The TRIals of 70.3 Training and “Other Stuff”

In an attempt to dig myself out of the blogging black hole that I have allowed myself to fall into, I’m penning this catch up post.

Half Ironman training is…..kicking my ass.  

There is NO other way to put it.  Of course, most of the ass kicking is of my own making because I am terribly over-scheduled.  Some of the ass kicking is because I, um, probably scheduled a big race too soon after Houston…..in my defense – switching from Cowtown Half Marathon to the 50k seemed like a really good idea at the time!  LOL!!  And I think some of the ass kicking is due to my lack of motivation.  I used every single ounce of motivation, determination and dedication that I possessed while I was training for and racing at Houston.  I did what I set out to do and grabbed my BQ.  And since  it was such a huge goal and I spent such a long time focusing on it – the absence of chasing it is causing me to flounder.  I am struggling to maintain focus on these shorter term races and I am most definitely struggling to set my goals for the remainder of the year.  I’m going to get there, though!!

After Houston, I reveled in the glory of my BQ for exactly 5 days, then it was back to work.  (I literally had NO time to waste to get started on my 70.3 training.  The timing of Houston had already put me behind the 8-ball in relationship to Galveston.)  I know planning my workouts caused some stress for my coach.  It sounds so ridiculous when I put it down in print – I’m training for a 50k and a half Ironman AT THE SAME TIME.  Big-time kudos to my coach for: 1) the balancing act (aka training plan) that he put together for me, and 2) choosing to create a training plan instead of strangling me (which, I’m sure crossed his mind)!

The first week of 70.3 training was HELL.  I was SO EXHAUSTED.  The second week – I was still exhausted, but my schedule was wonkier than usual.  I had some out-of-the-norm commitments that required rearranging my training schedule.  I *nearly* skipped a bike workout.  I intended to get up early to do before work; then I moved to the next day (which was a rest/swim day) and planned to do early.  I got up and just skipped it that morning.  I tried to justify to myself that swimming was enough for that day.  But I confessed to Brent that I skipped the bike and whined because I was tired.  All he had to say was, “You’ll be tired at Galveston” and  I decided to do it when I got home…..at 9 PM…after driving Alli to practice and after swimming.  I did it and I was STILL exhausted, but at least I could live with myself.  I needed that kick in the rear and I’m glad that Brent is willing to do the kicking when it is needed. 

I’m now in week 3.  I did my 2 hour ride on Tuesday and it was easier.  (Probably because I had been off work for 2 days, but I’m choosing to believe that I’m getting stronger!)  I have one more really long run this weekend in prep for my ultra in 2 weeks, then the “long” runs won’t be as long.  I finally feel like I’m on the edge of getting a handle on juggling it all again.

Back in the pool

I jumped back into the pool a couple weeks ago.  It had been six long months since I had done swimming of any kind.  I was pleasantly surprised that my fitness in the water seemed about the same as the last time I swam!!  This was a huge mental boost for me, as the swim is the biggest question mark for my 70.3.

But the same day I got back into the pool, I learned that the pool I use was scheduled to be closed beginning Feb 1 through sometime in the Fall.  SERIOUSLY.  I did something completely out of the ordinary for me: I didn’t fret – I just started looking and found another pool across town.  Last week I was able to visit this new pool for a swim and I’m not sure it is going to work.  It is smaller and a high school swim team practices there at the same time that I am available to swim.  Most likely, I’ll head back to the pool in which I started  It isn’t my favorite, but it will get me by.

At Galveston, if I can get myself warmed up and avoid the panic related to that and figure out how to manage the inevitable panic related to all the people in the water, I really do believe that I can finish the swim before the cutoff.

Rocky Raccoon 100 Pacer

This weekend, my long run was to be a very SLOW skip around Huntsville State Park as a pacer for my teammate, Tim, on his last 20 mile loop of his 100 mile attempt.  As it turns out, having a fractured tibia isn’t conducive to finishing a 100 mile race and Tim was forced to drop after 40 miles.  I know that another 100 mile attempt is the LAST thing on his mind right now, but he is going to have to attempt another just so I can fulfill my job as pacer!

The Flu? Ain’t got no time for that!

I drove down to Huntsville for the race and arrived Saturday around lunch.  Around 2 PM, Alli started texting me saying she was nauseous.  Then she texted saying she thought she had a fever.  Then she texted saying she was achy.  UH OH.  I had a gut feeling that she was coming down with the flu.  She was at a friend’s for the night, since I had planned to be running at 12-5AM-ish and Bobby was gone to the lake.  Logan picked her up and brought her home.  I decided to stay in Huntsville, but deep down I wasn’t convinced that was the right decision.

Brent came in from loop 3 and after he got off on loop 4 with his pacer, Alli started texting me again.  She still wasn’t feeling well and Ibuprofen wasn’t working all that well.  My mom knew she was home sick with Logan and was having a fit to go down and stay with her.  (My mom is 83 and notoriously fretful.  I knew she wouldn’t sleep a wink unless I came home.)  So I decided to leave my Renegade family behind to go home and take care of my little girl.  It was a tough decision, but the right one.  I was home before midnight.  We arrived at the clinic as soon as it was open on Sunday and, sure enough, Alli had the flu.

The timing of this illness couldn’t have come at a better time, for me. On Monday, I did NOTHING.  I actually thought I was coming down with something.  But I believe it was my body finally being able to relax for the first time in….forever….and it was letting go of all that exhaustion and tension.  Alli was still running fever on Tuesday, so we stayed home again.  I felt much more energized and got several things accomplished around the house, which also helped my mood and energy level. 

Yesterday, Alli was back at school and I was back at work.  She was zapped after school, though, so I made the decision to keep her home from practice. 

Hopefully, the time off will give me enough of a boost to make it to Spring Break.  Alli’s team will be heading into qualifier season, which is difficult because of the amount of travel. But I’ll also be two weeks away from Galveston and a break will be in sight!! 

I’m trying not to sign up for any races for a little bit of time after Galveston. I am beginning to think that a couple week break, then maintaining base might be the best plan for a while, to give my mind and body a little break. 

Happy Thursday!!

 

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My BQ Attempt: Houston Marathon Race Recap

So much has been happening in the World of Jen, but I haven’t had the time to blog about it!!  I am going to make a concerted effort to post on a regular basis again.

This weekend was the culmination of more than 9 months of focus and hard work.  In the beginning, this goal seemed so far out of my reach and the race so far away that it seemed like a dream.  And now that the race is done, it still seems like a dream!  Someone needs to pinch me.

The week before the race was the SLOWEST WEEK EVER.  It seemed like time was standing still.  I had worked so hard for so long – I was just ready to race and find out – could I do it or not??

Despite all the hurdles and doubts I experienced during training, I had gained a lot of confidence about the race.  My training had been going SO WELL.  But my last long run was horrible.  I figured out after the run that I had let myself get dehydrated.  As bad as the run was, I stayed in zone 1 for the majority of the run and was only one minute off my marathon goal pace, which was very encouraging going into the race!  My goal was 3:45, although my *official* BQ time was 3:55.  I knew that a 3:45 would give me a big enough time cushion that I wouldn’t have to wonder all summer about actually making it into Boston.img_3778

Moving on to the race

Race morning finally arrived, with the race starting under “Yellow” (caution).  The humidity was 97% and temps at the start were in the mid-60s.  Race officials urged runners to slow down as heat exhaustion and dehydration were expected to affect a lot of people.  Now, I’m a Texas girl and I consider myself a pro at dealing with humidity, but this humidity was tougher than anything I had ever dealt with.  Even so, I felt fairly confident that I could run close to my goal of 3:45.

Renegades Alex and Janie with me in the corral

Renegades Alex and Janie with me in the corral

We made Emily an honorary Renegade for the weekend!

We made Emily an honorary Renegade for the weekend!

There were a couple of Renegades staying in the same hotel and I met them in the lobby to walk to the corrals.  Renegade Alex was in route and planned to meet up with us in corral A.  And one of my childhood friends, Emily, that I grew up with in church met us in the corrals as well.  Alex, Emily and I planned to start slower than goal pace and warm up a couple miles before getting into race pace.  The gun finally went off and we started and managed to pace mile one exactly as planned.  Seriously though, I was sweating by the end of mile one.

After the mile two, I was ready to get going.  I could tell that maintaining my pace would be difficult late in the race and I knew that I couldn’t waste any more time getting up to speed.  Emily’s plan was to warm up a bit more, so Alex and I went ahead to try to get into our groove.  Alex and I had discussed running the entire race together, but he had some sickness that interrupted his training.  The plan on race day was for him to hang with me as long as he was able.

Truth be told, he drug me along.  There were a lot of times that I wanted to slow down, but having Alex there was enough to push me to maintain the pace.  I am certain that my race would have derailed in the first half, if he hadn’t run with me.

Mile 7 was definitely a highlight, because Renegades Ashley and Ryan had set up camp to cheer all of us on.  I am always amazed by how much of a boost seeing familiar faces along the route gives me!

Seeing Ashley and hearing her cheering us on was a huge motivator!!

Seeing Ashley and hearing her cheering us on was a huge motivator!!

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Alex and I kept plodding along, right on track until around mile 16.  Our splits up to that point had been mostly between 8:30-8:40, but our pace was beginning to slow somewhat and we were hitting around 8:45.  I was tired, but I wasn’t exhausted and I didn’t feel much differently than I had at mile 5.  Alex told me that his legs were starting to cramp and that he wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to keep up the pace.  I stayed with him another mile or so then decided that I needed to go on without him so I could try get back on track, even though leaving him killed my soul!!

This was taken by @simonebfd at mile 22.

This was taken by @simonebfd at mile 22.

I remember hearing someone say Jen, but I was too tired to turn my head at that point!

I remember hearing someone say Jen, but I was too tired to turn my head at that point!

Approaching mile 20, I began to struggle with turnover in my legs.  But I was able to push to gain a little ground when I felt like I was losing too much.  I had been told that beer would be served at mile 20, but when I passed the aid station at mile 20 and saw no beer in sight, I started feeling a little sad and a little panicked.  Michelob was actually camped at mile 21.  I drank that Mich Ultra (if you know me – you know how much that I dislike Mich Ultra) and at the time it was the most delicious tasting beer that had ever passed my lips!  The beer always gives me a boost late in the race and it was no different this time.  I really wanted to pick up the pace for that last 10k, but I just couldn’t maintain the turnover in my legs.  The last six miles were up and down and not consistent coming in at: 8:31, 8:48, 8:31, 8:41, 8:54, 8:27.  I remember the last turn into downtown that took me to the finish.  My mouth was watering when I saw the 40k sign, then the 26 mile sign, then the FINISH!!  I crossed the mat with 3:47:45 and GOT MY BQ!!!

I could see the finish and my mouth was watering....literally!

I could see the finish and my mouth was watering….literally!

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I swore I wouldn't show the masses but Sole Sister talked me into it.

I swore I wouldn’t show the masses but Sole Sister talked me into it.

I don’t remember much about the course, honestly.  I was so focused on maintaining my pace and staying on track.  Alex kept me going for the first 2/3 of the race.  My homemade pace band was a LIFESAVER.  I had noted all the water stops and where I should be in 5 mile intervals.  I stopped at ALL the water stations up to mile 20 and after my beer, decided that I was good to go and needed to keep pushing.  I never hit the wall.   My nutrition was perfect and I had ZERO issues with nausea or GI stuff.  I didn’t experience any chafing or blisters, either!!  After my dehydrated training run, I had been hyper-focused on being well hydrated for the race and I believe that helped as well.  (People were down all over the course those last 6 miles.)  The entire race, I felt confident that Sunday was MY day to BQ.  The race went so well (except for the humidity making it feel like I was breathing through a straw) that I felt more secure every single mile.  I remember thinking at mile 20 that I totally had it!! But 10k-to-go is a lot of race and I quickly cautioned myself not to get cocky and comfortable.  I really did push as hard as I could on that last 10k, but I just didn’t have the ability to really pick up the pace like I wanted.  I need to figure out how to give myself that kick in the rear that is needed to make a last-ditch effort and grind out the best time possible.  Guess I’ll go back to the drawing board on that one!

Seriously. I didn't have to think much about where the next aid station would be or try to calculate how far off pace I was. This saved me A LOT of mental energy.

Seriously. I didn’t have to think much about where the next aid station would be or try to calculate how far off pace I was. This saved me A LOT of mental energy.

I am still on cloud 9.  I still can’t believe it!!!  I am also unsure what to do with life at this point.  I have been laser-focused on this race for the last 9 months.  It’s an odd feeling to have no BIG races coming up (unless you count my first 50k and my first half Ironman as BIG ;).612209_246376053_xlarge-1

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Celebration

Celebration

BIG thanks to all who supported me along the way!!  I appreciate you so much!

My *goalz* are making me uncomfortable

As usual, I’ve been meaning to write a post, but just haven’t had the time.  I just realized my last post was about Ragnar, which was wayyyyy over a month ago!

I’m still focused on my word of the year: uncomfortable, and I think I’m doing a fairly good job keeping myself on my toes….

Swim Update

Apparently, Dori finally found her fins (somewhat).  My first swims were terrible.  I can’t even imagine how painful it must have been for anyone else who had the unfortunate luck to be near the pool at the same time as me those first few swims.  I didn’t give up, though! Thanks to the guys at the pool who have taken me under their wings, I have made marked improvement which is DIRECTLY related to their tips.  Don’t get me wrong….I still have a LONG way to go.  I know this because I had Alli film me today when we went to the pool, and there is still a lot of work to be done.  But I am very happy with the fact that I can even swim 500 or 1,000 yards at once, regardless of the speed.

Running has been a pain in my psoas

Considering I haven’t updated since Ragnar, I should probably update on the psoas (aka hip flexor).  The psoas is directly responsible for lifting the femur during walking and running – believe me when I say it is a VERY  important muscle!  I have had some yucky injuries, but given the choice, I would choose a stress fracture over psoas trouble every time.

Right after Ragnar, I went to get a massage.  When I got up from the table, I knew that was a huge mistake.  OK…..I knew it was a mistake before I went but I did it anyway.  The MT really irritated a nerve in my glutes, which were over-worked from trying to pick up Mr. Psoas’ slack…..I could barely walk when I got up off the table.  That added some days to the recovery, for sure.

I had registered for Skyline Half Marathon, which was just 2 weeks after Ragnar.  I knew immediately that I had no chance of running it, nor did I want to.  I have some BIG goals (which I’ll announce later in this post) and I need to be as close to 100% as possible if I have a chance to reach them.

During the 2 weeks after Ragnar, all I did was bike and swim.  My coach had already built in a week of nothing after Skyline.  Despite my efforts, I couldn’t sway him to let me run….which was smart, by the way…(but he did add in a couple of bike workouts for me. 🙂

I started running again the second week of May and just this week have started feeling that I might fully recover.  All 3 of my runs this week have had minimal recovery and I haven’t noticed very often that my psoas is even there….which is really good news!

Goalz

A few months ago, I let my coach talk me into running a 50 miler.  Honestly, I was starting to get excited about it (there were 4 guys and me from my club ), but I had another idea that I just couldn’t shake.  I KNOW I can run a 50 miler, with the right training.  This other idea, though…. I am so close to being able to snatch it. But even with the right training, I could still fall flat on my face.  These 2 things – the 5oM and my idea – were on the opposite ends of the training spectrum.  The 50M is mostly endurance based and my other idea….well it is mostly speed with some endurance built in.

After A LOT of discussion with my coach, I decided to back out of the 50M to focus solely on this goal, which is <drum roll>……to qualify for Boston.  The timing of the 50M was terrible – with the training and then a month’s recovery after, I wouldn’t have had time to properly prepare for BQ attempt.  I couldn’t shake the feeling in my gut that it just wasn’t the right time.  My mantra became, “don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.”  This was instrumental in helping me choose my path.  I remember telling Brent that I couldn’t have anything to blame, except me, in the event I don’t qualify.  The 50M would have been a HUGE excuse.  This has to all be on ME.  Like I said, I don’t even know if I will qualify.  I do believe that I can get close, but there are so many variables on any given day.  It scares me to death but is exciting at the same time!

I’ve only told a handful of people about this BQ attempt.  I feel weird (ok…scared beyond belief) even talking about it in this blog.  I don’t want to be one of those people that ramble on and on about their BQ attempt ad nauseam.  I seriously debated about putting it out there at all, because if I fail…..well, you know.  I mean, who wants to put a goal out there then fall flat on their face??  (Hint: Not me)  But I decided that putting it out there will give me some accountability….just like the removing the 50M as an excuse….I need accountability.

The Road to Boston (Gosh, I’m so corny)

My first marathon of the season will be in Rochester, NY, in September.  I had originally chosen it because Brent instructed me to choose a ‘hilly’ marathon during that time frame to prep for the 50M.  It worked out perfectly because my Sole Sister, Jenn, just happens to be running her FIRST marathon in that VERY race!!  I am BEYOND excited that I will be there with her when she becomes a marathoner!!  This isn’t my BQ race, though.  OH MY GEEZ!!!!  The elevation is at least 3 times anything I’ve ever run in Texas!  I am just hoping to clock a decent time and get an idea where I stand for the “REAL” attempt, speaking of….

The “REAL” attempt will be at Houston Chevron Marathon in Houston in January.  January is a looooooooong time away!!  In reality, this will be broken up into a couple of training cycles.  Technically, I’m training for Roc right now, but I’m focused on my first triathlon (a sprint) that I will run at the end of July.  This distraction is good for Jen, mentally.  After Roc, I’m running Ragnar Hill Country Ultra with some bad asses from my club, Renegade Endurance.  (By the way, YOU should join and make sure that you tell them Jen sent you!!)  After that, I suspect we will scale the training back to build up to Houston.  My max training cycle is 4 months….anything over that starts to kill me mentally and physically.  Plus, there is an excitement in starting a new training cycle. (Or maybe that can be attributed to the fact that the training load is scaled back! LOL)

What if Jen falls flat on her face?

I have no idea.  I’m not even going to consider it right now.  Even if all my training lines up perfectly, race day can still be a bust.  You just never know what the race will throw at you.  I know I’m going to put my whole heart and body into training and hope for the best when I toe the start line.

And there you have it…

The cat is out of the bag and there’s no going back!  Now I need to play it smart until I get this psoas totally under control so that it doesn’t derail ALL my hopes and dreams.  (Sadly, I was only half-joking there…)

OH!!  SCHOOL IS OUT FOR THE SUMMER!  I SURVIVED!!!

Have a great weekend!!

Jen