Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Funday and a Serious Question

I should probably confess that I don't hate Mondays. I guess I don't like them but I definitely don't hate them. Today has actually been fun though because this morning I met with my new dietitian and she says she's going to make sure I stop breaking bones. I don't want to turn that into a bad habit.

How was your weekend? I actually had a pretty good one and don't remember a lot of it. Not because I was drunk but because it wasn't terribly eventful which is just the way I like them. I went to the movies Friday and saw Lucy which did a great job of making my life seem inferior then I met up with a new person for a Saturday long run. I haven't talked about it much but yes, I'm still doing that marathon running thing. And I love, love, LOVE long shorts. No thanks 4 inch inseam!

I'm always super nervous about new people or even doing new things with people I already know so I was up bright and early from anxiety alone. I tried out my fancy new protein shake recipe to see how it would do but only drank about a quarter of it. I drove to the park and met up with Patti from my tri club for 9 miles. She's been running in Louisville for years and was happy to show me a new route so I didn't get too bored. She called it the "hilly 8" which I later learned was actually 10 but we managed to cut to make 9. I normally shy away from running hilly long runs until I get into double digits and they become unavoidable but I decided to really man up and do it. Since we've never run together we ended up having a lot to say and talked for the first couple of miles. I didn't even realize I was skipping my intervals until into the second or third mile when we stopped for the restrooms. I told Patti I normally run 5/1s and she said she would do whatever I wanted. I was feeling great though so decided to just keep an easy jog and see how it went. After a little while my contact did something weird in my eye and as I tried to fix it it just popped out. I tried once or twice to put it back in then just gave up and trashed both of them on the side of the road. Good thing my eyes aren't too bad! I also keep glasses in my car so relax, nobody was hurt on the drive home.

I took maybe 2 or 3 walk breaks throughout and it was only because I'd drink to much and get a side stitch. My legs were actually feeling great even going into the last mile which had a few smaller climbs. I'm so glad I looked for a new friend to run with and hope to keep adding people to make long runs more entertaining. Since my sister isn't marathoning this year I know eventually she won't want to do all of my runs with me (ahem, 20 miler anyone?) so I'm trying to spread the love and maybe I'll have some folks to call up when the going gets long. I also finished that smoothie when I got home. In case you missed it, here's a recap of week 4.

Now to the important stuff. I'm taking on the task of starting a walking club/group at my church and want a little feedback. What do you think would make you want to join us? (hypothetically if you're not nearby) Or any walking club? What types of things would you like to see? I've got a few ideas in mind and am really excited to get things going but I do want it to be something enjoyable and that people will keep coming back to. Share your words of wisdom!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ask for Help and Show What You Know

I'm pretty sure my first words as a baby were "I can do" which was a good indication of who I'd grow into. I'm super stubborn and hate hate asking for help. I have no idea why. Maybe I always saw it as a sign of weakness or just thought I was a superhuman genius but I was always so incredibly embarrassed to need help with anything growing up.

As I got older I learned that needing help was necessary because I didn't (and didn't want to) know everything about everything. I finally accepted that there were people who were experts and that those people weren't me. But what I also realized was that I too could become a so-called expert in something!

Now I have issues with the use of the term "expert" as nobody ever really knows everything about something but for today's purposes we'll go with it. Nobody knows everything but there are definitely people out there who know a lot about one thing and that was who I strived to be. My biggest problem was finding something I was interested enough in to know a lot about. I am someone who has double twin signs which means my sun sign is a Pisces (2 fish) and my moon sign a Gemini (twins). I won't get into all of the astrology even though I'm totally into that stuff, but I've been told these double signs contribute to my multiple personalities and highly varied interests. In a twin sign you see 2 entities, essentially 2 personalities existing together and in some cases fighting for control. To have two sets of twin signs makes you crazy. In a nutshell. I've always had a hard time picking one thing to focus on and have become pretty good or ok at a lot of things without ever specializing in anything.

When I finally got back into this running thing and added on triathlons and miles and more miles I thought maybe I'd finally found my thing. Once I started studying for my trainer certification I felt even more strongly that I was on the right path. And now as I set up my business, find my client specialty (endurance training in case you were interested), and determine what other types of certifications I might be interested in I realize that this is what it means to be an "expert". All of those people you look to for advice and words of wisdom in your life have spent a lot of time learning and researching things like a crazy person to eventually become the go-to. Before my exam I talked to a local trainer and TRX Master Instructor Ami about the fitness world and she talked to me about the importance of specializing. She's the authority in TRX training here in Louisville (according to more than just me) and runs a TRX boot camp you should go to if you're in town but to my surprise, doesn't know absolutely everything there is to know about every type of exercise. In fact she even told me she didn't like running! She may have said hate but surely I misheard that as nobody hates running. Talking with her taught me that a) asking for help can be and usually is hugely beneficial in your life and career and b) don't be afraid to share what you know.

Before deciding to take the plunge into a fitness career I had and still have lots and lots of challenges within myself to overcome, the biggest of which was believing anyone would actually want me to train them. In my eyes, I don't look like the typical personal trainer and I don't take nearly enough selfies on instagram for such a career. I've been running for years but I've never won anything, never placed in my age group (although I did get 2nd place in the Athena 39 and Under category at a tri last year if that counts) and really never had any spectacular fitness achievements. What's worse is that I never plan to really have any of those things. I'll never qualify for Boston or Kona and I'll probably never put up any incredible finishing times. What I will do and plan to do is continuing to finish at all. I have lots of dreams that I know will come true someday. Ultra dreams...even Iron dreams...but I also recognize the importance of having the endurance to be able to chase your kids around on a Saturday or walk around D.C. during a vacation.

My point is that I will never know everything and have no shame in asking others anymore. What's perhaps more important is that I also no longer have shame in sharing what I do know. Some people are naturally faster than others but everyone can be taught to endure (if they want to) and I'm going to learn all I can so that I can help those who need it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Relay Racing 101

Since I'm fresh off of a relay race I thought it would be a fun thing to talk about today! I've only relay raced twice and both times were super fun and made the race day experience a lot different than I expected. There's good and bad to relay racing so I'm going to talk a little about both and then wait by the phone for you to ask me to partner with you.

The Good:

For anyone who isn't so sure about longer distance races, relaying can be a great option. Marathons are scary but a lot more doable when you split the work. My first relay race was at the Indianapolis Marathon almost 2 years ago. I was back into running and playing with the idea of another marathon. I had a few friends who were also looking to race but not taking things too seriously. I'm not sure when I came up with the genius plan to relay this race but once I had the team on board it was relatively smooth sailing.

Running the last 7 miles of a marathon is also a great self-esteem boost! After hours of waiting around I hit mile 19 fresh as a daisy right when the full runners were ready to crack. That meant for the first time in my racing life I was actually passing people! And then, not even being passed back! I also made it my civic duty to be that butterfly of positivity as I fluttered through the course. "Keep it up!" "You're doing great!" "Hang in there!" All of those things you absolutely hate to hear when you're on the brink of collapse and a few wheels have fallen off of your race but then are really grateful for later suddenly became my responsibility to say.

Motivationally (which is probably not an actual word), being part of a team is just awesome. When you hit that "I don't wanna play anymore" point in a race you have to remember it's not just about you. Other people are depending on you to either validate their own experience in the pain cave (or "the suck" if you're a military type) or allow them to create their own race adventure. You can't quit on other people, especially if you're the one who put it all together. I suppose that's why people often race for causes.

Before we even knew we'd be relay partners someday!

Most importantly, at the end of it all you have friends who contributed directly to your finish right there with you to join in on the celebration. There's something about celebrating with people who have done it that just makes things a little better. Not to discredit the support of family and friends at all! In fact another perk about the relay team is it can let your support system off the hook from long car rides, early wake up calls and hours of standing around alone. The Colonel has never come to a relay race because I have people there with me but I think he is really happy about that misses me.

The Bad:

Waiting, Stress and Unnecessary Pressure. That's pretty much it. Regardless of which leg of the relay you are (I was the first leg of the Muncie Relay and last for the marathon), your day will consist of a lot more waiting around than you may realize. As the first leg you get to go through the starting line and have all the jitters and butterflies and have all of your friends see you off. It's awesome! Your race is over quickly and you pass the baton and breathe a sigh of relief, right? Very very wrong. You're still actively racing. You're still nervous and jittery because now you're waiting on your friends and you (ideally) care very much about them. So between your own leg, worrying about the current leg and maybe even being with someone in a subsequent leg there's a lot of emotion going on. When I ran the anchor leg of the marathon I also put a lot of pressure on myself. My teammates each had their own struggles and as the "healthy" member I felt this pressure to perform really really well. I wanted to pick people off and make up tons of time and really do a great job for them. I definitely race harder when others are involved than when I'm racing for myself and that can be a good or bad thing. As the one who has suggested relay racing and gotten the team together I also place the responsibility of their enjoyment of a race on myself. If they tell me it was terrible I feel like it's my fault so the whole time anyone is out on course I'm just quietly praying that they're having a good time. Ridiculous? Probably. But it's just how I am and I think when you're racing with others you want everyone to have a good experience.

So what are some key points to remember?

  1. Relay racing is super fun!
  2. Find teammates that share your same goal. Are you just aiming to finish and have fun? Then don't pick the semi-pro to be on your team. If you're out to break a record, don't call me.
  3. Be prepared to play the waiting game.
  4. Find a way to manage stress. As a spectator I make signs and study maps so I can go see different spots on the course and that's really helpful to pass the time, have fun and make even more new friends!
  5. Give your usual sherpas a break. They might appreciate it and maybe be even more excited about your solo endeavor!
Now I'll commence waiting for my team invitation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It

Just in case you aren't subscribed to my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram or obsessively stalking either of those for constant updates on my life, I thought I'd share that I am now officially a certified personal trainer!

For many months I've been quietly studying for my certification exam, stressing and studying some more so that I could actually give this fitness career thing a try and see if maybe just maaaybe I could help someone who was/is like me and become a credible source for advice and feedback. Unfortunately for you, that means I'm no longer free.

Just kidding!

But now I might actually be able to say things that matter and are backed by science instead of my own experience. Stay tuned because I'll be launching my official services soon but there's just a minor issue of insurance. Unless you all just agree not to sue me.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies n Cream Protein Shake

I hear protein is pretty important. I also hear that shakes and smoothies are a great way to get in some of those much needed calories without having to constantly chomp on things. I trust those sources I've heard the crazy claims from so I decided to once again try out the protein shake. With my sensitivity to food textures I've always had trouble with shakes because the powders tend to be gritty or leave a weird after taste. I'm also not a fan of powders filled with nothing but sugars and weird crap.

I came across the PlantFusion brand a year or so ago and tried the Vanilla Bean flavor a few times. I followed the directions (add powder to water, shake and drink) and just didn't like it. Since I'm now taking my nutrition a bit more seriously I decided to give things another shot and come up with something I could stand. Enter their new flavor, Cookies 'n Cream! There's no way that can go wrong, seriously. I tried it out and the flavor was great but the water still left some of that grit I don't like so I made a few changes and came up with an awesome shake I will definitely be incorporating into my life.

  • 1 scoop PlantFusion Cookies 'n Cream Protein Powder
  • 10 oz Unsweetened Original Almond Milk 
  • 2 oz Cold Water
  • 2 Ice Cubes
  • 1.5 oz of Creamy Peanut Butter
  1. Put ingredients into blender (or Ninja)
  2. Blend
  3. Pour
  4. Drink
Simple enough! This particular smoothie turned out to be 414 calories and packed in 31 grams of protein which I can totally use in my diet. A lot of people don't like the unsweetened almond milk so feel free to use the chocolate or vanilla versions, just keep in mind that will add calories. I also like my shakes really cold so I added in ice just to make it colder, I don't think they're mandatory.

Do you have any plant based protein shake recipes you like? I could really really use some!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Taking a Dive

Good Morning!

I've been making a big effort to step out of my comfort zone more often lately (see swimming 1.2 miles in open water) and I have to say it just about always turns out well.

Yesterday in a continued effort I headed out to meet a friend from the tri club who puts together weekly trail runs. I've never been much of a trail runner but I do it here and there and always have a good time. I was really nervous since the woman who puts it together is a big time trail runner and I knew her friends were the same way so I recruited my sister to come with so I'd at least have someone to bring up the rear with. Everyone was really nice which I expected although for some reason always doubt and we headed out as a group. The 2 guys shot out of a canon and we didn't see them again until the end but the other 2 ladies (and dog!) hung with us and said they'd go as slow as we needed. Most of the trail was single track so we ran single file with the 2 vets getting some distance between us but always stopping at the tops of climbs or if the trail split and calling out to us which way to go. It was a 5 mile point to point route and the boys would wait on the other side to drive us back to our cars. I was having a really good time and running faster than I ever have on trails. I guess I got a little cocky because right after mile 4 I took my first tumble!

I'm a pretty sure-footed person so I really don't trip or fall very often. Even as a kid I managed to stay upright pretty well so falling is always a little bizarre. Not sure what I tripped over but I fell kind of in slow motion and actually remember thinking "Don't fall on a joint!" I don't think I screamed or anything (or my sister is just a jerk) because she kept running for a bit before she realized I was down. I got myself back up and wasn't feeling too much pain and didn't see any blood so we soldiered on. I walked for a little while just to make sure I was ok and then went back to running. I made impact on the outside of my knee and scraped a sizable section underneath it but really nothing serious. We came out of the trail and everyone was waiting for us just like they said. One of the guys immediately said "Oh no! Looks like someone took a spill!" The woman who organizes the run rushed over to me to make sure I was ok and that falling didn't ruin my experience. It was actually pretty funny, especially since it didn't hurt too much and also because my sister is the one who usually falls so I'd spent a lot of the run telling her to watch out and be careful. I had a lot of fun out there and will definitely be going out again. It was fun to switch up the monotony of road running and train some new muscles. I think it'll be a nice strategy to help keep me injury free through this training cycle...unless I keep falling down.

For anyone local who is thinking about giving trail running a try, come on out! I averaged a 15 min/mile over the 5 miles and walked the rocky/rough spots (except for the time I fell) so don't think you have to be super fast to come with us. Plus the other runners and mountain bikers on the trails are super nice and fun and I actually find them to be a little more pleasant than their road counterparts. We meet at Seneca Park near the bathrooms at 5:30 on Thursday nights. Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It Takes a Village

I have to start things off with a confession.

I ate a  second lunch yesterday and I'm not even sorry.

I love training. I love needing ridiculous amounts of endurance activity that require copious amounts of glycogen storage just to stay sane. I unfortunately don't love replenishing those stores which is why I'm now the proud client of a registered dietitian!

With that in mind, it occurred to me that I may finally have the proper team in place to make a few really BIG fitness related dreams into realistic goals that can actually be accomplished. I know a lot of people have crazy awesome goals (fitness related or not) but there are often a series of perceived barriers that get in the way.

Speaking from a fitness perspective (since that's how we roll around here) no man is an island. If you have big goals, you're going to need help. The number one most important part of making a dream come true is to assess the barriers and put a full team together to tackle those issues one by one.

Everybody has their own set of issues but for me, the biggest one is nutrition. It's no secret that I'm an anomaly who doesn't like to eat. But especially after the femur break heard around the world I learned that there's no way I can reach for my more extreme, more intense and more time consuming fitness goals without getting things figured out. I'm also slightly injury prone and the more I learn the more I realize how preventable so many injuries are if you just take the time to do things right. My broken leg last year lead to a janky hip combined with pre-existing plantar fasciitis. Taking care of your health is more than just working out, it's taking care of everything. So now, I present to you, my team.

For The Mind:
  • The wonderful folks at Shelby Counseling Associates. Yes, I have a therapist and she is wonderful. I've probably mentioned before that I go back and forth with depression and self esteem issues so instead of battling alone I called in the pros and am doing a lot better from my weekly sessions.
  • Friends. I don't have a lot of them (by choice) but the ones I have are solid and listen to my never ending stories.
  • The Colonel. He keeps me as sane as he can and is constantly supporting every new venture regardless of how outlandish or time consuming it may be.
For the Body:
These people are in no way my sponsors, they're just businesses and groups who are helping me along and I highly recommend everyone have a team around them too. Whatever type of goal you have, you're going to need a support system so write down the barriers and get to work! We're not getting any younger!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Muncie Relay Race Report

Let's Tarentino this report. I finished the swim! Our cyclist finished the ride! Our runner finished the run! We finished the race (and in less than 7 hours!) So how did it go? Let's go back...and I'll warn you, it's a long one. Much like every race report.

I bought new goggles with better tint since everyone in the Muncie Facebook group who had raced before said if the sun was out it would be blinding after the second turn. I drove to the pool and did a quick 20 minutes to make sure they fit and shake out a little energy. Thursday night I got everything packed up since we were leaving Friday afternoon after my much needed massage. As usual I had a little help getting things together. But he's generally more into directing since he doesn't have thumbs. 

Friday afternoon my sister and I hit the road for the 3 hour drive. We opted against using the highway the whole way since construction is crazy and unpredictable. The winding country roads kept things interesting but we were still stir crazy after hour 2. We finally made it without incident and met up with our cyclist Jennifer and her husband.

It was so weird to be at my first Ironman branded event as an athlete instead of volunteer! We got those fancy athlete only wristbands we were to keep on until the end of the race and our swag then caught the middle of the athlete briefing and stuck around until the end. The water was likely to be wetsuit legal since it was around 75 degrees but since I have no wetsuit and have never worn one I was just hoping 75 was as warm as I thought it was. After the meeting we walked down to the beach to check things out. My teammates wanted nothing to do with the water so I ventured in alone. I was really glad to take some steps in and not feel cold at all. It was late in the day and the sun was shining so I assumed it would be a little cooler in the morning but I still felt fine about not having a suit. And surprisingly, I didn't think the course looked all that long. Sure it was far but it just didn't seem as daunting as I was expecting. Maybe my "trust the training" mantra was actually working!

I rinsed off my feet (hats off to the facilities! They were awesome!) and we walked up to check out Jennifer's setup in transition. It wasn't clear if we'd be handing off near her bike or somewhere else so I wanted an idea of where she would be just in case. Her bike is fancy as hell so I felt like a baller standing next to it like it was mine. Remind me to buy a Shiv...

One last shot before we parted ways for the night!

My sister and I stayed at a hotel in Anderson which was about 25-30 minutes from Muncie but didn't feel that far at all. We packed my big cooler full of food and snacks and made our usual pre-race meals and just hung around for the night. I attempted to sleep around 8 since we were getting up at 4 and managed to sleep soundly from 9-12 and then commenced waking up every half hour to make sure I didn't miss the alarm. Despite that I got up pretty well rested and feeling good. My sister booked our room through Sunday so we didn't have to pack everything up to leave that morning and could come back to shower and nap before driving home. Brilliant idea! The drive to the race was uneventful and we quickly fell into line with all the other cars heading that same way. Parking was smooth in a big flat field and only about a quarter mile from transition.

The water temp was 74.5 which mean wetsuit legal. People were audibly cheering about it which made me a little nervous. I definitely wanted to get a warm up in so if it was cold I'd know what to expect. We found Jennifer pretty easily and got a quick picture with some tri club friends. It was probably one of the biggest races I've done so the energy was insane. So much excitement made me really pumped to just get swimming. Unfortunately the relays started in the very last wave an hour after the actual race start. We found some friends from church and decided to stick with them until it was time to go. I headed down to the beach soon after they opened it up for warm ups. Even though I had an hour to kill I knew it would go quickly. The water temperature didn't feel much different from the day before so I was relieved. There was even a guy down there in a full wetsuit who decided not to use it after warming up. It wasn't an organized swim so people were going in all directions. I got bumped a few times and my foot tickled and didn't freak out so I figured I was ready. I also had no nerves about actually swimming! I think I've finally kicked that open water fear!

The waves went off every 5 minutes so we watched the pro wave and several more and then I went to line up around 7:45. I was genuinely excited. Nervous too but not intimidated which was my ultimate goal. The swim was 1.2 miles...around 2000 meters. After months of swimming 7500 meters a week including days of 2500s, 2000 seemed reasonable. I'd followed my plan almost religiously and for once truly trusted the training. I knew I could do the distance, my worry was about the time cutoff.

The time limits for the course start when the final swim wave goes off, aka my wave. That meant we were racing the clock as much as other teams (although we should have named ourselves Team Survival, we were just happy to be there!) The swim cutoff was 1:10. And I knew I was going to be close. My goals for the swim were multifaceted because I like to make my goals in layers. The first goal was to finish the distance. Even if I got out and it was 1:12 and they told me I was too slow, I wanted to prove to myself that I could swim 1.2 miles in open water. Second, I wanted to actually make the time cutoff and not be pulled from the water. After those two I got a little more specific, ideally I wanted to be in the 50-60 minute range. On a great pool day my mile is 42 minutes, on a bad day, more like 46 so I thought 50-60 minutes for 1.2 was reasonable. And then I had smaller strategies like make sure to breath bilaterally as often as possible, catch a draft, focus on alternating strong pulls and strong kicks (I'm still not a good enough swimmer to do both simultaneously without being spent).

We started in the water up to about our thighs and with only 29 relay teams it was a nice small wave. I lined up on the outside like I always do and chatted with everyone while we waited for our 5 minutes. One of the guys was in my tri club so it was nice to meet him in person instead of just through the Facebook group and a couple of the women were arguing over who would be last. They both had on wetsuits so I told them not to worry, I'd take care of last place for them and we laughed. I waved to my teammates, heard the 45 second warning and then we were off!

Everyone went out fast and I knew early on I wasn't going to be able to hang on. I saw a few people coming back towards us to the shore who I guess were quitting for whatever reason. I felt bad for them, especially as age groupers because I knew they'd put in so much work to even get there. I also know the pain of having a DNF.

There was some unexpected chop in the water that I hadn't noticed warming up. I almost crashed into someone at one point since visibility was so poor I couldn't see his feet until they were right in front of me. He wasn't kicking so I didn't have any bubbles to warn me he was there. I swam around him and he quickly caught me again before stopping for another breather. He was hugging the buoy line pretty closely which I don't do so I don't remember really seeing him again. I had a personal kayaker and I assumed that meant I was the last person and he didn't have anyone else to look out for. Every now and then I'd look at him to make sure he wasn't trying to get my attention and pull me out for being too slow but most of the time he was just looking around and seemingly enjoying a morning on the water. The buoys going out were numbered which was really nice and helped me turn it into a pool workout. The course was about 900 out, 250 across and 850 back to shore. My warmups on long days have been 800 meters so I took the first 800 slow-ish (although I don't actually have different swimming speeds). My plan was to pull harder at the turn, then switch to a hard kick at the second turn towards home for 250 then just go balls out until the end.

Just before I hit the turn, I was attacked by lake plants that were all slimy and tangled me up. Something wrapped around my leg and bits floated past my face and got between my fingers. I had to breathe on every stroke because I was silently panicking but racing the clock reminded me I didn't have time to flip out so I just kept swimming. After that I got an overwhelming whiff of diesel fuel from the boats. I guess they leave the engines running as they idle but I could smell and taste diesel the whole rest of the way.

I made the turn and hit a whole new set of issues. For one, the water was a lot colder though still not too cold. It was also really choppy. I got hit with water 3 breath attempts in a row and finally came up vertically just to get one good one. That got my kayakers attention, but only for a second. There also seemed to be some kind of current that was not working with me. We weren't in a river and I thought that was the only body of water with currents besides the ocean but whatever the case I was being tossed all over and had trouble sighting and keeping a line. Luckily that was a short leg and I was quickly turning towards home but I abandoned my pull/kick plan and just swam as best I could.

After the final turn the chop seemed to pick up more and I was just hanging on. I wasn't burned out but I was getting tired of swimming and bouncing around. I was also a little nauseous which made things tougher. I kept seeing heads pop up in front of me that didn't seem to be the same color as my cap but wasn't sure. It did make me feel good to even be in sight of people though. In my head I just knew I was the slowest swimmer there and that honestly didn't bother me. I started counting buoys again but kept forgetting what number I was on and how many there were so I tried to estimate how long it felt like it'd been. I didn't feel like it had been an hour but still picked up my speed as much as I could just in case. I eyed my kayaker every time I came up to sight and his expression hadn't changed.

About 200 meters or so out from the finish I could hear the crowd and got really excited. At that point I knew without a doubt that I could do it, but I didn't know about my time and had no interest in stopping to check my watch. I looked up for my kayaker again and saw that he'd stopped and was letting me go, a good sign I was almost finished. Another kayak came towards me and I saw her talking. My heart broke right then because I just knew she was coming to get me. I came up for air and heard that she was just cheering for me! I felt so unbelievably happy that I was really going to do it, make the time cutoff and give my teammates a chance to do their legs as well! The kayakers all started hitting the sides of their boats with their paddles as a way of clapping and all of a sudden I felt my fingers scrape the sand.

I seriously could not believe I'd done it! I'm not a pretty swimmer so I stole a second to wipe my nose and fix my shorts before standing up. I saw my sister jumping up and down for me and there were surprisingly still spectators on the beach. I staggered up the beach and attempted a jog up to transition. Since I was only swimming I neglected to wear a sports bra and tri top plus my heart rate spiked as soon as I was vertical so I quickly turned jogging into a bit of a trot. Did I mention it was also uphill? I came over the first, steeper hill and could see Jennifer so I held my ladies down and jogged towards her. They had the relay exchange in a small pen right beside transition so I didn't have to run all the way to her bike.

She took the chip and I think I gave her a high five or something and said "Go get 'em" but honestly I can't really remember what I was saying or doing. My sister came out of nowhere and gave me a huge hug which is very uncharacteristic of her. I was (and still am) beside myself and can't believe I actually did it.

The facilities were great and they had free showers so I got nice and clean then we waited around for Jennifer to come back. There wasn't really a good place for us to walk to and see her on the course so we had to wait around near transition. We got to watch the pros come through and then the age groupers and it was fun to cheer on all of the other Landsharks and just everyone in general. Jennifer came in after about 3.5 hours which was amazing! She handed off to Alexis who took off out to the run course.

Jennifer went to shower off and I headed over to the athlete food tent near the finish. I was shocked to see veggie burgers so naturally I had to have one. I didn't have much of an appetite all day so I only ate about half of it, a few bites of a cookie and a small potato then headed to the finish line area. It was really fun to see everyone finishing and since it had been a few hours since I'd swam I got really excited again about the idea of doing the whole 70.3 myself one day. Jennifer and her husband (who took so many great pics and was an amazing sherpa to all of us!) met up with me and we found some tri club people to chat with while we waited for Alexis. A little rain came through and I figured she was probably appreciating it. Jennifer's husband perched up high on a jungle gym with some kids to get a first view of Alexis through the finisher chute.

I learned a lot from this race and it turns out I wasn't actually the last swimmer. I finished in 1:03 officially and was the last from the relay wave but there were a few age groupers still out there who I passed. I also checked some of the times and there were quite a few people who swam over 1:03 and even over 1:10. Luckily they had that buffer from being in an earlier wave.

I'm so proud of myself for doing something I've never done before and honestly before last year never imagined doing and incredibly proud of my teammates who each had their own struggles on their portions and still soldiered on. It was an honor to be out there with them and I hope we can do it again! Unless of course we decide to race the whole thing solo ;)

Friday, July 11, 2014

And Then it Was Almost Race Day...

Can somebody please explain to me how it's July 11th?

If I feel this crazy before a half iron relay it's probably for the best that I wimped out of Raleigh! I've been cruising along all week feeling pretty ok, even this morning I was alright. And then I got on the internet.

It's that typical pre-race panic that accompanies every race but this one is on roids. Probably because this is something I've never done before. So it's like the first time all over again, except I think I'd forgotten what it felt like.

But then I find a calm when I think back to my very first open water swim. I can now look back on it with a smile and a sense of pride unique to that experience and swimming in general. I posted yesterday on my various social media accounts about how far I've come as a swimmer. I still have trouble typing that without quotes. When I first tried this swimming for fitness thing out I couldn't make it 25 meters. I couldn't tread water worth a damn so the thought of not being able to touch the ground was paralyzing (never good when you're surrounded by water). I was over 20 pounds heavier than I am today and ripped my first bathing suit because it turns out it fit just a bit too closely. I didn't have confidence. I wouldn't look anyone at the pool in the face. I was always completely covered by a towel unless I was submerged. I bought goggles from WalMart because I was afraid of being judged in a store for "real swimmers".

I was also very brave.

Despite all of those things I continued on. I still went to the pool crazy early in the morning. I still showed up to the swim and actually completed it. And tomorrow won't be much different. I've put in the work, I've probably skipped a workout I shouldn't have, I'll have all of those nerves and butterflies and will probably end up swimming a mile and a half by taking the widest turns possible to avoid contact (which will still happen). And then I'll finish. Before I know it my fingers will scrape the sand, I'll stand up and jelly-legged run up the beach (Baywatch style) into transition and pass off my chip to our wonderful cyclist.

And then I'll want more.

Even when you "know" how things will go there's still always a jitter or two. And if there weren't why would you bother doing it?

That Sunscreen song said "Do one thing everyday that scares you."

Looks like I've already gotten that squared away for tomorrow.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Taper Crazies

Good Morning!

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July weekend! I'm not a huge fan of holidays in general, being a creature of habit and schedules and all but 4th of July is particularly troublesome for me because I also don't like staying up late or loud noises.

I'm beyond old lady status.

But on the bright side the incessant noise scored me some extra cuddles with my pup who after a full day of just being angry and barking at the noise gave in to her fear.

I tried to carry on as normal as possible all weekend but I've got big things happening this July and it's making me totally CRAZY. Saturday is the Ironman Muncie relay and if you recall, I was dumb enough to claim the swimmer spot. I've raced a lot so it's not like I'm not used to training, tapering, carbing, butterflies and being generally insane but this is different. All of the races I've done have been on land or at least had a land component but this swim only thing is just completely new territory.

During a tri I'm always working with the exertion/conservation ratio and never quite going all out because there's always more to do. Endurance running is the same way, slow and steady right? Well this is different. I've only doing one other relay and I was the anchor leg and didn't feel as much pressure as I do now. There are strict time limits on this race and starting in the last wave and truly only having 70 minutes to get through the course scares the poo out of me! I have to make that time cutoff and have a good swim to even give my relay teammates a chance to get on the course.

Right now I'm swimming the 2000 ish meters in around 56 minutes consistently. On a good day I'm closer to 52, on a bad day, closer to 60 which still gives me a slight buffer. However, I like to play the worst case scenario game which would be me panicking, flapping around and freaking out unnecessarily and adding 20 minutes onto my already sub par time. Best case scenario, I catch someone's draft, don't freak out and cruise in close to 50 minutes.

  From our church handout this week

Taper crazies give you a lot of time so in addition to panicking for no reason over a race I can't really control, I also built a desk and am now joining you from my new workstation! I love love love it! My new desk isn't bulky like the old one and it's set in my "dining room" so I'm not completely disconnected from the rest of the house and my dog doesn't stand at the gate crying because I'm in a room she's not allowed in (she'll eat all the cat food). I also moved our desktop computer out to the new desk so the laptop can stay put in the living room. Before I could build and set up the new desk I of course had to clean my house. Then continue my studies, take more practice tests and outline what exactly I need to study before test day.

Today I get to swim again (hooray!) and have a little run scheduled for that silly marathon. I may take it super easy on the runs this week to actually head into a race fresh and rested (first time for everything). I really am looking forward to race day though. As long as I don't screw it up for everyone it should be really really fun and afterwards my sister and I are heading further into Indiana to watch a friend finish up the 160 mile RAIN ride across the state! Talk about motivation.

I have a lot of fun things coming up and I'm so excited about them even if it makes me a little crazy. Soon enough I'll be back on heavy mileage, missing having a race in less than a week and wishing for the energy that comes from the taper crazies!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How Do You Rebound?

As a follow up to my last post, I still have no idea what that random crazy pain was. I'm feeling pretty much back to normal and had a follow up with my doctor. Waiting for more test results and "hoping" it was maybe just a one time freak incident.

So in the meantime, we'll return to regular programming.

I have had a series of crappy runs to start off this training cycle. So far, I haven't gotten terribly discouraged but I know that I can only continue talking myself off the ledge for so long before I'll need to start really seeing better days.

There are a couple of reasons I suspect my runs have been less than stellar. First, I haven't been running. If you follow me on dailymile you'll notice I've been working out a lot but not doing any sessions dedicated to just running. Before training I was running maybe twice per week as part of my Orangetheory Fitness circuit workout which would average maybe 5 or so miles per week, swimming 3-4 days per week, at least a mile at a time and incorporating strength training at least twice per week. So as you can see, I probably wasn't in peak running shape to start this cycle and because of that I really can't be angry that I'm not seeing more impressive runs.

The classes at Orangetheory use treadmills and are interval workouts whether speed, hills or both and I've really been noticing improvement on the treadmill in both areas. The problem is that when I see inside on the treadmill I'm running a 9:13 pace, I want to go outside and run 9:13s for 5 miles. In true interval fashion, my 9:13 pace is only held for 90 seconds - 3 minutes tops. Why I think that will translate into miles and miles of speedy turnover is beyond me. I should also mention that those wonderful treadmills are inside. If you've been living anywhere near the Ohio River Valley you may have noticed it's been miserably, unbearably hot aside from yesterday and today. I do not heat acclimate well. In fact, I almost never do at all. I hate summer. I love cold. Blah, blah. So there's yet another reason why I shouldn't have been surprised by my less than stellar 100 degree heat index runs.

Still, I think there's always that part of you that wants instant gratification. I've been exercising regularly and my cardio fitness has really gotten quite strong. But all cardio is not created equal and in the back of my stubborn brain I think I know that. The only way to get better at running is to run. So that's what I'll do.

But what I want to know from you all is how do you bounce back? When you've had a rough workout or even rough day...maybe even a series of them, how do you put on your big girl panties (or big boy...boxers? Idk...) and forge on? I think we all handle things our own way but it never hurts to have a little help!

Here's the video of my latest disaster run. If you'd like to see more you're welcome to head over to my brand new YouTube channel! Yep, I've just learned how to use YouTube. Please judge accordingly.