Thursday, August 30, 2012

Scared of Injuries

You would think after five years of racing including 19 marathons that I wouldn't let a race get to my head but here I am again.  Under two weeks until my goal race and I am a ball of nerves.  Saturday's workout did not help my nerves but I am going to back up and explain why I am so nervous.

This picture was from November 2009.  It was after my only DNF in any race.  Double achilles tendonitis.  I shouldn't have been running and I knew it.  6 weeks of no running.  This was only 11 weeks before my first and only Goofy Challenge.  Yes, I still did the Goofy Challenge, but it was nothing like I had imagined when I signed up.

Awesome picture, but I can see the pain in my eyes.  This was during my first long training run on the Boston course this year.  Shin splints.  Again, I knew during the week that something was wrong with my calves/shins.  I was so determined to get that training run done on the course that I did it anyways.  I made it 8 miles before the pain was out of control.  Being the stubborn person that I was, I continued running because I knew I would have to rest after that day.  I had to take 11 days off because of that run.  

So Saturday's bike/run went OK.  The bike was not the greatest.  I felt like I was working harder than my speed was showing and mentally I was out of it.  During the ride I started feeling an ache in the back of my knee and I kind of ignored it and the feeling never went away.  

I got home and went for an amazing brick run.  My plan said run hard and I did and loved it.  My average pace was in the 7's and I felt strong the whole time.  During the run, I didn't notice any knee pain, but I was so happy to be not on that bike so my mind wasn't focused on anything but running fast.

The next day I woke up and my knee hurt.  Every time I lifted my left leg, I felt pain in the back of my knee.  Mentally, I felt like someone had just beaten me up.  I was two weeks from my race and I had just finished 12 weeks of amazing Half Ironman training.  I had never worked so hard in training before and now I was in pain.  I have never done triathlon training so the lack of knowledge of what pain versus normal aches was making me even more confused.

Immediately, I decided to take the day off.  I only had a 25 minute run scheduled and knew that I wasn't going to risk my race for a 25 minute run.  I don't skip workouts, but I am not taking chances.  The whole day I focused on the pain in my knee and saw my dreams of a huge Half Ironman debut flying out the window.

The next morning, I woke up for my swim workout.  4000 yards.  I didn't think swimming would irritate my knee so I went to the pool and for the most part my knee was OK during the swim.  While pushing off the walls, I felt twinges but for the most part it was a successful swim.  And the rest from the day before helped as my energy was much higher than my previous swim on Friday.

Tuesday, I woke up and had a brick workout on the schedule.  I wasn't in pain anymore but I felt tight behind my knee.  I promised my coach and myself that if I felt anything I would skip my workout.  Skipping Tuesday's workout was much harder than Sunday's.  It was an important workout and I still feel guilty missing it.  In the back of my mind, I kept thinking back to my previous injuries.  Both times, I felt OK going into those final workouts.  That OK feeling was not GOOD and both resulted in way too many days off.  I told myself that one day of missed training wasn't going to kill my goals for my race and I sat on my butt and did nothing that day besides foam rolling and stretching.

And then, Wednesday, I ran.  And I ran fast.  No knee pain and an amazing workout.  Now, I still worry that my days off will mess up my taper, but messing up my taper is much better than messing up my race.  Yes, I am crazy for thinking my training is messed up, but that is the competitive athlete in me.  I want to go into Pumpkinman with everything on my side.  Missing a big workout didn't benefit me, but I know if I would have ridden that day I might not have been able to do any workouts until my race.  

So, I listened to my body.  This is a huge milestone for me because I am not one to hold back on training.  I tend to push until my body breaks and for once I chose to listen and stop before things got worse.  I can only hope that in the future when I feel an injury coming on that I can remember to look back and realize that a small rest before things get too bad is much better than a long break because I was too stubborn to stop.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No Fashion Sense Whatsoever

Today is the first day of school for Bridget and Kindergarten Orientation for Gabbie.  I was a nervous wreck this morning, but my kids were quite the opposite.  They were calm and and excited.  I kept drilling them with "Aren't you nervous?" and they kept blowing me off as if I was crazy.  Their confidence is amazing and I really need to take a lesson from their book.  Another thing I need to learn is how to dress....

We went school shopping this weekend.  I must confess.  I work at a clothing store.  I give recommendations to women for what to wear.  But I can't dress myself, nor do I really care what I am wearing.  We have to wear Athleta clothing to work, so last week when it was time to shop from the new fall line, I asked my fellow college-aged co-workers to pick out an outfit for me.

I love my new outfit.  And it is incredibly comfortable.  But, there was no way I was putting that together on my own.  I knew I wanted the pants.  Finding a cute top to go with it wasn't as easy for me.

When it comes to running clothes, I am biased towards Brooks running clothes.  It is what fits me perfect.  I think I do an OK job putting together my outfits; luckily Brooks has come out with cuter patterns and colors this past year.  I am more focused on functionality than looks.  For example, at Boston I wore the D'lite Micro Mesh tank.  I have talked about this tank before, but after a hot summer of training, I have to say it again.  This is an amazing warm weather tank.  It is for the runner who wants to wear just a sports bra but is self conscious.  It is that light.  I wore one of these tanks nearly everyday this summer, even when I wasn't running.

At Disney, I wasn't sure which Brooks tank I would wear, but knew that I would be wearing my HVAC Synergy shorts.  Again, I wasn't focused on how I looked, but I knew these shorts were going to make it through the 26.2 miles ahead of me.

So now it is time to dress my kids for another school year.  I normally would go buy them a few dresses and T-shirts to go with their jean skirts, like the picture below from the first day of kindergarten in 2010. This was apparently not going to work for my soon-to-be second grader.

Bridget and I headed into the Gap Outlet on Sunday  in order to buy some jeans.  Apparently, my formerly dress-loving daughter, has made a switch and now only jeans were on her wish list.  Unfortunately, all the other seven and eight year olds were thinking the same thing because her size was hard to come by.  What shocked me the most was how picky she was.  Everything I picked out wasn't right.  She knew in her mind exactly what she wanted and she found it.  She looked darn cute on her way to school today with her "skinny jeans" (quoted from Bridget herself) but I would have never been able to find that perfect outfit for her.  The functional mom in me hopes that her ballet flats will be able to hold up on the playground when she is chasing her friends.  But the "hip" mom in me bought the correct socks to go with her ballet flats so that her socks wouldn't show through.

Thank goodness I have two girls, because I am going to need all the help in the world in order to keep up with these two when it comes to clothes shopping.

Friday, August 24, 2012

That Feeling You Get

Some mornings I wake up, look at my training plan, and am jumping to get my workout in.

Other days I wake up, lay in bed and think, "Ugh, do I really have to move today?"

I like to pretend that I am graceful and smooth in the pool.

But, there are mornings where I am sluggish and feel like I am sinking to the bottom.

I am two weeks out from my big race.  I love training sometimes more than I love the actual race itself.  I love pushing myself beyond my limits.  I love seeing how many hours I get to put in for the week and then seeing my total miles after I am done.

Going into training for my first Half Ironman, I underestimated the training.  I figured, I had trained for 19 marathons; I can handle 70.3 training easily.  Individually, the distances sounded pretty doable. But once I started thinking about time goals, the workouts got longer.  And harder.

And now, as I approach taper for my first big triathlon, I would say my body feels comparable to how I have felt just before my big marathons.  I am tired, a little sore when I wake up in the morning, and looking forward to some rest.  That must mean one thing, taper time!

Mentally, I hate tapering.  I hate shorter runs and now rides and swims.  I feel like I have too much time on my hands.  And the mental crazies drive me nuts.  But physically, I am so ready for my taper.  The past month, I have trained harder than I have ever trained for a race and I am so ready for the Pumpkinman.  I have secret goals floating around in my head, but finishing strong is my main goal for September 9th.

So that tired, end of the training cycle feeling has set in.  I know it is a good feeling because I don't feel injured.  I don't feel burnt out.  I am fairly confident and so excited to race.  I feel prepared.  The training is almost complete, now it is time to get this body in tip top shape for race day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RNR Providence Half Marathon 2012

***I entered my photo in a facebook contest to win an entry to the Disney Marathon.  I would love for your vote if you have a chance, so please click here!

So in my last post I told you about my crazy workout on Saturday.  After my long workout I had to go to work.  No, I didn't take off the weekend from work because I had a half marathon.  I heard this all weekend.  I started working for Athleta in May, and I actually really enjoy myself when I am there.  I love getting to talk to the ladies coming in to shop as well as my coworkers; and the perks of the job are pretty nice as well.  So I headed into work that night and by the end of the night my hips were SCREAMING at me.  I guess four hours on a bike will leave you with tight hips. Going to bed that night I really questioned my ability to run a half marathon in the morning let alone at a fast pace.

I woke up at 3:30 the next morning after only four hours of sleep and somehow was pretty wide awake.  My hips were still pretty tight but they didn't hurt so I figured I would go to the race and see what I could do.  I made breakfast, woke up my girls, and we hopped in the car for an hour and a half ride down to Providence.

We made it to the race with an hour until the start.  It wasn't crowded yet so using the porta potties was still pretty easy and my husband was able to get some pictures taken.

I even had a chance to meet up with Janine, Samantha, and Dani before the race.  I loved being able to chat, making the time until the start fly by.

As I mentioned before, the goal of this race was to pace my friend, Maggie, from work to a sub-1:50 half.  I knew based on her training that she was more than capable of this time which scared my tired legs.  I didn't let on that I was sore and basically said, lets go.  And we were off.

The first few miles, Maggie was on fire and we were running 7:45 or so pace.  Ahhh!!  I felt fine but I was afraid I was going to blow up but didn't want to slow her down so just went with it.  We were able to see Eric and my girls twice within the first three miles which was a welcome distraction.

After those initial three fast miles and the hills that came with them, I started gaining confidence.  My legs weren't dead and seemed to be doing pretty good.  My focus then turned to making sure Maggie felt comfortable running and encouraging her as much as I could.

One of my favorite things about pacing someone in a race is the ability to shut out any pain you may be in and focus on the runner next to you.  After I knew my legs were OK, I didn't let a faster mile split scare me or a steep hill.  I felt great and was having fun out there.

The next five or so miles went by pretty quickly and we were averaging between an 8 minute to 8:10 pace, including a monster hill at mile 4.5.  I really love this race, but if you plan on doing it in the future and plan on running hard, know there are a few tough hills out there.  Right at mile 6 we even stopped to take a gu and take in water.  This mile was around a minute slower than the rest but it was nice to refuel.

My favorite part of the Providence RNR race begins at mile 10, though some people may disagree with me.  At mile 10 you start circling the downtown area and get to pass by the people that are mile 12.  I love out and back courses, especially seeing people that are doing amazing.  I started cheering for the other runners and congratulating them on an awesome race.

This is also when I told Maggie that I was going to run a step in front of her in order to push her pace a bit in order to avoid the normal end of race slow down.  She didn't talk much during our run, but I could see she was focused and had more left in her.  I also apologized for being an annoying pacer but with three miles to go, I knew she could go well beyond her goal.

I was all smiles those last three miles.  I was having fun and running hard.  We came toward the finish line and saw the crowd.  There is a final hill in the last quarter of a mile and Maggie picked it up for her fastest pace of the day.  We crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:47:08.

My long weekend of training was done and I had a medal to reward myself!  I had so much fun running the RNR Providence Half Marathon for the second year in a row.  I know the RNR series gets a lot of negative feedback from some of their races, but I have had two years in a row of a great race.  

After the race, we headed to the beer tent for our free beer and then I found Colleen and Dani who had had also run an amazing race.

It was nice catching up with my friends and enjoying that after race adrenaline/happy feeling.  My hips were starting to get tight again and my hunger kicked in so after a while we headed back to find breakfast and head home.  

I had so much fun on Sunday and am so happy I trusted my body and was able to see what it could handle.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My 5 Hour Training Day

Yesterday, I ran a half marathon...

I hung out with friends...

But, it didn't come easy...

Yesterday, marked 3 weeks until my big race.  My first Half Ironman is September 9th and this past week marked my biggest week of training of the summer.  I hired a coach to make sure I made it to the starting line in the best possible position that I could bring this summer.  And after this weekend, I am right where I want to be.

This is what my training looked like last week:

A total of 166 biking, running, and swimming miles.  And I am still standing today.  I will write a RNR Providence Half Marathon recap later this week, but I wanted to tell you about my training day on Saturday.

I get my training plan for the week about a week in advance.  Saturday's workout was scaring me all week.  I had a 4 hour bike ride scheduled followed by a one hour run with the last 20 minutes strong.  Five hours of training in one day?  I have only approached a five hour workout twice and those were my two slowest marathons.  So needless to say, I was freaking out the whole week.

Not only was Saturday's workout on my mind, but so was my upcoming weekend.  I was signed up for the RNR Providence Half Marathon through my Brook's ID team and I really wanted to represent the team.  I knew racing was not an option because it was the day after my workout, so I told a friend from work I would run with her and hope to pace her to a sub-1:50 half.  A 1:50 half is not an easy pace so I was scared I would let her down and not be able to run with her. I worry about everything!  :)

Friday, I headed down to the expo with my girls to pick up my packet as I had no time the rest of the weekend. I know, I am supposed to be in the picture in front the RNR sign, but seriously, they are so much cuter.

I got to the expo within an hour of it opening so it was easy to pick up the packet and walk around for a few minutes.  I let the girls pick out a Sweaty Band for school and Bridget picked out a triathlon headband.  I wasn't going to complain as I love how proud she is of her Mama!  :)

My weekend was also crazy with working, so I ran home and headed off to work for the evening.  When I left work that night, we opened the door to rain.  It never even crossed my mind to check the weather for Saturday morning until that moment.  I ran to my car and had my husband check the forecast and sure enough it was supposed to rain all day Saturday.  And my worrying continued.  I can run in rain, no problem.  I am new to biking and knew I had to hit some higher speeds.  I was not totally comfortable with the idea of riding four long hours on wet roads.

I got to bed immediately and woke up early to a cloudy, but not rainy morning.  I got ready as quickly as possible as I figured even one hour in dry weather was better than none.  And so it began, my longest workout to date.

Within five miles the rain started.  I had just made it to my trail so I was a little relaxed knowing that I wouldn't be on the road with crazy drivers.  The beginning of my ride was to be 90 minutes of Z2 riding.  This for me means I need to concentrate on keeping my legs going in order to keep my heart rate above that level.  Those 90 minutes flew by and I was even succeeding on taking in nutrition.  My coach has been very insistent on not forgetting my nutrition and to start it early.  

An hour in I turned around in order to refuel back home and practice handing off water bottles while still riding.  90 minutes in, I started my workout which was to be 3x20 minutes in Z3.  UGH.  Zone 3 running is easy for me.  Mid-Zone 2 riding and above is hard work for me.  I really have to concentrate to keep those paces up.  The first 20 minutes were pretty good and I made it home within my rest interval and switched out bottles and to take a quick bathroom break. 

And then it was back to the road, and the rain had stopped!  I knew I had two hours to go and two harder intervals left.  I knew going back to my fairly easy trail would not help me hit the higher heart rates so I stayed on the road and headed toward New Hampshire.  Let me tell you, I live in the best part of Massachusetts for Ironman training.  If you google where to do long bike rides in the area, people drive to just past us and park and ride.  I can leave my house and hit the roads and am climbing crazy hills within 5 miles.

And climbing is what I did.  Those higher heart rates were so much easier to hit after the hills hit.  This was also 2 1/2 hours into my ride and I was starting to fatigue.  I wasn't exhausted but this was the point where the mental game really kicked in.  I was still maintaining a great cadence and my heart rate was right on but I really had to stay positive to get me through some points.  As you can see from my RunKeeper workout at around mile 50, I had five miles of uphill.  This was nearly three hours in and I was already at my Half Ironman distance, and I still had to go another hour.  

This was probably one of my harder parts of the ride.  I was proud that I had gone that far, but I started questioning why I was going so much further.  I knew I hired my coach for a reason. She is an amazing Ironman athlete so I put my negative thoughts out of my head and kept pushing.  She had confidence in me so I needed to have confidence in myself.  On Martha's Vineyard, I bonked at three hours so I took in more nutrition and sport drink at that point to make sure I would make it until the end.  From 3:00-3:45, I felt pretty good.  My legs and butt were sore but I was happy.  I was in new mileage territory and I knew my pace was faster than it had been ever for a long ride.  I was really going to do this.

3:45 hit and whoa, I was tired.  I was so close to home and so ready to rest my butt.  Surprisingly, instead of slowing down, I was able to maintain an OK pace.  I think I just wanted to get home.  I did stand up quite a few times on the pedals to try and loosen my hip flexor as it was tight and I knew I had to run very shortly.  I made it back home after 76.13 miles at 19mph.  I was all smiles when I saw the final distance.  76 miles in one ride, all by myself!  Amazing.

I was gross and dirty, but quickly put on my running shoes, grabbed my iPod and ran out the door.  At this point, I mentally made myself forget that I was now on hour 5 of my day.  I got to the road and told myself, fast feet, get them moving.  Mile 1 was around an 8:45 and I thought, not bad, but I was used to 20 minutes off the bike.  One hour was a whole new thing.  I concentrated on running strong but not too hard and my pace was dropping and those first 40 minutes were around an 8:35 pace.  With 20 minutes to go, I pushed.  I was tired but my legs were OK with pushing and the last 20 minutes were around an 8:05 pace.  At the end of a 5 hour workout and I was running an 8:05 pace.  Thank you body for performing.

I finished just over 7 miles in that hour and got in my house and wanted to cry.  Not because I hurt, but because I did it.  Triathlon training is a new experience for me and it is tough.  But I am succeeding at it and completed a workout that has given me the confidence to reach for my goals on September 9th.  Yes, I am not riding 76 miles at my race, but I now know what my legs can do at the end of a very long day of training.  I guess coaches really do know what they are doing even though in the middle of a workout we tend to get frustrated and all our minds want to do is quit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Amazing Triathlon Video

Hey everyone.  Back from vacation and not quite motivated to write yet, so I wanted to share a video with you.  I have been in triathlon mode this past month and came across a video today that made me cry and love the sport just a little bit more.  Enjoy!

And here is a longer story on these amazing little guys!!!!