Tag Archives: Feeling fast

Race Recap: Ironman Austin 70.3

Austin got added to my schedule late in the game; actually, after I thought my season was already over to be precise. After Whistler I felt strong physically and wasn’t satisfied ending the season on a mediocre (at best) note. I thought about IM Cozumel (THANK GOD I DIDN’T DECIDE TO DO ANOTHER FULL IM) for a few moments, but worried about having another sub par race and decided the cost – both financial and potentially emotional and physical – wasn’t worth it.

Austin was a great compromise for me. I got to extend the season by a couple of months to take advantage of the end of the mild sunny NW season, travel with some great training buddies, see a new place (Austin!), and fingers crossed close the season out feeling positive and ready for rest.

Our pre-race trip was a blast. We drove the course, checked out the lake, SBR-ed a little, laughed a LOT, and generally kept things low-key. Our rental property had tons of chickens and ducks (for eggs), and produce grows there year round to provide for 20 families that are part of the co-op. We took full advantage of the eggs and produce and had a legendary and awesome pre-race meal chef-ed up by G. And then it was race day.

(race recap vid by G – way better than photos!)

Pre-Race

I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off race morning to a HUGE clap of thunder and lightning and sheets of water falling from the sky. Really? Ugh. I reminded myself if anyone could combat water falling from the sky it was us NW ladies and I simply ignored the fact that this day could get ugly.

Our chauffeurs (our men) drove us to the finish line, where we had to catch a shuttle to the swim/T1. Thanks (but not!) to the weather, traffic was backed up for miles, and though we’d left 3 hours to take a 35-minute drive (including the shuttle) and set up transition we only ended up with a few spare minutes to get our tires pumped and evacuate T1.

Swim // 34:47 // 1:48/100 m

I was really nervous about this swim. I always am nervous about every swim. But because of cooler temps and dwindling morning light I hadn’t gotten a solid distance OWS in over 3 weeks.

All that for nothing though, because it was pretty decent. I started out less aggressively than I probably should have, but was only 2 rows back and 5 swimmers right of the main line. The first 400 went from calm (such polite swimmers in Texas!) to a shit show, to calm again, and then I knew I’d be fine. All was smooth and well until the last stretch back in to shore, at which point our very late starting wave (3rd to last or so?) started hitting all of the floaters from earlier waves. Floaters being the people from earlier waves who were stopped to take a break, tread water, and hang on to kayaks. It got rough on the way back trying to manage them, the super speedy swimmers who were passing from the wave after us, and increasingly choppy water.

I continued to work hard and swim up to where my hand touched the ground. As I exited the lake I had no clue what my swim time was and just ran up the chute to the strippers and on to T1. In retrospect:

-I liked the swim course. The buoys were really easy to spot.  The triangle was pretty even and no turns were overly sharp. The water was murky but didn’t feel dirty or dark.

-I should have gone out harder from the start. I never got that OH SHIT I CANT BREATHE panic feeling which means I didn’t swim hard enough. But, I did enjoy having a smooth swim and not having the though of quitting cross my mind. (Yes, during every single swim I think about quitting at least once.) It felt good to be strong for the whole swim and to never fade.

-I know someone has to go last (or near it) but I’ve never encountered so many floundering swimmers. Not even in Boise! It was frustrating knowing that I could have gone faster without having quite a few small delays in getting around people.

T1 // 2:59

The transition area was much larger than I’d anticipated but luckily I knew where my bike was. Unluckily the recent rains had caused Goat Heads to grow everywhere. For those unfamiliar, these prickly bristly little vines are so sharp they rip tires and flat tubes so we were advised to carry out bikes the entire way out of transition. (Yeah yeah, if only I raced Cyclocross I’d be proficient at that).

My transition itself – meaning wetsuit off, run to bike, bike stuff on, wetsuit in bag – was very efficient, but I lost some time trying to carry my bike for sure. And I felt like an idiot. When I got to the mount line I realized I had a Goat Head in my shoe. I ripped my shoe off to get it out and hoped that was the only one.

Bike // 2:43:15 // 20.58 mph

At mile 2 I pulled up on my pedal to climb a tiny incline and my foot went FLYING. My stomach dropped as I thought I was going down, but I regained my balance and pulled over to a dead stop. Mud from the heavy morning rain was stuck in my cleats from running through T1. I did my best to dig it out with my fingernails and though frustrated I felt grateful that I hadn’t flatted like SO SO SO many people I’d already passed. A significant portion of athletes didn’t even make it to mile 2 without flatting from the Goat Heads.

The next 45?ish miles of the bike were frustrating. The pro: I felt like a pro! I was passing EVERYONE (which is what happens when hardly anyone starts later than you, regardless of how fast you actually are). The con: There were people all over the road and in some spots it was really tough to get around them. Like areas that weren’t closed to vehicle traffic or where pavement was poor (which was most of the course).

That said I enjoyed the bike more than I thought I would. The course wasn’t Texas-pretty like I’d expected, and wasn’t as flat as I had in mind either, but it was a new experience to ride hard for the whole leg, knowing that there weren’t climbs to save up for. I have never hit a goal HR for a 70.3 (always a bit low) but in Austin I exceeded it by a few bpm’s and felt strong. I KNEW I wouldn’t blow up.

T2 // 2:58

I was pretty excited to be off the bike by the end and climbed into T2 ready to run. I got a little bit disoriented finding my rack, which is no one’s fault but my own. I had practiced identifying the spot but I guess in the moment I just forgot. I probably lost 30 seconds or so; after making one mistake I slowed down a little to make sure I didn’t make another.

Run // 1:43:14 // 7:54 min/mi

The run was a 3-loop course that in a sick way I sort of looked forward to. A bit boring? Yes. But who is looking at scenery during a 70.3 run? If you are HTFU. A 3-loop course made it easy to break down: Loop 1 – adjust, Loop 2 – hold steady, Loop 3 – push to the end.

As always, the run is a bit of a blur to me. It was great to see my teammates and friends out on the course and I cheered loud every time I saw them. I felt tired the whole time, but solid. The run was quite hilly with hardly a flat section, some trail, and some mud, all quite evident from my huge range in splits from mile to mile. I know I didn’t take in nearly enough calories on the run, which perhaps contributed to my fog.  But my body felt on the borderline of rejection so I stuck to coke and other liquids at every aid station and that got me through.

I’m proud of my run not only because I PR’d it on a not easy course, but because I pushed so hard all day leading up and still stayed strong. There was a walk-worthy hill out there (that we hit 3 times, obvs) but I didn’t… I ran. I told myself all morning that THIS.WAS.IT. and that I should be grateful for being out there. And I gave it my all and really did feel grateful all day long, for a good race, a supportive husband, good friends, and a fun trip.

Overall 5:07:10 // 15th AG

In the end I PR’d by 8:45, after already knocking nearly 9 minutes off my PR on the distance earlier in July. I am thrilled. This was such a better end to the season than fading off post-Whistler and starting a 4-month off-season feeling less than stellar.

Would I recommend Austin 70.3 to others? Yes. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others, but I really enjoyed the race and the course. The more I race this distance the more I realize there is no perfect race; every course leaves more to be desired, the weather is always a factor, and you never know when your wave will start. Austin was a much flatter bike than you’d get anywhere around the NW, but I was pleasantly surprised by the rollers to keep things interesting. The run was tough – but aren’t they all?

Now… To the off-season! (Which I’m already winning at, by the way.)

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Race Recap: Ironman Lake Stevents 70.3

As I sit here enjoying my coffee from the couch and waiting for the Ironman Canada expo to open I figure I may as well recap Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3.

It seems like IMLS happened forever ago. Worlds ago! But really it was just 5 weeks ago that I thought I was exhausted, yet actually had no idea what the word exhaustion truly meant, and then woke up at 3:30am to drive an hour north to race a Half Ironman.

From the beginning, my head wasn’t really in it for this race.

Pre-race photo courtesy of Megan!

Pre-race photo courtesy of Megan!

I wanted it to be – I really wanted to go out there and impress myself – but a number of things kept my head from being that clear. I was on week #3 of a 5 week-long build. I knew the next 2 weeks of training would be the hardest thing my eyes had seen or my body had done (see: Whistler Training Camp & a 125mi ride weekend). I was tired from the previous 2 weeks of training, which rivaled my 2 peak weeks from last year.

These are not excuses, but facts, really. I’m actually pretty pleased with how I did that day considering, but there are also some pretty clear things I can improve upon.

SWIM: 34:27 // 1:38/100 yd average pace

Me and Megan pre-swim. Why on earth do we look so excited?!

Me and Megan pre-swim. Why on earth do we look so excited?!

My swim goal was fairly simple – DON’T STOP. My swimming anxiety has improved a lot, but sometimes it’s still second nature for me to freak out and stop. For example, Victoria. I really wanted to practice an aggressive-for-me start and swim through that feeling I get a couple minutes in that tells my brain I CAN’T DO THIS I MUST STOP NOW.

I started in the middle of the second row and when the gun went off the first row took off. I hung for a couple buoys and then I honestly don’t really know what happened! One stroke I sighted and there was a huge gap (clean water hellz yeah!) and when I sighted next there were all these people in front of me and in my way. I tried to go around them and swam SMACK into a buoy. I sort of swam over a few others. Sorry ladies!

On the way back to shore we all started catching up with the slower swimmers from previous waves (M 3034, M3539, F3539) and that wasn’t pretty. But I zig-zagged around them and made it across the timing mat.

I was hoping for a swim closer to 32 minutes, but I’m pleased with the fact I accomplished a smooth swim where I was able to work hard.

T1: 2:02

Not too shabby time-wise, but my transition felt clunky. I ripped off my wetsuit, put on my helmet with glasses attached, put on my shoes, grabbed my bike and started moving, and realized I didn’t have my race belt. WHICH YOU DON’T NEED FOR THE BIKE. Yet for some reason I decided I needed to go back and get it because I usually do wear it for the bike leg. Dumb dumb.

Mount line ahead!

Mount line ahead!

BIKE: 2:52:50 // 19.44 mph avg speed

As I mounted my bike and put my sunglasses on I heard a popping noise. Goodbye lens! Drat. My lens bounced across the road and I started spinning down the block with glasses in my hand. I saw a team member and tossed them at her hoping she’d realize I wanted her to keep them for me.

Here, please take my worthless glasses!

Here, please take my worthless glasses!

Almost immediately I felt disappointed on the bike, because I knew I couldn’t ride as hard as I wanted to. I watched the riders in front of my pull farther away but when I tried to ride harder my legs screamed. I knew if I kept it up I’d be screwed for the run. I checked in on my heart rate frequently, but it was low for how hard things felt. About 10 miles in I decided to ride on feel and use heart rate as a looser guide than usual.

I kept going, thinking about my lost sunglasses but felt thankful it was overcast and misty so I didn’t really need them. Lost in my thoughts at about 20 or 30 miles in I got stung by not one bee, but two! Descending I felt something smack my knee and instantly it felt like glass had sliced me. Whatever had hit me was stuck in my skin, and as it turns out two bees were hanging by their stingers. Having never been stung before this made for an interesting rest of the ride. I waited until I hit a flatter and slower portion and tried to wipe the bees off in the direction to pull their stingers out with them. Then I proceeded to breathe deeply out of my mouth about every 10 minutes or so to make sure I could still get air. Guess I’m not allergic!

The rest of the bike was ho hum. It’s a very tough course in the back half so I spun up the many hills, pushed the few downs, and went back and forth between trying to catch people and letting them go. When I focused on me I knew I was working the right amount of hard for a Half Ironman, but when I focused on others I got complacent and a little bit down, honestly.

The highlight was a cheer from my friend Colleen who happened to be on course on mile 55 of the bike. “Go get that f*$#er!” So I sped up and passed him with less than a mile of the bike left.

T2: 1:50

Again with the bad decisions! I took off my bike shoes and decided to wipe my feet off on my towel (wtf). Then I fiddled with my socks and made some lunch and did some online shopping and headed out to run. (Not really – there’s no Internet in transition, silly! – but that’s how I felt)

RUN: 1:44:35 // 7:59min/mi avg pace

Happy to be off the bike.

Happy to be off the bike.

The run is a fair course: moderately hilly with some rewarding downs but not much flat. I don’t have a lot of play by play memories, but I know I caught a few of the women that had been leapfrogging me on the bike early on but who had ultimately won out on that leg. I ticked them off and chatted with a particularly nice one for a few strides and we thanked each other for pushing the bike.

Eat my dust, guy!

Eat my dust, guy!

About 3 miles in I noticed a guy was running right on my heels, so I moved over to let him pass. He didn’t, but instead pulled up alongside me. Nice pace. Without speaking a word he and I ran together and took turns “pulling” for the next 7 miles. He crushed me up the hills, but I’d get him back on the down hills and flats and we kept each other trucking along at a good pace.

The run is essentially a figure 8 that you travel twice. Running through the center so many times give friends and family a good idea of where you are and a great opportunity to cheer. I have a tendency to get in the zone and can lose appreciation of what’s going on around me, but when I heard “More Knutson!” from the sidelines and looked up to see my teammates and friends I stood a little taller and stopped sandbagging behind a girl in my AG in front of me.

With 3 miles to go I tried to push harder and within a few blocks I lost my run friend. But I knew I could keep up a harder effort in this final countdown and I wanted to squeeze out any additional seconds that I could.

Finishline in sight, and my run doesn't look like a shuffle!

Finish line in sight, and my run doesn’t look like a shuffle!

OVERALL RESULTS: 5:15:44 // 11th AG

Overall this was a 9 minute distance PR and a 30 minute course PR for me. I can’t not be happy about that! But I know I have a better bike in me with the fitness I’ve gained this year, and even if I hadn’t shaved seconds anywhere else I would have been better served not being such a scatterbrain. I would say this was a well executed race for me, but a little on the safe side.

After I caught up with friends and teammates we hit the road back to Seattle. Hours later I found myself on our deck with a glass of wine and got a note from a friend; I would have gotten a roll-down spot to the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas had I stayed. (You have to be present to claim awards and qualifications at IM events)

For .5 seconds I wish I had been there, and then I let it go. The championships are 2 weeks after Canada and I have bigger fish to fry and more important things to stay focused on. Like Ironman Canada!

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Race Recap: Saunders Subaru Victoria Half Ironman

Though I haven’t been so diligent about updating the Internet about how training has been going, overall the answer is very well. I continue to see small but consistent gains, especially in swimming and biking, and if I compare the athlete I am now to the athlete I was last June there really isn’t much of a comparison. My training has been strong and is going quite well. However, that doesn’t necessarily always translate to a crazy PR or the race results that you want to see.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in Victoria. The course is a bit short (comparison below) but not enough to affect how hard you’re going to work or how you want to pace yourself for the day.

Half Iron Distance Chart

The Victoria Half Ironman course is also known for being very fair (meaning tough) with a bike that has lots of climbing. As proof, during the race my Garmin got 3,320 ft of climb, and others as much as 4,200! In my pre-race meeting with my coach we talked about goals for my effort and heart rate, but only once did she acknowledge pace when she asked what my previous PR was. When I told her 5:24 and change she smiled and said, “Well you’ll have a new one soon.”

Pauole Sport at Victoria Half Ironman

This was my first race with my new team and coach, and the pre-race experience was really great. Especially because not only was I surrounded by Pauole Sport athletes, but some of my favorite friends from my old triathlon training group were there racing too! Knowing so many people made what’s usually a nerve-wracking experience go more smoothly, but it also made the 75 minutes I had to get transition set and warmed up FLY!

Fast forward to the end:

Overall Time: 5:06:58 // 2nd AG // 10th OA (including female pros)

And then rewind back the beginning:

Swim 34:35 // 1:38/100 yards average pace

Victoria Half Ironman Swim

The lake was the perfect temperature, the water was clear, and I had plenty of space around me, so when I felt the sensation of panic about 400 meters from the shore I was extremely disappointed. My swimming has come so far in the last 9 months and this was NOT how I wanted my day to go. There was a traffic jam in front of me that I couldn’t get around, and though thinking about it doesn’t make me nervous now (who cares, people, meh!) in the moment it did. I sat up and floated for over 60 seconds and watched my friends swim farther and farther away. Pretty soon white caps (the color beginners wear) started passing me by and so I put my head down and swam, HARD.

The rest of the swim felt very long, but once I got moving I felt strong and steady. There was some weird clumping happening; it honestly appeared that experienced swimmers were flanking their friends to prevent any contact from a more aggressive athlete. It felt a little bit unfair, especially since they were blocking valuable swimming space but I kept moving because it wasn’t my battle to fight!

Once I actually started swimming I didn’t get passed once, so that felt good and helped me feel more in control of my day. As I exited the water I tried to hurry up the ramp even more than usual. With a wasted minute or two up front there isn’t room for dilly dallying! I heard Garth cheering and yelling my name and tried to make eye contact and give him a smile as I ran, but I’m pretty sure I looked more like a dead drowned rat than anything else. Even with my lame stop this was a 3:15 swim PR for me, which is HUGE.

T1 2:01

Bike 2:49:16 // 19mph avg speed

Once on the bike I immediately started trying to pick people off. Breathing hard I rode away from transition and out to the main road where we’d ride 2 laps. I knew my heart rate was much higher than what it should be, but I also knew that it would steady out once my body accepted the bike. I passed all of the athletes I knew in the first 12 miles, and then it was time to get comfortable being uncomfortable and hold my effort.

DSCN7532

The bike course was extremely beautiful with views of the countryside and Cordova Bay. It was also tough, with very few flat sections and hills so rolling you never for a second stopped working. The hills were mostly long and gradual so no granny gear was needed, and the downhills I pushed in my big ring up front  and smallest cassette ring.

Nearing the end of the first loop I wondered if I could maintain my effort to do that again. And I also wondered where all of the other people were! Once I got through the initial congestion and got a few drafters off my back there really weren’t many other bikes I could see in front of or behind me. The occasional disc wheel and aero helmet passed me, but truly just a handful. Other than that it was me, the road, and my own heavy breathing.

I did maintain my effort for the second loop up until there were only a couple of miles remaining. In retrospect I probably didn’t need to back off, but all of a sudden I realized I’d become so absorbed in racing my bike I forgot I still had a half marathon to run! It was time to start preparing for it.

T2 1:01

DSCN7562

Yes. Spiderwoman was in T2!

Run 1:40:05 // 8:02 min/mi avg

Victoria Half Ironman Run Start

The run was 2 loops around the lake and though there was a feeling of relief to only require my own 2 feet for the last portion of the day I was also nervous. I was recently diagnosed with a stress reaction and hadn’t done much running in the last few weeks. I knew my fitness was fine, but running felt foreign to my body and it was pretty clear immediately that at least this portion of the run was not as “flat and easy” as I had pictured in my mind.

I chugged away and tried to keep my feet fast and light and my breathing under control. I passed back by some of the men who had overtaken me in the late portion of the bike and none were as competitive with me as they had been while riding on 2 wheels. Rather than grinding by and grimacing, most of them congratulated me and wished me well, and I did the same.

Around mile 2 or 3 my friend Julie passed me by. Though I was surprised to see her so soon in to the run I wasn’t surprised that she was winning the race between the two of us. She’s a stellar runner and a strong athlete! We cheered each other on and I watched her disappear into the woods in front of me wishing that I could keep up. However once she was out of eyesight my heart rate dropped, running got easier, and I felt myself lock in for the long haul.

Victoria Half Ironman Run

As I went back into the woods for loop 2 I noticed that my heart rate was in the appropriate range, but in the lower end. I was trying so hard to run on feel and I’d done a good job but probably had it in me to push harder for this final loop. I very much appreciated the course markers in km’s and immediately started my countdown.

When I got to 2km remaining I pushed with everything I had left. It wasn’t so much that my legs were tired, but my heart rate was high and my everything was tired! In the last 2km I passed at least 4 or 5 people and sprinted (red: ran faster, because it probably really wasn’t anything like a sprint) up to the finish right on the heels of 2 guys.

Victoria Half Ironman Finish Line

As I crossed the finish line I was relieved and happy. In my wildest dreams I had hoped for an overall time lower than the one I earned, but I can honestly say that I have never ever worked so hard. I worked smart, but I worked hard, and my heart rate data shows it. I wish I was a better runner and hadn’t let Julie pass, but I’m so proud of the 18 minutes I knocked off my old PR to achieve a new one. And other than the time I lost in the swim I have no other regrets from the day.

Victoria definitely made me less nervous and more excited for Whistler come August. It turns out I do remember how to do this triathlon thing…

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Race Recap: Winter Half Marathons

I realized that I never recapped the Lake Samammish Half Marathon on March 9, or the Tacoma City Half Marathon on May 5th, so for record keeping purposes here’s the gist.

In all honestly running hasn’t felt very good to me since winter 2012, when I was on a half marathon PR roll. Training for my third 13.1 in so many months I got another stress fracture and had to take time off of my feet (which was replaced by the bike and swim).  Once I returned to running amidst IM training things just never really felt the same. Running was a struggle, my heart rate was high, and I couldn’t ever get back into the groove and rhythm of it.  Running was a fight and I fought hard, but running off the bike is very different than “just” running, so I went with it.

Leading up the NYCM I felt the same slow, heavy, and sluggish feeling: running was difficult! I continued to fight it and I’m sure I would have finished that race with a PR of a few minutes or so, but at that point neither my heart nor body was really in it. And that race was cancelled.

This winter I took a step back and really worked on building my base back up. All of my runs were very low heart rate (on purpose) with a slow and easy pace to try to build back up some of the endurance I’d wrecked fighting my training all fall.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon – 1:37:38

Megan, Meghan, and me at the start of the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. Photo courtesy of http://meghanswanderings.blogspot.com/.

Megan, Meghan, and me at the start of the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. Photo courtesy of http://meghanswanderings.blogspot.com/

During the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon it worked. I finished in 1:37:38 on only 3 easy slow runs per week. Back when I hit my 1:35:XX times I was busting my butt running at least 4-5 times per week with tough effort! I was surprised at and happy with my performance at the LSHM. Though it wasn’t a PR, for the type of training I’d been doing it was a good result.

Tacoma City Half Marathon – 1:42:15

The Tacoma City Half Marathon was not as successful; I finished in 1:42:15. Did I go out too fast? Yes. Was it the first hot and sunny day of the year? Yes. Did I have allergies? Yes. But those are all lame excuses. I set out with a heart rate target and though I kept that part right on track my pace was almost 45s/mile slower than it “should have” been. The “should have” being based off of data taken from training.

 

So that’s the story. Would I run both of them again? Yes. I really enjoyed the LSHM for the small size, easy start, and flat course. I also really enjoyed the TCHM course and the fact that it was a small race, however it was definitely hillier than I expected and I don’t have strong feelings toward it simply because I didn’t have a great day.

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Race Recap: Ironman Canada 2012

I asked the twittersphere how long a race recap could get before it got “too long”. I received a lot of good responses, all of which reminded me of something. It was my day. And I want to remember it. Plus, this is my blog. If you lose interest, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

It was an amazing and wonderful day, one that words can’t do justice. And the journey to get there has been, dare I say, even better than that single day. So without further ado, my Ironman Canada race.

 

Ironman Week and Race Morning

About how I did hardly anything leading up to the race, and it was awesome. Except when I thought I had kidney stones again.

 

Swim and T1

About how I finally had a good swim in a race, and that I should medal in transitions.

 

Bike and T2

About how my bike was pretty strong  until my stomach started hurting. I still threw down a good ride, but it wasn’t a good sign of things to come.

 

Run and Post Race

About how I ran until my stomach no longer hurt, and the only leg I didn’t cry on.

 

Happy reading or snoozing!

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Delayed Recap

I’m not quite ready to write about Ironman Canada itself.

I haven’t forgotten about writing a recap, but rather I’m still processing the race and the weekend. During that day and at the finish I was so so so happy with how I performed, the decisions I made, and how everything played out. The day WAS actually rainbows and unicorns for the most part. Once I got out there and started I felt like I was prepared to handle everything that came my way, and due to practice, focus, and somewhat due to luck, I made the right decisions when things got less than perfect.

However as days pass I guess I feel less content with how things went and more hungry to take what I learned and put it to the test again. I still think I made the right decisions for the day, and wouldn’t trade the positive experience I had to risk shaving off a couple of minutes here or there. But I feel less and less victorious and more eager to push myself much further than I went – and dig deeper than I had to – last Sunday.

Maybe that’s normal. Maybe I’m nuts.

And don’t get me wrong. I know I did well. I exceeded my own expectations in countless ways. For the first time ever I didn’t have a panicked anxiety attack during a race swim. Some people want to swim fast, but I wanted to swim smooth. On the bike I had a strong 56 miles, then patiently took in more food and drink, and let people pass by while I dropped my heart rate average by a few BPM. It paid off because I was able to tackle Yellow Lake with energy to spare. And the run. From mile 4-17 I had stomach cramping that slowed me to a walk every 5 minutes or so, but I took in enough calories to keep going and not make things worse. It paid off and mile 17-26.2 felt how I wanted to feel; like a RUN.

In all senses of the word this race was a huge achievement. Overcoming early season stress fractures, a scary bike crash, and gearing up to race an Ironman with barely any triathlon experience under my belt. However I still struggle with the fact that I know there is so much more I can do out there. I can push myself much further than I had to last Sunday.

I am happy that I don’t feel done out there though. Next stop: sub 11.

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Brick Track Tuesday

Last night at the track was Brick Night, so rather than kill ourselves just running fast we killed ourselves running fast off our bikes.

I’m sure we were a sight to see on our trainers in the grass, changing shoes quickly, and taking off running. It was good practice and good fun though. It’s much easier to catch up with training friends while spinning – I’m far too heavy of a breather to talk while running – and spinning goes way faster while chatting it up as opposed to watching the morning news.

The workout was a 1/2mi warmup (run), 20min spin (bike), 1mi fast (run), 15min spin (bike), 1mi fast (run). The spinning was a total sweatfest, I hit my first mile in 6:45, and the second mile in 6:49. I couldn’t have held on to the run pace for another 400meters even if someone had bribed me with a Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Cake, but I felt pretty able to hang on to the pace for a mile and forced my body to keep form despite screaming burning lungs.

A mile is a good distance to run off the bike. The first 400 your legs say “eff you get me back on the bike NOW’. The second 400 you realize you’re probably running too fast. The third 400 you curse yourself for running so hard. And the last 400 you’ve succumbed to the fate of dying via the run. But as soon as you’re on the bike you forget the pain and want to do it again.

Next time I want to run 3 miles/sessions off the bike, and I want to run faster. My legs weren’t so fresh from Monday’s 40miles (bike) + 1hr @7:47min/mi pace and I think that I could do better.

 

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Two Weeks ‘Till Boise! In Highs, Lows, and In Betweens.

Saturday officially marked two weeks until this.

I’m excited because I haven’t raced in a while and look forward to the day. I’m nervous for countless reasons, but mostly also because I haven’t raced in a while…plus the conditions will be a crapshoot and I haven’t gotten in open water as much as I’d (psychologically) like. I’m anxious because I feel like this whole thing crept up on me so quickly. I’m confident because I know I’ve been working hard and even through injury I haven’t put up with excuses from myself. I’m worried because I feel like there’s still a possibility that I won’t do the best that I know I can do, for many reasons (including the ice cream I just ate! :-/).

Because I’m racing in two weekends this one wasn’t too stacked in terms of training. It wasn’t easy but it didn’t feel overwhelmingly stacked.

So the highs, the lows, and the in-betweens:

In Between: On Saturday I had an 80 mile ride with 3x 18min intervals with HR @ 160. I don’t have a Lap HR set up on my watch, and failed pretty miserably at keeping my HR avg at 160. I wasn’t dying, and it’s not that I couldn’t, but I just didn’t see the average ticking low on my watch (155ish). That said I was pretty happy with the ride otherwise. I’ve never ridden that far, I rode at a good clip, and I felt stronger at the end (and for the rest of the day) than I did during the 75miler.

High: I got a (very small) chance to repay the Husband for all of his sherpaing but being his 5k sherpa. And even better, he got 4th OA, 1st AG, and came in sub 20! For someone who only recently starting running again this is hugely impressive.

In Between: I enjoyed an amazing array of delicious food and drink this weekend. It was awesome, but I feel guilty.

Low: On Sunday I was supposed to swim a 45 min OWS in the lake. As a prep for Boise I had really psyched myself up to swim straight without stopping to enjoy the scenery, and to really focus on what was working to keep my form good and pace steady as I’ve been known to freak out in the water. Well, when I arrived the lake looked rough, and as I wetsuited-up it just go rougher and the swimmers who had all headed in. This turned into an In Between, because I forced myself to swim through it and adapt and though I didn’t make the gains I was originally looking for I left the water feeling able to tough the chop out.

Low: This morning I was supposed to bike hard for 40mi and run for 60min. I drove all the way to a loop with hardly any lights and by the time I arrived it was raining and soggy. By the time I got home it was sunny, but I didn’t have time to drive back and there aren’t any places to bike nearby that don’t have 800 stop lights (not conducive to keeping HR up). So I had to tough it out on the trainer but I wasn’t really sure how mileage/time translates. I rode 46 mi in 1:45 and I have no idea of that’s even remotely comparable to the original plan.

High: I ran! Off the bike! For real! A real run! My 60 minute run was supposed to be at max 8min/mi pace, and I averaged 7:47 ‘s. So. Freaking. Happy. About. That. It was tough, but I went in thinking it would be really tough and turned the run into a mind game right off the bat to pick a pace and lock it. The pacing I went with was hard by mile 6, but not impossible. And I didn’t feel the need to die at the end.

In Between: To bikes who want to pass me: Please do so as I am not the speediest out there. However, please don’t pass me, then slow down so that I have pass you, then expect me to want to ride with you. I probably don’t especially if you pull that kind of asshat move.

High (for entertainment): On Saturday’s ride I made a quick pit stop to refill my bottles in a sort of sketchy park. Not unsafe in daylight, but it holds some questionable inhabitants. During my fill up a minivan full of said inhabitants wanted to know how much my bike cost. Not wanting to tell them I skirted the topic. They told me their guess was $1k as though that was TOTALLY INSANE. I wish buddy.

High: I had a few moments during the weekend where I really felt like my hard work was coming together. Even though things weren’t perfect I felt like I’m almost there, a pretty infrequent feeling for me.

Low: I subsequently had a breakdown, with tears, over training-related frustrations with myself. It’s amazing how quickly the mind can switch from “I got this!” to “I suck, big time,” for no good reason. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I won’t accept excuses from myself, as well as in how hard I work. But no matter my dedication or work ethic, I will never be able to control the rain, the wind, or other people. Such is frustrating, such is life.

High: I felt better after I cried for a minute. It’s been a long while.

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The Jar

Does anyone other than me love New Girl on FOX? Zooey Deschanel can sometimes be too much; I’m not a fan of cringe-worthy humor and the previews really rode that line closely. But one night I was watching something else on FOX and was too lazy to change the channel so we ended up watching it. If you don’t watch this show please know that you should. It is awkwardly hilarious, and though I rarely find tv and movies to be laugh-out-loud-worthy this show does it over and over.

On the show Jesse Day (Zooey’s character) lives with 3 guys who run the gamut of personalities. All of them are worthy people, but each of them occasionally shows their douche bag side and when they do they’re forced by the other housemates to contribute to The Jar. Whether it’s humble-bragging, showing off, or the like, the rest of the housemates punish the DB with monetary payment and the amount they deem must get paid.

On my long run today I encountered another runner at a drawbridge, and gave him the runners nod to say hello. Well, he wanted to chat and our conversation ended up including the following topics as we waited for the bridge to rise, the boat to pass, and the bridge to lower.

  • Racing
  • Off season
  • Pacing (as in “you look like a 7:15” as well as “I was much faster last month”)
  • How to get to Green Lake with the fewest stop lights and least feet of climb
  • Hydration
  • Warming up
  • Headlamps
  • Shoes that shrink in the rain (I have never heard of this)
  • Thus, the need to buy shoes that are too big
  • Apparently Nike’s shrink a lot, ironic for a PNW-based company
  • Arm warmers (specifically 2XU’s)

So, basically, if we had a jar I’d definitely owe at least $20. Or more, considering those topics were all covered in less than 5 minutes.

In regards to the run (not talk) portion of my run, it was awesome. Awesomely awesomely awesome. Today’s miles were why I run. Today’s run was why I sometimes think that the world would be a better place if everyone ran, if everyone could produce the feeling of flying and pure joy out of almost nothing. It wasn’t easy, I dug deep, but I was looking forward to digging and then was happy to find that despite the dig I continued to fly and smile for 14 miles, and not to mention hit my pace goal without the struggle I sometimes face.

14 miles: Mile 1-7 @ 7:38 avg pace. Mile 7-13 @ 7:10 avg pace. Mile 13-14 cool down.

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Back to the Track

I had a really good night at the track this evening. Other than this:

Actually, the weather wasn’t THAT bad. Rain turned to heavy mist just when the fun began, and winds were calm until the rain ceased. Yes, that means that the workout was misty and windy. But I’ve had worse! MUCH worse! Like last week, when my knee hurt too much to push it do anything and Seattle was covered in too much ice and snow to leave the house. That was The Suck. Weather is bad enough, but injury as an excuse makes you really crabby. And by “you” I mean “me.”

An aside, this has nothing to do with injury, but illustrates the massive snow that paralyzed us last week:

Is that a bunny redirecting traffic for sledders, you might ask? Why yes, it is.

Back to the track. Tonight’s session was 12×400’s, with a 200 slow jog between, and a treat between 4/5 and 8/9 where we were gifted with a 400 jog. And by “we were” I mean “I was.” My usual partner in track crime was sick tonight, and the other member who showed had a different workout and was gone before I could even make small talk.

The workout went well, a good thing because I sort of needed it to. Sometimes the progress that I’ve made and the work I’ve put in, no matter how great, aren’t enough to keep my mind quiet. Sometimes I need a moment in time to clearly map to improvement and sometimes I need to exceed my own expectations. I haven’t talked too much about my knee online but it’s been bothersome to me; injury has a tendency to make my confidence drop. I went into the run tonight not knowing how hard I could push myself or what to expect, having run only once since my 10k race last weekend. I wouldn’t claim to have gutted myself, but I pushed myself hard and feel good about the fact that I hit my pace goals with plenty of juice to spare fresh off a week of lacking confidence and nearly no time on my feet.

 

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