  It wasn't painful per se, but I can definitely see why the kind of shoe you ease your way into wearing. My right ankle (the one that tends to collapse at the end of my stride) was a little sore about an hour later, so I did a little preemptive icing and it felt much better.

The unseasonably cool weather stuck around for Sunday and helped me have the most perfect run I've had in a very long time.  I ran 7 miles, never felt out of breath, never felt tired, never wanted to stop and walk. By the time I was done, I felt like I could probably run another 3 miles with no problem.  If all runs were like this one, I would never have to convince/bribe/bully myself out the door.  It was exactly the kind of run I needed to remind me why I run - I even managed a negative split!

That average is only 1 second per mile over my half marathon PR pace!

Weekly Totals:
Swim: 1200 yards
Bike: 0
Run: 15 miles
Total Time: 3 hours, 8 minutes

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Next Thing

I have to say, it was a little sad not having a workout waiting in my inbox on Monday morning. I felt a bit...lost. For the last 11 weeks I ate, slept, and breathed triathlon courtesy of the Iron Cheerleader's structured workouts. Now that my first triathlon is behind me, it's time to look the next thing.  In this case, the next thing is more like the next things.  It's time to start training for a half marathon (lucky #13) and a sprint tri - on back to back weekends in September.  And I may throw in a duathlon in August - just for fun.

I spent Monday on the couch recovering from the Pewaukee Tri.  I guess the 4 1/2 hour nap on Sunday afternoon just wasn't enough!  Monday was also the start of a really miserable heat wave around here, so I was perfectly content to be inside.

By Tuesday, I was itching to do something - anything really, so I headed for the pool at 9:00 at night for a quick 500 yards. I wanted to go longer, but time was not on my side.

Wednesday was track practice with the tri team. I made it about 1/2 way through the workout before I was ready to melt into a puddle on the track.  I'm kind of looking forward to making Wednesday night track practice part of my routine.  One of the guys there told me that these workouts helped him shave a minute off his mile time - in a month.  After dinner, I went for another 2 miles - they were tough, but good miles.  

Thursday seemed like a good day to sit on my booty and do nothing - so I did.

Normal people go out for beers/dinner on Friday night.  I went to the pool.  I started out with the intention of doing about 800 yards - and ended up doing 1600. A full mile...50 yards at a time...took just under an hour to finish I think I'm really starting to like this whole swimming thing.   Oh...and I registered to do this:
I'm volunteering at a run course aid station at Ironman Wisconsin
I've also been talked into volunteering at the USAT Nationals here in Milwaukee next month.  I've been racing for a long time and I've never volunteered at one - time to give back.

Saturday was Yada Yada and Texas' combined 50th birthday party - complete with a full on Texas bbq, lots of yummy beer...and a fondant armadillo!

Sunday should have been long run day, but laziness and then pouring rain kept me inside.  Originally I had planned to drive down to cheer people on at IM 70.3 Racine, but the thought of rolling out of bed before sunrise 2 Sundays in a row just didn't sound like fun. I wasn't too unhappy about it since I'm throwing myself back into full on training mode again on Monday.  I read a couple books, watched a movie, and spent time hanging out with my three favorite guys: Mr. R&R, Walter, and Spot.
Mom and Dad let us play in the kitchen today! We're never allowed in there!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pewaukee Lake Sprint Triathlon

PSA: You might want to go find a snack and a drink before you read's going to be long!

The alarm clock went off at Stupid O'clock this morning (3:45am) and we were on the road to the race venue by 4:30am. We arrived at the finish/parking area around 4:50am, quickly unloaded my bike and all the necessary gear and walked the 1 1/2 miles to transition.  I actually didn't mind the walk since it gave me something to do with all the nervous energy I had worked up!

It took a while to find my spot in transition, but I got everything set up pretty quickly (and discovered that my friend T's sister had the rack space next to me!) and spent a little time walking through the area, memorizing the path from the swim exit to my rack and from the bike-in back to my space.  A lot of people mark their spots with balloons of some sort, so I was able to use a bumblebee balloon and an Elmo balloon as landmarks.  That would definitely prove to be useful later on.

After going through body marking, I met up with the Iron Cheerleader and the rest of the Newbie Herd for a group picture and a pre-race huddle/pep-talk. I also bumped into Yada Yada and Texas. Yada Yada was racing this thing in honor of his 50th birthday and both he and Texas offered a little last minute advice and encouragement as well.  Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to Mr. R&R and walking toward the swim start with some of my fellow Newbies. It was really calming to be around the same people I'd trained with all along.
L to R: T's sister, Me, A, D, and T
We filtered through the time trial gate and T1 and I entered the water together and stayed together the whole time - just like our Monday night swim practices.  The swim really blew me away. I knew I was swimming very slowly, but I didn't care. I was calm and in control the whole time.  I only took one kick to the back, the water was much clearer than normal (I found out later that the city of Pewaukee actually sent people out twice during the week to cut down the weeds), and I. Didn't. Freak. Out!  Before I knew it, my hands were touching sand and it was time to stand up!  I ran up some pretty nasty rocks, while simultaneously stripping off my wetsuit and flashing big smiles at my mom and Mr. R&R.  I also saw the Iron Cheerleader on my run to T1 screaming "Yes! Yes! Yes! %*#@-ing Yes!" at T and I.

 Official Swim Time: 12:51

I ran across the street to transition, finished stripping my wetsuit, rinsed my feet, threw on a bike jersey and shoes, and ran my bike to the mount line.

T1: 5:33 (Ouch! Must. Get. Faster.)

I settled onto my saddle and prepared to power through the 14 miles of hills.  Last weekend's course recon ride definitely worked to my advantage. I knew where all the big hills were and where the (very few) flats were, so I knew when to switch gears and when to spin faster.  I felt really good the whole time. I ate a GU around Mile 5 and again around Mile 12 and managed to polish off most of my water, so my fueling strategy was spot on.  All that climbing was worth it for the downhills. I hit 32.8mph at one point!

Official Bike Time: 50:52 (16.5mph avg.)

I didn't even bother trying to run my bike back to the rack in T2 since my legs were already toast.  I swapped my bike shoes for my running shoes, added another layer of sunscreen, clipped on my race belt and jogged toward the Run Out.

T2 Time: 2:54 (ugh)

I hit the run course with one goal in mind: Finish.  I anticipated, from last weekend, that this run was going to be nothing but steep hills and pain - and it didn't let me down.  After waving to Mr. R&R and my mom, I fell in next to a guy I'd been leap frogging with on the bike and we ended up covering the next 3 miles together.
As my new found buddy and I were climbing one of the wicked hills, we passed none other than Fireman Rob!  I didn't even know he (and a giant M&M-looking thing apparently) was going to be racing here today.
My new partner and I worked our way through the hills as the temperature began to climb.  The only way to describe the run is brutal. I walked more than I wanted to, but honestly I feel like I did the best that I could with those hills. The water stations were very welcome sights and I greedily gulped down water and squeezed ice cold sponges over my head.  Finally the finish line came into view and we both broke into a sprint down the final straight away.  I think I beat him by a nose!

Official Run Time: 31:49

Official Finishing Time: 1:44:02

I was greeted with hugs and congratulations from Mr. R&R, my mom, the Iron Cheerleader and Yada Yada.  I collected my medal, scarfed down a banana and the best damned cookie I've ever eaten. I was also a pile of raw emotion - ready to cry at the drop of a hat.  I haven't cried after a race since 2011!

The Newbie Herd met up for one final official activity: a champagne toast courtesy of the Iron Cheerleader!
We Swam. We Biked. We Ran. We are TRIATHLETES!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Final Countdown

Monday, July 8th:
Me vs. The Flea: Final Showdown (before the race).  By now it's obvious how much I despise Fleawaukee Pewaukee Lake.  The water is dark brown, cloudy, and full of weeds that seem to like wrapping themselves around my arms and neck while I'm swimming. After last Saturday's spectacular crash and burn in the water the last thing in the world I wanted to do was get back in that water, but I also knew I owed it to myself to give it another shot before Sunday's race, so I hauled myself out there.  I ran into T on the beach and as we paddled around in the shallow water, we started talking about how anxious we were and how neither of us really wanted to be doing this.  We agreed to swim together at the slowest pace we could manage - and just get through it. There was a lot of side stroke on the back stretch and a really foul mouthful of seaweed, but I had my face in the water more than it was out.  Long story short: we finished the 400 yard course in just under 13 minutes - and felt good enough to do another 50 in the shallow area.  To give you an idea of how gross the water is, my Garmin claimed we only swam 322 yards because it kept losing its satellite connection from all the murk and weeds!  It may not have been pretty, but we. did. it.

The Iron Cheerleader has asked us to share our 'race mantras' on the Newbie Herd's Facebook page, so for the rest of the week, I'll share mine here as well.

Swim Mantra
Tuesday, July 9th:
Rest Day.

Wednesday, July 10th:
Mr. R&R and I loaded up our bikes and hit the rail trail for a few easy miles. I felt really good. Too bad the race course isn't flat like the rail trail!  I ended up resetting my watch due to some technical issues with Mr. R&R's bike, so the 12 miles is broken up into 2 segments.

When we got home, I discovered that the same bolt that caused me so much trouble last Saturday had come loose again.  Looks like I'll be making an emergency trip to Emery's tomorrow.  I don't want to have to worry that my shoe will come apart mid-race!

Thursday, July 11th:
Emergency trip to Emery's (aka The Bike Gurus) to have my cleat looked at.  It took the guy about 5 minutes to screw everything back together - and another 5 minutes to explain some technical stuff about "dry screw threads" seeming tight, but not.  It sounds like I should be good to go on Sunday, but I'm adding an allen wrench to my bike bag just in case - since I won't have the Iron Cheerleader there to rescue me!

Bike Mantra
Friday, July 12th:
The Iron Cheerleader's plan called for an 8 mile bike/.5 mile run brick on Thursday, but since I was dealing with the shoe problem, I had to move it to today.  I wanted to test the bolt on my shoe in a 'safe location', so I set my bike up in the trainer and started spinning.  I made an executive decision to cut the bike portion down to 6 miles so I wouldn't burn out my legs before Sunday.  I think the Garmin data says it all!
I think I've finally overcome my trainer/speed issues!
I hopped off the bike, pulled on my running shoes, and stepped outside for a quick half mile run.  Everything felt good.  Even the jello legs weren't an issue!
My next project for the night was to create a packing list for the race. Triathlon requires an inordinate amount of stuff compared to a simple running race and I'm terrified of forgetting something important.  Making the list made me feel like a little bit like a neurotic pack rat, but at least now I'm less likely to do something really stupid on Sunday - like forgetting my goggles or my bike shoes!

Saturday, July 13th:
Expo/Packet Pick Up Day!  Somehow a race never feels real until packet pick up- then the reality hits you like a ton of bricks.  I picked up my race number (for the run), bike/helmet stickers, and my timing chip - and got my wristband so I can get in and out of transition tomorrow.  I also attended the race director's First Timer's seminar.  It was mostly stuff I already know (transition closes at 6am, drink plenty of water, etc.) but it was nice to hear what the plan is in case of trains (there are 2 sets of train tracks on the bike course) and I had a few shaking-my-head moments when he opened the floor to questions. You'd think most people who are slated to do a triathlon in less than 24 hours would already know some basic things, like:  order of the disciplines  (swim/bike/run), what a transition area is, and that the rules apply to everyone!

When I got home, I took my list and started assembling all my stuff.

Triathlon or the Invasion of Normandy?
Once everything was packed up, I spent the rest of the day chugging water and Gatorade, forcing myself to eat dinner (nerves killed my appetite), and laying on the couch like a lump.

I'm as ready as I'm going to get. It's time to do this thing!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

And Sometimes The Cleat Comes Off

This week has been a little unusual since the workout schedule is much less structured than normal.  Between holidays, special training events, and life in general, this week has been much less intense in some ways and more intense in others.

Monday, July 1st:
The Iron Cheerleader gave us the day off today, but I really wanted to get in another swim, so I planned to hit the lake after the work along with some of the other Newbie Herd members.  However, by the time I got home from work, I was dealing with a pounding headache and all I wanted to do was lay in a cool, dark room until it went away.  By the time the headache cleared it was too late to go out to the lake, so I drove out to the pool.  850 yards later I was on my way home - at 9:30 at night!

Tuesday, July 2nd:
My office is extremely short-staffed this week due to vacations, but the deadlines remain the same.  I ended up working a 10 hour day and the rest day that the Iron Cheerleader prescribed for Monday came in very handy today.

Wednesday, July 3rd:
Bike ride? What bike ride?  After another grueling day at the office (think marathon at sprint pace), it didn't take much for me to decide that dinner and wine with Mr. R&R followed by 10 solid hours of sleep was a better plan.

Thursday, July 4th:
A free day off? Don't mind if I do!  The Iron Cheerleader's plan called for rest, beer, and bbq today, but I had different plans in mind.  I haven't really practiced a full swim/bike/run transition yet and today offered the perfect opportunity.  I set about gathering all the stuff I would need if the triathlon was tomorrow and holy crap...that's a lot of stuff!
I propped my bike and helmet nearby and squirmed into my wetsuit.  Since I needed to practice getting out of a sopping wet wetsuit fast and I don't have a lake in my back yard, I had to settle for having Mr. R&R spray me with freezing cold water from the hose.  It actually wasn't too bad since it was hot out and I was sweating like crazy from the wetsuit. Once I was sufficiently drenched, I ran across the yard toward my transition area, stripping off my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles as I went.  I finished peeling off the suit, rinsed off my feet, put on my bike shoes and helmet and ran my bike to the end of the driveway - my mount line for this little endeavor.  T1 Time: 2:23.  After a quick ride around the block, I swapped my bike shoes for socks and running shoes and took off for another lap around the block. T2 Time: 1:20.  I know that my transition times on race day will be longer since there's a longer run from the beach to the transition area, but it still felt good to practice.  It'll be easier on race day if the movements come automatically rather than having to think about what I'm doing.

Later that night, Mr. R&R and I went for a short (1 mile) run and watched the fireworks from a couple of different municipalities around us. 

Friday, July 5th:
I didn't do a darn thing other than work today, because Saturday was going to be a very big day!

Saturday, July 6th:
Today I met the Iron Cheerleader, several members of the Newbie Herd, and a bunch of people from my tri team out at the lake so we could have a dress rehearsal of next week's race course.  It wasn't the best day of my life.  I had a mild panic attack in the water and ended up in a shouting match with the Iron Cheerleader on the beach.  I figured once I was out on the bike course everything would be okay.  Around Mile 6, something started feeling wrong and sure enough, one of the bolts that holds the cleat on the bottom of my left bike shoe fell out!  Crap.  I managed to find the two pieces that came off, but there I was, stuck on the side of the road with a busted shoe.  I was trying to screw it back in by hand when the Iron Cheerleader happened upon me.  He produced an allen wrench from his bike bag (mental note: add allen wrench to bike bag), fixed my shoe, and we continued along the course.  Somewhere around Mile 10, we made peace and I actually enjoyed the last few miles.  That bike course is some seriously hilly business.  My legs were burning from all the climbing, but the downhills made it worth it!  At one point, I topped out at nearly 33mph on one! We all switched to running shoes and took off down the road.  If I thought the bike course was hilly, the run course might as well have been the Alps!  Every time I got to the top of a hill, there was another one to climb.  About a mile in, I came upon my fellow Herd member, A, and she was struggling badly.  Her asthma was flaring up and she was all by herself since our group runs at very different paces.  We decided to stay together and do the best we could with the situation at hand.  Eventually, we made it to the finish.  All I can say, is that next weekend is going to be rough!

Sunday, July 7th:
After yesterday, all I want to do was stay in the air conditioned comfort of my house, so that's exactly what I'm doing.  I have some huge laundry piles to get through, and we have a cute little house guest that needed a little attention as well.

We're pig-sitting for a week!
10 weeks down, 1 to go.  Gulp!

Week 10 Totals:
Swim: 1144 yards
Bike: 13.43 miles
Run: 3.71 miles
Total Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes