Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Favorite Gear and Races of 2013!

 There are a couple of races that I just love so much that I keep going back. Two of them are Women only events - love that! You don't need to deal with  men who HATE being chicked!! 

1. Tri It Now Ladies Sprint Tri on Mothers Day - Manassas, Virginia. I have done this race twice so far and I am trying to get it to fit in to my race schedule for 2014. This is mostly a newbie event and maybe part of the reason I like it so much is that I actually place in my age group! Two years in a row and two years that I have gotten 2nd in my AG! This race almost doubled from the first year I did it so trying to place in 2014 may be very hard if the growth continues. The swim is a pool swim done as a snake - so you swim laps back and forth crossing under the lane divider at the end of each length. The bike is on a closed course and there is quite a bit of diversity in the bikes you will see: Hybrids, Road, Beach cruisers with baskets, and of course, Tri bikes! The only downside to this race is the 8 hairpin turns at the end of each road. The run is a nice flat and fast our and back course that you can see your competition. 

 The second race that I LOVE is the Sprint Tri at Sandy Hook, NJ. I have done this race 3 years - the first two years it was put on by Danskin, but in 2013 the race company changed to Iron Girl! I had previously done an Iron Girl event and it was exciting that I now had one in my own back yard!  Sandy Hook is just AWESOME! I have better memories of the first 2 years since Iron Girl made  some changes that I didn't like, but I will still be back. The swim had to be modified this year because of rough seas, but is generally in a sheltered bay cove. The bike is a fast and flat out and back - always with a head wind on the way back in! The run is another out and back through a lot of the old buildings of the park. Great race with great women! Looking forward to this one again too in 2014! 

Another race I would consider doing again, but doesn't fit into the schedule this year, would be Eagleman 70.3 in Maryland. This is not a women's only event, but was well organized and just FUN! This was my first, and only so far, 70.3 and I would love to do it again to better my PR!


Gear is fun, isn't it! Triathlon is not cheap - it's bad enough to buy equipment for one sport, but three!! CRAZY! So picking out my top three gear items...that's tough. The things I picked are things I use a LOT, some even daily. 

I train by heart rate, therefore, my first and probably most important piece of equipment is my Garmin 910XT with the heart rate monitor.  I had the Garmin 305 before the 910Xt and just love the ability to take it in the pool or an open water swim. 

My second favorite piece of equipment would have to be my Cycleops Mag trainer and my Specialized Amira Comp Force! See how I did that....two equipments in one! I spend about 95% of my cycling time on the trainer - just like Andy Potts (love him!)! 

Let's see...my new favorite piece of equipment is my CW-X compression leggings. I have both the full leggings and the capri length. I actually raced Marine Corps Marathon in the capri length (and it was the first time I wore them - usually a big no-no, but it worked out great!). My legs really do feel fresher for longer and I like the support on my lower back. I also wear them after a long run or hard workout and seem to recover faster (it could just be in my mind, though!).

And as a bonus I will share my two favorite nutritional supplements! 

SKRATCH Labs for Hydration - tastes SO good for a sports drink. Pineapple is my favorite. All natural with no artificial anything which is just what I love. It really is the only one I can stomach. 

Huma gels - I think I tried every gel that was on the market. I hated them all and sometimes even gagged on them, until I found Huma. Again, it is all  natural and tastes so good.

So these are the things that have powered me through 2013 and some of the races that I love! I look forward to trying new races!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 Triathlon by the numbers...A bunch of firsts!

Triathlon:  I love numbers! I love calculating things in my head as I run! I love seeing numbers on my watch after I finish a workout! So it comes as no surprise that watching my totals increase through the year is exciting, and seeing final numbers and be able to compare them is very exciting!

So here are my totals for the last two years:
Swim: 51h 15m 39s - 124978.01 Yd
Bike: 158h 16m 51s - 2498.32 Mi
Run: 157h 02m 13s - 905.8 Mi
Strength: 30h 16m
Yoga: 1h 00m
Swim: 29h 16m 53s - 62625.25 Yd
Bike: 143h 59m 31s - 2310.55 Mi
Run: 139h 08m 32s - 771.37 Mi
Strength: 49h 20m
Hiking: 1h 20m
Spinning Class: 45m
Yoga: 30m 

One of the more obvious things:
I swam twice as much in 2013 as I did in 2012. I am just as slow....

I raced my first half ironman triathlon.
I raced my first marathon.
I raced two sprint tri's.
     -I came in 2nd in my AG in one of them.
     -I PR'd at both of them.
I raced as the biker in a sprint relay.
     -We came in 2nd for the relay teams.
I was one of two runners in a half marathon relay.
     -We came in 5th.

It was a GREAT year for me in triathlon!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dusting off the blog...

The last time I blogged was my race recap for Eagleman. Re-reading that rekindles my excitement to race again! And no better time since TODAY is 6 months until CHALLENGE AC!! Booyah!

Mom: Just a recap: 4 kids - all busy. Oldest daughter,14, is on the swim team this year and loving it! It is very time intensive - they don't leave the HS until 6 at night and get home at 9:30ish. She is learning a lot about time management - which is good for her.  Daughter #2, 12, finished up field hockey with the middle school and is not concentrating on band and jazz band. Playing alto, tenor, and bari sax for the various bands. Son, 10, just turned his double digits 2 weeks ago. He is a webelo in cub scouts and has his swim class. I am trying to convince him to make the leap to swim team at the Y. He also takes a gymnastics class that he enjoys.  Daughter #3, 5, has her girl scouts and takes gymnastics and swim class. 

 Vet: I am on vacation until 1/2. Yeah! That doesn't mean the calls, emails and texts have stopped. But they have lessened.

Survivor: I have appointments coming up next month - ultrasound and doctor appointment in January. All stable for now. Considering asking for a PET scan to see if it detects anything new/different.

Triathlete: 2013 was a great year for me race wise!

RACES 2013
May 5 - NJ Half Marathon Relay
May 12 - Manassas Ladies Sprint Tri  - 2nd in AG!!
June 9 - Eagleman Half Ironman
July - Jersey Girl Tri Relay (Bike) 2nd place!
September 8 - Sandy Hook Sprint Tri
October 27 - Marine Corps Marathon

It was a year of firsts! My first HIM and my first MARATHON! Both had PR's !! Haha! I can only get better from here!

I have joined a group of triathletes swimming with a coach at 5 am twice a week. I think it will be very good for me - I have never swam the distances that she has us swimming. I am the second slowest right now, so I can only get faster. Trying to decide if I should consider a TI class or go for some private lessons. I watch videos and try to replicate what I do but I am not seeing improvement.

I am excited for 2014!

Races so far...
June 8 - Escape the Cape Sprint
June 29 - Challenge AC - guaranteed PR!!!

Considering -
Shamrock Half Marathon - March 16
Wineglass Marathon - October
Iron Girl Sandy Hook - September

There are so many races out there to try (or tri!)! I will have to do this a lot of years to try them all!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

EAGLEMAN Race Report 6.9.13 - Great day, but I want a REDO!!!

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

-T. S. Eliot

PACKET PICKUP: It was a long day of travel, packet pickup, bike racking, and driving to the hotel. We found a sushi place to eat and we just had cooked sushi and appetizers. I was in bed by 8pm.

RACE DAY: We got up at 3am so that we could try to get a parking spot in the few available in the local neighborhoods which worked out well - that way Dave could use the car to charge his phone and rest between events. I took a quick shower to wake up and we quickly left the hotel that was 45 minutes away from the race site. We got a cup of coffee that I drank on the way to the race. I timed my breakfast for 2 1/2 hours before the start of my wave - had 1 cup rice with brown sugar and honey, with raspberries and almond milk at 5:30 am. I had a cliff gel at 7pm and sipped on 24oz of skratch. My wave went off at 8:05.

I stretched well but otherwise I was using the swim as my warm up.LOL

 Before the race, 83 year old Sister Madonna Buder spoke. Her message: “We are lucky to be able to do this today. Enjoy the day and the blessings we have.” Truer words could not have been spoken!

Buder continues to compete in half and full iron events and is the oldest person to ever finish an ironman; she embodies the spirit that anything is possible. Amazing.

I am just not a strong swimmer - for those that know me, they know this. I really, really try though. I started with the pack and slowly they all pulled ahead. I was comfortable in the wetsuit and felt very buoyant. I was breathing on every other stroke for the first 1/3 of the course and had some weird scissor kick (not sure where that came from). I settled in finally and was able to breathe every 4 strokes and was kicking more normally. The buoys were very far apart and I had trouble siting them easily. Most triathlons seem to have double the buoys.  By this time the next wave of 25-29 year old men tackled me. The water was clear, there was no chop, but there was a current at the back of the course that kept pushing me in the wrong direction. I kept correcting for this but I added more mileage than I needed to. In fact, being the over achiever that I am, I actually swam 1.41 miles according to my watch! This was a complete embarrassment of a swim. Three swim waves passed me when it was all said and done. My slowest swim in a triathlon yet.

What would I do differently: Consider duathlons in the future (not kidding) or figure out whatever key element I am missing that prevents me from swimming with any speed whatsoever.

Time 57:57 (2.44/100yards) UGH!

The string from the back of the wetsuit was stuck on the inside of my leg around my timing chip. I had to sit down to work that out. Otherwise, transition was smooth.
Because of all the rains 2 days before the race, the marshy transition area had turned into a muddy disaster. They laid large cloths over but with SO many people it just didn't help. The bike out was just 3-5 inches of mud to run through. My bike shoes were covered in mud completely.

What would I change: Reapply sunscreen. I had put a fair bit of water resistant sunscreen on before the race, but I should have reapplied here.

I really liked this bike course. I love riding by water and through parks so this course suited me well. I spent most of the ride looking at the wildlife. It was really flat so you were pedaling the entire time. I drank every 5 minutes for the first 2 hours and really 'worked' at my hydration. I stayed on nutrition and ate 1/2 of a honey stinger waffle at 20 and 40 miles. I felt great for the first 2 hours - I was in aero about 90% of this ride. The last hour of the ride my lower back and neck started to get really tight and bother me so I up was up and down a lot. By this time, the wind had started to pick up some - not bad but present. I stopped once at 22 miles to refill my aero bottle. I drank about 48 oz total, probably not enough. I wish I would have taken one of the waters that were available so that I could have rinsed my mouth of all the sugar. I hate that feeling and this was the beginning of my troubles.

Ave HR 142 - should have gone harder??
56.11 miles 3:10:32 Ave speed 17.7mph

What would I do differently:
Take a water bottle when I start to get that 'feeling' in my mouth.
More training rides in aero more so my neck and back get more accustomed to it.
 I really wasn't sure how hard to push the bike and still have energy for the run. I have heard so many people go too hard on the bike and leave nothing for the run.  I think I could have gone harder as my HR wasn't that high.

The run in with the bike was worse than getting out. Really bad mud. Ankle deep by the time I got in - like a little tough mudder thrown in the middle of a half ironman.

I will start by saying that this is my slowest HM time ever and I was so disappointed. In retrospect, I think I figured out where I went wrong. My first mistake is that I gave Dave my running bottle filled with skratch because it was so hot I couldn't handle the thought of drinking HOT anything by this point. The run started well and I was pacing at 9:50's, exactly what my coach had predicted. I stopped to use a port o potty after the first mile - I had to pee really bad. I still had that bad sugar taste in my mouth and I couldn't wait for the first aid station to get some cold water. I rinsed my mouth out and spit it out and felt much better. It was getting hot by this point (I think someone said it reached 86 degrees and it was muggy/humid by the marsh) with the direct sun and I had some mild cramping and a dull headache. I ran to the next aid station and drank a cup of water and put ice down my shirt. I chewed on ice in between aid stations. My pace started to slow at this point. I was supposed to eat a gel at 4 and 8 miles but couldn't get over the thought of putting more sugar in my mouth. In my head I kept hearing Coach Scott say 'Keep to your nutrition plan even if you don't want to' - and although I really, really wanted to, this is where my mind won out and things got bad. I decided I would start drinking gatorade (for calories and lytes), putting water over my head and ice down my shirt at each aid station. I was still running between aid stations, but even though my mind wanted my body to go faster, for some reason I couldn't when I tried - my body just wouldn't respond. I ran with my head down and just kept shuffling/passing all the people who were walking. 90% of people were walking at this point. I think that played into my mental status as well. I told myself I would only walk the aid stations and I did stick to that plan. I also told myself that at the turn around I would force a gel down and I wish I had stuck to that plan. I somehow convinced myself that drinking gatorade was keeping my calories up. The last half of the run was just a shuffle all the way back. I really couldn't understand at the time why my body couldn't get up to at least a 10m/m. My feet started squishing also about half way through - between the mud that got into my socks from the bike and the water I kept putting over my head that got to my feet, I could tell I was getting some blisters (which I never get) - and yes, both big toes have blisters!

In retrospect, I am sure I was terribly hypoglycemic during the run. By that point in the run, I had only taken in my rice concoction, a gel, and a waffle for solids the entire day. I was like a zombie by the end of the run and although I was functioning I knew I didn't feel right. I did not want any of the food that was available after the race so we just packed up and left. We were about 2 hours away when we stopped to get some food and I felt IMMEDIATELY (like within minutes) better after some hot chocolate and cheetos (of all things). I think I was craving sugar and salt! I couldn't believe how much better I felt and I was talking and thinking much more normally. I was really stupid during the run and should have just stuck to the plan. It is clear now that I needed more calories to keep running. I would have cut at least 20-30 min off that time.

Ave HR 145 - I tried to get that into at least the 150's and just couldn't.
11:41 min/mile - 2:33:15 - that is just hard to write.....

What I would do better: Follow my nutrition plan and take in more calories!!! Maybe add more calories to the bike in preparation for the run.

I think this was a great race! I loved this distance and would like to go back and have a 'redo' so I can do it better with better decision making! I couldn't have asked for better weather conditions!! I have a pretty bad sunburn that I am nursing right now though - damn Coppertone didn't work the way it should have!

Total time 6:50:40
Age group rank 85/125
Gender rank 438/680
Total rank 1516/2100

One of the things I need to get over is the fact that I am not that good - not that I don't try hard, because I do. I am just not a person who will ever 'win' at a big race like Eagleman and I really know that is OK! Band Geek to Triathlete?? LOL It is just part of my personality to 'be the best' at what I do and in this sport, unless you pick your race correctly, I will not win. So really I just participate in triathlon, not really 'race', especially at events of this size! I worked hard! AND I HAD FUN! And I loved the journey to get here!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ladies Sprint Tri - 5.12.13 Race Recap!

I really like this race - It is a great season opener and a way to shake out the cob webs. This year there were 135 triathlon registrants, up from last year. Last year, I placed 2nd in my age group and secretly, I was hoping I would place again. This is a small enough race that I actually have a chance to place. I have said it before, anyone can win/place if they pick the race 'correctly'!

Pre-Race - 
I didn't get as much sleep as I normally would. I left a work conference I was at and met my family at my inlaws. We went to my nephews drama play and didn't get home until 11pm. It was difficult to get to sleep even after I finally got into bed. Normally I would be in bed by 8pm. Alarm went off at 4:30am; got myself ready and woke up my husband and son. We packed up the car and we were ahead of schedule. We stopped for coffee and I sipped on my Skratch on the 30 minute drive. I drank about 6oz of Skratch and 1/4 up of coffee by the time we got to the race. I had a banana about an hour before the race and a cliff gel about 15 minutes before the race.

This was a seeded start meaning that you had to tell them how fast you *think* you would finish the 400 yards. I had seeded myself at the 10 minute mark. I was #105 into the water. They start a new person every 5 seconds. I had a difficult time finding a breathing rhythm and wound up breathing on every stroke for most of the swim. Although I did better than last years swim, I am still slow as molasses.I had much less anxiety though which is good.
00:10:08 | 400 yards | 02m 30s / 100yards
Age Group:11/27
Overall:75/135 (pathetic) 

What would I do differently?
Figure out how to swim faster or become a duathlete. (Not kidding!)

This was supposed to be an 8 mile course. Garmin measured it as 7.21 miles. It was 2 loops with 9 hairpin turns. As soon as you got up to speed, you were forced to slow down and do a 180. The wind was terrible and there was a head or crosswind for about 80%. There was one section where I had a tail wind which allowed me to get going pretty fast. I felt like my shifting was very effective to try and maintain an even cadence and not power through the wind. I was VERY happy with the fact that not a single person passed me on the bike (or the run). I was able to track everyone down within eyeshot. My bike split was 6th fastest out of 135.Given the wind and all the hairpin turns, my average was only 16.2mph.

00:26:36 | 07.21 miles | 16.26 mile/hr
Age Group:1/27 (Woohoo!!)
Overall:6/135 (Woohoo!) - See SIDENOTE below!

What would I do differently?:
Try to drink on the bike. I was parched by the end.

 There was a headwind or crosswind with gusts until the last 1/2 mile. I thought I was running much faster than I was. Definitely felt it pick up once the wind was at my back! Again, Garmin measured 1.82 miles, it was supposed to be 2 miles.

00:16:01 | 01.82 miles | 08m 48s  min/mile
Age Group:2/27
What would you do differently?:
Practice running faster more.

Overall, I won second in my AG again. If I could fix my swim I may actually win my AG. Ahhhh...a girl can dream. I guess you always need something to challenge you and for me, swim it is!!

I was happiest with my bike performance! I feel like I have made a lot of gains in the bike! Sidenote: The top two bike finishers I highly suspect cut the course. I am not sure if it was on purpose or not, but they had times 3-5 minutes faster than anyone else this year or last. They also started their swim after me therefore with their bike times, they should have passed me - they didn't. So unofficially (and my coach agrees with this), I had the 4th fastest bike split!!

Next race.....EAGLEMAN!!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Half Marathon Relay Race Recap - 5/5/13

Here we are in May and I beg to ask, WHERE IS SPRING???

Today was the first race of my season. I did the NJ Half Marathon Relay last year as well. For races that I have done before I always check back and see what my time was so, of course, I can try to beat it. Last year I did 6.9 miles with a 8:37 min/mile pace. That's not too shabby for this 43 year old! The gauntlet has been dropped - I need to beat 8:37 min/mile.

Tina and I arrive early. We even had time enough to stop at a hotel along the route to use the restrooms. This is our signature move....although I will use a portapotty if I have to, I prefer a clean bathroom and hotels are perfect for this! Thanks to the Holiday Inn, that is what I got.

Next stop, my drop off at 5:45 am. The race started at 6:50 and it is 46 degrees out (again, where is spring??). I was smart enough to dress appropriately with 3 layers on top, compression socks, and my skirted Athleta pants. AND I remembered gloves!!! While waiting I bounced around, stretched, ate my banana, waited, stretched some more. I had a Cliff gel about 5 minutes before the race started and washed it down with some Skratch.

I kept telling myself that this should/could be a training run. I had no taper for this run and was just finishing a 3 week build for my triathlon. I rode 45 miles and ran 2 miles yesterday. My legs were tired. I shouldn't put that pressure on myself. But that darn competitive nature of mine kicked in full force.

The national anthem was sung and then they did a round of Sweet Caroline in honor of Boston. The wheelchair races were off and then so was I. And I was really off....

First mile 7:56 min/mile
Second mile 7:58 min/mile
Third mile 8:37 min/mile (uh oh)
Fourth mile 8:38 min/mile (another uh oh)
Fifth mile 8:56 min/mile - who put two bridges in the same mile!!! It's a hill, get over it is what I kept telling myself
Sixth mile 8:44 min/mile - now I am averaging these miles in my head...
Seventh mile 8:34 min/mile
Eighth mile 8:11 min/mile - longer than last years race

So the average.....do you think I beat it?
7.02 miles
59:34 total time
8:29 min/mile average
8 second per mile PR for a total of 56 second PR!!!

That was close.
I wonder if I had tapered if I could have maintained the sub 8 min/miles??

The handoff went well to Tina. She was off. I walked about 1/2 a mile and then did a recovery pace the rest of the way. I met Tina at the finish and our total time was 2:00:23. She did a great 9:49 min/mile pace which gave her almost a 7 minute PR over last year!  Go Tina!!

We were 8 seconds from being the 3rd female masters team out of 31!! We were 6th last year, so we moved up 2 spots to 4th this year! This might be the reason we go back next year!!

Next week - my first TRI of the season!!! The Ladies Choice Super Sprint in Manassas, VA!!! I won 2nd in my AG last year.....the pressure is on!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

38 days and counting

 "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will."~~Vince Lombardi
Here I am!! The last month before Eagleman! I have been training specifically for this since October. Next month is June already and the countdown continues. I have moments where I think I am ready and moments I think I am crazy. Ready vs. Crazy?? Maybe a little of both. I know I can do each of the distances separately for sure....but can I add them together while racing?

Which brings up....Racing vs. Finishing. I think those are two different things. I am almost certain I can finish the distance, but I have been training to race. I have done speed work and tabatas in swimming, biking, and running. It is going to hurt...my legs, my lungs. I have to pace myself so I don't go too fast on the bike and have nothing left for the run. I need to fuel properly so I don't run out of steam, but so that I don't get stomach cramps either. There is so much to think about.

I think at this point, more than a month out for this race, I am in a good place thanks to my coach. She has told me what to do and I have done it. She keeps telling me that I am faster than I think I am. I hope she is right! LOL

I am so excited as racing season starts. I am SO excited as my friends who have also been training hard get to race their races. Let the season begin!!!!!