My First: Ironman Texas 70.3 Race Recap

“The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~John Bingham

 

Getting to Galveston

What would I do without Carmen?? If the time comes that I do a big race in a far-away city and she can’t come, I may just implode.  We have a great time road-tripping to these events and her laid-back personality helps keep me calm.  I do better when I’m calm.

We headed down early Friday morning with a brief stop in Dallas to visit my ART/FACTR/Graston/Fascial Stretch/Cupping/Massage guy, Mel.  I really never know exactly what technique he will try – it’s always fun to guess!  On pre-race tune ups, it is usually a bit of fascial stretch with ART to get any kinks out and massage.  Ahhhhh.  I left his office feeling lighter than air.  We then grabbed a quick lunch and were back on the road and rolled into Galveston around 5 PM.

No trip is complete without a Buc-ee’s stop!

Race Eve 

Saturday morning, most of us had a bike ride and brick run because Brent coaches almost all of us.  LOL!  So Tim, Craig, Levi, Brent and I went out about 7AM for a very windy ride and run before breakfast.  Of course, no trip is complete without me doing something stupid.  We were nearing the end of our ride and came to a stop light.  I unclipped my right foot (WHY??) and fell right over when I tried to put my left foot down.  So dumb.  I swear I need constant supervision!  Big thanks to Levi and Brent who talked me through some stuff on our ride and gave me a lot of pointers.

After the ride and run, we headed out for breakfast, which was actually more like brunch.  The wait was worth it, though, because those pancakes were some of the most delicious I’ve ever had!

Once we made it back to the beach house, we loaded up our bikes and headed to athlete check in.  After getting all our stuff and attending the athlete briefing, we checked in our bikes.  This caused me some anxiety because at the time there was a high possibility of strong storms (including hail) moving through that night.  I couldn’t stand the thought of her being left out all by herself in the elements.  Once again, Levi talked me through the race step-by-step, which relieved some anxiety.  Knowledge is power!

It was SO HARD to leave her!

A cool part of this race is that our club is registered with Ironman and we qualified for our own bike rack, so all of our bikes were racked together!  It was nice knowing that the people who you would see next to you in transition would be your teammates!

We had a Renegade get-together that afternoon after bike check-in and it was so much fun getting to meet and talk to teammates face to face (many for the first time).  We don’t all get to see each other much and it was great fun!

After the party and dinner, those of us racing made all our last minute preparations then we were off to bed!

I have to say that I received the sweetest text from Ashley that evening – it brought tears to my eyes!!  She is so supportive of me – of everyone, really – I hope I can develop that spirit when I grow up!

FINALLY – Time to race!

I slept until 1:30AM.  I just couldn’t sleep!  I wasn’t nervous or anxious, I was just ready to go and see what the day would bring.  When the clock finally rolled around to 4:15, I got up, waited for my turn to hop in the shower and gathered all my things for our 5:15 departure.

I rode with Levi because he had the club’s VIP parking pass.  Turns out that we didn’t need the VIP parking anyway because we got there early enough that our parking spot was right next to transition!  We all headed over to start getting things ready for the day.  After checking and double checking and taking my UCAN for the swim, I slipped on my wetsuit and my friend Tim and I headed over to the Renegade tent to wait until GO time.

Since I was in the first swim wave after the elites and Tim was just 2 starts after me, we headed over to the swim around 6:30.  We had a few moments to sit on the curb and just talk.  At this point, I had started getting some nerves, but Tim is such a calm, soothing soul – being able to talk things through with him calmed me down before the nerves could really take hold.  I wouldn’t have wanted to share that time with anyone else.  I cherish Tim’s friendship more than words can express!

We noticed that someone holding a Wave 9 start was standing right in front of us and realized that it was time to snap out of the zen moment, so we hopped up from the curb and headed toward our places in line.  Leaving Tim at Wave 5 was pretty hard to do, but we said our goodbyes and good lucks and I was on my way to find Wave 3.

The Dreaded Swim

The way this race starts is everyone jumps off the pier (it really isn’t bad – the water might be 2 feet below the deck) and then swims over to the start line.  Even with the confidence I had going into the swim, I was prepared for a full-blown panic attack.  Part of my plan to avoid this was to get at the very back of the pack and start to the right.

WELL.

I got in the water, swam to the start, looked around and realized – I WAS AT THE VERY FRONT OF THE LINE.  We were off and I swam about 100 yards (maybe) before I completely lost it.  I should have tried to start slow and easy, but it is hard to start slow and easy when over 100 people are swimming up from behind over and around you.  So I tried to backstroke to calm myself down and that DID NOT work.  I actually had to stop for a bit because I was so close to hyperventilating.  I did have the presence of mind to realize that I needed to keep moving forward, so I inched along as I could.  This went on for at least 10 minutes.  Me making progress little by little because I didn’t want to put my face in the water and feel like I was drowning.  Until….I just got pissed.  I told myself to quit acting like a pansy and just swim. (That’s the PG version.)  And I started swimming.  I decided to breathe every other stroke and that would also help me keep my eyes on the buoys.  I found a good rhythm very quickly and found my swim zone.  By this time, I had made the first turn and was heading down the longest stretch of the course.  Red buoys were the turn markers, but on the long stretch the buoys in between were orange so it was hard to tell how far I had to go when I looked down the line.  Not cool.  I like yellow.  LOL

I FINALLY reached the buoy for the last turn and was on the home stretch!  I was so focused on watching the now yellow buoys that I didn’t even realize how close I was to the exit.  I did a happy dance inside my wet suit when I figured that out!  Before I knew it, I was on the exit ramp.  I walked out of the water (just like coach instructed) and headed to the wet suit strippers.  But after I got through with them, I was just ready to get to transition so I started jogging a bit.  I heard Carmen yelling my name and looked to see her and Brent standing there.  I think I managed a wave and continued on to my bike!

Side note:  By the end of the swim, I was SO OVER salt water!  I did a good job not swallowing much, but my sinuses and throat were starting to burn.  (My nose ran like a faucet for the rest of the race – it was like I had an entire hour with a Neti pot.)  Also, I was thinking during the swim that the waters sure were choppy, but I had no reference so I thought all that was normal.  When I ran into Noah in T1 and he made a remark about how bad the swim was, I felt much better about myself!

Blustery Bike

The bike is always windy at Galveston.  I knew this going in, but with the crazy weather that had been forecast, the winds were supposed to be even more brutal.  I really don’t know what the winds actually were but I heard 20-25 mph.  I know there were times that it gusted more than that because it would catch my wheels.

So I finally got out of transition and out on the bike, but there were SO MANY PEOPLE that I was riding like 14mph, which honestly ticked me off.  I had to remind myself that it would thin out when we got out on the main road and that the goal was NOT to chase people down.  I was committed to riding a smart bike leg and not blowing my legs out for the run.  I found a nice rhythm pretty quickly and, depending on the amount of cyclists around, was able to keep anywhere from 17-22mph.   (I’m not going to lie, I wanted 20mph avg on the bike, but I knew it was foolish to attempt that.)  I passed a lot of people and got passed by a lot of bad ass men – and a few women, too.  I kept my pace and just passed when I had to.  HOWEVER, if you were a woman and I could see 45-49 on your calf, I DID pass you!  LOL  Apparently I managed the no-draft zone well because I saw the race officials often and never got a penalty!

I had to stop at the first aid station, which was around 20 mile mark, I think, because I was about to pee in my shorts!  I would have peed on the bike, but since they specifically said not to in the athlete briefing I figured best not to chance it.  As far as nutrition, I took UCAN again before the bike and had Tailwind in my bottles for out on the course.

The bridge that we had to ride over was so freaking bumpy.  I swear I felt like I was riding on rumble strips.  I noticed at the turn around that the bracket holding my bottle cage between my aero bars was loose on one side.  I thought about stopping and getting my hex tool out of my bag, but I wasn’t sure if I had packed it.  Then I considered stopping at one of the support vehicles, but all that would take time that I didn’t want to give up, so I decided to chance it and see what happened.  Well….that bracket came loose and fell off.  And right before it fell off, I found myself on the bumpy bridge again and a guy behind me said I had lost my left rear bottle (out of a Gorilla cage) and that bottle had my last leg of Tailwind in it.  I wasn’t too concerned about it though, because I had enough Tailwind for 3 hours on the bike and I had elected to start the bike with UCAN which covered the first hour.  I was pretty sure that my nutrition would suffice.  As I approached mile 40, my shoulders were starting to cramp from white knuckling my aero bars (to keep my bike from blowing over in the cross winds) and I noticed that I was hungry, too.  Plus that stupid cage between my aero bars was driving me NUTS.  I stopped at mile 40 and grabbed the emergency bar I had stashed on my bike, rearranged my bottles so that I didn’t have anything in that aero cage, stretched out my shoulders and went off again.  My mouth was watering for the end of the bike.  I was SO READY to be done because my shoulders felt crampy, but my legs still felt fresh.  I checked my heart rate – 107.  LOL  I know it wasn’t that low the entire bike, but I laughed a little bit that it was that low at mile 50.  I stayed in aero basically the entire 56 miles, to combat the wind.

I’ll speak to the wind a bit.  Even though that wind would catch my race wheels, I was SO GLAD it was a crosswind.  I didn’t feel like I had to fight for every pedal stroke the way I feel when I ride into a headwind.  I think that is what made my bike leg so manageable.

When I was on those last 6 miles of the bike, my thoughts jumped back and forth from: I CAN NOT wait to get off this effing bike! to: I DO NOT want to run 13.1 miles!  to: Quit acting like a pansy, Jen.  How the hell you gonna run a 50 miler if you can’t even mentally handle a half.  SUCK IT UP.

And then I was back in transition, getting ready to run!

Running in a sauna would have been cooler

Again, I took my time in T2.  I didn’t want to rush things too much.  I took another serving of UCAN, grabbed my bottle of Tailwind for later in the run and took off out of transition.  I had my watch in Triathlon mode and hit the lap button….twice…by accident.  And that ended the activity.  I’m a data freak and a little OCD about all that stuff being perfect, but I managed to handle it with cool and calm.  It took forever for my watch to save the swim and bike, though, and I was getting impatient.  While all this was happening, I ran right by our Renegade tent and with everyone cheering it gave me a real boost to start the run.  The workout finally saved and I was able to start the run, but I had NO IDEA how far I had gone when was actually able to start the run on my watch.  I wasn’t really worried, though.  The course was 3 loops of 4ish miles, so I felt it should be manageable.

The run was SO HOT.  After being nearly blown away on the bike, I went to running in and around the resort where breezes were few and far between.  I struggle in the heat, anyway, and  I WAS STRUGGLING.  Before the race, I had hoped to do better than a 2:15 half and felt that I could manage a 2:00 half.  So my goal was to just stay on pace for around a 2:00 half.  My only problem was that I didn’t really know how to judge that since my run was off a little on my watch.  My whole goal with the run wasn’t to crush it so much as it was to use it for mental training for my upcoming ultras.  I managed the heat as best I could, stopping at every aid station and getting ice water sponges or pouring ice down my bra and back of my shirt when the aid stations had ice available.  It helped, along with the occasional breeze in certain parts of the course.

The second loop was the hardest.  I was hot and I wanted to STOP.  I was determined that I wouldn’t walk.  I didn’t need to walk, but my brain wanted me to.  Again, mental training for the ultra.  Push through when your brain tries to trick you to stop.  When I came by the Renegade tent for lap 2, they were all standing in a line cheering for me.  Lacy was the loudest and her enthusiasm gave me the boost I needed to keep pushing forward.  I can’t put into words how much it helps seeing your teammates cheering for you.  I started seeing Renegades on the course on lap 2 as well, and seeing those familiar jerseys reminded me that I wasn’t in this alone.  I finished lap 2 and now the finish was just one lap away – and that gave me a huge mental boost!

I maintained the pace that I had been running for the first half of loop 3.  I caught up with Tim and wanted to run it in with him, but he was having stomach cramps and walking some so he told me to go on without him.  I think I left a little of my heart right there.  It would have been so amazing to cross the finish with him!  I stopped at the next aid station and filled my bra with ice, then picked up the pace.  I was so close I could almost taste it!  When I got to mile 12 marker, I really kicked it up.  I went from a 9:29 pace on mile 12 to an 8:48 pace on mile 13.  And when I knew I was close to the finish, I pushed even harder!  I smiled the entire way down the finish line chute – I HAD DONE IT!!!

After the finish

After I zipped across the finish, I downed a water and tried to find the exit.  It was a bit camouflaged.  I turned to go to Medical but realized there was no way out and I had to go back across the finish area to get out.  As I did, I looked at the clock and it was 6:28.  I knew that I had *at least* a 6:20, since I started 8 min after the first wave of elites.  I couldn’t help but smile.  I had hoped that I could do better than 6:30. (I really wanted 6:00, but was smart enough to know it probably wouldn’t happen my first time out of the gate.)  I exited the finish area and had NO CLUE how to get back across to the Renegade tent, nor did I have a clue where Carmen was.  I felt so lost!

The sherpa shirt that I had made for Carmen

It was about this time that I spotted Carmen and I’ve never been so happy to see her.  She gave me a BIG hug and I might have had a tear escape from my eye.  It was a special moment.  We found our way to the food tent which was serving pizza (disappointing) and NO BEER (MORE disappointing).  I grabbed a slice of cheese and Carmen escorted me back to the Renegade tent.  On the way, it hit me that I hadn’t waited for Tim and I felt TERRIBLE.  What a bad team mate I turned out to be!

When we got back to the tent, Tim was sitting there and I gave him a hug and sat down beside him.  The app had finally updated and Carmen shared that my time was 6:18:02 – I was very happy with that!!

Turns out that Ryan is really good at this sherpa thing, too, because he had BEER in a cooler!  SCORE!!!  Ahhhhh it tasted so good!  He may as well have serenaded me with what he said next – he asked if I wanted a hamburger!  Bless him!  If I had been on my feet and able to move at that moment, I would have tackled him with the biggest bear hug.  I’m pretty sure that hamburger was the best tasting hamburger I’ve ever had in my life!

After Tim and I ate, transition was open again for bike pick-up.  We walked over together to get our stuff.  Carmen and I left pretty soon after the bike check-out.  We had a 6 hour drive and possibly some storms to dodge, so we didn’t want to waste too much time.

The Important Stuff

The week before and right up to race morning, the threat of severe weather was real.  Luckily, the predicted storms went North of Galveston and I managed to finish the race before even a drop of rain fell.  (I’m not sure if it rained/stormed after Carmen and I left or not.)  This storm threat caused me to reassess the race.  I had once been so terrified about the swim but realized that if it had to be cancelled, I would be severely disappointed.  In just over a year, I had gone from sitting in my car, nauseated, in the natatorium parking lot – not even able to swim a full lap with my head in the water to KNOWING that I could manage a 1.2 mile swim, even if/when I panicked.  I think that is the most beautiful part of this half Ironman journey.

I have to thank my coach, Brent.  He was relentless in trying to talk me into triathlon – I know he knew it would help me spread my wings.  I am so glad he didn’t give up when I said NO over and over and over and over again.  I am thankful for his training, his support and his friendship.

I have to thank my sherpa, Carmen.  I cherish our friendship and am SO THANKFUL for her dedication to come with me to these races and wait on me to finish.  We really do make a good team at these things!

And my dear friend, Tim.  He is a very treasured friend, indeed.  His wisdom resonates with me and he has talked me off the ledge of anxiety more times than I can count.  Those fake Galveston wind updates, though…..

Finally, my TEAM!  Oh my goodness.  I love each and every one of you!  When we have these events that a bunch of Renegades are racing, it makes the experience SO MUCH FUN!  Racing is so much more fun with friends and I’m so glad that I get to do it with YOU!

OH!!  I later found out that the founders of our club decided to do top 3 male and female awards and I ended up as 2nd place female!!  I feel really lucky, too, because the two women on either side of me are young and amazing athletes.

And now, I’ll continue the rest and recovery.  Hitting training hard again next week as I prepare for a 50k just 30 days away!

 

Advertisements

It’s 70.3 race week and taper madness is in overdrive!

The thought occurred to me recently that I NEVER post training updates anymore.  And I rarely do.  I was at the point that I felt like I was saying the same thing over and over and over….and the last thing I want is to remind people of the movie Groundhog Day.  So I took a break.  Another {valid} reason is that life was a whirlwind and I legitimately couldn’t find the time or the energy to devote to a post.  But Spring is here and with it a renewed spirit.  Oh, and its TAPER WEEK!!

Galveston is here and I completely lost my mind in taper AGAIN. 

I signed up for Galveston THE DAY registration opened last July.  In fact, at the time I had not even participated in my first sprint tri.  How smart is that?!?  LOL!!  I became nauseated when I hit that “Register” button, but that didn’t last too long because Galveston was SO FAR AWAY that it didn’t seem real.  My training hasn’t been as conventional as most since the timing of Houston delayed the start to tri training.  And I threw that 50K in there right in the meat of Galveston training….Brent definitely earned his money on this training cycle.

I wigged out last week. I wouldn’t describe the feeling that I had as being nervous….at this point I am actually feeling pretty confident.  (Qualifying for Boston has calmed my nerves A LOT.  I know I can do it – I will just need to manage the day well.)  But I had A LOT of energy and I couldn’t get a handle on it.  So I signed up for not one, but TWO upcoming 50Ks.  Brent is going to earn his money again because one of them is just 4 weeks after Galveston.

My mantra: Survive the swim

Even with my sparse posts the last few months, one thing should still be clear: the swim was my biggest fear (biking and running are just a matter of managing endurance, and I know I can do that).  I took a SIX MONTH BREAK from the pool.  I swam (that term is used loosely) at my sprint tri at the end of August and I didn’t get in the pool again until after I ran Houston Marathon in mid-January.  The encouraging thing is that I could hardly tell that I had taken a break!  I haven’t had one bad swim (aaaaand I probably just jinxed myself) since starting back.  The turning point was the day I set out to swim a mile: without a warm up and without stopping.  I swam 2,300!  I was 275 yards in when a guy asked to share the lane.  I stopped only long enough to hear his question and to respond with a yes.  My mistake was pausing my watch because it ended up lapping my Garmin.  I was SO UPSET about it that I decided to swim my 1,760 yards but when I got there I wanted to hit 2,000.  And because I was at the opposite end of the pool when this happened, I have one lap of 275 and another of 2,025.  It wasn’t fast by any means, but I didn’t panic like I usually do in the warmup (remember…I had NO warmup) and I freaking did it!!!  OK, OK….I know that I will likely panic when I jump off that pier and find myself surrounded by hundreds of other swimmers, but I also know I just need to settle my nerves and just keep swimming.  I wouldn’t say that I am looking forward to the swim, but I am ready to get in the water and do what I now know I can do!

Bike: Don’t get blown away

If you had asked me how I felt about the bike two weeks ago, I would have told you that I would be lucky to finish in four hours.  My rides had all been on the trainer and I just don’t trust the trainer.  When I am finished with my workouts, I always feel like I should have pushed harder.  I haven’t mastered that killer instinct on the bike that I have on the run.  I can get myself to that place and maintain it much easier on the run than I can on the bike, BUT….

That is slowly changing.  Even though I was never able to do the long, long rides outside, I have been doing rides outside the last couple of weeks.  I can tell that I am much stronger than I was last Fall and that is encouraging.  I had to fight wind on most of these rides and I was able to keep going – not always as hard as I wanted, but I kept going.  Typically, Galveston has a very windy bike course, since it is right along the sea wall so managing the headwinds will be the biggest challenge.  I must keep in mind that a good bike equals a bad run.  I have to remember to hold back on the bike to keep my run from going South.  I hope my ego listens on race day.

Another BIG announcement is that I FINALLY named my bike!  I’ve spent all this time with her and I couldn’t settle on a name.  All the names that were suggested or that I thought of just never fit.  So I waited for the right timing and inspiration.  A couple of weeks ago, an idea for a name came to me and I just knew it was perfect!!  (It’s kind of like deciding on a tattoo….you just know when it is right.)  I named her Brienne, after Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones.  Brienne of Tarth is loyal, brave, noble, dependable, and a little bit quirky.  🙂

Run: The jam to my peanut butter

Obviously running is my favorite – it’s the discipline in which I feel like I excel.  I have NO CLUE how my legs will react after pedaling for 56 miles.  Then there is the added challenge (for me) of running in the heat of the day (although the current forecast is thunderstorms, so rain AND CLOUDS!!).  I don’t even know what to expect to be able to do on the run.

I can say that I am able to get my legs under me a lot more quickly now than at the beginning of training.  I noticed after Sunday’s bike that they didn’t feel nearly as heavy as they normally do. (That is likely related to the fact that the wind was at my back on the last half of my ride….)  I’m trying to go in with a generous time goal in case my legs just scream NO.  🙂

Race nutrition 

I don’t think it would be an understatement to say that race nutrition has given me more anxiety than the swim.  I generally use UCAN for running.  I can actually tell a difference in my sustained energy when I use UCAN, but it isn’t the best tasting substance.  I can handle it for marathon distances or less, but I just can’t face the prospect of drinking or taking UCAN gel every hour for 6-7 hours.  I JUST CAN’T.

Plus, the remainder of my year is going to be about extending my ultra distances and it doesn’t seem feasible to me in those situations either, so I have been making the transition to Tailwind.  Tailwind is a lightly flavored elecrolyte/carb mix that you add to your water, so I felt like it would be perfect on the bike.  And it has worked for me on the bike.  As I sit here typing this, FIVE days out from the race, I am STILL unsure how I am going to fuel my run.  I know how dangerous and stupid that is.

I am seriously considering making a UCAN gel just for the run, then carrying an emergency gel in case I get in trouble.  The big question mark here is: how will my GI tract handle those two substances at once in an endurance event?  You have to be careful what you take in while on UCAN because the sugary stuff can intensify the stomach upset.  I am going to take it all with me and decide by Saturday night.  Maybe I’ll flip a coin!  LOL   If use both and it goes South, I will chalk it up to training my stomach for those upcoming ultras.  Speaking of….

Why can’t I just focus on one thing at once?

In the weeks after Houston, I took some time to simply enjoy what I had accomplished.  I wasn’t stressed in the least about Cowtown 50k and I didn’t really have any goals to speak of.  I just wanted to have fun and finish and I did exactly that, plus some!  I became so chill about everything, though – even Galveston – that I wondered if I had lost my drive.  I wondered if qualifying for Boston could have been more of a curse?  When you’re hungry, you work a lot harder and achieve a whole lot more.

I should have known better.  I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.  As soon as my last big bike and last big run was done, so was my chill time.  I became restless. Plus, I had just returned from a volleyball national qualifier in St. Louis – a roller coaster weekend of INTENSE games where we found ourselves in the final and walked away with 2nd place AND a bid to nationals.  And the leftover emotion from this bid to nationals was the pebble that turned into an avalanche.

It all started like this: My teammate Tim was planning to run Wildflower 50K the first weekend of May.  I promised I would run it with him IF Alli’s team qualified for nationals.  If they didn’t end up with a bid from a national qualifier, we would have to attempt a bid at the Region tournament which is the same weekend as Wildflower.  So I had started the taper, Alli’s team battled it out for a bid to nationals and I realized that the May weekend was now open – I could run Wildflower!!!!!  Of course I signed up immediately!  That night, I literally woke up at 2AM in a cold, panicky sweat, at that moment realizing (for the first time, really) that I had just signed up for a 50K one month after Galveston.  One thought was, “JEN….that is LONGER than a marathon!”  *sigh*

So how did I deal with this stress of adding this longer-than-a-marathon 50K to my race schedule??  The VERY NEXT DAY, after I asked Twitterverse for help finding a race around the time we will be in Minnesota for Nationals, I signed up for ANOTHER 50K.  And, AGAIN, I had a complete shutdown of all rational thoughts along with a complete brain disconnect.  Some people get drunk to do damage on Ultra Signup.  NOT ME.  My brain shuts off, ADHD impuslivity takes over and when I come to my senses (I imagine this is how people feel who get drunk, then wake up in an unfamiliar bed the next morning.), I realize what I have done.  Let me say, first, that this race is PERFECT.  It is a 50K and is the day after Nationals wraps up.  I can send Alli back with teammates to be picked up in Dallas by Bobby so that I can stay an extra couple of days to get a run in while I’m in another state.  However, at the moment I signed up, 9,340′ of total elevation gain and 9,340′ of total elevation loss didn’t seem that difficult.  But when I came out of my Ultra Signup, ADHD-induced coma, I went into full-blown panic mode.  I know what downhill does to your quads.  One only needs to utter the name, Rochester, for me to shudder and curl up in the fetal position in the nearest corner.  Rochester was the hilliest race I had ever done and I was not mentally prepared, nor were my quads.  I now have a plan on how to strengthen my quads and I’ll be finding hillier routes for my longer runs – I’m sure it will be OK.  The BEST part of this is that my friend, Pood, lives in Minnesota and he is driving down (I assume he is coming “down” the state) to run it with me!!!  Pood was part of the St. Louis Rock n Roll group and he ran that race with me.  We make a GREAT race team!!  And I can honestly say that he is one of the most genuinely nice and caring people that I have EVER met.  We are going to slay those downhills!!

 

Basically, nothing has changed in my life since I’ve been posting less.  I’m the same ditzy, crazy runner that digs herself a big hole to climb out of.  But that’s how I function best and I love it!!

I’ll be updating next week with a full Ironman Texas 70.3 race report!

Jen

Popping my Ultra Marathon Cherry

On Sunday, I finally realized a dream that I had been holding on to for a really long time.  I became an ultra marathoner.

The Backstory

I started running in 2011 and ran my first half almost 2 years later in 2013.  One year later, I ran my first Cowtown Half Marathon, which was my second half.  This is the race that made me want to become an ultra marathoner.  I hate to admit it, but I was envious of all the people running the ultra.  Even though I hadn’t even run a full marathon at the time (although I had trained for Dallas 2013 which was cancelled due to ice), I knew that running an ultra was my ultimate goal and I wouldn’t be satisfied until I achieved it.

I trained for Dallas again in the Fall of 2014….too well, because I ended up with IT issues.  But I was too stubborn to quit and “ran” it anyway.  (Those last 6 miles were so slow and painful, but I finished with an embarrassing 5:18.)  I was determined to train smarter in 2015 and took the time to rehab my IT.  Running Dallas again was a MUST – I needed redemption, but Cowtown Ultra was the main blip on my radar.  I signed up for both, convinced that I could do it.  THANK GOODNESS that the running gods had me cross paths with my coach, Brent.  He started coaching me late in the Fall and got me to the Dallas start line healthier than I had ever been and I ran a 4:15 (which was 15 minutes faster than my goal).  But in order to keep me healthy, he recommended that I drop from the ultra to the half at Cowtown 2016.  It made me SO SAD, but I trusted him and knew it was for my own good.

So for 2017, I was registered for the Cowtown Half – I planned to use it as a training run/warm-up for the run portion of Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston.  When one of my teammates started asking about the ultra, I asked if I could run it and was given the green light! (And I upgraded my registration in record time – before Brent could figure out what he had given me permission to do!)

Carmen Reed was running her first 10k and Suzanne Kennedy joined her in the fun for her first 10k – they crushed it in their Saturday race!!  Jeri was running the half on Sunday.  We spent the weekend together roaming around Cowtown and had an wonderful time together!!img_4472

The Race

I ran Houston Marathon just 6 weeks ago.  I quickly realized that training for a 50k so soon after and training for a 50k and half Ironman simultaneously was a foolish choice.  Training kicked my rear but I persisted (with a lot of uncharacteristic whining and belly-aching) and I survived.

I typically fret over how I will perform at races, but I didn’t fret about this race.  Houston gave me A LOT of confidence and removed any feelings of having to prove myself.  I have proven myself to ME and that needed to happen because I was full of self-doubt.

I went into the race without any goal times.  Well…..I knew what I would like to hit, but I was prepared to be OK with just finishing.  I knew that hurting at some point in the race was inevitable so my strategy was to run by heart rate and try not to go out too fast.  I felt that I could manage the extra mileage by keeping my heart rate in check, but I was still a little leery because of the time crunch caused by running this so close to Houston made any training for this race short and sweet.  In any case, I had no doubt that I could do it – it was just a matter of how well I managed everything.  Early in the week, the forecast was horrid.  Temps were supposed to be close to 70 with sunny skies and winds gusting up to 30 mph.  Honestly, I dreaded this because it would only serve to make a difficult race even harder.  I didn’t check the forecast again until we were in Ft. Worth on Saturday and I literally started jumping up and down, screaming with excitement (while we were in CVS and I *may* have startled the clerk).  Temps while I was expected to be on the course were to be in the 40s with partly cloudy skies and winds around 10 mph.  I felt like I had just won the lottery!

Race morning was so cold at around 40°!!  Several of the Renegades were racing and everyone who could make it met for a pic.  My fellow Renegade sister, Ashley, said it best when she shared our group pic, “From first time 10k finishers to 50k & everything in between. Love sharing the dreams & then witnessing the successes of these Renegades. We all have our own story but together it’s an even more powerful one.”  Being a part of this group is one of the main reasons I’ve been so successful over the past 1 1/2 years.  This is the MOST SUPPORTIVE team out there – and we support EVERY one of our athletes from slower to faster and shorter to longer distance athletes.  It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of!img_4502-1

I waffled back and forth on whether to do UCAN or Tailwind for this race.  I tried Tailwind at the tail end of training, but I don’t think I found the right balance because I found myself hungry and hitting an energy wall.  I ended up going with UCAN because it really does work for me and I can tell a HUGE difference when I don’t fuel with it.  (Some tweaking will be in order as I extend my distance to the 50 miler later this year.)  In the end, UCAN came through for me again, as you’ll see when I describe the later stages of my race.

The race finally started with sunny skies and temps still close to 40. I started out consistently running 8:45s and thought that I was DOOMING myself to failure.  But I had decided to run by heart rate and my heart rate was in zone 1, so I maintained that pace.  I went over 9 minutes on mile 7 and thinking back it was probably the streets in the stockyards…or the shucking of my t-shirt – I was trying to be extra careful not to twist an ankle (or step in Longhorn dung!).  Early on, it seemed that the day would be sunny and that caused me some anxiety but the clouds slowly rolled in. Winds stayed at around 10, I’m guessing, and I even got chilly coming up to the mile 9 hill and through downtown. I managed the mile 9 hill just fine and enjoyed the cruise DOWN through downtown through the marathon split.

The back side of the course had an immediate hill that I was not expecting.  I could obviously have avoided this surprise by studying the elevation map, but as I said earlier – I did not concern myself about this race at all.  I barely got packed in time to leave town!!

I maintained splits close to 8:45 but started creeping up toward the 9:00 mile pace in miles 15-17.  Around mile 18, I found myself running next to a man named Joe, from McKinney, who proudly proclaimed his Florida roots with his Florida Gator shirt.  He was running naked (all you non-runners calm down – it just means he was running without a watch!) and was hoping to hit a 4:00 marathon or better.  Well, guess what!?! was hoping to hit a 4:00 marathon, too!! (Even though I wouldn’t admit that to the general public.) We decided to stick together until the marathon split around mile 25.  My friend Joe kept me going during those 7 miles and the funny thing is – he thought I slowed down for him.  WE simply kept at OUR pace. It was a nice relief to share the road with someone.  And I just do better when I feel like I have to keep up with someone.  All my miles with Joe were sub-9, except for mile 19.  I was a little sad saying goodbye to Joe, but I sent him on his way – he should have easily come in around 3:52-3:53 which was under his goal!

I'm past mile 20 at this point and STILL SMILING! :)

I’m past mile 20 at this point and STILL SMILING! 🙂

Honestly, I was amazed that I was able to maintain mostly sub-9 miles up to this point, which made me smile even more. 🙂  And my legs felt amazing!  A tiny bit fatigued, maybe, but my legs felt better at mile 25 than they felt at mile 20 in Houston.  I was extremely encouraged because at this point, I knew if <when> things went downhill fast, I could suffer through a 10k and manage.  I crossed the 26.2 timing mat at 3:53 (which was only +5 from my Houston time) and legs were STILL feeling OK.

Mile 27.  Mile 27 is when my quads started feeling grouchy.  And my brain wanted to be at the turnaround already.  Except I didn’t really know where the turnaround was because I hadn’t studied the race map that well.  I did know that it had to be by mile 28.  Well the turnaround was at mile 27.5.  Mile 28 was my slowest mile of the race, because I stopped for a BEER.  And that beer tasted SO GOOD!!! The aid station volunteers laughed at me because I went on…and on….and on about it!  I drank almost half and realized that I would never finish if I hung around drinking beer all day. (In reality it was maybe 45 seconds.)  So off I went and then I was joined by another male runner – and he rocked the trail runner look with his well-maintained beard.  This guy was a lifesaver.  He was the type of person that oozed positivity.  He cheered on EVERY SINGLE runner that we passed.  Between mile 28-29,we had turned back South and at this point the wind had really picked up.  My legs didn’t want to have ANYTHING to do with running into these winds.  I knew I would be OK if I could just make it to mile 30.  Mr. Positive stayed with me until then, but at mile 30 he cranked it up, said, “One mile, LET’S GO” and was off in a flash. My goal was simply to maintain what I could at that point and I couldn’t have kept up with him if I had tried so I let him charge on.  I was getting so close to that last little bit of the course that is so familiar to me. It seems to go on forever yet I know it isn’t THAT long…and….there was a tiny hill.  I walked just a bit.  I’m a little mad at myself for this, but at that moment I felt that I needed to give myself the chance to collect my wits for the finish.  Onward and upward I went!  And right over the hill was the turn to the road to the finish!

My ONE pic with Mr. Positive - he is waving and I am struggling!

My ONE pic with Mr. Positive – he is waving and I am struggling!

But 5 steps later and I manage a smile....AT MILE 30!

But 5 steps later and I manage a smile….AT MILE 30!

That last little bit of the course always seems so long.  My mouth always starts watering because I want to see that finish line and cross!  My best pace on mile 31 was 8:27 and my best pace on the last .06 was 8:07.  I was SO READY to be finished!  After I fought my way down the finish line chute, I grinned the entire way across.  I came close to crying, but I managed to hold back the tears.  I was BEYOND happy (and still am)!!img_4546

img_4509

img_4508

img_4548

After I got my medal and grabbed my phone to text Carmen, a woman sitting on the curb congratulated me.  I told her it was my first ultra and that I was over the moon!  She said, “You HAVE to ring the bell!!”  I mentioned getting my friend to come take my picture, but she volunteered.  She stood in line with me, videoed me ringing the bell and then took my picture.  I thanked her and went on my way to get food, finisher shirts and my extra challenge medal.  And after that, I went to find the important stuff – BEER!!img_4542img_4511

I think cold molasses moves faster than I do after a race.  It always takes me SO LONG.  I finally made my way to the building where Carmen, Suzanne and Jeri were waiting on me.  Carmen is my sherpa – she is THE BEST sherpa!!  I can’t believe she hung around in the cold for almost 5 freaking hours just to snap a couple of pics of me finishing.  She is seriously amazing.  Suzanne, deserves her own medal for sticking around as well when she really didn’t have to.  That meant the world to me!!

As we were leaving to walk back to our hotel, I got a message from Brent that simply said “Dude! Podium!”  I read it in disbelief, relayed my disbelief and he sent back a screen shot of my results.  THIRD IN MY AGE GROUP!!!  How in the heck??? All I can say is that it was an amazing day!! I later found out that I missed first in my age group by TWO FREAKING MINUTES. The beer stop and the walk stop would have closed that gap for sure. And maybe I should have tried to keep up with Mr. Positive. But I had a GREAT race and placing in my first ultra is an amazing accomplishment, so NO REGRETS! img_4512

This race was absolutely amazing.  I smiled almost the entire race and I rarely smile during races because I’m all business.  I can sincerely say that I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE MINUTE.  I had just been waiting for so long to cross this threshold. And things work out in God’s time. I wanted to rush this and do it last year, but I listened. I was signed up to run a 50 miler but I listened and dropped when I realized it wasn’t the right time. And I was rewarded with one of the most amazing races that I have ever run!! (I know you’re wishing at this point that I would use and adjective besides amazing!)

What’s next to CONQUER? 

Ironman Texas 70.3 at Galveston is next on the plate.  The thought of it made me throw up in my mouth a little today because I feel like it’s totally out of my league.  I am gaining confidence in the water, though, and that is encouraging for the swim.  I say that my only goal is to make the swim cutoff then manage the rest of the race, but I know you all know that isn’t quite true.  I am competitive (with myself, anyway) and I have a time goal in mind.  I just hope I can get close to it!  In the end, my goal is to enjoy Galveston like I enjoyed Cowtown – hopefully good things will happen! I know that Brent will give me what I need to be prepared. The rest is up to me!

After that, all that is on the calendar is Brazos Bend 50 in December. After this race, I know I can do it. I just need to reign myself in and not set the bar too high. But I can worry about that after Galveston.

I know I want to work on manintaining/increasing my speed, then focus on BB50.  Other than that, I’ll just have to see what pops up!

Until next time,

Jen 💙

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!!

 

Journey to Metabolic Efficiency and My First OWS

There’s a saying, “Success occurs when your dreams get bigger than your excuses.”  I feel like this has become the theme of my year, even though my official word of the year is uncomfortable.  I suppose they go hand in hand.img_1244

When you want your nutrition to be on point, but you love carbs too much…

Most of you know that I made the transition to triathlon.  Running is still my primary sport, especially because of the time of year we are now in, but I love tri training and love triathlon racing even more.  As part of a much larger, long-term plan, I signed up for IRONMAN Texas 70.3 next April in Galveston.

Signing up for Galveston magnified my need to get my nutrition and fueling under control.  (You read that right – I needed to get my nutrition and fueling under control.)

Yes, I eat nutritious food.  But I have been convinced for quite some time that I don’t eat nutritious food in the right amounts.  I have known that my macros were off but just couldn’t wrap my head around how to begin to fix it.  I focused on eating more protein, but that was the extent.  Plus, I really love carbs.  REALLY.  LOVE.  CARBS.

Also…. I.  HATE.  RACE.  FUEL.   I have been grasping at straws for quite some time because I just can’t handle the gels/chews/crappy sugary substances that are sold to endurance athletes as “fuel”.  Once you suck down that first one, you are on – hook, line and sinker – for the remainder of the race.  You can’t not take them or you’ll crash.  For me, continuing to take them to avoid the crash always meant increasing stomach upset with each added mile.  So I had this love/hate relationship with gels (love, because I needed them; hate, because I needed them) and I had been trying all sorts of different things for fueling.  I tried UCAN (which tastes terrible), Base Rocket Fuel, Clif Organic Food, baby food (no lie – the squeezable pouch). I didn’t find anything that worked the way I wanted it to.img_1247-1

I wanted to get fueling down during my upcoming marathons in hopes that I could somehow manage it for the much longer 70.3 in the spring.  I became COMPLETELY convinced that my nutrition (or lack of balanced macros) was holding me back in training and performance.  So I kept quizzing Brent because he had gotten a really good grasp on his nutrition and had great success with it during training and racing.  He ended up referring me to a metabolic nutrition specialist that he worked with and I hired her almost immediately!

Had I talked to this lady 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to accept (or execute) her approach to nutrition.  This is where the old saying becomes relevant to my journey: “Success occurs when your dreams get bigger than your excuses.”  I am on a nutrition plan that limits my carbs to 120/day.  If you haven’t ever counted carbs, I’ll just tell you that is NOT MANY.  She asked me to completely cut out all grains (for now) – that hasn’t been a walk in the park.  But helping my body become a more efficient machine is TOTALLY worth it.  My fuel for my workouts is UCAN, which still tastes terrible, but I found that orange is tolerable.  I’ll use UCAN before the race and will make UCAN gel to take hourly while I’m out on the course.

Sunday, I’ll be running Rochester Marathon and I will get to see how far my body has come and how this new fueling strategy will work and I can’t wait!!

Training updates

I haven’t blogged much at all lately.  In fact, I didn’t even write a race report for my last half on August 14 and I ended up 3rd in my age group by some miracle!  The real reason I haven’t been blogging: summer running has had me down in the dumps.  I think most people would agree that I am a “glass is half full” person – I always try to find the bright side.  Try as I may, I could not find the bright side of running during August.  The heat and humidity were stifling.  I had long since tacked the psoas issue and felt close to 100%, but I couldn’t tell that my fitness was improving and it certainly didn’t show in my run times.  I BATTLED through my long runs.  BATTLED.  I had to fight the urge to stop and quit every single week….every single mile….every single minute!!  When I signed up for Rochester, I knew that summer marathon training would be tough, but I had NO idea HOW tough.

I did have rays of sunshine sprinkled in here and there.  I could tell that my speed was improving on the track, even in the heat of the summer, and my times were very, very close to what they had been before I messed up the psoas and the weather turned into the Devil’s Armpit.  Track days always gave me hope.img_0736

But, hallelujah, the air is changing!!  The temps are still very hot, but the air is beginning to cool down much more quickly as the sun goes down.  This, plus a couple of cool fronts, have had me feeling like my old self again and I am very hopeful for a good performance in Rochester!

OWS: The First

On Monday, my dear friend/hairdresser/photographer/kayaker Kim, came to accompany me on my first open water swim EVER.  The swim went surprisingly well….I am out of swim shape, for sure, but the actual task of swimming in a lake didn’t freak me out.  I know that having her there was a big help mentally.  I am unsure how I will handle swimming when I am my own island, but at least I know that I can get out there!!img_1361

img_1354

Taper Crazies

Once again, I have been bitten by the taper crazies.  It happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I taper, so why would I expect this one to be any different??

My good friend, Carmen, told me a couple weeks ago that she was going to put a tracker on me during taper.  And Jenn, who knows what a spazz I am, has been constantly checking on me to make sure I haven’t done anything stupid.  Well, there is only so much that a person can do.  I managed to hurt myself in spite of the constant supervision.

From Jenn

From Jenn

 

From Carmen

From Carmen

When Kim and I went out to Bonham State Park, she tried to get me to jump off the dock while she loaded her kayak in the water.  I REFUSED, saying that I would have to walk in to the water at Galveston and I would NOT be jumping off any docks to start my swim.  I should have listened to Kim.

The boat ramp at the State Park is not used much.  The *lake*, if you could even consider it a lake, isn’t large enough for any real boats.  As soon as I stepped into the water, my foot slipped on the slime that covered the ramp and I nearly went down.  I stopped the fall…..WITH MY TOE.  At the time, I didn’t think much of it….it didn’t hurt that badly.  I was just relieved that I hadn’t slipped and fell and caused some sort of injury that could have hampered me in the race.

Fast forward 4 hours and I began to get concerned.  The toe was throbbing and swollen and had started to bruise quite a bit.  It even hurt in bed!  Luckily, the throbbing and soreness went away during the night and the toe was only sore to the touch – it didn’t even hurt to walk!  I was still a little nervous, though, because I hadn’t run on it and I just didn’t know how running would affect it.img_1376

I ran last night and THANK THE LORD, I had no issues!!!  I was SO RELIEVED!

Hopefully, this will be the only taper madness that plagues me this time!

Happy Hump Day!!

Jen

 

Summer Training Update

I’ve got to be honest…I haven’t posted a training update in quite some time because I felt like a broken record.  I mean, there are only so many things one can say and so many pictures one can post about their training.  So, I took a hiatus.

But lots of things are going on and I feel I have something new to say! 🙂  So here is a long overdue training update:

Let’s start with swimming – tris do

Swimming.  When I look back to the time I started in February, I can hardly believe it.  Don’t get me wrong……I am not the best swimmer…YET.  I can’t even believe that I was afraid to swim 200 yards in the tri that is coming up NEXT WEEKEND.  I am now doing actual workouts in the pool, including some speed workouts.  I NEVER thought that I would be able to do that!  I have gained so much confidence in the pool.  I feel so empowered because I stuck with it through the SUCK even though I wanted to do ANYTHING except swim!  I have transformed from thinking I could never swim 200 yards in a triathlon to believing that I can (and will) swim 2.4 (eventually) in an IRONMAN.  The feeling of conquering another demon is indescribable!img_9513

The challenges of the bike

First, I’ll share the saga of trying to secure a tri bike.  I had decided to try to find a used one so that I wouldn’t appear like I had completely lost my mind in the eyes of my family.  Plus, I mean, what if I don’t actually like triathlons and decide to get out of it??  It was a real struggle to decide what to do.  In May, I found one on eBay, won the auction and was on my way to transitioning into the time trial bike world.  The bike arrived and I took it to the bike shop to be assembled.  The guy from the shop had offered to look it over to make sure that all was OK in case of any damage.  When he started the build, he texted me to tell me that the derailleur and rear dropout were damaged.  He told me that he wouldn’t repair the dropout – that repaired it would still be weak and prone to break at anytime.  I started a claim with eBay and the seller started a claim with FedEx.  FedEx *supposedly* had ten business days to get to work on the claim.  Ten business days came and went and I contacted the seller, who in turn contacted FedEx, who in turn said they had send the original requests for info to eBay <FACE PALM>.  Things moved pretty quickly the next few days…I sent the seller info for the claim as requested by FedEx and then heard nothing for a couple weeks.  I finally asked eBay to step in, as things didn’t seem to be moving with the FedEx claim and honestly, that is the seller’s deal.  He was ultimately responsible for the bike arriving safely, whether he got a reimbursement from FedEx or not.  eBay instructed the seller to send me a return label for the bike and arrange for pick-up.  After that, the seller had 3 days to refund my money.  When I realized that I would actually be getting a refund (YAY!!), I started looking for bikes again.

I ended up finding a bike in Dallas and actually went to look at it the day after the bike was picked up by FedEx.  My good friend, Josh, told me in no uncertain terms that I WOULD NOT be going alone and that I would be picking him up on my way.  LOL  I mean, everyone needs a friend that could double as a bodyguard, right?!?  Seriously though, I really appreciate his concern and his friendship even more!

He is seriously one of my BEST friends!

He is seriously one of my BEST friends!

I checked values online just to make sure the price was in line with what the seller was asking (and they were) and Josh and I were off for an adventure!  I loved the bike, of course, and the fact that he offered Zipp wheels as part of the deal pretty much made it hard to turn down!  If there was any doubt about how the bike had been cared for, it was all removed when the guy practically refused to leave it with me.  He was clearly VERY attached to it and hated to sell it.  At one point, I thought he might be about to cry.img_0152

Since getting the bike, I took it to a tri shop to have it fitted.  However, while I was there I learned that the front wheel was recalled and the tri shop took care of sending it in for repair.  I feel lucky that it was caught, actually, because apparently Zipp had just issued the recall.  Soooooo, that is going to take another 3-4 weeks to get back so I’ll be racing with regular wheels next weekend.  LOL

Other than that, things are going OK on the bike.  I think I have transitioned to tri bike fairly well, but I still don’t feel that confident about what I’ll be able to do come race day.  I’m trying not to focus on that….I’ll do the best I can and learn from it so that next time will be better.

Run, Jen, Run!

Running has been going very well.  I think I can safely say that the psoas issue has been put to bed.  When I first returned to running mid-May, in my mere 3 weeks off the weather had gotten very warm.  Throw in the psoas that was still a quite angry and it was a recipe for feeling very inadequate.  It was a struggle, physically and mentally.  There were days that I went out, ran a less-than-stellar run (by my assessment, anyway) and questioned my sanity for trying to qualify for Boston.  I allowed quite a bit of negative self-talk for a while.  I know how detrimental that negative self-talk can be and I finally had enough and stopped it.  I had to reassess and re-prioritize my expectations.  Seriously, I had already expected to be slower during the summer heat…..why was this such a surprise??  In any case, when I stopped the negativity going on in my brain, my fitness started responding.  Maybe it was absence of negativity.  Maybe it was just that I was finally getting acclimated to the heat.  Regardless, I can tell my fitness is improving and I never even know my psoas is there!!  Speed work is even starting to creep back to a satisfactory level.

This pic doesn't do the heat justice.

This pic doesn’t do the heat justice.

Cue the races

Pioneer Power Sprint Tri

Next weekend, I will be racing in my very first triathlon!  I am so excited and incredibly nervous at the same time.  This will be a sprint tri: 200 yard pool swim, 16.1 (hilly) bike, 3.1 run.  I can’t believe I was so afraid of the swim in the beginning.  Now I’m scared to death that I’m going to bomb the bike!  LOL

Seriously though, I am going in looking at this as a learning experience, so I’ll be happy with whatever the outcome is.  A neat twist is that this tri is held at Texas Woman’s University (Taylor’s undergrad alma mater) and she is racing it with me.  I am looking very forward to this mother-daughter race!

Hottest Half

This race is on August 14.  In Texas.  I know….I’m stupid.  In my defense, Brent told me to pick a half marathon in August as a warm-up for my next marathon….which I’ll talk about next!  My goal in this race is: NOT TO DIE.

Rochester Marathon (NY edition)

Way back when I was scheduled to do the 50 miler in November, Brent told me to find a hilly marathon in late September/early October as a warm up.  I ended up picking Rochester Marathon when I realized that a) it was in September; b) it was HILLY and c) my friend Jenn would be running it as her first marathon.  It was perfect!!!  The best thing is that I would be there with Jenn as she accomplished this big goal.

As the idea of trying to qualify for Boston tugged at my heartstrings more and more, I realized that there was no way I could train for the 50 miler and truly give my best to a BQ attempt.  I backed out of that race, but there was no way that I would back out of this marathon with my Sole Sister!  As soon as the triathlon is done, marathon training officially begins and I could not be more excited!!  I would LOVE to BQ at this race, but given the psoas setback and the fact that a BQ would have been a long shot in the first place due to the hills, I’m going to use it as a gauge of where I am and where I need to go.

Ragnar Hill Country Ultra

Who can say no to Ragnar and an Ultra??  This race is in October, so I should still have plenty of time to work on speed for my official BQ attempt at Houston Marathon in January.  This will be my first soiree with the trails and I. AM. PUMPED!  Plus, I get to run 31 miles with 3 other crazy Renegades….doesn’t get much better!

Beer Fit Beer Mile

Ok….this is just a bucket list item.  I’m running the Beer Mile in Dallas in November.  I may need to train for this, though, by DRINKING MORE BEER!

Dallas Marathon – Half

Oh my goodness, it pains me to type that.  I realllyyyyyyy want to run the full.  But, this is just a warm-up for the BQ attempt at Houston, so the half will have to do this year!

Houston Chevron Marathon

Even though this is still a long way away, this is going to be THE race of the year for me, obviously.  This will *hopefully* be the BQ race.  I am prepared to pour my heart and soul and body into training for this race and I plan to leave it ALL on the course.  Whatever happens will happen.  I actually do believe that I can run a 3:45, but I also know that anything can happen on any given race day.  So I am mentally preparing to do everything I can and I’ll be OK if the end result isn’t what I wanted.

IRONMAN Texas 70.3

Yes, you read that right.  I signed up for Galveston last week….the day that registration opened.  The fact that there isn’t a deferral option or refund policy is probably good – it will keep me from trying to find excuses to get out of it.

Honestly, though, I’m pretty darn excited (and freaking nervous)!  The biggest challenge, hands down, will not be the race itself but finding the time to train with club volleyball in full swing.  I’m going to take the Scarlett O’Hara approach and think about that tomorrow (or January, actually 😉

 

I’m so excited about the progress that I’ve been making and all the fun races that I have coming up.  I’m ready to ramp up the marathon miles!!

Happy Friday!

Jen