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!

 

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!!

 

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

What the heck (and Ash) Wednesday

FINALLY, a run deserving of documentation in my blog!  Ahhhh, yesterday’s run was great!  AND I may have reclaimed some of my #badass status as a runner.  Disclaimer: I am going to detail the weather conditions and, believe me, I KNOW they are NOTHING compared to what my friends up North are dealing with.  However, this is Texas and it is all relative, right?

The forecast for run-time had been mid-50s, partly cloudy 0% chance of rain and very low wind.  Perfect.  I checked the weather at 3:00 and all was still good, although a slight chance of rain had crept in at 10%.  No worries, right?  By the time I dropped Alli off at practice at 5 and headed to the park, the rain chances had increased to over 50%.  The sun was gone and so were temps in the mid-50s.  When I arrived at the park, I knew I might be in for a little shower.  Rain is coming

Of course, I wasn’t going to let the threat of a little rain stop me.  I was, however a little concerned about having only brought compression shorts and ss shirt to run in.  At the last minute, I remembered I had worn my Dallas Marathon shirt to work, grabbed it out of my bag and threw it on.  I didn’t even make it through my warm-up before realizing that I would be running in a downpour.  The rain came pouring down and the wind picked up, so much that it felt like little ice pellets hitting my legs and face.  And for once, I found myself wishing I had brought a pair of gloves with me!  Luckily the rain and wind moved through quickly and the rest of the run was quite enjoyable.

There are several beautiful ponds throughout the park, worthy of stopping the run in order to snap a pic.

There are several beautiful ponds throughout the park, worthy of stopping the run in order to snap a pic.

I wasn’t going to disclose this next bit of info, but what the heck.  I did not run by heart rate on this time.  I have been struggling to keep my heart rate under the threshold AND keep proper form.  I have felt like I was doing nothing more than shuffling, and I haven’t been pleased with the effects of this on my body.  At this point, I feel it is important to lay the foundation with good form so that I don’t have to deal with some of these same issues later on and the heart rate training will be most beneficial when I get to the long runs again.  On Saturday’s run, I focused more on form and my heart rate was well over the threshold, even though the pace I ran was much slower than I had been running (which is saying something, because my run intervals have been SLOW).  Yesterday, I just focused on picking up my feet and swinging my arms.  I probably ran a bit faster that I would have normally, just because it was so darn cold!!  I felt great throughout, though, and I can tell that I am moving in the right direction.  It was very reassuring to someone who constantly questions EVERY aspect of her rehab/recovery.

So this is me at the end.  Drenched and loving it!Wet run

And my lobster legs.  Lobster legs

Now might be a good time to admit that I had my Nike running jacket in the car.  The Nike running jacket that is wind proof and water resistant AND has built-in mittens.  It never occurred to me to grab that jacket.  #fail

 

You’re probably wondering why the title “What the heck (and Ash) Wednesday”.  Well….I posted “Flabbergasted Friday” not long ago and I keep encountering people that cause me to scratch my head.  Now, it’s difficult to alliterate with Friday, because there are a limited number of “F” words that are appropriate for publishing to the public that express my emotions correctly.  I figured why not Wednesday?

Academy basket

You can see the “owner” of the cart (on the right), sitting a mile away from the cart trying on shoes.

I feel there should be some sort of test to be passed in order to use a shopping cart.  I mean, we require automobile drivers to have licenses.  WHY would someone park their basket this way??

Seriously, rude.  Just rude.  And it also happens every time I visit Wal-Mart!

Along those same lines are the people who walk right smack in the middle of the lanes in a parking lot.  OK I realize pedestrians have the right of way, but can you not scoot to the side to allow cars to pass?

Honestly, I don’t know how some people pass their driving test, but yesterday as I was dropping Alli at school, a man BACKED UP in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET quite a ways, at least 4 or 5 car lengths.  WHY????  What possesses someone to do that?

Finally (oh, I have many more, but I’m stopping at four), people who drive the speed limit (or less) in the HOV.  Maybe it’s just a Texas thang that I feel I need to go a bit faster than the speed limit, but aren’t you in the HOV so you can go a little faster?  *sigh*

 

It’s Ash Wednesday!  The day we are reminded that we are nothing more than dust.  I probably should have posted my people rant on Fat Tuesday, since my Lenten practice is going to be to have more empathy and patience with people in general.  I will attempt to “give up” the negative thoughts I sometimes have toward others and replace them with thoughts of compassion.

And I leave you with a quote from scripture.  The reason I choose to “give up” a bad habit as opposed to food or something else.

God said, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice . . .? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?”  ~ Isaiah 58:6-7

And while I’m at it, I will share my favorite Bible verse, too 🙂

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8

Happy Hump Day!

Jen

Finally learned to listen to my body, but now I don’t trust it!

First of all, thank you to all who read Wednesday’s blog.  I am blown away by the responses I received.  I am so humbled that my words brought comfort to so many, although I can’t take full credit for what I wrote!  I think God may have had a little something to do with that. 🙂  It’s hard to move on and post normally after something so raw and heartfelt, but that’s what life is about, isn’t it?  Moving on, tackling those day-to-day activities until some sort of normalcy returns.  So here I go with today’s post.

During marathon training when my ITB flared up, I posted about the confusion that ensued after my flimsy attempt at listening to my body.  At that time, I thought my ITB felt fine (well, fine as long as I wasn’t on a run longer than 6 miles).  During that pain-ridden journey, I may have just achieved that elusive mind-body connection (for now, at least…until Crazy Jen comes back).

After the marathon, I seriously thought I would take two weeks off and slowly start building back.  It didn’t take me long to realize that 2 weeks would be extended to 4.  When I made the decision to extend my recovery period to 4 weeks, I seriously thought that I would be back strong in that amount of time.  In the back of my mind, though, a little voice started whispering that it would likely take 6 weeks….or maybe 12.  I knew the voice was right and somehow I knew that this time – I had to listen.

My first run post-marathon was 6 weeks in the making, and (again) I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be good (and it wasn’t).  I still feel that the time was right to get out there.  I went into the run with the mindset that I needed to gather information that would help me shape my training plan going forward.  (And I got A LOT of information.)  I waited another full week before I went on my next run, which was FABULOUS!  It ended up taking me 7 weeks recovery to get “that feeling” that things were heading in the right direction.

I ran again on Tuesday and it was another great run (as long as we ignore the heart rate issue in the first interval).  Wednesday evening I was back to see my myofascia guy.  I nearly cancelled because things had been going so well, but something told me to keep the appointment.  (It’s mind-boggling how often I have been listening to that little voice lately!)  In our pre-session debriefing, I told him that my glutes were still VERY tight, despite all the time that I had spent on the dreaded therapy ball.  He started on my hip (which was not moving in any form or fashion) and performed a release that he had not used on me before.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS!!!  I knew my hips were tight, but I had NO idea until afterward.  Now that entire area feels AMAZING!!!

Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout

Tuesday’s Run: Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout

So it seems like things are all roses, right?  Not so much.  Let’s just call it like it is: I hate the intervals.  And I really dislike being constrained to my heart rate, even though I know that it will be good for me in the long run.  I finally admitted to myself that I don’t trust my body.  I just don’t.  I know that things are better now than they have been in months, but I don’t know what I am going to be able to push myself to do.  I want to go run a 15 miler tomorrow and I know I can’t.  And quite frankly, I don’t know if I ever will be able to again.  I am adding time to my intervals slowly in order to build my base and avoid further injury, but at the same time I’m as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.  Every time I go out, I wonder if this is going to be the time that things go haywire again.

Even so, I will keep chugging along, because I really have no other choice.  I love running too much to give up when things get tough.  I’ll keep in mind some of my own advice: nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  So when I do actually get back out there on a run (without intervals), it’s going to be the sweetest thing ever!

Happy weekend!

Jen

Packing bags and Memo’s birthday!

I did something this morning that I haven’t done in a long while….packed a run bag!!  SO EXCITING!!!

Alli’s practices on Tuesdays are from 5:00-6:30. When I noticed that the sun wasn’t setting until after 6, I realized that Tuesdays could be a run day!!  I have been frothing at the mouth, waiting,  since I figured this out, especially since Friday’s amazing run!

I have been debating how to add to my workouts in order to build my base, but without doing so too quickly.  I have considered many options, but an article that I read yesterday spoke about recovery by adding by 2s.  The article suggested running 10 minutes on the first run.  As long as no pain was experienced during or after the run, the article instructed to add 2 minutes running to each consecutive workout.  I have decided to go with a modified approach and add 2 minutes total to my run, by adding one minute to 2 of my intervals.  This should give me some interesting feedback before my next myofascia appointment tomorrow evening.

Ok, I know that cold is relative, but I woke up to this yesterday morning.Weather2

Ridiculous.  I mean, is Mother Nature confused?  I realize it is still Winter, but THIS IS TEXAS!!!  Thank goodness it wasn’t windy, because I wasn’t about to wear a coat!  Today’s low was 31, which is a little more bearable, but still….

Finally, I leave you with my mom, Memo (Mee-Mo), which is what EVERYONE calls her.  Memo

My mom just celebrated her 81st birthday. This photo was taken about a week ago when her church celebrated all her years of service (yes, pink is her favorite color).  She is, hands down, the most strong willed person I have ever met.  I doubt that ANYONE has EVER won an argument with her!  (Yes, she is the reason I am so hard-headed!)  She is an amazing woman, and I have been so blessed to be her daughter!  Happy Birthday, Memo!!!

Hope you have a Terrific Tuesday!

Jen