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!