Friday, July 27, 2012

Vacation Time!

I made it through 8 weeks of summer school and working at my new job on my off days with one thought in mind.  Vacation!

Up until this past weekend, we didn't know where we were going on vacation.  We only knew that we were leaving July 30th for almost two weeks of relaxation and family time.  We considered visiting family in Minnesota, going back to Disney World, visiting the Outer Banks for the first time, hiking in New Hampshire or Maine, and finally Cape Cod.

We camped at Cape Cod two years ago and had a great time.  We love the Cape Cod Rail Trail so this was definitely in our sights as I am just over a month away from my first Half Ironman.  My biggest hesitation with going to Cape Cod was the Pan Mass Challenge which brings thousands of bikers down the trail, on my long ride day.  I didn't want to compete with those bikers so that wasn't going to work for us.

Finally, after lots of research, we chose Martha's Vineyard!  We get the Cape Cod feel but on an island.  The ferry is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from home so we don't have to waste precious vacation time driving.

I am not a beach person at all.  My husband and kids love the beach, but I can't sit and relax on the beach for longer than an hour before I get bored.  This is their year to get their type of vacation, so I set out this week to make sure I would spend this vacation active in between beach time with the kids.  Thanks goodness for Google!

Martha's Vineyard bike paths.  I plan on seeing the whole island on my long ride.

Fresh produce daily will save some calories for my lobster roll and ice cream that I can't wait to try!

The YMCA is only 2 miles from our campground. We are buying a weeklong family membership so the kids can swim in the pool while I get my swim workouts in.

While reading blogs this week I came across Sweat Junkie's post on her Sweaty Vacation.  I already had my sweaty vacation planned but loved her recommendation for checking out the Strava website.  Strava is like a DailyMile website that tracks your rides/runs but it also compares segments of your workouts with others and labels you Queen/King of the Mountain (QOM & KOM).  I love competition so already have looked up Martha's Vineyard and have found many opportunities to become QOM on different segments.

My other requirement of vacation was that I could still get online and blog occasionally.  So I will be bringing my computer and hopefully our Internet connection works so that I can post some updates.

Yay for downtime! Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Danskin Triathlon 2012 Race Report

My first triathlon is done and I am in love with a new sport.  It took me five years to give triathlons a try and while I am sad I hadn't tried one sooner, I am kind of thankful as I feel my endurance training has made me a better triathlete.  I warn you, I write long race reports, but feel free to skip to the bottom to read how it went.

Backing it up to pre-race.  I was a ball of nerves going into the race.  I had no doubt I could finish the race, but I like to race a race as well so was excited to see what I could do.  I hired a coach to train me for my half ironman in September and she gave me advice on what to do during the race but I needed more specific details.  She was racing Lake Placid the next day and I didn't want to bother her so I started googling pacing for a sprint and came up with this page.  It gave me a race strategy that made sense and that was what I would combine with the advice my coach had already given me.

Race day, was an EARLY wake up.  The Massachusetts Danskin race was in Webster, Massachusetts. That is over an hour from where I live.  Race start was at 7am and I didn't make an extra drive to pick up my number so I knew I had to get there early.

Arriving at the race venue was very smooth.  We got there around 5:30 and did the offsite parking about a mile from the starting area.  They had shuttles for your spectators to take to the start and my sister and I hopped on our bikes to ride the short distance to the race.  Number pickup went smoothly and we were quickly setting up our transitions in the best possible spot we could.  My sister and I were assigned the same bike rack and it happened to be the first rack out of the water, making it so much easier to find.  I set up my transition and know I really need to figure this out.  I was quite flustered the whole day when it came to transitions.

My coach wanted me to warmup before the race so I got to it.  I already had ridden 5 minutes on my bike so it was time for a quick run.  I put on my shoes and went for a quick easy run and came back to see the transition area was quickly filling up.  

We were about 30 minutes away from the start so I figured I better get my quick swim warmup in.  I was pretty self conscious putting my wetsuit on when most people were not wearing a wetsuit, but this wasn't just a race to me but a practice for my race in September.  There was no way I was going to lose my chance of practicing wearing a wetsuit because I was afraid to stand out.  I got in the water and it was warm, clear, and shallow.  Luckily it wasn't too warm and my nerves were quickly eased when I could see what I was swimming through.

Beautiful morning for a race.

After my warm-up and waiting for the start.  Can't believe I am posting a wetsuit photo!

Ready to go with my sister.

So the swim start was in waves.  I believe it went by age groups with a small elite wave and then starting with the oldest moving on back.  This put me in the 8th wave starting about 25 minutes off the start.  My stomach was a mess with nerves watching all the swimmers go and waiting for my turn.

And a goggle photo to embarrass myself more.

The start of the swim was as my coach had described.  I should start out sprinting and will feel like I am going to hyperventilate very quickly.  And this happened.  I swam hard to try and get around the other girls around me and pushed it in those first 200 or so yards.

This is when I questioned myself.  I couldn't see the buoys and I felt winded. I had no idea how to sight correctly and felt like I was in over my head. I trusted my coach, that I would feel better shortly, and continued to push it and just try to follow the person in front of me.  Shortly after, the initial fear went away, I felt great.  We turned after the initial 200 yds and had about a 1/4 mile stretch.  I swam as straight as possible looking up every few strokes and started picking off other swimmers.  I felt like I was gliding through the water and continued to get stronger as the swim went on.  The one thing I didn't like was I felt like I had no idea where I was in the water at all.  I knew I was going the correct direction but I didn't know how much further I had to go because I could only see a short distance in front of me without actually stopping.  Danskin is known as a beginner race so a lot of time was spent weaving around other swimmers.  I love that Danskin encourages swimmers of all abilities to compete so I took it for what it was and tried my best to not break my stroke as I swam around people.  My wetsuit really helped me to swim smoothly and not notice as I pushed my way through people.  I felt bad moving through people but it was the easiest way to get around as I would have had to stop a lot more.

We finally turned and headed to shore.  Again, I wasn't totally aware of where I was as turning in water is not as obvious.  I tried to pick up my pace but wasn't positive that I was almost done.  When I could finally see the water exit I pushed as hard as could be.  I finally stood up, unzipped my wetsuit and pulled my arms out and took off my goggles and swim cap.  I ran out of the water and headed into transition.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures as my husband wasn't expecting me so soon.  Something I noticed at this point was people were walking to transition.  I was surprised and did my best to run even though my legs felt funny.

Swim Time: 12:44
Swim Rank: 10/790
You can only see my leg in this picture, but he did manage to get something.

Transition 1.

I so want to be able to say I was a rockstar in transitions, but I wasn't.  I have a lot of work on figuring out how to go quick in transition.  I was flustered and just wanted to get out of there.  I didn't want to waste time that I had worked so hard to save in the water getting ready, but I did.  I even forgot my bike gloves but did get out of there with my helmet and bike shoes on so I guess you could call that a success.

T1: 2:07 --Too slow I know, I will work on this!

Heading out of transition.

If you follow me on DailyMile, you will know I have been working on my bike, a lot.  I wouldn't call myself an experienced rider at all yet, but I am working on my endurance and keeping my cadence high.  Immediately upon starting my ride I noticed my heart rate was incredibly high, higher than I have ever seen it on the bike.  The website I read the night before had said this would happen and my coach had said it was OK if my legs burned and to not hold back, so I didn't.

The bike was 12.5 miles of rolling hills with a few huge hills.  Even though I was warned of the hills, once I hit mile 4.5 and saw the hill I was shocked.  It was steep and everyone around me was getting off the bike to walk their bikes.  I was not getting off and put my bike in a low gear and spun as fast as I could up the hill.  At the peak of each of the three steep hills, there was a group of spectators that were cheering for you making it that much easier to get up the hill.  After peaking the 3rd hill after mile 6 or so, there were a lot of downhills that I tried my best to take advantage of.  I tried pedaling the whole time riding down but I didn't feel safe going around some of the other riders so just pushed as hard as possible.  Before I knew it, I was at mile 9 and finally thought about taking a drink of water. Besides transitions, this was my second biggest mistake of the day.  I didn't fuel enough on the entire race.  I was caught up too much in the moment and the two small drinks I took the whole race did not make for a happy body post-race.  Luckily this was only a sprint triathlon or I think the effects could have been a lot worse.

The final 3 miles were fast and before I knew it I was heading back toward transition and getting ready to hit my run.  I had my Polar on my bike so I could see it so started unstrapping it within the last 1/4 of a mile.  This probably was not the best option but I need to figure out what works best for me.

Bike Time: 37:21 (19.9 mph)
Bike Rank: 5/790

Having so much fun out there, the smile never left my face.

Transition 2 was not much better than number one.  I forgot my visor/headband so was lucky I didn't sweat as badly as normal.  I sat to put my socks on as I wasn't sure my feet were ready for their first sock-less run.  I headed out of transition trying to strap my Polar on my wrist and get my legs moving.

T2: 1:29

My run was my biggest surprise of the day, yet brought me the most anxiety before the race.  I had no idea what to expect from my legs so didn't know how I would pace myself.  The first 1/2 a mile out of transition was tough.  My legs were heavy and didn't want to turnover.  I focused on quick, light steps and trusted that they would warm up and feel good shortly and they did.  Once I felt normal, I tried dropping my pace to around 7:00 and see what I could hold onto.  The 7:00 pace didn't feel too bad and I was continuing to pass more ladies.  The pace was tough but I didn't feel like I pushed myself at all.  Halfway through the 5k, I looked at my stopwatch and saw that I was probably going to make my goal of sub-1:20.  This was a far out there goal that I didn't say out loud as I didn't think it was possible.  The thought that I had a sub-1:20 helped me to pick it up even more and see what time I could pull off. With one mile to go, I realized I was far under my goal and picked it up even more.  I think at this point I was on pure adrenaline as my pace was comfortably below 6:45 at this point.

I made the turn onto the final stretch and picked up my pace even more.  I saw my husband and ran hard.

Yes, the finish line was that fun!

Run Time: 21:07 (6:48 pace)
Run Rank: 10/790

Final Time: 1:14:50
Overall: 3/790!!

I was third overall.  Because of the wave start I had no idea where I stood with the other competitors, I was only competing against myself for time.  I had registered in the Athena Division (greater than 150 pounds) hoping that I would win an award.  I didn't just win the Athena Division, but I was first in my age group and 3rd place out of everyone competing, even the elite field.

That's me, on an Active Leaderboard!!!

To say I was happy the rest of the day would be an understatement.  I beat my A+ goal by 5 minutes and placed in a huge race in my first triathlon.  My training has been tough and it appears to be working.  I am so excited to do more races and if I can make it work, I will be back at Danskin next year.

Thank you to Danskin for providing me with my entry for this year's race.  Danskin is a very well organized race that I highly recommend to triathletes.  All types of women compete at Danskin which makes it even more fun because you are not alone no matter what your ability.

**I was not compensated for this post.  I was provided with a free entry into the Danskin Triathlon for my review of the race.  My opinion is my own and has not been influenced.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Let me tell you, I was the happiest person to open up Blogger this morning knowing that I get to finally write a blogpost.  Let me explain my break to you and promise that I am back from my way too long break.

Back in January, I told you about my main personal goal for the year.  In November, I plan on applying to a Physical Therapy grad program, which I am sure as everywhere else, here in Massachusetts, it is highly competitive.  After spring semester, I had 4 more classes to complete before I could apply.  I had the wonderful idea of trying to take care of 2 of those classes this summer in a short 8 week session.  I mean who wouldn't want to complete a 16 week course in 8 weeks right?  School has been more than a full time job this past 2 months.  I have gone to classes 4 nights a week for one class and did homework all day in order to stay on top of things.  The second course was online, so I tried to schedule studying for that around my Anatomy course.  I promised myself at the beginning of the summer that I would do good in the 2 classes so I took a step back from the one thing that I could, and that was my blog and Twitter.  I waste HOURS on Twitter daily and it takes a lot out of me to write my 3 posts a week.  I don't know how people do it daily as my commitment to my blog is taking up all my time as it is.

And, 8 weeks later, I am done with classes and only have a final on Monday and I am done with school until September.  Finishing my last class last night was such a huge relief though I know I am in for a fun month of studying for my GRE which I will take at the end of August.

School was not all that was keeping me from you, I have updates all over.  June 6th, Athleta opened their first store in the New England area and I decided to get a part time job there.  I took a Kettlebell class from Amanda in May with the managers of the new store and I loved everything I learned about them and their store.  I have been working every weekend there since we opened and you can imagine how busy we have been since we are the first store.  I have never worked retail before and am surprisingly enjoying myself.  I am also putting on the Athleta run club every Saturday morning at the trail in Bedford.  If you are interested in running with us, please email me or check out our store event page for more information!

My new Athleta swim/run top after a brick workout last month.

And finally, this summer I have been training, A LOT!  At the beginning of June, I finally made the commitment and signed up for my first half ironman distance race.
As soon as I clicked register I have been in full on triathlon training mode and I have so much to tell you about it, but obviously in another post.  I haven't been running as much as I am used to and am enjoying my break, but I have been training.  Just a comparison to how my training is measuring up to marathon training, I looked at the time I spent training for the past 6 months in my Daily Mile.  In June, I trained for over 40 hours.  I hadn't trained more than 37 hours since December.  The time commitment for triathlon training seems to be more time consuming than marathon training but I am loving the variety.  I will cover my training in its own post as I have a lot to add.

Sweaty mess after spin class and 30 minute run.

Down 15 pounds since starting triathlon training. 5 pounds below goal.

I am doing my first spring triathlon this weekend, the Danskin women's triathlon!  I know I am more than capable of completing Danskin, but performing how I want to has been a source of nerves for me these past few days.  I had race nightmares last night as I am struggling with what to wear. Our sudden increase in temperatures has sort of thrown in a wrench in my wanting to wear a wetsuit.  I will have a full race report for you next week and please check out Twitter for results on Sunday.

So, there you have it, my summer is almost over and finally today I get to spend some time with my favorite ladies.

Thank you to everyone who has been asking where I have been and hanging on waiting for my update.  And welcome to my new followers!  I was so excited to open blogger and see my numbers had increased so much.