Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Last week I posted this on my Facebook page:
"The more I hear about my friends signing up for next year's triathlons, the more I realize my multi-sport days are over. It's kind of a relief, in a way, to finally accept that I'm just not into it. However, I will be the best spectathlete out there, cheering for my pals from the sidelines. :)"
I meant it at the time, and I think I still do now.

My main problem is that I want to WANT to do tri. It's not so much the act of triathlon that I crave, it's the sense of accomplishment, the challenge, and yes, to be honest, the kudos that make me want to "tri" again. And triathlon, more than anything else, seems to deliver the sense of pride, and yes, the kudos, that I crave.

I was (am?) seriously tempted to register for the Kansas City Triathlon 5150 distance while it's only $50--a downright STEAL for a tri of any distance. Unfortunately, my bike situation sucks, and I know that riding the required 40k on my current hybrid would be hell, and since don't really have the financial means to invest in a different bike there's Strike 1. The race is May 20, which means odds are good that the lake will still be freezing cold and I don't own a wetsuit. (Again, lack of financial means=no wetsuit for me.) That's Strike 2, if you're counting. Strike 3? I absolutely, 100% plan to participate in the Heartland 39.3 half-marathon series this spring which means halfs April 14, April 22 and May 12. I imagine I'll be happy if I can simply walk after finishing that many races in 4 weeks, let alone completing a tri at the end of it all. (And let's not even get started on how I'd manage to fit tri training in with half-marathon training...)

3 strikes, I'm afraid. Definitely out.

But I am still sad--again not so much because I can't tri but because I have to say "no." I have to draw the line financially and physically and from a time standpoint. And I do admit to being jealous that K will be able to do all of it. It always sucks to feel left behind and left out, but I guess that's life. Right?

However, I did promise K some kick-ass spectathleting, so I'd better warm up my cowbell now!

And speaking of temptation... I managed to survive Thanksgiving relatively unscathed. Yes, I ate and ate and ate, but I didn't feel guilty. I kept up with my workouts as best I could and didn't sweat it when I couldn't. I even earned my turkey with a T-Day 5k. The weather was awesome and the crowd was amazing. I didn't PR and I missed another sub-30 by 5 seconds, but I can live with it. I had fun anyway! And my sweet kiddo ran her first 1k. It wasn't without tears and she definitely wanted to give up more than once, but she FINISHED and we all know that's the important thing.

Here we are, finishing strong!

And now, to check in on my goals from nearly two weeks ago:

  1. Run 10 miles--Missed it again. I haven't managed to hit 10 yet!
  2. Try a new piece of gym equipment--Yes! Thanks to small-group training, I was able to try out the Bosu and the Paramount cable cross thingymabobby. 
  3. Compile Thanksgiving shopping list and finish all shopping-- Duh. Easy-peasy. ;)

New goals!

  1. Run 8 miles--10/week isn't working for me, so I thought I'd try a smaller number. 
  2. Attend Sunday yoga--I haven't been to yoga in a long time and I miss it! 
  3. Plan meals from our freezer stockpile--We have a small chest freezer FULL of food and it needs to get eaten!

Do you have goals this week?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goals and stats

It's a new week and that brings a new set of goals! But first, let's check in on last week, shall we?

  1. Run 10 miles total: I ran 8. Not quite the amount I wanted, but better than in previous weeks
  2. Read three chapters of Jillian Michaels' "Unlimited": I did NOT do this. I read the intro and the first chapter and decided it wasn't the book for me. Took it back to the library. I don't feel too bad about missing this goal. Meh.
  3. Plan Thanksgiving menu: DONE! (At least I got one thing done, too bad it's the least fitness-y of the bunch!)

My goals for this week, Nov 13-19 (and I'm adjusting my "week" so that it runs Sun-Sat to match my 500 in 2011 challenge week):

  1. Run 10 miles
  2. Try a new piece of gym equipment (pull-up machine? Bosu ball?)
  3. Compile Thanksgiving shopping list and finish all shopping
What's on your list this week?

To switch subjects....

If you're interested in other people's body stats, the next bit should interest you. Kristina hooked me up with the body composition machine thing at the gym since I never got my post-bootcamp comp profile. (Which is just as well since I missed more bootcamps than I attended.) Here are my numbers:

Weight: 172.2 (clothed, no shoes)
BMI: 24
BMR: 1558kcal
Fat %: 34%
Fat Mass: 58.6lb

Desirable range:
Fat %: 21-33%
Fat mass: 30.2-56.1lb

Target body fat (my goal, which was just randomly selected): 28%
Predicted weight: 157.8lb (hahahahahaha, in my dreams)
Predicted fat mass: 44.2lb
Fat to lose: 14.4lb :P

And it also gives the fat % for each limb

Right leg: 36.9%
Left leg: 36.7%
Right arm: 28.5%
Left arm: 30.4%
Trunk: 33.1%

I don't know that any of this is useful beyond general curiosity, but there it is anyway. I hope I can get another assessment someday so I can see if anything changes/improves! If I do, I'll be sure to post the stats here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekly Goals: Nov. 7-13

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm a ship without a rudder if I don't have a goal or event to work towards. I tend to float aimlessly, skipping workouts, finding excuses, generally undoing all the hard work I've put in the months prior. And with the winter race doldrums nearly upon us, there are fewer and fewer events to set my sights on. I do have several big events in the early spring, but they're still too far out to keep my focus intense. Add in some holiday time-off and all that general wackiness looming ever closer, and I'm setting myself up for a couple of tough months if I don't stay busy.

Therefore, I've opted to focus on the short-term and set my sights on some smaller, weekly goals. I hope that having fewer items to accomplish in a shorter time-frame will keep me focused and entertained in the short-term, and that will make the transition to the BIG goals a bit easier, when the time comes.

And with that, my goals for this week are:

  1. Run 10 miles total
  2. Read three chapters of Jillian Michaels' "Unlimited"
  3. Plan Thanksgiving menu

If you're interested in the "Why" behind the "What," keep reading. If not, well then, stop here and have a great day! ;)

1. Why 10 miles? At the beginning of the year, I committed myself to a "500 miles in 2011" challenge. As of this week, I'm sitting on 433 miles, which means I need to get around 67 more before the end of the year in order to complete the challenge. At one point in the year, I'd have thought I'd be done with the mileage well before now, but since I've finished training for the half-marathon, my running miles have dropped off to where I'm averaging about 3-5 a week. Yikes. Time to kick it in gear before I run out of year! (Ha! I rhyme!)

2. I'm a JM fan (or at least a fan of her workout DVDs), but I'm not a big fan of self-help books. Okay, okay, I've never read any self-help books because I always think of them as mostly cheesy and filled with Stuart Smalley-esque platitudes about how, gosh darnit, you should just like yourself! But I do know I could use a little help breaking out of my rut in areas of my life beyond fitness/health, so I thought what the heck. My hope is that JM is a little less "woo woo" cheeseball and more practical information We'll see if it's worth the time.

3. For the first time in at least 10 years, we don't have to travel for Thanksgiving! Hip, hip, hooray!! However, staying home means I'm now I'm responsible for cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the hubster and the kiddo, my parents and possibly the in-laws. It won't be a large gathering, but it'll still require all the traditional fixins, which in turn require a fair amount of planning. And because we're staying put this year, I'm finally able to do something I've wanted to do for a couple of years now: run a Thanksgiving Day 5k! I'm excited, but that does mean a bit more strategy on my part so that dinner is ready at a reasonable hour later that day. It'll all work out, but I'd rather plan now so I can play later.

So that's what's on tap for this week. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I didn't see that one coming

I had a race Saturday morning. Just a small, local 5k put on by my gym to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Since the course goes through my neighborhood, and I ran the same race last year, I was definitely familiar with the route. The course features rolling hills throughout with one big hill thrown in just for fun.

My hope was a PR, so I knew I'd have to finish under 31:14. It was doable, but my time to beat was set on a super flat course and I wasn't sure how much Saturday's hilly course would affect my time. Granted, on my practice run earlier in the week I ran the 5K course in about the same time as my "time to beat," but still...I never count my chickens.

Saturday morning was brisk but sunny--perfect running weather. I found K and we settled in with the crowd. We both decided to use our iPods that day, and I really relied on mine to keep me in the zone and on pace. (Thank you Soundgarden and The Naked and Famous!) After a few short announcements, we were off!

The run itself was pretty much what I expected. I kept myself at somewhere between uncomfortable and "you're asking for trouble, young lady!" whenever I could, opened it up on the downhills, paced myself on the uphills and mostly tried to remind myself that no matter how uncomfortable it was, I only had to go a half-hour, max. Soon enough, I was hitting the halfway point, which meant just a few shorter hills left. I kept one guy in my sights during the second half of the race, trying my best to not let him get too far ahead, and we even leapfrogged a bit on some of the hills earlier on. But I was finally able to pass him for good on one of the last downhills, and I tried to put the hammer down since I knew the end was near. Unfortunately the race ends on a slight uphill, so I saved just enough gas to get me where the final 100yd flat stretch begins. As I rounded the corner onto the final stretch, I saw the official time clock: 29:20!

I was still under 30 minutes with less than 100yds to go! What the hell?? A sub-30? Oh, crap--DON'T BLOW IT. I didn't think I could waste :40 seconds in the short distance I had left to cover, but I didn't want to take any chances so I sprinted with everything my legs could give and finished.


My very first sub-30 5k, and on a super hilly course! I was--and still am--THRILLED. It also came as a total surprise since I haven't been working on short distances and haven't been doing any speedwork at all. But perhaps all the long-distance/half-marathon training I did this fall is paying off here as well? It stands to reason that if you can sustain an 11 min/mile pace for 2.5 hours, you should be able to sustain a 10 min/mile pace for 30 minutes. I don't know. Makes sense to me, I guess. Or rather, it's as good an explanation as any at this point.

Whatever the cause, it seems like the perfect way to end what has been an amazing racing year for me. Thank you for being so epic, 2011 Racing Season!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Race Report: Kansas City Half Marathon

I went into this race with two main goals:

1. Finish blister-free (If you read my first half-marathon race report, this will make more sense.)
2. Finish under 2:30

But like most racers, I also went in with a "dare to dream" goal. I wanted to finish at or under 2:25. Based on training runs, I knew a 2:25 wasn't out of the realm of possibility, but at the same time, I didn't want to hang my hopes on it since I wasn't sure how I'd react to the hilly course.

The day started as most race days do, in the wee hours of the morning. I volunteered to drive three other ladies the hour to the race site, and Rider 1 was at my house at 4:45. We picked up the last two racers, including my training buddy, K, and hit the road to KC. The drive was uneventful and we, thankfully, found parking quickly and easily (mere steps from the start/finish lines, to boot).

It was a chilly October morning, in the 40s, but we were able to stay inside the shopping area and stay warm until the race started. Our plan was to stay with the 2:25 pace group with the option to go our own way if we felt the urge. However, we stayed inside the warm building far too long because when we finally decided to go out and get settled at the start line, we couldn't even SEE the 2:25 pace group. We managed to get up as close as the 2:40 group, but that was it. Luckily, I'd grabbed a couple of 2:25 pace bracelets at the expo, so we decided we'd go on our own and follow the chrono times posted on the bracelet. (By the way, those bracelets are the BEST. I wish I had those for every run, race or not!)

Before we knew it, we were off! The course was fantastic--it wound through some of the most scenic neighborhoods in the city. Yes, there were hills, and some mighty big ones, but luckily they were all in the first half of the race, and none too different from what I find in my town. I like to think that the last training run K and I did--one that was full of hills and wind--helped prepare us for what we saw on Saturday.

K and I were pretty amazed to find that for the first 6 miles or so, we were perfectly matched with the chrono time on the pace bracelets--like, to-the-second on pace. We stuck to our aid station plan--Shotblok, water, walk--and sipped Nuun on the course as needed. Around mile 6 or 7, we took an extended aid station break to hit the potty, and around mile 9 or so we broke again so I could grab some Vaseline for a chafed spot under my arm. Between the two stops (and perhaps general fatigue), we'd slipped off pace by about 2-3 minutes. Luckily we were both focused on staying on goal so we stepped up the pace at every downhill and flat and made up as much time as we could.

Around mile 11, I started feeling the wear and tear on my legs and attitude. We were still a good 1-2 minutes off pace and were quickly running out of distance to make it up. Thankfully, we had the benefit of a major downhill, so I just tried to let loose as much as I could and make up as much time as I could and relax as much as I could. We hit the last aid station and decided to blow through it instead of stop--I was out of Shotbloks and I didn't want to "waste" the time when I was so close to the end and so close to my goal.

I'm not gonna like--mile 12 was a bitch. We were busting it as fast as we could maintain and I know MY lungs and legs were feeling it. At one point I realized I was out of breath more than usual, but I chalked it up to general fatigue. I didn't really think I was working that much harder than the previous 11 miles. With two turns left in the race, and still slightly behind our pace goal, I told K not to wait for me and to fly if she felt the urge. Bless her heart, she stayed near me til the end. Not sure if she did it out of loyalty or because she was also dog-tired. Whatever the reason, I am immensely grateful. It was near mile 12.5 that we were passed by the Marathon finisher--if that's not motivation to finish strong, I don't know what is.

We rounded the last bend and could see the finish line. At that point, it took every last bit of energy I had to keep moving. Every fiber in my legs hurt, my lungs were screaming and I was DONE. I knew we were close to our goal, but I didn't dare look at my watch and break my rhythm. I knew if I stopped or slowed, I'd never get going again. Finally, I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch:

2:25:15! Missed it by THATMUCH. SO CLOSE. But you know, I don't care. I left EVERYTHING on that road. I had a blast. I felt good most of the time, and when I didn't, it was because I was busy busting my ass. We made up nearly 3 minutes of "lost" time on our own, just by pushing ourselves a bit harder. Could we have gone a bit faster here or there? Walked a step or two less at an aid station? Taken one less break? Yeah, I suppose. But is it worth crying about? HELL NO. In 6 months I managed to shave nearly 7 minutes off my previous time and set a new PR. I went from an average half-marathon pace of 11:37 to 11:06.

And remember that miserable mile 12? The one where I thought my legs would fall off? Yeah--there's a reason for that. When K looked at our splits after the race, she realized we'd clocked a 10:10 that mile. A 10:10. In the last mile of a half marathon. I don't even run a 10:10 during short runs around the 'hood. I am amazed that we were able to pull that off at any point in the race, let alone in the final mile!

After the race, we took part in the usual post-race festivities. Got our official results, drank our free beer, scored our medal, took some photos. We headed back home sore but happy, two of us with PRs and one of us a freshly-minted half-marathoner!

I'd call that a successful day. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On to the next one

I am excited to have a few new fitness endeavors on the horizon.

For the past month and a half, K and I have been training for a half marathon! It will be my second 13.1 and her first. Training has been going very well (knock wood), and we've been fortunate to have some absolutely GORGEOUS fall weather. K found Fuel Belts on super sale at TJMaxx, so those have been extra helpful, especially when my bottles are filled with my new BFF, Nuun. Yum. I think the drink has helped make the difference in mediocre "just get it over with" runs and highly enjoyable "I could do this forever" runs. We have two more long runs before the race, and without getting TOO cocky, I have high hopes for an enjoyable race. And yes, I will be bringing my own Nuun.

Today I begin a 6-week Boot Camp, uh, experience. I've been needing to mix up my fitness routine for a while now, and this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. While my running is going gang-busters, I haven't been seeing the changes in my body that I want to see. I tried a few things at home (my usual DVD routines, counting calories) and still haven't seen any progress. While I'm not expecting miracles from camp, I do hope it provides enough of a change to shake my body up a bit and get things moving again. At the very least, it'll be a nice change of pace mentally! 

Part of boot camp was a weigh-in/body composition/measurement session. It wasn't as dreadful as I thought it would be and I appreciated seeing the hard numbers. I hope to see some change in those when we reassess in a few weeks. I'm not really focusing on weight, however, as I know that's not a true indication of fitness, hard work or health. We've been asked to set three goals for this camp cycle, and mine are thus:
  1. Complete 10 full, non-modified push-ups
  2. Eat 2 servings of fruits and 4 servings of vegetables daily
  3. Decrease body fat by 3%. (I have no idea if this is a reasonable goal, so I'll ask the trainer tonight. No use setting a goal that's impossible to attain.)
I think all three are doable and yet challenging. However, I know that if I want to reach my goals, I need to put in more work than just attending an hour boot camp once a week. I'm trying to be more mindful about my workouts and put some actual thought into my goals and the steps I need to take to reach them. It's also been brought to my attention that I might be working too hard and I'm not staying in the fat-burning heart-rate zone. That is a puzzle for another day, however, since that would require having some sort of gadget to actually track my HR. But it is something to consider as I move forward towards a fitter me.

Now wish me luck--boot camp hell awaits!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Race Recap: YMCA Inside/Out Triathlon

This past Sunday, Kristina and I participated in the Wichita YMCA's Inside/Out Tri. It was a VERY small race--I think 66 finishers total and most of those folks looked like they were serious athletes. Yes, there were first-timers, but their first-timers were people who obviously knew what they were doing. (Example: The first-timer who won first-place in her AG.) It was hard not to feel a little intimidated. My only goal was to not be DFL--and yes, yes, I know DFL is always better than DNS, but still, it's not where I wanted to finish.

We got there about 5:40am and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot it started POURING rain. Like "build an ark" sort of rain. We decided to wait it out a bit, but we also had to rack our bikes, check in and hit the mandatory meeting that was at 6:15. Finally about 5:50 it started letting up a tiny bit so we braved the rain and found our spots (assigned) and got our bikes up. Checked in--which was super fast since there were so few of us AND we only had a chip, no numbers at all (a first for me)--got marked up and hung out inside to warm up and dry off a bit. It finally turned to a light drizzle so we took the rest of our stuff out to set up. Thank goodness I'd brought big plastic bags to store our stuff in, so we just set up our T areas IN the bags. That system made it a little harder to fish things out during the race, but at least everything stayed dry (because the parking lot was one giant puddle). We headed back into the building and noticed it was starting to clear up and the first light of dawn was breaking. Luckily, the rain moved out of the area and stayed away the rest of the race.

The Swim: Around 7:15 we began lining up by projected finish time for our 400 (indoor swim) and waited to go. I was somewhere in the first half of the pack, which was a little unnerving at first. I thought for certain the director had made a mistake and placed me too far up front! But then I reminded myself that I AM a strong swimmer and I'd provided an accurate 400 finish estimate (8:45), so I told myself to go out there and prove I was in the right group. Soon enough I was at the edge of the pool, waiting for my turn to go! It was a serpentine swim, up one side of the lane, down the other side of the same lane, under the rope, repeat for 400m (short course). Overall, the swim went great, even though I never did get a good groove when it came to going under the rope. I suppose if I was a flip turner it would've been easier, but alas... I did pass one lady and probably could've passed another dude if I'd pushed myself, but we were all bunched up and it was crazy. Because of the clustering those of us in the middle were experiencing, there was a bit of confusion at some of the walls. I couldn't tell if the lady I passed was trying to pass me again (you could only pass at the wall), so we had a nice "you go!" "no, you go!" conversation for a few seconds. After that, I just swam as fast I could and kicked as hard as I could to put distance between me and her through the finish.

Swim (400y, indoor): 8:17, my best yet and :15 faster than my previous fastest time trial. Super happy with that time.

T1: 3:58: Still too long, but about 2 minutes faster than my last tri. As I mentioned earlier, getting my stuff out of the dry bag was a challenge, but I was grateful to not have to struggle with soggy socks and shoes AND to have a dry towel for my drippy face. I did invest in $2 toggles for my shoe laces, which saved me a bunch of time and hassle.

The Bike: Meh. Still my weakest link. It had stopped raining, so that was a nice. Got passed by a lot of folks, which isn't surprising. There ended up being quite a few hills, despite the location of the race being in a traditionally flat part of the state--nothing CRAZY, but hills nonetheless. I pushed myself hard on the first half thinking I could relax a bit on the second half (since that half was more of a decline) until I got there and realized there was a headwind. AWESOME. :/ I pushed as hard as I could and tried to keep it in my higher gears and as fast a turnover as I could to keep my pace up as best as I could. It goes without saying that I was very happy when the bike was over. And I really think that if there's ANY chance I may do any more tris next year and beyond, I have to get a different bike. I know it would make a huge difference in my overall time, not to mention my overall enjoyment of the bike portion itself. And it could probably have an effect on my run, since I wouldn't kill my legs as much on the bike. But that's a conversation for another day--at this time I'm not sure I want to invest any money there. I'll need to ponder that over the winter and see how I feel later.

Bike (11.5mi): 50:08. I was aiming for an hour or less, so no complaints other than general discomfort.

T2: 1:20: Not much to do other than drop off my bike, switch hats and grab my Nuun.

The Run: As I was running out, K was biking in so I gave my leggies a break and slowed to a jog so we could run together. The first half of the run was tough--I was out of gas and my legs were dead. Thank goodness K was there to keep me distracted! We ran most of the run portion together, until the end when we sprinted and she beat me. :P I'm totally blaming my "loss" the fact that the parking lot was wet and I couldn't get any traction. Yeah, that's totally it. Because, you know, otherwise, I would've beat her. Yeah. Totally. ;) Truthfully, she was faster on the bike and on her Ts (I only beat her on the swim portion), so she would've placed higher than me regardless of her last-minute sprint power. And also, I don't feel particularly competitive towards her, so it's all good anyway. We both finished all out, which is the most important thing.

Run (2.8 mi): 29:34, Pace: 10:34, about avg for me

Overall Time: 1:33:17
Place 57 of 66, NOT DFL. ;)

All things considered, I'm pleased with my performance. Yes, there's plenty of room for improvement (namely the bike portion and my Ts) and I still have a lot to learn about the sport. But I'm still proud of myself for doing this race at all. It helped me get over my fear of smaller races (and the dreaded DFL) and it was kind of interesting to compete w/ SERIOUS athletes. I think it was probably good for me to throw myself to the wolves, so to speak. I competed against good triathletes without the benefit of being able to hide among a huge group of participants and I lived to tell the tale. That counts for something.

Now I'm back to wondering what's next, both short-term and long-term goals. Do I want to keep participating in triathlons? Am I willing to make the financial and time commitments it takes to compete at my best? Is this really the sport for me?

I guess I have a lot to think about this winter!

Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm still here

I'm still around--sorry for the dead air. Not much happening in Motion World aside from training, training, training. This weekend is the triathlon, and I'm happy it's here. I've been neglecting my bike rides (only one ride since the last tri) and haven't done much better with swims (2 or 3 total). Thanks to half-marathon training, my running has stayed true so at least I have that!

K and I will be slogging through this together. Our vow is that neither of us will finish DFL. Let's hope we can each meet our only goal! ;)

See ya on the other side!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Next up

What's that looming on the horizon? Why, it's another sprint triathlon! Yes, I registered for a second tri. Sunday, September 18, Kristina and I will participate in the Northwest YMCA Inside Out Triathlon in Wichita.

Looking at results from previous years' events, it seems to be a very small race (under 100 participants), which is making me feel rather anxious. I'd much prefer several hundred other folks I could hide amongst, not to mention the higher the number of racers the less likely I am to come in DFL. But DFL is better than DNS, right? That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. Still, I'm nervous and hoping I don't look like a fool. I'm picturing 95 members of the Wichita Tri Club and...me.

On the positive side, I'm excited about the course itself. The swim is a POOL swim and only 400y. Hooray! The bike is only 12 miles, which will seem like a breeze after the previous tri's 15.5-miler. Since the race is in Wichita, both the bike and the run course will be flat, flat, flat. And since the race is in Wichita--my husband's hometown--I might have a few supporters cheering me on. It sounds like my parents will make the drive down from their town, I have plenty of in-laws who live in Wichita who could come watch (whether they will is a different matter), and best of all, my husband and daughter will be in town with me. I hope they'll get up and out of the house early enough to watch.

So, for the next three weeks, I'll be concentrating on triathlon stuff again--focusing on pool swims vs OWS (thank the Lord), getting back on the bike (I haven't been on a ride since the Y tri) and trying to hold steady on my runs (damn this weather!).

And after that? Well, if I tell you now, what will I talk about later?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Race Report: YWCA of Minneapolis Women's Tri

Short story: I did it! And it was awesome!

Long story: What a fantastic experience. First, I had such a great time with my friends. They're such amazing, hilarious ladies and I love them to bits. Any time we get together is always a blast, and this was no exception. (And as an aside, we were interviewed for an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It was pretty fun to see a brief history of our friendship in print!)

The tri experience began Saturday with a smooth packet pick-up and informative course talk. The race organizers took the time to thoroughly explain all the nuances of the course and the race basics, which was especially helpful for us tri newbies. After that, we drove to the lake so Michelle and I could take a quick dip and get a feel for the water. The water was gorgeous--clear and clean and, as far as I could tell, fishless--although a bit more chilly than what I'm used to. (I think official temp was 76.) But we got in a short swim and I know it helped me a great deal just to see where the "magic" would happen. Organizers were setting up the transition areas while we were there, so we got to see a basic layout of things, too. After our swim--and a short downpour--Becky, the local of the group, took us out on the bike route so we could scope it out. Again, immensely helpful for me as I could finally visualize the area, see the hills and rough spots and get a better idea of what was in store.

After the bike course tour and a carb-y dinner, we headed home to pack our bags and set out our gear and rest up for our big day.

Race Day!
My day started with a surprise--my alarm didn't go off! Guess I should remember to make sure my iPod is fully charged before I decide to use it as my alarm clock. Luckily M had set HER alarm, and since we were sleeping in the same room, I woke when she did. After a quick shower, a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast, we were on the road. The sun rose as we arrived at the lake--it was still a bit chilly and foggy, but we could tell it was going to be a gorgeous day.

We quickly found our assigned rack and set up our transition areas. Michelle had purchased a huuuuge mylar unicorn balloon to mark our spot, so we got her all settled in, knowing she'd guide us back to our transition area safely. The area was bustling with activity and nervous energy. It was reassuring to see plenty of other first-timers--or at least participants who were NOT professionals/elites--and I felt much less intimidated than I thought I would. Then we picked up chips and got marked up (fun!) and double-triple-quadruple-checked our transition spots one last time and left the area so we could find the pre-race meeting.

Our wave was the second-to-last group to go, so we had plenty of time to stand around and watch everyone else get started. About the time the third or fourth wave got going, I noticed something familiar floating in the sky. Yep, our unicorn balloon had set itself free and was floating it's way to the heavens, to join the great rainbow in the sky. Sigh...

Soon enough our wave was queueing up, and every three minutes we moved a little closer to the shore. By now I was starting to get nervous and had quite a bit of excess energy. When we got to the final staging area, I thought I would burst from anticipation. I forced myself to take some deep breaths just to settle my nerves and to (hopefully) keep myself from getting out of breath as soon as I hit the water. Next thing I know they're giving us the 30-second warning. I give my girls the biggest hug I can muster and then we're off!

The Swim!
I stay to the back left (we were doing right-turns) as advised, and the first 50yds or so was the chaos you'd imagine it would be. I imagine the Buddy Waves we were in were considerably less competitive than the regular age group waves, so no one was too crazy and I even got an apology from someone who kicked me. About halfway to the first buoy, I knew I needed to find a clear spot or else I'd never get my rhythm so I managed to maneuver around a few folks to get away from the fray. From then on it was smooth swimming. I felt AWESOME. Water temp was in the mid-70s--brisk and refreshing but not freezing cold--my breathing was great, and I fell right into a good rhythm. I managed to stay on course and never had any sighting issues. Next thing I knew, I was rounding the final buoy and was on the long stretch for the beach. At this point I was still feeling great and decided to bump up the speed a little bit. I cranked it home and swam until my hands fully touched bottom and then I was up. I walked in until the water was low on my legs, so as not to waste too much energy. I really could've kept walking all the way up the beach, but I remembered I was in a race and probably should at least TRY to speed it up. ;)

Swim: 11:25 (Super pleased with that time. Zero complaints.)

Transition 1!
I hit the baby pools to rinse my feet and ran in to transition. Oy. Transition. Since I had my fancy tri suit, I didn't have much to do except put on my helmet, glasses and shoes, pound a couple Shot Bloks and grab my bike. Easy-peasy, right? For some reason, I could NOT get my shoes tied properly and had to re-tie my right one three times. Sheesh. Then I couldn't get my bike off the rack. Then once I did, I knocked it over. Then as I was leaving I tried riding it away from the rack, but luckily my friend Laura caught me and reminded me I couldn't ride it until I was at the mount line. Oy. What a flustered nightmare. At least I remembered to eat my Shot Bloks! I finally got out of there in one piece and hit the road.

T1: 5:49 (Hahaha!)

The bike!
There's not a whole lot to say about the bike course. It was long, but it was beautiful. It took us through some lovely park areas, across the river, by some beautiful houses. It was shady and had just enough downhills to give your legs a bit of a rest. A few uphills too, but nothing awful. My only issue was that my rental bike seat cut into my leg in a spot I wasn't used to--or perhaps I should've raised my seat a bit?--so I was getting some pretty bad leg/glute pain/cramps from about mile 5 onward. It made for a very, VERY long ride. I kept trying to stand and stretch that area or adjust myself on the seat to take pressure off, but nothing helped for very long. I was extremely happy when I found myself at the end of that ride. I hit the dismount line and hopped off with every intention of running in, but opting to give my legs a little walk/stretch break instead.

Bike: 1:02:52 (Totally pleased with this time, especially considering how uncomfortable i was the whole time.)

Transition 2!
Thankfully T2 went much smoother than T1. I was able to re-rack my bike much faster than it took me to un-rack it, and that was blissfully uneventful. I ditched my helmet, bandana and glasses, slid into my faux-race belt (the headband that goes to my LED headlamp), threw on my running hat and downed another Shot Blok and some water.

T2: 2:36

The run!
Our bike rack was right near the Run In entrance, so I was on the course in no time. My legs had the typical post-bike wobbles, but I expected them and took it slow and easy at first. I made it to the first aide station and had some water and dumped ice down my shirt. Ahhhh.... By now I was feeling good--it usually takes me about a mile into any run to get loosened up and find my groove, and this race was no exception. I was feeling good and was able to pass a few folks (and not just the walkers). About mile 2, I started to get a little grumpy. The run course took us all the way around the lake, and by now I was on the opposite side as the finish and the other side looked so far away. It HAD to be more than a mile to the finish line! Ugh. I grabbed another drink at the Mile 2 station and pushed on, vowing that I was NOT going to allow myself to walk this course, with the exception of aid stations. So I kept on, trying to think about other things--the scenery, other people's outfits, what kind of snack I'd have later--just to keep my mind off the distance. Soon enough I was rounding a bend and could hear the finish line announcer and the cheering crowd. I could also see a few finishers coming back to greet friends or just on their way home. I asked one of them how much farther I had left, and she told me I had just about a 1/3 of a mile! So close! Finally, I rounded the last curve and could see the big orange arch that signaled the finish line. Spectators and athletes were lining the walk, cheering folks on into the finish. I got a sudden burst of adrenaline and energy and gave it one final sprint, trying to smile the whole way in. I saw M there, and gave her a big high-five as I ran in, and she was waiting for me at the finish line to give me a big hug.

I DID IT! It was over and I DID IT!

Run: 33:32 (10:48 pace) Completely, totally, 100% happy with that.

Final finish time: 1:56:13 Overall place: 709 of 972 Age group: 145 of 190

I grabbed some water and M and I waited for Becky and Laura to come in. Becky wasn't too far behind me, and her mom ran with her to the finish. (So sweet!) Laura wasn't too far behind Becky, and Michelle and I were able to run across the finish line with her. Everyone finished with a smile on their face and, I hope, feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment.

It was a fantastic experience from start to finish. The event was well-run, had great post-race food, a supportive atmposphere and a beautiful venue. I couldn't have asked for a better experience for my first triathlon, and I was honored that I got to do it with three of my best friends. What an amazing day! Pics to come, eventually. ;)

I did it!

I'm working on a long race report post, but it could take me a while at the rate I'm going. However I did want to write a quick post to say that I finished with a smile on my face, I had a blast and couldn't have asked for a better first tri experience.

More to come!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Suit up!

So. I got one of these.

Voila! Instant Triathlete: Just add water!
(Sorry about the low-fi cell phone pic.)

My buddy Kristina gave me a smoking deal on her extra, too-big tri suit and I snatched it up before she had the chance to change her mind. I feel amazing in it--almost like I know what the heck I'm doing. Almost. I love the thing. It fits perfectly, although it's not as flattering from the side, where you can see my flabby belly, as it is from the angle in the pic above. But it's comfortable, light, and does the job, so there you go. And if it's true that the clothes make the (wo)man, then I'm a pro! :)

I had the opportunity to test it out Sunday (nothing like waiting 'til the last minute, right?), when Kristina and I attempted our own mini tri. We set up transition areas and everything and got in a nice OWS, short ride and even shorter run. But we hit all the disciplines, which was my goal, and I got a chance to test out my suit and my transition set-up. I think that was just what I needed to settle my nerves and organize everything in my brain.

Since this is technically taper week, I'm aiming for a couple of light runs this week, maybe a pool swim if I find that I have the time. But since my flight leaves crazy early Friday, I really only have three more days before I leave, and some of that time will be taken up by gathering, packing, and well, regular life. We'll see what I actually have time to do between now and Thursday night.

Yesterday the race organizers emailed the race guide along with a document showing our bib numbers (1096), wave assignments (Buddy Wave 5, wave 17 of 18 overall) and start time (8:48am). I guess that means this is really going to happen! The race guide sort of blew my mind in a not so good way. It was information overload, to say the least. I'll be relying on M to help me recognize and process the important things and and also to steer me away from the items that I don't need to worry about (or are common sense). I'm trusting that once I'm in the moment, it'll all make sense and fall into place.

So, as M would say, only "3 more sleeps" until I hit that plane for the Twin Cities! I can't wait to see my friends, visit a new city, and experience a new adventure! Hooray!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Odds and ends

* Kristina totally killed it at her first triathlon last weekend! I'm so glad I was able to watch her compete. It was a miserably hot day on a difficult course, but she did a great job! Not only was I glad I could go to support Kristina, I was happy to have the opportunity to see the inner workings of a triathlon up close and personal. It was a small event, so I was able to get right up to the start/exit areas for swim and even to see the transition areas (from a distance so as not to interfere with racers). Thanks for letting me be a part of your day, Kristina!

* I walked away from K's tri with two solid thoughts:
  1. I am SO ready for this.
  2. I am SO NOT ready for this.
It's true. I'm ready and not ready. I'm ready for the thrill of a race atmosphere, to finally experience this event that I've been thinking about trying for almost a year, seriously considering for 9 months, have been registered for for nearly 6 months and have been in training for for almost 2 months. I'm excited to get out there and give it a shot and to be in the moment. And yet, if it's possible, I'm equally NOT ready. I don't think my body or mind are quite prepared for what lies ahead. Yes, I've been training, but I don't know that anything I've experienced in training has come close to what I'll experience that day. I'm trying not to freak out, but I do find myself getting a little overwhelmed from time to time. Must. Remember. To. Breathe.

* Because of #2 above, my goal for the next three weeks (yes, only three weeks left!) is to really hammer down and focus on my running and biking. They are easily my weakest spots, which means I tend to shy away from training for them. They're not as fun as swimming and with the heat as bad as it's been, it's extra hard for me to get out there and bust my butt out of the water. But it has to be done. As much as I'd like to be able to count on my swimming skills to carry me throughout the race, it's just not possible. So, swimming is a reward now--I'm allowing myself one or two pool swims a week just to keep up my fitness in that area, long OWS on the weekends whenever possible and running/biking/bricks as often as possible during the week. I still haven't biked more than 10.5 miles/1 hour, so a long ride (90mins or 12-13 miles) needs to be made a priority. I did get in a solid bike/run brick earlier this week, but those need to be the rule, not the exception.

* I had a private swimming lesson a few weeks ago, which was fantastic. I got some feedback on my stroke, learned a few tricks/tips to help with turns and such and she showed me a few basic drills to use with the boards and buoys. The best thing I got out of the lesson was learning that there wasn't a whole lot I needed to work on, at least when considering my current goals. I've always been comfortable in the water and consider myself a strong swimmer. Certainly not competition level, but I can handle my own in the water. Anyway, hearing from someone else that I looked as good as I FELT in the water was reassuring. I guess all those lessons I took as a kid finally paid off!

* Let's wrap this up with pictures, shall we? Here's my little munchkin, running her heart out at the kids' fun run last month. In the picture below, she's in the front, in the pink shirt and shorts, #363. She's already rockin' some great race face!

And striding toward the finish line! Look at that form... Way to finish strong, baby!

May all your training runs/rides/swims be full of joy this weekend!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The thing I should've done months ago

Before I delve into the heavy (oooo...punny, you'll see why) post below, I want to throw out a huge GOOD LUCK to my training buddy and friend Kristina, who will be completing her first triathlon on Sunday. I'm going to get my spectathlete on and head out to watch her and hopefully get some pics for her blog. I know she's going to kick that course's arse!


Last year about this time, I was only about 4 months into the fitness thing and had lost about 20ish pounds. I was counting calories, running several times a week and using DVDs at home on a fairly regular basis. I was losing weight but not as quickly as I thought I should be. I quickly became OBSESSED with the scale--noting tenths of pounds lost or gained, fretting if I was above a certain number, celebrating if I was under. I was weighing myself daily, and often multiple times daily. I was the poster child for how not to have a healthy relationship with the scale.

Luckily I have good friends--great friends, in fact--who gave me a virtual "Snap out of it!" and suggested I hide my scale. While it's likely that their motivation behind the suggestion was because they were sick of me fussing about it all day, every day, they were able help me realize that my behavior wasn't doing me any good. I did end up hiding the scale--for a while anyway--and got back to weighing myself on a "normal" basis.

But I still weigh myself frequently. Sometimes only a few times a week, but sometimes a few days in a row. Usually in the morning, right after a shower, before I've eaten, when I feel like I'm at my lightest. And while I'm no longer trying to lose weight, it's reassuring to see the number more or less stay at the same spot day to day. (I don't obsess over the tenths as I used to, thank goodness.) Unfortunately, I've fallen back into the trap of letting the scale run my brain. There are times when I'm feeling light and lean, step on the scale and see a number slightly higher (we're talking maybe 1-2 pounds) than my "magic" number and I'm crushed. Other times I'm feeling pudgy and flabby and know I'm heavier than I should be, only to see a number well within my "normal" range and suddenly I feel better about myself. It's wrong to let that thing dictate so much of my self-acceptance and yet I still allow it to happen. But hey, as long as it's just me and I KNOW I'm being silly about it, no harm, no foul. Right?

But it's not just me. It's my sweet, beautiful, 4-year-old daughter.

The other day, after a healthy dinner together, she told me she wanted to go "weigh." Somehow my innocent little peach has connected "health" with "scale," and there's only one way she could've made that connection. By watching me.

We talk a lot about health. She knows I exercise and why I exercise and she's even participated in her own kid's run and bike race. (Cutest runner ever, btw.) She knows about good foods and the importance of exercise and why both are so important for our bodies. We don't talk about weight as a indicator of health and we certainly don't talk about HER weight as such. And yet, somehow, she's under the impression that when we eat a nutritious meal, we step on the scale and it tells us that we're healthy.

Bad, momma. Bad.

So the scale is going bye-bye. It's going on a high shelf in the closet or in the scary, spidery shed or maybe even in the trash. I'll let my husband decide. I don't need it and my beautiful daughter certainly doesn't need it either. No more letting the numbers tell me how I feel about myself. No more allowing some digits to tell me if I've worked hard enough today. No more weight=health.

No more. For me. For her.

Good riddance.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Two posts in one day. What a lucky reader you are! ;) I thought I'd throw both of these Q/A posts together, just for funsies. Maybe you'll find them interesting, maybe you won't.

First, I was surprised and flattered to be contacted by the administrators of the sprint tri I'm doing to ask if I'd be willing to share my story and potentially be featured in some marketing and promotional materials for the event. I answered a few questions for them and have enlisted my new training buddy, Kristina, to take some training photos during our OWS/run brick this weekend so I can send those along as well. I feel sort of dorktacular at the thought of taking "training" photos, but whatever. If they want them, they'll get them. Not sure what will become of all this, if anything comes at all, but I'll keep you posted nonetheless!

Second, My Friend M My Friend M tagged me in one of those "What's your favorite..." posts. I think I'm supposed to tag someone else now, but since I don't know many other bloggers well enough to tag them (aside from M, who tagged ME), I'll let it die here. But in case you're interested, my answers are at the end of this post.

As mentioned above, here are my answers regarding "Why I Tri":

1. What motivated you to participate in the YWCA Women’s Triathlon?

My main motivation for participating in the YWCA Women's Triathlon stems from the desire to challenge myself to meet new fitness goals. I've never been particularly athletic or fitness-minded, but I recently began running and have found that it's something I love. Having run a few 5ks and one half marathon, I feel like I'm ready to tackle a new challenge. One of my best friends, who is also participating in the YWCA Women's Triathlon, began doing tris last year. Her race reports made the sprint tri sound like something I could accomplish with the right training--not to mention it sounded like fun! Also, the concept of a women's only, newbie-friendly event made me feel so much more comfortable as a first-timer! So, my desire for a new challenge coupled with the inspiration provided from my friend resulted in my decision to participate in this year's triathlon.

2. What has been the most challenging part of your training and preparation?

The most challenging part of my training and preparation is finding the time to squeeze in my workouts. As a mom who works full-time outside the home, my free time is limited. Juggling work, home life and training can be difficult, and I often find that training is the first item to be cut from my to-do list. Making time to exercise can be hard, but it's rewarding if you can make it work!

3. Did you register or train with a friend, coworker or family member?

I registered with three of my best friends. Three of us are traveling from different states (Kansas, Ohio and Illinois--the fourth lives in St. Paul) to participate and only one of us has ever participated in a triathlon before! We're looking forward to sharing this experience with one another! Since we all live far apart, we are unable to train together. However, we communicate frequently via email and I feel like we are virtual training partners since we check in with each other so often. Also, I'm lucky to have met someone locally who is also training for her first sprint tri, and we've become friends and occasional training partners. Having that support system--whether it's local or virtual--is priceless!

4. Why train for a triathlon and why now?

I am training for a triathlon because I find the concept of a multi-sport event intriguing and challenging, and I want to push myself to try something new. Being able to say "I finished a triathlon!" has a certain appeal, too. I am participating in the triathlon now because I'm finally realizing how important it is to fulfill my own personal needs and goals, and that taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of other people. Also, my daughter is 4 and is fully aware of my training--she sees me lace up for a run, load my bike for a ride and watches me swim laps at the pool. It's important to me to set a good example for my daughter not only from a health and fitness standpoint, but by showing her how important it is to set reachable goals, how to follow a plan to meet those goals and the satisfaction you get from accomplishing those goals. I want her to grow up knowing she can do anything she puts her mind to!

5. What advice do you have for other women interested in trying the sport for the first time?

My advice for other women thinking of trying a triathlon for the first time is to believe in yourself. Believe in the training program, believe in your abilities and have confidence! Trying something new can be scary, but you'll never regret getting out there! Enlist your friends, family, local training resources and other support services to help you along your journey. Finally, enjoy yourself and have fun!

And if you're interested in finding out more about my non-athletic side...here are my tagged answers:

My favorite cartoon character is… Jem! What's not to love about a girl who turns into a rock star through the aid of hologram emitting magic earrings?? Besides, it's a TOTALLY realistic show.

My favorite thing to photograph is… my daughter. She's got personality to spare!

My favorite thing to cook is… anything that requires a lot of cutting, chopping, tending or otherwise "worrying to death." I'm not one for leaving something be. I'm not happy if I can't mess with it continuously!

My favorite way to exercise is… swimming. Hands down. I could spend hours in the pool. But ask me when summer is over and I may have a different answer. ;)

My favorite movie is… I don't know that I have one favorite, but A favorite is "Waiting for Guffman." Hilarious!

My favorite article of clothing is… Ooo, tough choice between my Kansas Half Marathon shirt (best sleeping shirt EVER) or my swim suit because, duh, I love swimming.

My favorite flower is… I'mma be lame and say I don't have one, because it's true. I love them all! Except lilies. You can keep those.

My favorite breakfast is… Cheerios w/ milk. It's not what I'd order at a restaurant necessarily, but it's what I eat at home most mornings!

Training recap: Week of June 26

Training has been satisfying this week! While I haven't really done what's written on The Schedule, I think I've done a good job making sure I hit the three disciplines evenly throughout the week. I also managed to squeeze in two short brick/transition workouts, which is a new challenge for me.

Last weekend, I traveled to Iowa to visit family and totally over-indulged in festival food (pork Ts! hot mini donuts! hot dogs!) and car food (candy! corn nuts! pop!), and was feeling pretty barfy by Sunday afternoon when we got home. I flopped on the couch and prepared to laze the rest of Sunday away when a nagging thought wormed its way inside my head: "You really should get out and do something. It's been four days since you exercised and you overate to the extreme this weekend. You know you'll feel better if you sweat some of the junk out." As much as I tried to rationalize my way out of a workout, guilt won out and I decided to squeeze in an hour workout somehow.

It had been about a week since I took the bike out of the garage, so I settled on a short bike ride after a swim. It was sort of a pain logistically--I'm still too scared of traffic to ride on the roads, so I had to load my bike in the hubby's truck (first removing his ladder and stuff from the back), find an extra key for the lock, stop by the gas station to air up my bike tires and THEN drive to the pool. Still, the effort was worth it. I knocked out a quick 500m at the pool and loaded back up in the truck to drive to the levy for my bike ride. I'd lucked out with a gorgeous, not-TOO-hot day and biked about 6 miles to round out the workout. Not too shabby for an unplanned workout.

Monday I realized it had been a while since I'd done any running, but the thought of hitting any of my typical 'hood routes was too boring to bear and I didn't have much time to commit to driving elsewhere to run. Also, I'd read two issues of Runner's World nearly back-to-back and was under the influence some subliminal messaging, leading me to the brilliant idea of running to the local track to do some speedwork. 2.5 heinous miles later, I remember why I hated jr high track so much. Sprints are SO not my bag, baby. Yeah, yeah, I know they serve purpose and you don't get better at them if you never do them, but holy cow. Those are NOT fun. But I cranked them out nonetheless.

Tuesday I managed another brick, this time of the bike/run variety. Only about 5 miles on the bike, and I barely managed a 1 mile run after. It was my first bike/run brick and it was quite a wake-up call. I knew my legs would feel wobbly, but I wasn't prepared for exactly how wobbly they'd feel. It took me half the run to get my land legs under me. The second half of the run wasn't pretty physically, but I had the pleasure of running into a friend who was riding his bike the same direction I was running. We chatted while I ran and he biked (slowly) and before I knew it we were back to my truck! It was nice having someone show up unexpectedly, just when I needed the distraction the most. Serendipity FTW!

Wednesday I opted to rest, and by "rest" I mean "took my 4yo to the pool so she could jump in and have me catch her 5,000 times which I'm sure counts as some exercise, right?"

Thursday was strictly swim, and it was awesome! This week's schedule called for 1050m, so I figured I'd aim for a min of 1000, hope to hit 1050, and if I get anything beyond that, BONUS. I was also running short on time (what else is new?), so I was trying to crank this out in 30 minutes. I wasn't sure if it was possible, but I was going to try. I hit 250m at 7:30 min, and I thought it was going to be doable. I've been trying to work on my stroke lately, going for less random, crazy, crashing about and more deliberate, long, smooth pulls. Moving from what I think of as a sprint stroke to a distance stroke (I have no clue if there's even such a thing, that's just how I categorize them in my mind), makes it feel as if I'm going much slower than usual, but I wonder if I'm getting more power and that makes up for the lack of turnover? I don't know. Things I think about when my head's in the water. Anyway, the short of it is, I ended up finishing 1000m with about 1:30 to spare, so I decided to see if I could bust out an additional 75m in that time. I made it in a final time of 30:14! Not too shabby. It was an exhilarating swim on an scorchingly hot day.

So, not too bad of a week! The tri is 6 weeks from Sunday, which is darn close. I'm doing my best to be ready in time!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Because I like lists and I'm feeling lazy

I know the list-as-blog-post is kinda lame, but I'm not feeling very creative today and don't have the gumption to try to tie this all into one neat and tidy post. However, there are a few things that have happened over the past week that I wanted to highlight and I figured a list post was better than no post at all!

1. Huge congrats to My Friend M who was selected to be an alternate for the Nuun HTC relay team. I am so proud of her! She rocks!

2. Major kudos to my friend Becky who completed her first half marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, on Saturday! Woot! She pounded it out in 2:24, which is amazing in my book, especially considering the (what I would call) unseasonably cool, wet weather. She's a superstar!

3. Our Ironman Kansas aid station took First Place in the contest for best station at the event. Holla! We earned an additional $750 for two local charities.

4. And speaking of the Ironman Kansas, the perks just keep on comin'. In addition to the sweet-ass KS IM shirt, sweet-ass KS IM bag, box of free food and amazingly unforgettable experience, I also made a new friend that day, K. She is ALSO training for her first sprint tri, so we had lots in common and plenty to talk about that day, and we decided to get together for a few training sessions. Yay for training buddies! And she has a training blog too, but I won't link it here until I have her permission. ;)

5. K and I met up last weekend for our first OWS. We hit a smallish lake, one with little to no boat traffic, so we could hopefully have a much calmer OWS experience the first time out. We took turns at first so we could keep an eye on each other, and while we both had our freak-out moments we survived! I was less freaked out by fish/lake monster thoughts as I was about the extreme temp changes in the water. For some reason, my brain could not handle the rapid switch from hot to cold to warm to cool to cold to hot and it gave me the major willies. But I lived and made it back to the dock safe and sound. We did swim a bit more after that and I think we were both happy with how the experience played out. And again, how nice to have a buddy to do it with!

6. I'm headed to Iowa this weekend to see family, so probably not much training to be had. But that's okay because I'll be in Iowa! I lived there for the first 16 years of my life and it still feels like home to me. I'm excited to see my aunts and uncles, too. I'm taking my shoes and hope to squeeze in a run Saturday morning, but I make no promises.

7. I had my longest swim ever the other day--1000yds. It was AMAZING. The schedule called for 900, but I figured tacking on an additional 100yds wouldn't kill me. Not to mention that 1000yds just sounds cooler. But even as I was wrapping up that longest swim ever (for me), I thought, "I could do this ALL. DAY. LONG." Because, you know, I love the swimming!

Alright. That's it for this lame post. If you're training this weekend, have fun and be safe!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Iron Team

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of being a run course aid station volunteer at the Kansas Half Ironman that took place in my town. To have an event of that magnitude within spitting distance of where I live is cool enough in and of itself, but to be able to help out on the front lines? AMAZING. We are lucky in that the event is growing and attracts world-class athletes, including Chrissie Wellington (who won for the third straight year).

The day started about 7:30. We arrived at our station, which was at miles 2.5ish/9 on the run course (they ran the same route twice) but happened to be stationed near T1 so we could hear the roar of the crowd as people were taking off from the swim and onto the bike course. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time to watch as we immediately had to get our tables set up and our water/drinks on ice. We set up smoothly and had a little time before the first male runner blew through around 9:15 (the first swim wave started at 6:10). Shortly after that, we had our first female runner--Leandra Cave--and a few minutes after her, I saw Chrissie come through the first time. Seeing a professional athlete of that magnitude that close gave me chills and left me awestruck. And she actually smiled as she came through--what a lady.

It was sporadic for a while, with only a few elite runners cruising through that early on. I decided to do a "behind the table" job since I was nervous about handing off drinks and things, and I set myself up at the food table thinking it would be the slowest of the bunch. Ha ha. Little did I know that every. single. runner. would want Coke, which was assigned to the food table. We also started handing out cups of ice at our table, since so many folks asked for it, so between keeping cups of coke and ice filled, I was a busy bee!

The first rush of runners went through between 10:30 and 12:00, and most people looked like they were still feeling good. Most were still running through the station, trying to keep pace and we did our best to cheer everyone on as best we could, while still keeping drinks and supplies filled. After noon, the temps began to rise and as folks made their second loops through, we could definitely see the beginning stages of exhaustion and fatigue set in. Most folks took the opportunity to walk, many grabbing an orange or some pretzels for a little extra fuel. And surprisingly, several folks were chatty and engaging and seemed happy to have an excuses to stop and chat, if only for a second.

By the end, nearing 2:00, most of the runners had passed through, although we were still getting the occasional BOPer. And THOSE were the folks we wanted to help the most. The ones who were cramping, the ones who looked like they needed an extra cheer or a smile or a heartier clap. The people who simply wanted to finish at that point--the folks who'd be me if I ever get up the guts to try something like that.

We finally pulled up stakes around 3:00, and I left with a mighty sunburn and the memories of a truly awesome experience. For those of you who participate at this level, you have my utmost respect and admiration. I would gladly stand outside in a parking lot for 8 hours every weekend if it meant an experience like that each time.

I walked away with a renewed fire for training and the longing for the sense of accomplishment you get only after conquering a major goal like that. I know my sprint tri is a drop in the bucket compared to what those athletes do, but it'll be huge for me. Along with my the sprint tri, my next goal is to convince M that she needs to come to Kansas next year and participate so I can cheer her on. Whether I'll cheer from an aid station or as a spectathlete remains to be seen, but I WILL be there one way or the other.

I wasn't able to get very many decent pictures--I did have other things to worry about at the time ;)--but here's the ones I did get.

The overall male winner, Paul Matthews. He'd done a HIM the previous weekend, too, and called it his "warm-up". Ha.

Chrissie Wellington at OUR aide station! I die.

I bet getting chicked is easier to take when Chrissie Wellington's doing the chicking.

Chrissie RIGHT in front of me. (Sorry about the port-a-potty background. Par for the course, I suppose.)

Best free t-shirts ever? Yes, I do think so. (And I got a KS HIM drawstring bag, too.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I've learned

First things first, if you don't already read My Friend M's blog you should add it to your Reader right now (go ahead--I'll wait). If nothing else, you need to read this post, and not just because I'm featured in two--count 'em, TWO--photos. You should read the post because it's awesome and really emphasizes the impact that running and fitness has in our day-to-day lives, and it sheds a light on how important a support system is and what a big difference a community, whether near or far, IRL or online only, can make in helping someone reach their goals. And in the spirit of her post, if you don't do anything else today, encourage someone. You never know what a difference it might make!

So, I didn't do a training recap for last week as promised, even though I did have a pretty decent week. What I'm doing instead--and we'll see if this holds going forward--is to highlight what I've learned this past week. Some of it will be fitness related, of course, but some might not be. It all depends on what I've absorbed!

What I've learned this week:

1. I (still) LOVE SWIMMING. I have always been fond of the water--I was one of those kids who practically lived in their swimming suit from the moment school let out for summer until it started back up again in the fall. I actually remember sleeping in my swimming suit because it didn't make sense to take it off at night just to put it on again first thing the next morning. (I wonder if my mother knew about that?) I took plenty of swimming lessons and got up to the Jr. Lifeguard level, which is the one right before being certified. I know the basic strokes and generally feel comfortable in the water. However, not having done any real swimming for years, I wasn't sure how well I'd take to the water as an adult and doing it for exercise. Oh. My. Gosh. It's like I'm 8 again, feeling the urge to move to the pool and stay there all summer long. Now, I can't say I'm awesome at it--I'm still slower than molasses--but it feels like home and that's good enough for me right now.

2. Just keep spinning. Oh, the bike. I wish I could say I adore the bike as much as I adore the pool. I don't HATE the bike, and it definitely does have it's merits (i.e. cruising down hills), I'm still trying to find my groove. But I've learned how to shift and when to shift and I've learned that when you're at the bottom of a really big hill A) Don't look up and B) Keep moving, because if you stop, you'll never get started again. I might be moving slower than the sparrows are hopping (true story!), but I'm moving. And that's all that matters.

3. It's okay to rest. You'd think I'd know this one after a successful half marathon training program, but sometimes I still need a reminder that the day you take off off is just as important as the days you put in.

4. Take a chill pill, dude. If you read my last post, you might have gotten a sense of how anxious I was feeling about starting my tri training plan. I'm a worrier by nature, and when faced with a new thing my brain goes into overdrive trying to plan/predict/prepare for every possible scenario. Multiply that anxiety by three--one for each sport, of course--and you've got one very high-strung individual on your hands. It took my awesome friends to remind me that it's okay to let it go. So what if I miss a workout? LET IT GO. So what if I don't bike the day it says to bike and choose to run instead? LET IT GO. So what if I don't train at all and end up doggie paddling my way through the swim, dilly-dallying my way through the bike and walking my way through the run? LET IT GO. Interestingly enough, the moment I allowed myself some wiggle room and a little bit of leeway in my training, I started to stay on schedule better than ever. Maybe it's as simple as knowing I have that bit of freedom that allows me to relax and let it go.

I know there's even more to learn, but it feels like enough for this week. And in the spirit of #4, I'm pulling a #3 and taking my rest day option. Six days in a row of working out and a stressful workweek makes for one tired Mom in Motion. Or maybe I'll ride my bike tonight for an easy 30 minutes. I have the option, you know. If I do ride, I'll do it because I want to, not because the schedule told me to.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Checking in!

I realize it's been a long time since I've blogged, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report lately. My last post outlined the workouts I'd planned for most of May. Unfortunately, I didn't stick to that plan as well as I'd hoped. Scheduling, life, disinterest got in the way of hitting all those workouts--I hit about half. Maybe. The ones I did were good, but none of them really grabbed me and held onto me the way I need them to in order to stay engaged. But no sense dwelling on the past--the future is now! Onward and upward! Or something.

Sprint tri training began last week! I'm excited to have a schedule and a goal again, but man--I don't know if I'm cut out for multi-sport training. Even with my spreadsheet schedule (nerd alert!), I always feel slightly scattered/confused/frantic about all of it. The schedule itself is fine--my designated run/bike/swim days don't vary--but the workouts themselves are different each week, and keeping track of 6 completely different workouts (times, distances, etc) is more than this little brain can handle. Not to mention that the whole idea of a triathlon makes me VERY nervous. There's so much to think about between the three separate events, two transitions, set-ups, take-downs...ahhh! I miss the days of having one goal: Run your ass off. However, I know it's early in the training process and I'm trying something brand-new. I hope that after a few more weeks, everything will feel less overwhelming and stressful and more natural and comfortable.

In the meantime, I'm geared up. I bought a run-of-the-mill hybrid bike and helmet, a new suit (that I adore), a 30-day pool pass and even obtained an official YWCA tri training shirt. I've managed to hit the indoor pool at 5:30am both training days last week, but missed this morning's session. However, the outdoor pool opened this weekend, so I think I'll catch some sun and hit my laps there after work. Three cheers for summer!

As for the future of this here blog, I do think I'll give the weekly training recaps a shot again, beginning with this week's report. Even though I have Dailymile and my Excel spreadsheet where I routinely log workouts, I like summarizing my week here as well. It gives me that extra layer of accountability, plus it's a good way to step back from the minutiae of the daily workouts and see the week as a whole, allowing for a bit more appreciation of what's been accomplished. Right? Or maybe I just like to talk about myself. Either way, stay tuned!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The plan...for now

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on my last post. It's always nice to have feedback and heck, since this blog was just supposed to be a way for me to track my training, it's a double-bonus that anyone is reading, period! So thanks for being here in the first place. ;)

Anyway, I've figured out what I'll be doing the month of May. I'm finally cashing in a Groupon I bought in January for a local fitness club (not a typical gym, more of a group/personal training facility) that gets me one month of bootcamp for $40. Additionally, the facility is doing a promotion for the month of May where they're offering twice-weekly kickboxing sessions free to the public! And knowing this particular facility, the sessions should be fairly intense.

So, my schedule will look something like this:

Mon: PM Kickboxing
Tue: Free (Run? DVDs?)
Wed: PM Kickboxing
Thur: PM Bootcamp
Fri: Rest
Sat: AM Bootcamp
Sun: Free (Run? DVDs?)

I'm actually really happy with the schedule and am really looking forward to mixing it up a bit fitness wise. I know I need to keep up on the running, so I hope incorporate some miles into my free days or even a short, easy run in the mornings before work a few days during the week. Nothing like two-a-days to get your body revved up! So, that's the plan for now. I'm pleased I have a schedule that I'm excited about!

Today was the first bootcamp workout and while it was a good one, I couldn't help but think it could've been just a little tougher. We did a series of warmups (lunges, high knees, duckwalks, etc.), ran several series of stadium steps, lunge holds, squat holds, bleacher pushups and tricep exercises. But we also took a LOT of breaks. I think we rested between each exercise, for at least a minute each time. People were sitting down. All I could think is "Let's get moving! Active recovery! At least give me some sit-ups or something!" Yes, I was out of breath, but I wasn't anywhere close to dying. Maybe I need to push myself harder? I felt like busting out jumping jacks while everyone else was sitting, but being the new kid I didn't want to be "that girl." After I was already on the road home, I realized I should've stayed and done a few laps around the track for a little bit extra burn. Oh well, maybe next time.

At the end of the class, one of the women said "Great job hanging with us! It took us 4 months to work up to this level!" Her comment made me realize I still underestimate my fitness ability. Maybe it's my ongoing confidence issues or maybe it's just that I don't realize how far I've come since this time last year. But now that I know what to expect from class, I plan to push myself harder next time to see if I can get to the "what the hell was I thinking" point.

And who knows, maybe I'll bust out some jumping jacks while everyone else is resting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Now What?

I'm in the training doldrums. I'm suffering from post- half-marathon malaise. Developing an unhealthy level of exercise ennui. I haven't exercised in more than a week (the half marathon was the last day I did ANYTHING) and am taking the "recovery period" a little too far, probably.

The problem is that I don't have a new goal an no events on the immediate horizon to keep me motivated. Sure, my first sprint triathlon is growing ever closer, but it still doesn't feel urgent enough to get me off the couch. Not to mention the fact that I don't even have a bike...or a suitable swim suit... So I'm stuck and not sure what to do with myself next.

I figure I can go one of three directions until it's time to start getting serious about tri training (which I expect to start near the end of May).
  1. I did really enjoy the half marathon (and really, REALLY enjoyed training for the half marathon), despite those last 3 painful miles, and it WOULD be nice to do one again with the goal of not wanting to die at the end. However, the next half that's nearby is in early June, which could be an issue from a heat/humidity standpoint. I have an option of running one in Iowa in late June, but again, weather could be a factor, not to mention medals are only guaranteed to the first 400 finishers. What's the point of doing a half if I'm not guaranteed some bling? Finally, cost is a factor for both races. We recently bought a "new" car and I obviously need to start thinking about a bike purchase, so I'm not sure dropping $50 on a race is a good use of my money at this time.
  2. I could go back to the 5k distance and start working on my 5k times. My last 5k, in March, was a PR for me, but I know I can really work to improve that time. And I know that some shorter-distance training will probably help me more in the tri. Financially, 5ks are easier to manage, even if they do lack the bling of a half, although they tend to add up if you don't watch out and limit yourself to just a few. There are way more options for local 5ks, and I could easily run one a month if I wanted to. I know I will be running the Horsethief 5K this year no matter what. It's the first 5K I ran last year--my first official 5K ever--and I'd like to use the race to see how much I've improved over the course of a year.
  3. The last option, which seems like the one I SHOULD do but also the one the one that will be hardest TO do, is to run just for the hell of it. Run just because I can, because I want to, because I enjoy it. Leave the spreadsheets, watches, maps at home and just go. "Race" if I feel like racing, but don't actively "train" for an event. I'd love to say this is the option I'd choose, but I know how hard it is for me to stay focused and motivated to do anything when I don't have a deadline or some other external factor to push me along.
I guess the good news is that I do have options and I really have only a month or so before I can/should start training for the tri. But a month is a long time for me to go without having a plan of some sort, and the I know the longer I go without a plan, the harder it will be for me to get going again. A Mom in Motion needs to stay in motion!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Race Report: Kansas Half Marathon

Alternate Title 1: A 10 Mile Warm-Up for the Toughest 5k I Ever Ran
Alternate Title 2: Good God, That Sucked. When Can I Do It Again?

Well, my first half marathon is done! I have to say that physically it met my expectations in that I managed to accurately predict the general time it would start sucking and becoming more painful and less fun. I don’t think I was quite prepared for the mental aspect of it, however. Preparing yourself for the physical pain/discomfort doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the brain melt that comes along for the ride. Things got pretty dicey around Mile 11, and I know I wouldn’t have survived had M not been there. Honest to God. But more about that below…

Our day began at 5:30am after a good night’s sleep and a hearty spaghetti dinner at home the night before. I showered, because I'm one of those weird people that HAVE to shower every morning or else I don't feel normal. M and I had a bit of breakfast and coffee and started getting dressed for the race. M had secured matching shirts for us to wear and they were awesome. Perfect color, fit, feel, size, everything! We double-checked our packs, grabbed our chilled water bottles and head out the door about 6:40 or so. Luckily, the event site is a mere 5 minute drive from my house--yay for in-town races--and we sat in traffic for only 5 minutes before we got in to park. It was a fairly chilly morning (upper 40s at that point) so we walked around a bit trying to stay warm, hit the potty and chatted with a couple of my other running buddies a bit until it got close to gun time. All morning we debated whether or not to take our jackets on the run. We knew we’d need to lose them eventually, but it was so chilly at the start we weren’t sure how quickly we’d get to the ditch point. Luckily, as the sun started peeking out over the trees, it started warming up pretty quickly and we knew we’d be fine without them. We ditched our jackets a few minutes before the start and headed toward the pack. There were supposedly about 1,100 people running--that's all three races combined (5k, 10k, half), with somewhere around 700 running the half. We situated ourselves a little behind the 2:30 pacer, since that was our unofficial goal time. They started the race right on time, I think, and that was it! We were on our way!!

The beginning of the race was full of the usual optimism, joviality, and silliness that you feel when your race adrenaline is pumping, nothing hurts and you have all the confidence in the world. We spent the first 3 miles entertaining ourselves with "Half Marathon Bingo," and listing all the different categories we’d put on our bingo cards (getting smoked by a pregnant lady, getting smoked by a little kid, getting smoked by an old dude, guy in super short shorts with a boner, over-zealous runner throwing water on himself at an aid station, barefoot runner, etc.). We kept a pretty steady pace for those first 3 miles or so, according to M’s Garmin, and kept the 2:30 pacer close. About mile 3 or so, I was feeling a little rubbing on my arches so I had to pull over to adjust my sock a bit. Hit the road again and felt alright (or at least managed to ignore any foot pain for the next 3-4 miles.

We finally hit the halfway point, which was simultaneously encouraging and DIScouraging, if that's even possible. On one hand, I was all "YAY! We're halfway done!" and the other hand I was "WTF? We're only halfway done???" The 2:30 pace group was way ahead of us at this point, so that was discouraging and my feet hurt royally so I was getting pretty bummed. But M was very encouraging and kept me going when I felt like I couldn't continue. I was getting pretty quiet and surly at this point—our bingo game had lost its appeal and I found it hard to think about anything other than simply putting one foot in front of the other—so there wasn't a lot of talking. We popped some energy chews around mile 8 and that helped a bit. When we FINALLY reached the 10 mile sign, I realized I was officially running longer than I ever had before! Hurrah! I tried not to focus on the fact that I STILL had to run a 5k before I was finished and instead take it one step at a time.

At this point my legs and feet were dying and resisting every step and I was mentally beaten to a pulp. It didn’t help that the last 3 miles of the course was a portion we'd already done (with a few decent inclines thrown in, of course) which made it even MORE tedious. Oh and the 2:30 pacers were LONG gone, so I knew we probably weren't going to come close to our goal time, and M had stopped giving me Garmin updates, so I thought that definitely was the case, which made me even MORE bummed. Anyway, my legs were tired so we did take a couple of walk breaks those last 3 miles. Just about the time I thought I couldn’t possibly run any more, we hit the last mile marker and I could hear the finish line, so that kept me going. There were a few times before that I was pretty close to bursting into tears because I just wanted it OVER WITH—it was definitely mind over matter at that point. We turned into the stadium and had only 3/4 of the track left to run before the finish line. I managed to get a burst of speed (adrenaline for the win!) and we finished strong, hand in hand, as they read our names over the loud speaker! YAY!!!! It's FINALLY OVER, and what a glorious feeling. My first half marathon complete!

M stopped her Garmin at 13.1 miles, which was before the official finish line (we probably cut some distance off the course by switching running the inside of the road vs the outside and running the tangents), and it gave us a 2:28 time, which shocked me. The official finish time was 2:31:58 (okay, essentially 2:32), so quite a difference. But I'm going with the Garmin and taking the 2:28 time, which means we hit our goal! (Or close enough, right?)

My other running buddies were waiting at the finish line for us so we chatted with them a bit, got our medals (hooray for race bling!), grabbed some snacks (cold milk FTW!), and I finally took off my shoes because my feet were killing me. Yeah, turns out I had 2.5 inch blisters on the arches of both feet, which would explain why those last 3 miles sucked so much. We hung out just a bit longer, got our official time print outs and headed (hobbled) home.

Overall, and not having any other half marathon experience to compare it to, I’d say the day was a success. Yes, it was not without pain and discomfort (serious discomfort), but there was not one single moment when I regretted running that race. Even that brutal last 5k, when the pain was the greatest and my mental fortitude was its lowest, I STILL knew I’d do it again someday. Over the roar of the pain receptors firing away and warning beeps sounding their alarms in my brain, I could still hear that little voice saying “Oh, come on. You know you’re going to do this again in a few months, right?” And I know for a fact I couldn’t have pushed through without M by my side. She was the perfect running partner—encouraging at the right times, tough at the right times, quiet at the right times. Without her there I would’ve walked longer and more often and I don’t know that I would’ve had the guts to pull myself through those last few miles. Even though she didn’t necessarily say anything that spurred me along, just having her here made me want to push MYSELF. I can’t thank her enough for being willing to fly down here and run with me!

So yeah, I might already be thinking about when my next half will be. I’d like to see if I can get to the point where I don’t hate those last three miles. I think I would’ve done okay THIS race had it not been for those blisters, so you’d better believe my next race investment will be better socks.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 13.1 sticker I need to affix to my car.