And then I tapered.

Since I didn’t start writing about my training until peak week, taper came really quickly:) Well, at least in the context of blogging about it…

Actually, in truth, this training cycle has gone by pretty quickly overall. It might be related to the fact that I didn’t get serious about the bike until about 10 weeks out from the race. {Are you wondering why I would neglect my weakest sport for the first half of training? No good reason – I just don’t like the trainer much, but have a “too cold to bike” threshold of about 40 degrees. Chalk it up to “things I now know about training for a spring triathlon”.}

I began the week feeling completely dead, but I definitely started to see some recovery by the end. Overall there was still a decent amount of volume (double digit hours!), but even  the 25% reduction from peak weeks made a big difference by Saturday and Sunday.

Monday

  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

The weekend’s workouts destroyed me. I was exhausted and my legs burned just walking up the stairs in my house. I normally take Friday’s off, but knew that taking a rest day after peak weekend was the right thing to do.

Tuesday

  • Planned: 5x1k @ HMP + 2600 Swim
  • Actual: 7.5M w/1k @ 4:34, 4:34, 4:32, 4:32, 4:30 + 2480 m Swim

I originally planned to use my 70.3 1/2 marathon goal pace as the target (like I did in 2012), but decided to see how my legs were feeling and push them slightly harder by using my stand-alone 1/2 goal pace (7:20). My breathing and heart rate felt good – solid, but my legs definitely felt tired. It was good to get some turnover though and be back at the track (in the rain). And I was very grateful that I wasn’t planning to do these at my *normal* 1k pace (4:03-04).

I went to the pool after work and happily jumped in the lane with my friend, Brady. We chatted a bit about training and upcoming races before I got started. I was about 1200 m into the workout when the lifeguards started taking the lane ropes out to switch the pool from meters to yards to make room for water polo practice. It was slightly annoying, because I prefer swimming in meters, but I was happy that my hard 100’s in my last set (10×100 alternating hard/easy) were consistently at 1:15.

 Wednesday

  • Planned: 1:15 Ride w/28′ Tempo + Bike (re) Fit
  • Actual: 24M @ 19.3 mph w/10M tempo @ 20.8 mph

It was foggy and cool (seriously, still wearing arm warmers in May?!) but at least it wasn’t raining! My legs have definitely recovered a little from the weekend, but I could tell in the tempo portion that I still have some lingering fatigue.

I had a 3D bike fit back in March, which slightly improved my level of comfort on the bike, but it still wasn’t quite right. I went back to see Tim again to see if we could make some adjustments to make me less miserable after mile 30. He tilted the saddle down and moved it forward slightly and made some adjustments to the pads on the aero bars. Fingers crossed this does the trick.

Thursday

  • Planned: Brick: 1:10 Ride/20′ Tempo Run + 2600 Swim
  • Actual: 23.2M @ 19.1 mph/2.83M @ 7:05 min/mile + 2600 yd Swim

I went to bed at 8:30 on Wednesday night, so the 5:30 alarm didn’t hurt much at all:) It was damp and foggy again. I didn’t push the pace on the ride, but I tried to pick up the effort for the last 3-4 miles to see how I would feel running off the bike. The first mile was tough! My heartrate was through the roof. But I settled in pretty well after that and even felt like I was holding back a little in low 7’s for the last mile or so.

I met Ashley at the pool after work (yay for swimming buddies!) and we did a whole bunch of 50’s and some pulling with paddles. The pool was set up in yards again for water polo practice so the intervals felt speedy, even though I still am not feeling super recovered yet.

Friday

  • Planned: 1:30 Foundation Ride
  • Actual: 27M @ 18.2 mph

Meh. When I got on the bike, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t tired or especially fatigued, I just didn’t really feel like riding. It was another foggy, misty day (seriously, where is the SUN?) and I started feeling a bit uncomfortable in the saddle pretty early. It got better as the ride went on, but I was glad to be off and done with workouts for the day.

I went to see Tim again that afternoon to make a few more adjustments. I was so sore (sit bones, soft tissue, etc.) that it was hard to tell, but it felt like we might have found the sweet spot for the saddle. No more chances to test it out, so here’s to hoping…

Saturday

  • Planned: 8M Run + 2600 Swim
  • Actual: 8M @ 8:03 avg.

I woke up naturally around 7:30 and headed out for my run at 8ish. It was warm (finally!) and the sun felt really good. I took Walter with me for the first 3 miles then headed out to finish up. My goal was to average in the low 8’s (ideally my race pace this weekend), but I also wanted to stay completely relaxed and make sure that I wasn’t pushing too hard to affect my recovery. It was an almost perfect run. I felt really, really good and was happy to finally see some life back in the legs.

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After the run, I packed up my bike and all race stuff that was in Virginia Beach and headed to Richmond. Once I got there, I put on my race tires, cleaned my bike and did some final bike prep before packing it up, along with my tri bag to drop off for Tri Bike Transport. The closest place they were picking up was just outside of DC, at Bonzai Sport in Falls Church, so I made the 1:45ish drive up that afternoon and said goodbye until I see it again in Chatt! By the time I finished everything and got back, the pool was closed, which was fine because all I wanted to do was eat dinner and chill.

Sunday

  • Planned: 2:00 Ride
  • Actual: 36M @ 18.4 mph

I met a group out at Laurel Park at 10 a.m. and rode a similar route to the week before. I headed out with the B+ group, but we ended up splitting up after 10ish miles and I stuck with 3 guys that were pushing a pace a little. I felt good. So, so much better than the week before (we also didn’t hit all of the climbs). This was a good confidence booster – finally riding without trashed legs.

I contemplated swimming in the afternoon, but decided to just hang with Brad and dogs instead. We went grocery shopping, did some yard work, took a nap and went for a nice long walk after dinner.

Totals:

  • Swim: 4860 meters (shorter than planned)
  • Bike: 110 miles
  • Run: 18.5 miles
  • Time: 10 hours, 15 minutes

 

Posted in bike, Goals, Races, running, swimming, training, triathlon, Weather, weekly recap | 1 Comment

Thinking Out Loud

Just some random and rambling thoughts about a few things that I have come across lately…

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. I had never heard this phrase (or concept) before the last few weeks and now it seems to be popping up everywhere. I find it super interesting from the view of cultures and social behaviors, but there are far better places you can go to read intellectual discussions about that. I do want to talk about why this struck a chord with me in my life right now…There were many spaces in time in the last 10 years that I could easily have pointed to 5 people in my life and said, ‘these are the 5 people I spend the most time with’ and could have definitely reasoned that I am an “average” of their influences. But what about today? It’s been less than a year since we moved to Virginia and while I have met some really fantastic people, living in two different cities makes it really hard to establish my tribe (squad? crew?). So what does that mean in the context of this discussion? Well, Brad is the one constant in my life, but what about my other 4? By nature, I spend a ton of time with people I work with, but am I defined by their influence? (I hope not!) I talk to my mom almost everyday, does she count? What about my far away BFF’s that I text with every.single.day? Without a “squad” surrounding me on a regular basis, the idea of this makes me a little uncomfortable. Do I lose identity because I don’t have “my 5”? What does being the “average” of people even mean? I am super curious on how other people might think about this phrase and how it applies to you?

“That is my achilles heel”. This is another one that seems to keep popping up in random places (everywhere! I heard it again today!). The idea is that someone’s biggest weakness, is their “achilles heel” (am I the only one that wasn’t familiar with this phrase?). It’s strange to me because I always thought of the achilles heel – in the literal sense – as being this solid foundation in my body, playing a huge role in simple things like…walking and standing. A quick Google search tells me that the phrase has origins in Greek Mythology, which makes more sense, but regardless, I am still thinking a lot about the concept. What is my achilles heel? How has it changed and how does it translate from one area of my life to others? In triathlons, I believe it is my ability to get to a pain place on the bike (getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, if you will). In running – translating training into race performances. I could go on, in almost every area of my life. But I curious – Am I clueless for never having heard of this? Anyone else want to share what their “achilles heel” is?

“A bad day doesn’t mean that I didn’t put in the work or I have lost fitness. It just means that the work will pay off later.” – Desi Linden I have read and listened to several interviews with Desi in recent months. I have always liked her – the super solid, crazy competitive, less ‘commercialized’ runner among the top female US Marathoners. She does things her own way, including racing & training and is unapologetic about it. Everything about her approach to the sport makes me a fan. And when I read this quote on Salty Running about her comments before the US Half Marathon Championships (where she got 2nd…again), it stuck with me. We naturally tend to judge our fitness and the amount of work we put into a training cycle by the outcome of the race and that just isn’t always the best indicator. So as I come up on my A-race next week, knowing that there are so many factors that could affect the outcome, I want to remember this and know that good day or bad day – the work will pay off, at some point.

That’s all I’ve got…nothing profound. Truly just some rambling thinking out loud.

Posted in bike, friends, life, Moving, running, training, triathlon | 2 Comments

Comparing Me to…Me

I have spent a lot of time this training cycle looking back at my training leading up to Beach to Battleship in 2012. Yeah, yeah, I know. Comparison is thief of joy. Never compare yourself to your former self. I get it and maybe I am just torturing myself. But that day, was one of those once-in-a-lifetime races where everything comes together perfectly, so it is hard not to want to analyze what led up to that.

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2nd Place AG after B2B

While I think it hasn’t been all bad to compare the two training cycles (some things were definitely better this time!), what I have to remember is that everything about this race is different than that one.

The Course

Beach 2 Battleship was flat. There were a couple of bridges on the ride, but for the most part, the bike was pancake flat and it was a rare not-super-windy day on the coast of North Carolina. The run was also completely flat and temps never got above 75º. Perfect conditions & course for a fast race.

Chattanooga is…not flat.

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2200 ft. of climbing over 56 miles isn’t crazy. I have ridden about the same on a few of my long rides and it just rolls constantly. Sort of always up or down. With fresh legs, that doesn’t terrify me too much.

What does scare me is this:

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800+ feet of climbing in 13.1miles is A LOT. Like alot, alot. I have run the hilliest routes I can find in Richmond and managed to only find about 450 ft. of climbing over 10-12 miles. To get some perspective, I looked up the elevation gain from what (to me) seemed to be one of the hilliest marathons – NYC – and it only had about 800 feet over the entire 26.2 miles. So yeah – this scares me. Especially if the weather holds as it is showing now at 86 degrees.

Location & Training 

When I trained for B2B, I lived in Greenville, South Carolina and had training partners galore. I rarely rode or ran solo and almost all my swim workouts were with the Master’s group. Greenville is hilly, so even when I wasn’t trying to run or ride on hills, I was running and riding on hills.

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One of my longest rides before B2B. 3,700 ft. of climbing like nbd.

Now, I live in Virginia – between Richmond & Virginia Beach. I make the ‘commute’ each way once a week, which adds complexity to the logistics of life and means I must always plan for workouts, gear, pools, etc in advance. I had super awesome, consistent swimming buddies for the majority of swims in the first part of this cycle, but for the last half, most of my swims have been solo. I typically ride most long rides with a group in Richmond, but the midweek rides are ALL solo. And the runs – yep, solo. Richmond has some hills and I have done most of my long rides on rolling routes, but I am not forced on them like I was before. And well. VB is about as flat as it gets, unless you count the wind as one giant hill?

My Fitness

I was surprised to look back at my running paces from the B2B training cycle and see that I wasn’t doing speed work, tempos or long runs much slower than I am today. Given that I have dropped 16+ minutes in the marathon, 7+ minutes in the 1/2, 2+ minutes in the 10k and almost 1 minute in the 5k since 2012, I just assumed that I was *slower* then. But (on paper) I was not. I feel like a different runner though. I have more experience and have run more miles, and while the paces are similar, they somehow feel different. I don’t know what that means or how to explain it – maybe just chalk it up to experience, but I feel like a stronger runner than I was then.

2012 vs. 2016

Longest run. Eerily Similar.

It is hard for me to compare swimming, as I don’t have any workout splits from 2012. My race times seemed to be a bit faster in 2012 than recent races, but it can be hard to compare from course to course on swimming times. I don’t necessarily feel faster, but I know I have worked really hard in the pool this time around.

The bike? Well, I do know one thing – my actual bike is faster:) I have a super speedy triathlon bike with carbon wheels now, so that has to count for something, right? Right?! On a serious note – my training ride paces are generally a solid 2+ mph faster now, but I am also riding on less hilly routes the majority of the time so again, kind of hard to compare. Having more miles under my belt from the last 3.5 years definitely feels like it has made me a more experienced cyclist, but my mental game is a little off on the bike right now, so that is a factor.

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I am sure there are other things that make it hard to compare the two training cycles, like my age?! and sleep (much more these days!), but in reality, we all know that when it comes down to the day – sometimes it doesn’t really matter if all the prep is there (or not), some days are *your day* and some are not.

What is really funny to me is that when I started reading back over some of my blog posts leading up to Beach 2 Battleship, I found this post. This entire post is focused on how I needed to learn to be comfortable with missed bike workouts and lack of time in the pool. What?! That’s not at all what I remember from that training cycle. I remember nothing but hilly bike rides from beginning to end and tons of Master’s swims. I guess memory is a bit imperfect, huh?

Posted in bike, Goals, Greenville, life, Moving, Races, running, swimming, training, Travel, triathlon, Weather | 3 Comments

How was Peak Week?

Since I made #thereturn to the Internet smack dab in the middle of peak week, I thought I would talk a little about what it looked like and how it went.

As I mentioned in my race recap, the original training plan had two big peak weeks back-to-back following a cutback week that included an Olympic Distance race. Flip flopping to accommodate the race, meant I came into this final peak week a little more fresh than I would have otherwise. This, unfortunately, didn’t mean that I got to the end of the week feeling fresh and full of energy. But I guess that’s not really the point. Right?!

So what did peak week look like?

Monday

  • Planned: 1:25 Ride w/30′ Tempo
  • Actual: 27.6M @ 19.8 mph w/30′ @ 21.6 mph

I had to be in Virginia Beach by 9 a.m. for work so I left Richmond before 7 to get the dogs to Camp and myself to the office on time. I was feeling itchy all day to get home and ride before thunderstorms rolled in. It was warm – probably the warmest ride yet, but it felt good after such a cold spring. My legs were fresh, strong and smooth during the tempo. All I could think was- where was this on Saturday?!

Tuesday

  • Planned: 2600 Swim + ‘High Intensity’ Brick: 1:15 Ride/30′ Tempo Run
  • Actual: 2600 yd swim w/2100 straight + 24.3M Ride @ 19.6 mph/4.1M @ 7:16 avg.

A 7 a.m. meeting meant being in the (very warm) water at the gym closest to my office by 5:25. I did the long, straight swim that normally would be on the weekend so I could get the most amount of yds in the shortest amount of time.

More thunderstorms on tap for the evening meant another rush to get on the bike after work. I pushed the pace on the ride and feared what that meant for the run, but I felt GOOD. Don’t get me wrong – it hurt, but unlike last weekend, I was able to hold it together and hit my paces.

Wednesday

  • Planned: 3000 Swim + 2:00 Ride
  • Actual: 3000 m swim w/25×100’s + 37M @ 18.3 mph

I had plans to meet swimming buddy, Brady, at our normal (also very warm) rec center pool, but he overslept, so I was on my own. I didn’t mind as the 5 different sets of 100’s flew by. I even had a random lane buddy join me for the last 5x100m @ 1:35.

It was cooler and misty during the ride and I could definitely feel the work from the previous days in my legs. Sometimes I feel like I should be working really hard on every ride, so I had to remind myself that (just like running), some rides are for foundation and not about speed or how hard I can push.

Thursday

  • Planned: Corporate 5K (+ warm-up & cool-down)
  • Actual: 7.1M: 3M @ 7:58 + 21:30 5k (6:55 min/mile) + 1M @ 8:36

It almost felt like a rest day since I was able to sleep in with no workout in the morning! It’s been well over a year since my last stand-alone 5k and while I knew a PR wasn’t in the cards, I wanted to see if I could hold 6:45 and go sub-21. The pace started out comfortable and even though it hurt like hell (as all 5k’s do!) I felt good about having enough in the tank to push in the last mile. I thought I was on track to hit my sub-21 goal because my splits (according to Garmin) were 6:47, 6:49, 6:42 & 6:25 (0.18), but I must have been weaving too much around the water puddles (it was raining!) or gone too wide on turns because my watch was off from the course by almost 0.1. Still, I was 3rd female and had a blast with my small group of coworkers that raced.

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Cinco de Soaking Wet

Friday

  • Planned: REST
  • Actual: REST

There are not enough words to describe how glorious these rest days are when they finally arrive. I made the drive to Richmond on Friday morning and worked from home all day because our sump pump went out (after 3 days of rain) and I needed to make sure the house didn’t flood (!) and get the plumbers all set up to get it fixed. Not the most relaxing start to the day, but it all worked out fine in the end.

Saturday

  • Planned: 3:30 – 3:45 Ride
  • Actual: 65.3M @ 17.7 mph

I met up with the RABA group at a different location than I normally do on Saturdays. I thought it would be fun to mix up the scenery, plus this group was going a little longer so it meant less solo riding. I did an out-and-back from Laurel Park an hour before the start so that I would be done for the day at the end of the 49-mile group ride. A pace had not been pre-determined in the emails, but after we started, the ride leader said he was planning a 15 mph pace. This is quite a bit slower than I would normally ride and a little math told me I would be on my bike 4+ hours if I stayed with the group. I had the cue sheet so I rode off the front and thankfully one other guy joined me. We rode the next 35ish miles together, including the “3 Sisters” hills. I was very grateful for his company, but he was much faster than me so I was pushing hard on the flats/rollers to hold his wheel and he had to wait for me at the top the climbs. When I rolled back to my car at 3 hours and 40 min, I was more than happy to call it a day. My legs were SHOT.

Sunday

  • Planned: 12M Run + 2800 Swim
  • Actual: 12M @ 8:25 + 2800 yd swim w/800 straight, 4×200 pull, 8×100’s

I knew within the first 4 miles that this run was going to be a doozy. My legs felt so heavy, even on the steady downhill of the first half of the run. I was dreading the hills and sure enough – they destroyed me. I knew I needed to force myself to run through them instead of picking a flatter route because Chattanooga has 800 feet of climbing on the run. I was able to talk myself out of stopping/walking for the first 9 miles, but when I hit the bottom of those hills toward the end, I took breaks to get my heart rate down and collect myself. Bonk City.PicMonkey Collage

Honestly, the last thing I wanted to do after that run (did I mention it was also the warmest one I have had this spring?!) was go to the pool. I took a salt bath, showered and rested on the couch for a while and eventually dragged myself to the pool around 2. My normal pool at University of Richmond was closed for graduation. Thankfully I looked that up before I left. But I didn’t check Collegiate School Aquatic Center and when I got there it was closed for a swim meet. Earlier in this training cycle, I would have gone home for a nap. But this was IT before taper, so I called the YMCA and found out that not only were they open, but they have a reciprocity with my membership in Virginia Beach, so I can swim there for free! Win. Given how my body felt, I took it relatively easy in the pool – backing off my normal intervals by about 5-10 seconds. I want to work hard, but I also know there is no need to bury myself at this point.

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Totals:

  • Swim: 7935 m (switching between meters & yds all week)
  • Bike: 154 miles
  • Run: 23 miles
  • Time: 13 hours, 51 minutes.

All in all I would say this was a solid week. The long ride and run didn’t leave me feeling as confident as I hoped, but I know being fatigued is part training and not all workouts will feel strong. Now, we taper.

Posted in bike, Goals, Races, running, swimming, training, triathlon, Weather, weekly recap | Leave a comment

Rumpass in Bumpass Olympic Triathlon

2016-05-05 09-14-18_Rumpus in Bumpass International (Lake Anna, VA) - April 30, 2016 - Virginia-Mary

The Background

I think it is important in triathlon to do “tune-up” race before my A-race of the season. It’s a good way to remember how to play triathlon again (how do I set up transition? where is that wetsuit?) and can also be a good way to test current fitness. {Spoiler: I really hope this race was not indicative of my fitness}. I had to do some schedule flopping to make this race work – switching a peak training week with my recovery/race week. In retrospect, this meant the cutback week was WAY overdue by the time it arrived and that I started race week trying to claw my way out of training fatigue. My legs showed some signs of life as the week went on (a really good ride on Wednesday!), but Thursday’s short 1900 m swim felt like swimming through mud. Still, I had hopes that the long distance training and what appeared to be a fast course would serve me well and I could maybe even (gasp!) break 2:20.

Race Eve

I worked from home in Richmond on Friday, which was great for getting a whole bunch of things done during work breaks: Race tires put on, driveway testing new cleats, wetsuit & aero bottle found, race day packing done, etc. This resulted in a relaxing evening with Brad where we cooked at home and went to bed super early.

Race Morning

Praise VTSMTS for the 9 a.m. race start. Even with an hour drive, I didn’t have to get up until 6 and still had more than enough time after check-in and transition set-up. Everything went smoothly and I had 40+ minutes to chill before it was time to swim. I chatted with Victoria, took a few snaps and the time passed quickly.

I made the conscious decision to not warm-up in the water before the swim, which is unusual for me. The water temp was 67°, perfect for a sleeveless wetsuit, but the air temps were around 54. It seemed like it would defeat the purpose of *warming up* if I had to stand shivering in the cold for 15 minutes before my wave was released. When my neon pink cap wave was “on deck” I was able to swim about 150 m around the cove before lining up. Better than nothing.

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The calm before the triathlon storm.

The Swim: 1500 m, 24:13 (1:29/100 yd, 2/103 overall)

The start was cordial – a far cry from the boxing matches at Nationals. I found a pair of feet to draft right away, but quickly realized she had gone out too fast as I pulled past her after about 15 seconds. As I sighted, I saw only one neon pink cap out in front, so I happily settled into 2nd with no one around. The main thing I remember in those first 500 m is forcing myself not to breathe every stroke (side affect of not warming up enough). Eventually I found some rhythm and despite chaos around the two turn buoys, the swim was pretty uneventful until the last 300 m. On the way back in, there were so many men in the water from previous waves that it got pretty choppy and I swallowed a lot of lake water.

This is over a minute slower than my fastest time at this distance. Given how hard I have been swimming this spring, I have to admit I am a little disappointed.

T1: 2:09

Maybe the biggest (only?) positive from this race is that I HAD THE FASTEST T1 of all women in the race. This never, ever happens. In fact, I routinely am in the bottom 25% at the big races. I felt like I was fumbling with my helmet forever, but we had to run our bikes up a hill before we were allowed to mount and I sprinted as fast as I could hoping to catch the first female (this is laughable now, as she crushed me in all 3 sports!).

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The climb out of transition. Hills never look as steep in pictures. Credit: VTSMTS Instagram.

Bike: 24 miles, 1:08:29 (21.0 mph, 3/103 overall)

I played leap frog with a few men for almost the entire ride, but remained solidly in 2nd place for women. A couple of the men were awesome and cheered me on as I passed going uphill and then as they bombed by me on the downhills. But one was an asshole and almost got me a penalty early in the race. Typical.

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Pain face.

Overall – this hurt. The course was rolling, with no significant climbs, and should have been pretty fast, but I felt like I was just grinding. On flats and downhills, I was able to gain some speed, but anytime I hit inclines, there was no power. I was flat and felt like I was going to the well, but without the speed to show for it. This sometimes is a result of a fueling issue, but I was able to get a Gu down within the first 10 minutes and then another one right around the hour mark, so I don’t think that was it. Just one of *those* days.

This wasn’t far off my best time at this distance, but the course was only 24 miles, not 40k (24.9) so pace-wise it was somewhere in the middle of past races.

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Please get me off this bike.

I want to talk more in another post about my mental game on the bike, so I won’t flesh that out here. I will say that I need to find some confidence before Chattanooga, otherwise it could be a long 56 miles.

T2: 1:15

Once again, the fastest among the women! Shocking! FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER I took my feet out of my shoes before dismounting, which is huge progress. That meant I had to run down the hill back into transition barefoot, which was a little scary because I felt like my body was moving too fast to control, but thankfully I remained upright.

Run: 10k, 45:36 (7:20 avg., 8/103 overall)

Womp.

The start was a on a mushy single track trail with roots and rocks and it kind of sucked, but once I came out onto the road, I felt decent. I let myself settle into a pace that felt manageable and hit the first 2 miles at 7:05-7:10 pace (my watch was all screwed up, but the miles were marked). If I could have held that pace, I would have been happy, but it got ugly fast. I got slower and slower with splits of: 7:32, 7:18, 7:39 and 7:41. Yikes. Since it was out and back twice, I was able to see that I had a solid 5 minute lead on the 3rd female at mile 1.5 and 4 minutes on her at 4.5. I also knew that the first place women was well over a mile ahead of me. I am not sure, if I had to defend my place, that I could have gone any faster, so I was thankful for that cushion.

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Make.It.Stop.

This was probably the most disappointing part of the day. Typically when I don’t have a great bike, I can find some redemption on the run, but this was a solid 2+ minutes slower than my best time in an Olympic Distance race. And even 1:00 slower than Nationals last year, when my running game wasn’t nearly as strong.

Rumpass in Bumpass Olympic Triathlon: 2:22:07, 2/103 overall

Needless to say, this wasn’t the confidence boosting race that I hoped it would be prior to Chattanooga. I love racing and it was fun to be out there, but I just didn’t race like I hoped. I can only put faith into my training and believe that my body was fatigued from the work I am putting in and that taper will bring the magic back. I do still think that there is a ton of value in getting that one open water swim prior to my A-race and reminding my body how to do all 3 sports on the same day. And hey, I can’t complain about a spot on the podium!

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Posted in bike, Goals, Race reports, Races, running, swimming, training, triathlon | 3 Comments

Still Alive

Hello? Is anyone still there?

Somehow I doubt it, but since I have felt this strange urge to write again lately, I dug through my links and found my way back here.

Honestly, I thought I had retired this space. In the last 6-9 months, I just haven’t felt the the need to put my thoughts down publicly. About anything. There isn’t really a deeper meaning behind this (that I know of), I just haven’t felt like writing. Heck, I even ran a marathon last fall and couldn’t bring myself to write about it. That’s when I *knew* that this little blog of mine didn’t have a space in my life anymore.

But over the last few weeks, I have felt this little voice telling me that I had something to say. I found myself drafting posts in my head and being more interested in reading blogs again. The feeling may not last, but while I am at it, let’s catch up.

The Rundown:

  • I ran Richmond Marathon in November in 3:33. It was a solid 7-8 minutes slower than what I thought I was capable of. I had mixed feelings – glad I went for it early, but disappointed in myself for giving up in miles 21-24. And simultaneously proud that I emerged from a very dark place and ran miles 25 & 26 as fast as the first few miles. As always, there were solid lessons learned about both racing 26.2 and the training that precedes it.

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    Mile 18. Looking much better than I felt.

  • I battled plantar faciitis all winter. It started last summer, but I basically ignored it until after Richmond Marathon. I thought time off after the marathon would solve the problem, but I took one, two, then three weeks off with no relief. I finally saw a sports med doctor in December and got a prescription for PT. It was HARD. I left every appointment drenched in sweat and still felt like I wasn’t making progress, but very, very slowly, it started to get better. I still manage it by icing after hard workouts and go to PT every other week or so, but I don’t have pain anymore.

    Video shows a clear weakness in my left leg as it collapses on my take-off.

  • I ran Shamrock 1/2 Marathon in 1:40. When I registered, I thought this would be a PR attempt, but after the time off + PF issues, that changed. I was able to run all winter (with permission from the Doc & PT), but at much less volume and never two days in a row. I spent the winter struggling and grinding through workouts, but  a week before the race, something clicked and I started to feel like “myself” again. My Chicago girls came down for the race and we had a fantastic weekend. Despite super shitty race conditions (rain+wind+cold) and doing my part in drinking 6 bottles of Kim Crawford 2 days before the race, I was very pleased with the outcome. I started conservative, ran a 2+ minute negative split and finished with my 2nd fastest 1/2 ever.

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    Happy Finish!

  • I am training for my 3rd 1/2 Ironman. After some fun triathlon adventures in 2015, I was ready to tackle longer distances again. I signed up for Chattanooga 70.3 and am less than 3 weeks from race day. How is training going? The first 9-10 weeks on the bike weren’t stellar. The running work was there and thanks to some good swimming buddies, that work was there too. I do have some regrets about the lack of time on the bike in the early weeks. I have done my best to “make-up” the training – 4 rides a week since the 1/2 way point. But can you ever really compensate for the missed workouts? I don’t think you can. Lesson learned. One positive is that I am not burned out like I was in the weeks leading up to B2B in 2012.
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    Riding in Richmond is FANTASTIC.

    Of course it is impossible to summarize everything that happens in 8+ months in a short list, but as it relates to training & racing, these are definitely the highlights. I have a few more posts drafted so I will be around for a little bit before I disappear into the depths of the internet again😉

Who is still around? What are you training for?

Posted in bike, Goals, injuries, Races, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, triathlon | 3 Comments

ITU World Championships – Race Report

Guess what?! I raced again! And this was a BIG one!

Somewhere in the craziness of prepping for Nationals, then moving, going on vacation and trying to catch back up, I managed to forget to share one not-so-tiny bit of news here – I MADE TEAM USA!!!

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Roll down or not – I will take it!

I was actually walking into yoga class during Elizabeth’s running bachelorette weekend when I got the email. To say I was shocked and elated is an understatement! It was all I could do to focus on yoga and not let my mind race during the entire hour. Before the weekend was over, I secured my slot on the team and paid the whopping $480 (!!) race entry fee. By the end of the week I booked hotels and flights. There was never any question as to whether I would race or not.

Training

I took 10 days almost completely off of everything training-related when I went on vacation after Nationals. This was great for recovery and a good mental break, but it wasn’t exactly ideal at that stage in training (for this race or my upcoming marathon<–WUT). Once I got back at it, I dropped down to 2 days of riding a week and upped my running mileage. I made sure the two rides each week were quality – a 20-mile hammerfest with a small group on Wednesdays and quality long group rides on the weekends. I also continued swimming 2 days a week and after a summer of slogging through workouts, had a breakthrough swim the weekend before the race. While swimming outdoors in Mobile after Elizabeth’s wedding, I took some time to work on my stroke and discovered an issue that made a huge impact on how I felt in the water. With only a minor little hitch (small tweak in the groin), I was able to increase my mileage to high 30’s, with a long run up to 15 miles. This was confidence boosting after a low mileage summer. All-in-all, I went into Chicago feeling decently fit (but not tapered) and not expecting a disaster, but also not any outstanding results.

Race Eve

Brad and I landed in Chicago late Thursday night after having weather-related flight delays, which also made us miss dinner with the girls. Despite getting in bed later than planned, I still got plenty of sleep because we were able to snooze late Friday morning. We finally got up and moving around 9 and met Char and Jesse for a fun (<– sarcasm) day of race logistics.

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Before the Welcome Breakfast – which we abandoned after one plate of bacon because they ran out of everything else! Also, our names were not on the Team USA sign behind me (since we were late additions to the team?)

(Did I mention that Char got the roll-down too?!?! Does it get any sweeter than racing for your country, in your favorite city, with your best friend?!). The logistics were a little different for this race because 1. pre-race bike check-in was moved to Saturday due to weather and 2. there was no swim preview at the race site. Since we had rented long sleeve wetsuits for the first time (water temps were 60 degrees!), we took a cab up to Ohio St. Beach to do a test swim. After being on our feet for what felt like all day, I finally had a couple of hours to relax back at the room that evening before dinner. Dinner was a super fun evening at Davanti Enoteca with Jenny, Manny, Chanthana and Brad.

Race Morning

We knew it was going to be a windy day, but I was especially nervous when I woke up to this:

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I really wanted this to be a full triathlon and I was nervous that they would cancel the swim or make it a duathlon as they had done in races the previous days due to bad weather. A quick look out the window showed that Navy Pier and the two jetties separating the harbor were keeping the waves at bay. It was choppy, but certainly swimmable.

Despite having to do bike check-in on Saturday morning, we still had plenty of time since transition was open until after 8. And bonus: since my hotel was right across the street from the race, we spent the several hours of waiting time doing this:

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HGTV, a comfy bed and real bathrooms. Pre-race heaven.

This was one of the most relaxed triathlon race mornings I can remember. We finally walked over to the swim start about an hour before the race.

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I cannot express how happy I was to have this girl racing with me on this day.

Everything was running smoothly and on-time. Once we were fully wet-suitted, we handed our stuff of to race-sherpa extraordinaire, Jesse (Char’s husband), and got in the corral with the group. We were excited and nervous, but it was the least pressure I have felt going into a race in a long time. No expectations – other than to (hopefully) not be last American!

1500 m Swim: 23:33, 1:26/100 yd (13/107 AG)

We only had about 30 seconds between the time they let us jump in the water and when the horn sounded. In frigid water, that doesn’t leave much time to get the initial shock out of the way. I put my face in the water, blew some bubbles, took some deep breaths and then we were off. The first 10-15 m were rough. But surprisingly, within less than a minute, the jostling for position was over and I found myself on my own. As far as I could tell there was a small pack ahead of me, but other than that, I was swimming solo. After the blood bath at Nationals the last few years, I was more than grateful.

The first buoy came very quickly. It was only about 300 m out, but I was surprised at how fast I was on it. My shoulders felt really restricted in the long sleeves for the first 400 or so meters, but seemed to loosen up after that.

The last 1000 m felt like forever. In theory, long-straight swims sounds great, but when the arch at the finish never seems to get closer, time in the water feels like an eternity. Pull, pull, pull, breathe…rotate your hips, dammit!…pull, pull, pull…At some point I swam up on the green mens’ caps in front of me, but never was able to catch any red caps from my wave. I saw about 4-6 of them out front and was surprised to be that far up in the pack. (There were two 35-39 waves, so I assumed all the fast girls were in the other wave!). When I finally reached the swim out, I let the volunteer pull me up the stairs and took off for the looooong run into transition (almost 800 m total).

T1: 4:20, (76/107 AG)<–womp.

I had a hard time getting out of the rented wetsuit and it took way longer than it should have. I was passed by at least 2 Team USA teammates while I stood there jacking around with it. Then it was yet another time when I wished I knew how to get my shoes on while riding because I ran through tons of sand and my cleats were full of it, which made clipping in a challenge.

Bike: 1:04:36; 23.1 mph (65/107)

Let’s go ahead and get this out there – the bike course was 2 km short. It was short last year when I did the preview race and even though they changed the course, it was still short this year. I would love to be able to ride 23+ mph and especially on that course, but let’s be realistic: that’s not the kind of shape I am in.

For the most part, I knew what to expect of the bike course. I knew it was technical and dark and there were a lot of turns. Having it two loops vs. the four from last year, was better mentally, but the parts that were added on to make the loops longer were challenging and quite frankly, scary. After the first loop, all I could think was that I didn’t want to go back and do it again. It was crowded and I was nervous and riding very conservatively. I just kept thinking “It’s not worth it.” [to get hurt]

The second loop was definitely better than the first. I felt more confident and slightly more comfortable, but I was still ready to get off the bike and run. Char passed me toward the end of the 2nd loop, in a super crowded section and there was almost a collision when she and others behind her came through to pass. I heard her voice yell “ON YOUR LEFT” to a rider behind me and it got sketchy as I was passing someone at that point as well. It turned out that a girl from Mexico got a penalty around that same time for drafting off of Char.

I tried to keep Char in my sights as we made the last turn up the on-ramp, back on to Columbus drive and into transition. But as I rolled up to the dismount line, I couldn’t get un-clipped. Like, my foot wouldn’t come out (all the sand from transition). I panicked and instead of just unstrapping the velcro on my shoe and pulling my foot out, I kept rolling and screaming “I can’t unclip” (<–rookie, much?!). I thought the volunteer/official was going to grab me and hold me up, but he just said, “YOU HAVE TO STOP.” I finally was able to get my left cleat un-clipped (I normally un-clip right first) and got off the bike before having a slow speed tipover in the middle of Worlds. I was certainly silently thanking whoever was looking out for me on that one.

The average over 38k was around 21.9 mph, which is exactly what I rode at Nationals this year for my fastest bike split ever. Despite not feeling great about the bike during the race, I am pretty pleased with that result.

T2 – 3:17 (66/107 AG)

It was another long run into transition, but this time with the bike and in bike shoes (ugh – learn to leave them on the bike, already!). I came up on Char as we were running into transition and as I went on the grassy area inside the fence, I unclipped my helmet. Right away, an official stopped me and yelled that I had to re-clip it. Just up ahead I saw Char had her helmet off and they did the same to her. We read the ITU rules over and over and I never remembered seeing that one, but luckily we didn’t get penalties. We just lost any time that it took us to stop and get them back on/clipped. In all the chaos, I managed to leave transition without taking the Garmin off my bike and putting it back on my wrist.

Run – 46:35, 7:30 min/mile (37/107 AG)

Char and I fell into step stride-for-stride right away. I had no idea what pace we were going, but she had a lap watch so we thought we could get a split at the first mile marker.

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We quickly learned that since the course had 3.5 loops, there were no mile markers and we had no choice but to run on feel. I felt pretty crappy for the first 1/2 mile or so, but (unlike at Nationals), my legs woke up and had some pep. I tried to keep the effort even and strong. It was hard, but I was having fun, smiling at the crowd cheering for me (yay to names on race kits!) or Team USA. I looked forward to when I could see Char’s sisters, then Jesse & Brad, then Jenny, Manny & CT (starting in lap 2) and Lynton. They were all spaced out just enough that it seemed like I kept coming up on little cheering squads.

I felt like the pace was solid and even latched on to a small group of women for about a mile or so to let them do the work. The loops went by quickly, but I was really happy to make that final turnaround to my last loop. I picked up the pace and pushed a little harder, then grabbed my USA flag and made the last loop around Buckingham Fountain.

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I waved my flag and smiled big through the whole finishers chute. It was definitely a cool finish line to cross!

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Photo Credit: The one and only, Lynton

Since it wasn’t a PR attempt, it was kind of nice to not have any data or a race time right away. If I had run with my Garmin, I may have been pushing for that sub-7:00 pace and not have had nearly as much fun.

When I first heard my run time later, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed. I knew I hadn’t left it all out there (that wasn’t what this was about), but I definitely felt like the effort was better than 7:30 pace. As we were going back to get our bikes and talking to other athletes, we learned that the run course was about 600 m long (consistently per coaches/people’s Garmins/etc). This also made sense when I looked at the times of other athletes and where they “normally” would be in a 10k. I felt much, much better about the effort after that (extra 600-ish would have meant ~7:05 min/mile).

ITU Worlds Chicago: 2:22:19, 38/105 AG

I am so glad I had the opportunity to do this race. It was an amazing (albeit expensive) experience that I definitely won’t forget any time soon.

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Post-race trying to stay warm on the ground until our crew came with our bags. (Conveniently perched near the beer tent!)

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The always amazing post-race beer. (And Garmin-less watch strap)

Posted in bike, Chicago, friends, Goals, Moving, Race reports, Races, running, training, Travel, triathlon | 3 Comments