Monday, November 30, 2009

Slow and Steady

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." Confucius

Lately, that seems to be my theme. I'm getting it done, but it's slow.

Thanksgiving morning I went out for a run. I didn't really care how long it took or how far I went. I just wanted to get in a run that morning so I wouldn't feel so guilty about what I ate later in the day. When I headed out for my run it was in the mid 50s and the sun was starting to pop out. It was a beautiful morning and I was out to enjoy it.

Friday ended up being a travel day back home and a "get things done" day. We got haircuts, put up the outside Christmas lights along with some inside decorations, and had Madison's birthday party which included a trip to the mall on Black Friday. It actually wasn't too bad.

Saturday morning I headed out for a bike ride with one of my good TNT buddies. We rode a lot together last season and always ride well together. We headed "out" on our out-and-back route and I thought I was doing good. I haven't ridden outside in a couple of months and here we were going 18-22mph and it felt easy. A few hills started to wear me out, so around 17 miles we turned to come back. And WHAM! The wind hit us in the face. Our speed dropped and the hills got harder for me. I knew there was a reason I picked Florida for my first Ironman race.

Sunday was church and more of Christmas decorating. I told the family that if it didn't get done on Sunday, it wasn't getting done. Then in the evening, a cold front (for us anyway) blew through.

Todays temps were in the high 40s and low 50s. When I got home I decided to run on the treadmill. My body needs some adjusting to the lower temps. Last week I was running in the mid 70s in shorts and a tank. I just wasn't ready to head out in 50 degree weather today. I know, call me a wimp. So I hopped on the treadmill instead. And I always run slower on the treadmill. I can average 9:30/mile outside and usually end up a little over 11:00/mile on the treadmill. It's frustrating. But, I'm getting it done.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mexican Food Before Swimming is Not a Good Idea

"You eat a hamburger, you run like a hamburger." Steve Riddick

So, if you eat Mexican food, do you swim like Mexican food? Because that's what I did tonight.

Because of the holidays and because the pool will be closed Thursday and Friday, I decided that I would swim tonight. But I wanted to wait until my daughter got home from her orthodontist appointment and make sure we didn't have anything else planned for the evening.

Well, Madison's birthday is tomorrow (Wednesday) and the tradition in our house is for the birthday person to pick where they want to go eat dinner. Since we won't be able to go out to eat tomorrow night, she decided she wanted her birthday dinner tonight. At our local Mexican food restaurant. So, I decided to delay my swim, but not give it up.

After eating dinner I headed to the pool. To be honest, I don't think I swam any slower tonight than I normally do, but I definitely felt full. And I felt a little sluggish even if my time didn't really reflect it. In the end, I'm still glad I went to the pool and got the swim done. At least maybe I worked off some of that food I ate tonight.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back in the Pool

"The water is your don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move." Alexandr Popov

After a restful week of basically either walking the dog, yoga, or nothing, it was time to get back to some real working out. I was suppose to go for a bike ride with some of my fellow Team in Training cyclists today, but the weather did not cooperate. So, I changed plans and headed for the pool instead.

Swimming is the least favorite of the three disciplines for me. I don't like to be cold and always am when I first get in the water, and it just involves so much more than the other two disciplines. I can't swim at my house, so it's a pain to drive to the gym. And in the past when I've done my swimming, I've just swam 2,000 meters and gone home. But I have realized that, just like in running or cycling, to swim faster, you have to swim more and you have to do drills and intervals.

Today when I swam, I swam a 300 meter warmup. Then I did drills for 700 meters. Then I did the fun stuff: 10 x 50m with 15s rest in between. I surprised myself and swam every one of those 50m between :55 and 1:00. Pretty consistent and pretty fast for me. Then I did a 500m continuous swim. Overall, my average pace was just over 2:00 per 100 meter. I use to be around 2:30, so I am seeing some improvement.

I know between now and next November I need to hit the pool at least twice a week. Later in my Ironman training plan, I'll be hitting the pool three times a week. And I also know I need to swim longer. I've never really swam longer than 2,000 meters at a time because the longest swim I've done in a race was the 1.2 miles of a Half Ironman. I know that I will be swimming around 4,000 meters or more in some of my training swims. I really do need to become friends with the water.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recovery Week

"How important is rest in the training equation? More important than most runners know." Paul Goss

After my first marathon, I was told to take a day off for every mile I had just run. In other words, take 26 days off. I took a week off and did my first triathlon exactly one week later. Then for the rest of the summer, I just did what I wanted when I felt like it. No training plan and no stress about getting a workout in. I'm not sure I could do that again, but I do take a rest break after my least for a little bit.

Monday when I got home from work, I took my dog Roscoe on a walk. We use to be in the habit of walking every day and then my training increased and the temps got hotter and suddenly we weren't walking anymore. We had a great time yesterday.

And then Monday night I went for a massage. I'm on a list at a massage school and they had called Saturday afternoon to see if I could come in. What better way to recover after a marathon than to get a massage. Today was my typical Tuesday yoga class.

I probably won't do much the rest of the week - just something light each day. Then I'll get back to working out on a regular basis, but doing what I feel like doing and nothing too intense. I've already got some races scheduled for the first of the year, so I need to keep the base I have, but I also don't want to over do it before the "official" Ironman training kicks in sometime in April.

My body will appreciate the rest.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Marathon

"Running for someone else makes me less willing to give up or give in, more able to withstand the pain and the fatigue knowing that someone else is drawing power from my effort. I look at it as an opportunity to carry a portion of another person's burden, to cover some ground on their behalf, to try to lighten the load by shouldering some of it on our own backs. That's endurance." Kristen Armstrong

As a Team in Training participant, this pretty much sums up why we do what we do. And this year, for this marathon, it meant more than ever. One of our participants' personal honored hero passed away yesterday. This race was very sprecial to our team this year.

Heading into this marathon, I was hoping to set a PR. My record for the marathon distance so far is 4:44. I was hoping to get into the 4:30s somewhere. But when we woke up this morning to temps in the mid 60s and high humidity, I was a little reserved. I don't do well in heat and humidity, but thought I'd give it a go anyway. My plan was to run with one of our coaches and see what we could do. Shorts and a singlet was the outfit.

We figured we would try to maintain around a 10:30 pace, so when we took off and hit 10:13 at mile one we figured we were ok. We did pretty well the first few miles, despite the fact that by mile 2 I was sweating already.

Mile 1: 10:13
Mile 2: 10:22
Mile 3: 10:11
Mile 4: 10:30
Mile 5: got missed and combined with mile 6
Mile 6: 20:55
Mile 7: 10:47
Mile 8: 10:12
Mile 10: 10:25
Mile 11: 10:43
Mile 12: 10:23

At this point my coach's calf muscle was starting to cramp some, so he stopped and stretched a little and we started walking more through the aid stations.

Mile 13: 11:05
Mile 14: 11:24
Mile 15: 10:28
Mile 16: 10:58

At this point coach said he was going to have to walk more and sent me on my way. This was also the point where you head out to a kind of lonely out and back section of the course.

Mile 17: 10:41
Mile 18: 10:51
Mile 19: 11:14
Mile 20: 11:21

The sun started coming out and it started getting really hot.

Mile 21: 12:03
Mile 22: 13:25
Mile 23: 12:37
Mile 24: 13:31
Mile 25: 12:51
Mile 26: 12:39
last .2: 2:27

Garmin Time: 4:53:02. I'll post official time when I see it.

The course wasn't a bad course and was fairly flat. I think if the temps had been 20degrees cooler, I could have gotten my PR today, but it wasn't meant to be. I saw my family several times on the course and saw several TNT alumni as well, which helped. And coming into the finishing chute was nice because some of our team who did the half were done and were along the finish line cheering. My family was also there as well.

After the race, I headed back to the hotel room for a quick shower and then headed home with the two other girls I came with. I've got my lovely hot pink compression socks on and hope that when I wake up in the morning I'll be able to walk fairly well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Busy Day

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." Frank Shorter

Well, hopefully my mind has forgotten my last marathon since I'll be trying another tomorrow. But first I have to get through today.

This morning my son has a People to People meeting. He was nominated to be a student ambassador to Australia this summer and today is their first meeting. Then we leave early and head toward San Antonio for his soccer game. Two of my Team in Training buddies are coming to the game and from there, the three of us will continue on to San Antonio.

Once we get to San Antonio, we'll check into the hotel and then head to the expo to check in and get our bibs. From there we will head to the TNT pasta party, have our team meeting and then go back to the room to get ready for Sunday morning's race.

It should be a very busy day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Small Efforts Contribute

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." Robert Collier

As I prepare for the marathon on Sunday, I'm backing down on mileage. Today was only a 3 mile run. Most of the time, when I only run 3 miles, I feel like a slacker. But in the grand scheme of things, I know that even that 3 mile run contributes to the success of the longer runs. It's not always about the long run, but about getting out day in and day out and getting the runs in. Hopefully my small efforts will pay off on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"Spend at least some of your training time, and other parts of your day, concentrating on what you are doing in training and visualizing your success." Grete Waitz

I believe visualization is an important part of training. While I was in Florida, I had my picture taken under the Ironman fixture that eventually graced the finish line. While I was at the finish line catching, I visualized myself coming down the chute and crossing the finish line. And I will continue to do so throughout the year.

One thing that helps me focus and visualize is the fact that I go to yoga. I have been for the past 6 or 7 years, once a week (as long as the instructor holds class). I truly believe yoga has been a great asset to my training - in helping to clear my head, in helping with focus, and in helping with my flexibility.

With that, I'm off to yoga and will visualize me finishing the race during meditation.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Training

"It's not what you did yesterday, but what you will do today that will make a difference tomorrow."

Thank goodness yesterday doesn't count. Or the few days before that. Other than the swim in the ocean on Friday morning, I haven't worked out since Tuesday and that's too long for me. So today I went out and ran 4 miles. After all, I have a marathon to run this weekend.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Start of A Journey

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

And my dream of becoming an Ironman is being pursued. I stood in line this morning with the other volunteers and registered for Ironman Florida 2010.

In June of 2005, I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles of running). Exactly one week later, I completed my first sprint triathlon (500m swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run). At that point, something inside me was born. I enjoyed the challenge of endurance racing and knew there would be more marathons and triathlons in my future. What I didn’t know at that point was how far I would take it.

In the spring of 2006, I did my first Olympic distance tri (.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike and 6.2 mile run). I wondered if I could do a longer one. The next step was a half ironman (otherwise known as 70.3). It involves a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. I did my first half ironman in the fall of 2007. At that point I began to question whether I could accomplish the “big one” – a full Ironman distance. An Ironman triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run – all in one day with a time limit of 17 hours.

I began reading the beginnertriathlete forum and read any thread I could that had to do with Ironman. I read lots of race reports, and I began to think that maybe I could do it. I did my second half Ironman in the fall of 2008 and knocked my time down. The dream of a full Ironman was growing.

I researched the different Ironman races and decided if I did one, I would do Ironman Florida. I had also read that it’s best to go to the Ironman race the year before to volunteer and experience Ironman and then get in line the day after to sign up for the following year. So, this is how I came to my decision to volunteer at Ironman Florida for 2009 and sign up for 2010.

Ironman Florida from a Volunteer Standpoint

On Thursday afternoon I caught a flight to Florida. I landed in Pensacola, hooked up with another BTer and made the drive to Panama City Beach, Florida. Got to the condo and headed for bed. Friday morning I was up early and heading down to the Gatorade swim. Several of us BTers met to do a practice swim in the ocean. And I am glad I did. In Florida, the 2.4 mile swim consists of 2 loops of 1.2 miles. No problem, right? So I head out and felt great at first. The salt water and wetsuit had me floating on top of the water. I wasn’t worried about time, so I just enjoyed the swim. My son had joked about there being sharks in the ocean. I didn’t see any sharks, but what I saw is something I hadn’t thought about – jellyfish. Luckily most of them close the surface were small and I did not get stung. A few things I learned from the swim:

1. The water isn’t as cold as I thought, but the wetsuit is good.
2. Salt water doesn’t taste so good and the taste stays in your mouth most of the day
3. If you tend to get seasick, an ocean swim is not for you (at times my body felt like it was in a washing machine)
4. 1.2 miles in the ocean feels like a lot further than 1.2 miles in the lake
5. It’s hard to spot the buoys when the waves get in the way
6. It’s nice when your feet hit the beach again

And I have to do two loops? I’ve got a lot of work to do.

After cleaning up from the swim, a couple of us headed out to drive the bike course. I had heard it was flat, but wanted to see for myself. And for the most part, it IS flat. Especially compared to what I’m use to riding on. But, there is one overpass that creates a fairly steep hill early on that is also toward the very end of the course. Will need to save some legs for that. And one of the long stretches has quite a few rollers and false flats. But, as far as Ironman bike courses go, it’s the flattest there is.

After that, it was off to the volunteer meeting and then to a pizza joint for a dinner with a few other BTers. It was nice to meet them, especially since most of them will be signing up for next year as well.

Ironman Florida 2009 Race Day Observations

Race day morning I got up early. I wanted to be at the swim start to see everyone hit the water. And wow!!!! What an experience that is. The water at the shore is quite shallow, so there is a lot of “walking into the water” at the first part of the swim. And in most races, everyone is going as fast as they can. Not here. In fact, some were purposefully holding back so they wouldn’t get caught up in the washing machine effect of waves and 2400 swimmers. The pros finished their first lap in just under 30 minutes. Simply amazing.

As the lead pro got close to finishing his second lap, I moved over to the swim exit. It was fun watching them come out of the water and even more fun to watch the wet suit strippers do their job. I stayed here for a bit before heading up to watch the transition area. From where I was standing, I could see the swimmers head into T1 and then saw them again as they headed out to get their bikes. I saw a couple of BT racers and cheered for them. I also stayed until the last swimmer came out of the water. Some of the last ones looked pretty beat up from the rough water.

It was interesting to watch the people though. All shapes and sizes of bodies, and all ages, too. A couple of athletes had prosthetic legs. It was also interesting to see what people were wearing. I was taking notes for next year. I definitely think arm warmers will be in my T1 bag. And I may have to get a bright colored outfit so my spectators can find me easier.

From there, it was back to the room for some food and rest before heading back out in the afternoon to watch the cyclists come in off the bikes.

About 3:00 we went out right in front of the condo to watch the cyclists come in. Our condo was less than half a mile from the finish, so when we saw the cyclists, they were pretty much done with that part of the race. I saw a couple of BTers and cheered them on. Some cyclists were taking their feet out of their shoes already, but most were just stretching things out and getting ready for the run.

After a quick bite to eat, I headed down to the finish line. I stood at the run turnaround and run finish area for a while. Most runners looked strong. Only a few were walking. Then just a little before 5pm, I headed over to check in for my volunteer duty as a finish line catcher. I got my shirt and wristband (which I needed this morning to get in the volunteer line to sign up), put some gloves on and went to work.

As each runner came across the finish line, a catcher would walk to the athlete and ask them if they were ok. Most were, but a few nearly collapsed and had to really be caught. Then we would walk them through the chute to get their mylar blanket, medal, finisher shirt and hat, and have their chip removed from their leg. If they were still ok at this point, we let them go on their own. If not, we walked them to the medical tent or massage tent or wherever they needed us to walk with them.

I did have to “catch” a couple of people and I did have to take a couple to medical. One guy just wanted an IV so he wouldn’t be so bad off today. I also caught an 18 year old who finished his first Ironman (and probably in less time than I will), a guy who crashed on his bike at mile 56 but still completed the race, a guy who said this was his first triathlon (not just first Ironman, but first triathlon), and a guy from beginnertriathlete. Let me just say that if you ever “catch” at the finish line, make sure to wear rubbers gloves and a long sleeve shirt. Trust me on that one. After 140.6 miles, some people are pretty darn sweaty.

I was only signed up to catch from 6-9, but ended up staying until 10:30 because at times there didn’t seem to be enough catchers. From there I headed to the bleachers (so I could at least sit for a bit) and watched the finishers come in until the clock hit 17 hours at midnight. The last official finisher came in with about 35 seconds left on the clock. What an amazing finish.

Then, after a short night of sleep, I was up early this morning to go stand in line to register for next year’s race. Registration was posted as starting at 9am. I got there a little before 7am and was probably 200-250 people back. I’d be curious to see what time the first person in line got there. Luckily, they opened registration early and I was in and out before 9.

And so it begins. I won’t officially start Ironman training until sometime in April, but I will start swimming and biking again as soon as the San Antonio marathon is over next weekend. I’ll work on my base over the winter before getting into specific training in the spring. Should be a fun year!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A New 5K PR - The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

This morning I woke up early and headed up to the church to meet some other members so we could all head out to the Race for the Cure together. I have done the race every year for the last 10 years and wasn't going to miss it this year, even though I just did a marathon last week.

As usual, I signed up for the chip timing division with the intent on running it as fast as I could. I figured if I blew up early I could just jog the rest of the way. After all, my legs are still recovering from the marathon, right? Guess they are recovered.

Temps were in the 50s so I wore shorts and a sports bra tank top. I had a long sleeve top on over that, but took it off 15 minutes before the start and handed it to my parents. I lined up close to the front and when the horn sounded, I took off, weaving in between people to get to a good spot where it wasn't so crowded. I finally found some space and just kept going.

As I got to the marker for Mile 1, I hit my split button. 7:34. Uh oh. Better slow down some. I've NEVER run a mile that fast in a race and I knew I couldn't hold that pace the rest of the way.

Mile 2 came with a split of 8:01. I didn't want to start thinking about what it would take to PR at this point. I knew I just had a mile to go and wanted to see what I could do. It helped when I passed a water stopped that was manned with many of my Team in Training buddies and they all cheered for me as I passed. That gave me the motivation I needed to keep going.

As I rounded the corner to the end I saw the Mile 3 marker and the finish line. I hit the split at mile 3 for a 8:19 split. Then I saw the clock. I had a little bit of time to make it under 25 minutes. If I could do that, I could set a new PR, so I turned up the speed.

Final time: 24:42! A new PR for me.
Class position: 13
Overall: 274
Average Pace: 7:55/m WAHOO!!!!

I don't know how many people were registered for the chip timing, but I feel really good about my race and about setting a PR, especially coming off a marathon. It feels good to finally get the 5K time down.

After I finished I got some water and then headed a little ways back on the course so that I could wait for my mom and dad to come through. Then we walked through the booths picking up free samples (got lots of free Lara Bar samples -- YUM) before heading home. What a great day for a race.