Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Do You Do it All?

I went on an amazing eight mile run this morning with an incredible friend.  A friend I met through running.  I met Rebecca while training for Boston last year.  She is an awesome runner and was kind enough to run with me during some of our Boston training runs.  She is way faster than me so running with her really helped me to push myself beyond my comfort level on long runs.  Since those runs with Rebecca, I have picked up my pace on long runs and feel like an overall faster runner.

Summer hit and so did our busy family lives.  We have chatted on Facebook, but haven't run together since Boston.  Now that our kids are back in school, we hit the trail for some running and some chatting.

Rebecca had been my final persuader when it came to signing up for a triathlon.  She had told me about her experience at Pumpkinman and triathlons in general.  She got me really excited to try out triathlons and now six months later I am a Half Ironman and I got to share details with her of my race.

After talking about how awesome Pumpkinman went for me she asked the question that I have been hearing a lot lately:  How do you do it?  How do you train for races, go to school, run your household, work part time,  how do you do it?

I have no easy answer for this question.  Sometimes I feel like I am barely treading water when it comes to my days.  I am SO busy.  School takes up a lot of my time because I have huge goals.  I know those goals won't be met if I don't take school seriously.  This week has been an incredible stress concerning school.  I found out I need to take two more classes before I can start a Physical Therapy program.  Luckily, I have time and schools allow you to apply with two classes that are not complete.  No matter what the details are, I treat school as my job.  Most of you all work 40 hours a week.  I devote those hours to school and studying.  It isn't easy, but I make it work, just like you all make work  happen for your family.

My training takes up a lot of time, but I love it so much that I don't consider it a stress.  I think I am actually stressed when my training plan gets cut down for recovery or tapering.  Hiring a coach has really helped me to keep my training in line.  I have a tendency to overtrain.  I am now paying someone that is telling me to slow down.  She knows what my goals are and isn't talking me out of my crazy race schedule.  But, she also has experience and sees the big picture beyond my half marathon next month.  I know hiring a coach is not in everyone's budget, but I highly recommend finding a friend who is knowledgeable in your sport and will be honest with you.  We are all so competitive so slowing down is hard to do.  Having an outside opinion really helps you to manage your time and makes training that much more enjoyable.  I gave my coach the hours I am able to devote to training and she gives me training to match up with those hours.  Training is also my ME time, so it serves two purposes.

Finally, managing my family.  Oh, this is the fun part.  :)  I try to give as much time to my kids as possible.  It is so hard when I have papers to write or a 4 hour bike ride to go on.  But, again, I make it work.  I am not saying my house is clean.  If anywhere I slack in my life, it is keeping up my house.  I do the basics as that is what I have time for.  Saturdays have turned into family cleaning day because Mommy can't do it all by herself.  I do try to make it fun, like my Pizza Laundry folding party on Sunday.  And cleaning with my husband and kids is actually fun for me because we are all working together.

Every free moment I have, I try to spend with my girls.  Even if family time is at Costco, it is the time I need with my girls to remind me why I am working so hard.

It is the WHY I do it all that answers the HOW.  I am doing this for my kids.  I am in school to provide a future for my kids.  I train for races to set an example for my girls.  I compete in endurance events because it satisfies me.  A happy Mommy makes a good Mommy.

So my house may not be perfect, but my kids are my priority in my life.  I do what I do for them.  I may be missing a few hours of sleep every week, but I am a happy person because of my chaotic little schedule.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Reward for Finishing My First Half Ironman

So one thing I found out this summer is I actually kind of like swimming.  I hate getting into a cold pool still.  I hate how exhausted and hungry I am after an hour in the pool.  But I LOVE seeing the progress that I am making in the pool.

I was on the swim team in high school.  I wasn't very good.  :)  I was the captain of our swim team for two years and made it to the Regional swim meet, but it was because my town was small and we weren't that good.  

Now, 15 years later.  Yes, 15 years since I swam on the swim team, I am swimming faster than I have ever swum.  Yesterday, I swam my fastest 100 yards ever.  I did in 1:32.  Yes, I know that probably isn't fast to the fast people.  But in comparison, in June, I was swimming 100's in 1:47.  That is a 15 second improvement in 3 months!  :)  

I did my test 100 at the end of my workout yesterday.  I had a pretty tough 400 yard pull in the middle of my workout that I thought I was going to drown during so I didn't have high hopes for my 100.  I swam pretty hard but didn't feel too winded.  I hit the wall, hit lap on my watch, and looked at my results.  1:32!!!!  I thought for a moment that maybe it was short.  Hello, I swim in this pool everyday, I can compare my times.  Then I was tempted to stop the guy 2 lanes down that was kicking my butt to brag about my time.  But, I didn't.  If I would have had my phone, I might have emailed my coach, but instead I cooled down with the biggest smile on my face.

So swimming, it is winning a place in my heart finally.  

To reward myself for my Half Ironman, I bought myself two new swimsuits.  All summer I have been wearing Athleta Tankinis.  I loved them, but they are not serving their purpose for me anymore.  First, they are too big because I have lost weight since I bought them.  Second, they are tankinis.  Once they started stretching they started floating and therefore rise up when I am pushing off the wall.  

I knew I wanted to order swimsuits from Splish all summer.  They are totally not me, but that is why I like them.  I feel like I am too old to be in a flashy swimsuit, but I am kind of OK with that.  I've seen them popping up on blogs this past month and finally decided to make my purchase.  I went with a sale suit and a grab bag suit.  

(The lightning suit was my grab bag suit.  $25 and I am now an unofficial member of Team Thunderbolt which will be displayed across my butt.)

I didn't want to spend too much on a suit I had never tried.  I ended up spending $60 on two suits which is a steal because my Athleta suits were that much for one.  On a small victory note, these suits are 2 sizes smaller than I ever purchased in high school; this Mommy appears to have a better body now than in 1997.  

So look out Westford Racquet and Swim, Robin is going to be lighting up your pool very soon.  Hopefully, I don't scare my fellow elderly swimmers.  :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When Will the Boston Marathon Fill?

I finally registered for the Boston Marathon yesterday.

I won't know if I am officially running until October 1st after they take the fastest 18000 runners and verify our entries.  Like I mentioned before, I am not as stressed about getting in this year.  If I don't make it, I will be sad. But I won't care as much because there will be other Boston Marathons.  I did wait a day to register, mainly because I was so busy, but I didn't want to forget to register so put my registration through last night.

And now the wait begins.  Based on my registration number, 13720, it seems not as many people are registering this year.  In comparison with last year, I registered first thing on the Monday during the second week of registration and I was number 19074.  It appears that the registration numbers are much lower than for 2012.

There could be many reasons for the lower numbers. The lower numbers could be because of the tighter qualifying standards. It may be because many people didn't re-qualify at Boston because of the heat.  Whatever the case, Boston registration may still be open after the initial two week registration window closes on Friday.

In my opinion, this is great news for marathon runners.  Runners who qualify for Boston this coming weekend and maybe even a few weeks later still may get to register for Boston 2013. This also means that fall races may once again be used to qualify for Boston of the current year.  As a person who waited 16 months to run Boston after my qualifying race, I am all for qualifying in the fall and running Boston six months later.  

I know one of our local races, the Baystate Marathon, prides itself on its high numbers of Boston Qualifiers.  Last year their registrations suffered because of the early Boston registration sellout.  Normally Baystate sells out in August, but last year you could register the weekend of the race.  Hopefully this change could help this awesome marathon to bump its numbers up again in the future.

I must say I was very upset with the BAA when they changed the qualifying standards last year.  Now,  I see it was a smart decision.  The race is just a bit harder to get into, but now registration is no longer a race like it was two years ago.  Great job BAA on pushing us marathoners to push ourselves that much harder.  It makes getting into your race that much more of a victory.

Did you register for Boston this year? When do you think Boston will sell out?

Friday, September 14, 2012

10 Questions from Another Mother Runner

I was tagged by one of my Disney loving blogging friends, Jennifer to answer the 10 Questions posed from the Another Mother Runner ladies this week.  I am so excited to attend an Another Mother House Party this upcoming week to meet Dimity and Sarah so I thought I would participate with my answers...

1.  Best run ever: Without a doubt I would answer this with the Disney Marathon.  I've done the Disney Marathon the past five years and each year is more memorable from the last.  From my first marathon, to the Goofy Challenge coming off of an injury, my first BQ, and my most recent BQ.  I know that run like the back of my hand, and I am probably one of the only persons that is sad they changed the course this year.

2. Three words that describe by running: Strong. Long. Bouncy.

3. My go-to running outfit is:  I love my Brooks Epiphany shorts and my Brooks D'lite Micro Mesh tanks.  I have at least 3 variations of these and on a hot day you will find me in this outfit.

4. Quirky habit while running:  If I am running with someone, I HAVE to be on the right side.  I can't be on their left or I go crazy.  Luckily all my running partners are used to this and will always move to my left because they know I can't handle being over there.

5. Morning, midday, evening:  Morning for sure.  My tummy can't handle a tough run after a long day.  But, I do love a nice quiet run in the dark so am known to head out with my headlamp at night.

6. I won't run outside when it's:  Super cold!!!  My fingers, nose, toes, and ears go numb if any part of me starts to get cold.  It takes me an hour for them to get the feeling back so I hit the treadmill a lot during the winter.  Thank goodness for Netflix.

7. Worst injury--and how I got over it:  Double-achilles tendonitis.  It was torture.  I iced them twice a day and took 6 weeks off from running.  I did pool running the entire time so was still able to do the Goofy Challenge within weeks of returning to running from this injury.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when:  I have paid many visits to the medical tents after races but I have only gone to the hospital after one run.  In my second year of running, I got bit by a dog or some sort of dog-like animal.  I don't know because the homeowner of the yard the dog came out of denies it was his dog.  This happened at mile 4 of my 17 mile run.  I didn't look at my leg but rather ignored the pain and finished my 17 mile run.  I got home looked down and the dog had broken through my running tights and my skin.  I had to get rabies shots because I don't know what bit me, so I spent that evening in the hospital getting a tetanus and rabies shot.

9. Next race is:  I am doing a 5k and 10k in the next few weeks, but my next big race is the Runner's World Half Marathon next month.  I am hoping for a pretty PR, but we will soon see.

10. Potential running goal for 2013:  I want to go under 3:30 in the marathon and have an amazing experience at the Boston Marathon making up for last year's disastrous run.

I would love to tag some more running moms: Jessica, Laura, Jenn, Colleen, Meaghan, and whoever else may want to answer these questions.  Please put a link in my comments for me to read your answers!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2013 Boston Maraton Registration Time

This mama is going crazy this week.  I know I need to recover.  Luckily I have a coach who is telling me to rest because without her, I probably would already be starting a new training plan and running some crazy workout today because my legs want to move.

So what is next?  When running the Pumpkinman Half Ironman on Sunday, I told myself I needed a LONG break to recover.  I was exhausted and didn't want to think about pushing myself to that point of exhaustion again.

Well I am here four days later and ready to fill up my racing schedule and set some more PR's.  My big goal is next July, so my racing is going to be limited this year compared to normal, but I am hoping to get a few big races in.

First up is the Runner's World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania next month.
I am running this race with a bunch of a FitFluential Ambassadors and couldn't be more excited to get to be there that weekend.  A PR is definitely on my mind, but I am also looking forward to a fun running weekend.  Not only will there be some amazing, inspirational people be there such as Shalane Flanagan and Matt Long, but I also get to meet some running bloggers that I have been reading their blogs and chatting with on Twitter for a long time.

If you'd like to join us at the Runner's World Half Marathon weekend October 20-21, I have a code that you can use to get 10% off any or all of the events that weekend.  Use the code: BLOGGER9  when signing up. They are having a 5k, 10k, and half marathon over both days, and if you do all 3, you earn a hat for completing the "hat trick".

My current PR for the half is 1:41:53.  With a proper recovery from this past weekend, I hope I can see a sub-1:40 half marathon that weekend.  I hate racing the half marathon because it is quite painful, but I am excited that my next one will be at such a great event.

Next year is going to be my year of the Ironman.  :)  If you follow me on Twitter or are friend on Facebook, you may already know, but I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid which is in July next year.
I am incredibly nervous about completing the full 140.6 miles at Lake Placid, but I am also SO excited. I can't wait to start training.  I loved everything about Half Ironman training, especially the long hours that I put in.

I have no idea what my coach has in store for me, but she has informed me that I will be taking a 3 week break before training starts so that I don't burn out.  The three week break scares me more than the training itself.  I can't wait to put in hours on my bike and to reach new distance records on the bike and in the pool.  I dream of faster arms and faster legs so that the miles are completed a little bit faster than they were this summer.

The marathon part of my schedule is the part I am really unsure about.  I am a marathon runner.  The thought of not doing a marathon next year or having a goal marathon makes me sad, but I am hoping I can fit at least one marathon in.  I won the Disney Marathon entry from iFitness a few weeks ago, so Eric and I started planning our trip to Disney in January.

Eric is going to do the half marathon on Saturday and I plan on doing the full marathon on Sunday.  Ideally, I would like to PR in the full marathon, possibly going under 3:30.  This would get me my Boston Qualifying time for 2014, and it's on a course I know and have BQ'd on twice before.    But, qualifying for Boston is not my main goal in 2013 so this goal is still to be determined.

The second marathon that is now a maybe is Boston.

This time last year I was stressed out of my mind wondering if Boston was going to sell out before I got to register.  I am still 4 days away from registering and not only am I not stressed, I don't even know if I am going to register.  Can you believe it?!!!

I want to run Boston again.  I feel like I really missed out on a good Boston experience because of my shin splints and then the awful heat.  But, I don't know if this is the year.  My heart isn't totally into it, so I probably won't know if I am going to sign up until Monday morning when registration opens for the qualifiers that qualified with less than 5 minutes.  I have a 2:07 BQ padding, so based on last year, I should get in, because I was under by exactly the same last year.  Even if I do run Boston, I am thinking it will be just an easy run.  Lake Placid is my goal next year.  I want to optimize my training for the Ironman and don't think taking a few weeks of rest after a marathon is ideal with only a few months to go until my big race.

So 2013 is going to be all about Ironman training.  I do plan on still talking a lot about my running as that will always be my first love.  But, the triathlon is stealing my heart and there is so much more to learn and share with you all about this sport.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pumpkinman Half Iron Race Report 2012

I did it!!!  I am a Half Ironman.  When I first started training for my Half Ironman in June, I never thought this race would be so hard and so rewarding.  Sunday's race was a mentally tough race that I will never forget and will forever be proud of.

My day started really early on Sunday morning.  Eric and I decided to camp in Berwick, Maine, as we usually do.  Unfortunately, we had a terrible storm hit us Saturday night.  It rained all night to the point that I covered my head with my sleeping bag so that I couldn't hear the rain.  I have slept in a tent over 60 nights in the past five years and this storm was one of the worst that we had to sleep through.  I did manage to get some sleep before my 3:45am alarm.

I got up early so that I could get breakfast in my stomach as close to three hours before the race that I could.  I ate my oatmeal and started drinking EFS sports drink.  I had packed my transition bag the night before, so I felt pretty relaxed that I wasn't forgetting anything when we headed to the race site around 5:15.

My nerves went crazy as soon as we arrived at the beautiful race site.  The Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival was held at the Spring Hill resort in South Berwick, Maine.  The day before Eric did his sprint triathlon there so I was able to appreciate the beauty of such an amazing location.  When we arrived on Sunday, it was still dark, so it was all business.  Seeing all the amazing athletes and bikes arriving made me question whether I belonged.  I was a new triathlete.  Was I really able to do the same race as these obviously experienced athletes?

After picking up my timing chip, I got marked up, and headed into transition.  I was nervous I wouldn't be able to set everything up as planned so I was very careful with the unloading of my transition bag.  I put two bottles of EFS on my bike along with my fuel bag that contained all my gels for the bike.  I attached my Polar RCX5 to my bike and put my sunglasses and gloves in my helmet.  I laid out both pairs of shoes and put Aquaphor on the edges to make it easier to put my feet in.  I also folded my socks down and put them in my bike shoes.  There was no going barefoot in this race, but I didn't want to lose precious minutes in transition.

After everything was set up, I grabbed my wetsuit and headed to the porta potty.  Within minutes of my last bathroom break, I quickly slipped into my wetsuit and the pre-race meeting was already starting at the water.  There was a dedication of the race to a former triathlete who died of ALS and then it was time for the National Anthem.

Now, I have to admit, I cry at races during the National Anthem.  I usually cry because I am so happy and excited.  On Sunday, I cried.  I cried because I was scared.  I was moments away from 5+ hours of hard work, and I was scared for it to begin.

The race began and I waited for my 4th wave to enter the water.  We started 8 minutes after the elites, but I loved our position in the race.  At 7:08, the announcer yelled "Go, go, go!!!" and I was off!

The Swim
Total Time: 34:52
Pace: 1:39/100 yds
Overall Place: 99/400   Gender: 23/164  Division: 11/30

The swim went as well as I could have expected.  I started out in the middle of my group as far to the edge as I could get and still stay on the mats that they had in the water for us.  On go, I just started swimming and tried following the girls in front of me.  Within about 50 yards I concentrated on sighting since our pack was already starting to spread out, and I couldn't rely on the others to lead me into a direct line to the buoys.  I didn't push too hard in the swim but rather went for a steady consistent swim.  I made sure to pull hard, rotate, and sight every 3-4 strokes.  The swim course was a two loop course and the first loop went by very quickly.  Just before starting the 2nd loop, I noticed I was getting past by the elites that were finishing their 2nd loop.  This messed with my head for a bit as I was anxious that I had to do that distance once more.  I kept on swimming and began picking off swimmers that were on their first loop.

My second loop was harder than the first because it was much more crowded.  I had to swim through a lot of people and did my fair share of kicking and hitting to get around people.  One of my biggest fears of Ironman is the physical contact in the water and I hate that I contribute to it, but unfortunately when swimming, I am focused on moving in a straight line and you don't see people until it is too late.

Before I knew it, I passed the last turn and I was headed to the finish.  This was the hardest part of the swim as I was trying to pick up pace but it was hard to determine where the finish was.  They have a finish chute but it was hard to see while swimming.  I tried following the girls I had swam with the whole time so didn't get as strong of a finish as I would have liked mainly because I wanted to make sure I was headed in the correct direction.

Time: 3:55 (including Powder Hill climb of 1:37)

I hit the finish chute, put my feet down and started heading for shore.  I looked at my time and about patted myself on the back as I thought I would have seen 40 minutes not 35.  I started running and within moments I got a huge side cramp.  This race is known for their hill climb out of the water into transition.  I was planning on running up the hill, but with my side cramp, I decided to walk the hill.  This was 200 yards I did not plan on walking at all, but if I had a chance at meeting my goal, I needed to calm down.

I got into transition and focused on not forgetting anything.  Helmet on, number belt on, sunglasses in my back pocket, gloves on, socks on, shoes on, grab bike, and head to Bike Out.  I was proud of my quick transition time and as soon as I was out, I hopped on the bike, quickly clipped in, and started my ride.

The Bike
Total Time: 2:47:33
Pace: 20.1 MPH
Overall Place: 151/400   Gender: 26/164  Division: 5/30

My bike started out AMAZING.  I was afraid of getting a drafting penalty, but also didn't want to get stuck behind people so I spent the first 5+ miles jockeying for position.  I would pass someone and then I would get passed.  I had no idea what my pace was, but I knew my heart rate was still high so I was trying to slow it down but still maintain as much position as I could.

After those initial miles, I settled into my ride and started my nutrition.  Every 30 minutes, I hit the lap button on my Polar so that I could keep track of when my last gel was.  I started my gels early and I feel that helped to keep my energy high for the entire 56 miles.

The ride was on a lot of rolling hills.  None of the hills were hard, but there was a lot of up and down going on.  (Only about 2000 ft of elevation gain on the course) Going up hills, I would pass a few men, and then coming down they would pass me back.  I only saw about 3 women the whole time so I knew I was holding my position in the race pretty well.

The bike course was a 2 loop course and I came through the first 35 miles feeling strong and fast.  At about mile 40, the mental game started kicking in.  I was pretty alone out there at this point and I got to thinking about my race ahead of me.  I still had almost an hour left on the bike and 2 hours left to run.  I was tired, my hip was aching, and I questioned my ability to hit my goal.  I tried shutting out any negative thoughts, and pushed as hard as I could on that bike to maintain as good of a pace as I could.  I wasn't going to have a slow bike split after pushing myself so hard for 40 miles already.

In the final 5 miles, I started getting excited.  I was still passing men and feeling pretty good.  I was familiar with the final road so knew my ride was almost over.  My total time was on my watch on my wrist and I knew I was ahead of schedule.  We also started seeing runners heading out and I didn't see too many ladies ahead of me.  With only my run left, I thought maybe I had a chance at an award.

Heading back into Spring Hill, the crowd was awesome and I quickly got off my bike.  I heard my sister and my coach cheering and I got excited thinking that they finally knew how well I had ridden.  I hopped off my bike and headed into transition.

T2 (Where I showed my newbie status to all)
Time: 1:02

I know you are thinking.  A one minute transition?  How is that a newbie transition time?  Well, it is, because after I hit the Run Out mat, starting my run time, and turned the corner, a few people yelled to me...."Your helmet, you have your helmet on!"  Oh snap.  Did I forget to take off my helmet?  I started running back toward transition while taking off my helmet and someone offered to take my helmet for me.  So then I threw it to him, turned back around, still wearing my bike gloves and started ripping those off.  I figured I could throw those to my sister who I had seen was not far ahead.  This is not how I planned on starting my amazing half marathon, but it is what it is.  :)

The Run
Total Time: 1:45:46
Pace: 8:04
Overall Place: 86/400   Gender: 16/164  Division: 3/30

I started my Garmin after my little helmet mishap, so my run was actually 30 seconds faster than this time.  I would love to move those 30 seconds over the T2 but oh well.

I started running and my feet were NUMB.  They were tingly and my pinky toe felt like I had the biggest blister on it even though, post-race, I had no blisters.  The numbness was that bad.  I started passing guys immediately and looked at my Garmin and saw 7:30 pace.  Umm, yeah, way too fast.  We were heading down a hill so I let my legs carry me and figured I would eventually settle into my goal pace of 7:55 or so pace.

Now, to me, this was not an easy half marathon course at all.  It had a lot of rolling hills.  It was also a 2 loop course so you hit a pretty big hill twice.  Needless to say, this was a tough course.

Luckily, for me, running is where I am strong so for the first 10k, I ran strong and passed a lot of people.  I was maintaining my sub-8 minute pace and was feeling pretty good.  I pulled out my salt tablets that I had tried taking on the bike and took one immediately.  I had a headache the entire bike and wasn't sure if it was my sinuses acting up or if I needed more electrolytes.  I figured more salt would help and it seemed to make a bit of a difference.

The turn around was in a neighborhood.  My coach had advised me to run the tangents in the neighborhood so I was running back and forth.  I may have looked like the goofball, but I was one of the few who wasn't complaining that the course was long at the end of the race.  I made the turn around and started heading back.  

The second 10k is when things start getting a little blurry for me.  I have had this happened to me before so in hindsight, I can tell you what my problem is, but in the moment I had no idea.  I was becoming incredibly dehydrated at around mile 8.  I took my last gel at mile 7 and was grabbing water at every aid station.  I sweat a lot, so I should have been taking 2+ cups at those aid stations, not 1.  I was still maintaining around an 8 minute pace but was slowing down.  I was really getting tired.

The turn around to go back on the loop was around this time and I saw my wonderful, motivating friend, Meaghan.  She was in the right spot at the right time for me.  She was one of the reason's I picked Pumpkinman for my first half Ironman and here she was on the course cheering for me.  She encouraged me telling me that I only had 4 miles left, I could do this in my sleep.  She was right!

The next 2 miles back were not too bad.  I was passing more people as there were a lot of people on their first loop and here I was with less than four miles to go.  At this time, I started focusing on my overall time which was on my stopwatch.  I knew I wanted to go sub-5:15.  This was my A goal, that I never admitted to anyone.  That 5:15 was within reach so I did the math to see what I could run in order to make my goal.  I figured even with 8:30 miles, I should be able to make it, so I pushed for that.  Mile 9 was a 8:33, my slowest for the day.  Mile 10 was back down to 8:07 and mile 11, 8:29.

At mile 11, I started running with someone.  She was on her first loop but we were running a similar pace.  I told her to go ahead because I felt like if I kept that pace up I would throw up and she said we were good together.  We talked for the next 1.5 miles and she probably saved those last miles for me.  I hit an 8:08 mile and felt tired and sick, but so happy to only have a mile to go.  We got to do about one more half mile together before she had to turn around and I got to turn toward the FINISH LINE.  I was less than a mile from the finish line and had rolled past 5 hours for my total time not long before that.  Mile 13 was an 8:22.  The last 1/4 mile of it was so hard as it was up another hill.  I asked a guy next to me if it was supposed to hurt this much and he laughed.

I peaked the hill and got to turn back into the race venue.  I saw my coach yelling for me.  I almost started crying.  I was done.  I turned the corner and saw my last corner ahead of me with yet another amazing volunteer congratulating me and pointing me to the end.

I hit the final downhill at a 6:37 pace and was so happy.  I was all done.  I saw my family on the side cheering.  I enjoyed those last moments of my race and I crossed the finish line.

The Finish

Total Time: 5:13:09
Overall Place: 101/400   Gender: 17/164  Division: 2/30

I am a Half Ironman.

After stopping both timers, I immediately put my hands to my knees and couldn't move.  I was beyond exhausted and another awesome volunteer helped me to a chair and gave me water.  I drank the water and sat there celebrating but also feeling like I wouldn't be able to move for a very long time.

Other racers were finishing and I had multiple people congratulate me telling me they thought I was going to fade and thanking me for pacing them.  (Thanks for the encouragement.)

After about 15 minutes and nearly two bottles of water, I got up to walk to get something to eat and then I was done.  I started getting very dizzy and was incredibly cold.  Eric said he asked me to go to the med tent but I don't remember it.  I do remember two ladies putting their arms around me and leading me back to the med tent where they had me lay down and covered me with blankets, took my temperature and blood pressure, and had me start downing gatorade, coke, broth, and salt tablets.  My hands went numb like at Boston, so I knew I was low on electrolytes and after about 25 minutes, I came around and felt a million times better.

And just as fast as I got sick, I came back to it and was able to leave the tent without an IV, thank goodness.  Instead of heading straight to the food, I went to the finish line results.  I wanted to see how I did.  My coach was looking at the same time and she pointed out my 2nd place finish in my age group!  I placed!!!

Not only did I meet my A goal for the day, but I also got to stand on the podium at the award's ceremony to accept my age group award.  Now if standing on a podium doesn't convince you to do a triathlon, I don't know what would.

It was an amazing day.  This was one of only a few races that I mentally stayed in the race the entire time and the results show it.  It was the hardest race I have completed, yet the most fun.  I left nothing on the course and have no regrets.  Now, somehow, I have to do twice the distance next summer.  :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting My Bike Ready to Go 56 Miles

Starting a new sport was a huge step for me.  I am a creature of habit.  Running has been great for the past five years because I know how to do it and I know what to expect on every corner.  Training for running events was easy for me because I know the right paces and what everything means on training plans.  I know how to change my training plan when things arise.  I know what to buy when I go to a running store or look online for new gear.  Running is easy.

And then I went and got a bike.

I love my bike!  I love riding.  I am loving the sport of triathlons.  What I don't love is the unknown.  When I went to purchase my bike in May, I had no idea what I wanted.  I told the guy helping me that I wanted to do a Half Ironman at the end of the summer and he kind of looked at me like I didn't know what I was talking about.  (Or that is how I interpreted his look, I am incredibly self conscious when going into stores I am unfamiliar with.)

My summer of riding was a learning experience.  I have gotten faster and am learning what works for me on the bike.  I can clip in and out, I think I know how to change a tire, and this past weekend, I learned to clean my bike.

A few weeks ago, I rode four hours in the rain.  My bike was so dirty after this ride, but I kept riding knowing that my race was coming up and I would have to eventually clean it before the big day.  Well my big day is here, and I needed to clean my bike.

I was incredibly paranoid that I would hurt my bike :) so I asked my husband to help me get my bike ready for my race.  I didn't want him doing it for me though because I want to be able to do this on my own. I have a year of many miles ahead of me and getting his help whenever I need it is not going to work.

We started off by wiping down the frame with a soft sponge and water mixed with car wash soap.  I was hesitant to use any sort of soap, but my husband is picky with his car so I knew he wouldn't let me down with my bike.  For the spots that I couldn't reach, I pulled out a toothbrush and for spots that were greasy, I sprayed Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner on it.

I probably scrubbed my bike longer than was needed but I figured if I finally was doing it, I was going to be picky.

Cleaning the chain was not hard at all but involved a tool that we bought from REI.  They had a big selection of tools you could buy, but we purchased the inexpensive Finish Line Grunge Brush and it really seemed to do the trick.  You basically surround the chain with the brush and move the pedal backward cleaning sections of the chain at a time.  We used a mixture of Simple Green and water which we dipped the brush into in between sections.

After the chain was clean, we rinsed the bike with water.  We used the hose at a low pressure and a clean rag to wipe everything down.  After that we let it sit out to dry and then Eric reapplied lubricant to the chain since we had washed it all off.

After my bike was clean, Eric got to work adjusting my bike derailleur.  I wish I could say what he did, but while I understood what was going on, it is much more technical than simple bike maintenance.  This did convince me that I may be taking a bike maintenance course this winter in order to better understand my bike.

And the next day, I took my bike for a ride and it was smooth and quiet!  It was amazing what a little handy work can do for my bike that I thought was perfect before we had even begun.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Training Update & First Day of Kindergarten!

So I was all prepared to talk about getting my bike ready for my race this weekend and I remembered my pictures are on my husband's phone and he is not available so instead I will update you on my training and life.

Last week, I told you about tightness in my knee and cutting back a few workouts.  Well being cautious worked for me and I had an amazing weekend of training and I am no longer worried that my knee will act up during my ride at Pumpkinman.

My last big workout of the training cycle was on Saturday.  I was scheduled to ride for 2 hours and run 30 minutes.  Finally, I felt amazing on my ride.  I have been complaining to my husband after the last couple of my long rides that I couldn't even get into the heart rate zone that my coach wanted me to ride the whole race in.  I couldn't figure out if there was something wrong with my heart or if I just couldn't do it.  On Saturday, it felt easy to get into that zone and hold it.  Apparently, my legs were worn down from training, like they should be and my taper was already starting to work.  I completed just over 38 miles on the two hour ride for a pace of 19.4mph.  I hadn't seen a long ride go that fast in a while so I was ecstatic.

My brick run was 30 minutes and was supposed to be 10 minutes of warmup, 10 minutes pushing, and 10 minutes of easy.  My average pace for the 30 minutes was 7:50 and again, I felt good out there.  Brick runs have really grown on me this summer.  My first few brick runs were tough.  I would start running and my legs felt like jello and I would be done with the run before I felt warmed up.  Now I am able to get moving within the first 1/2 mile and hit faster paces throughout the entire run.

Sunday, I headed back to the lake for an open water swim in my wetsuit.  Ugh.

I have a love/hate relationship with my wetsuit.  I love that it kept me warm on Sunday as it was a cool morning in the water.  I loved that at Danskin, I felt like I was flying through the water.  I HATE putting my wetsuit on.  I get claustrophobic very easily and getting into a tight wetsuit doesn't help me to relax.  I also got chafed on my neck from my wetsuit on Sunday's swim as it was my longest swim with it on so far.  I guess it was a good reminder to put extra Body Glide on.  Forty minutes of open water swimming done and I headed back to the road for an hour tempo run.  It wasn't as fast as I would have liked, but it was OK.  I think, had I done the run before the swim it would have been much better, but I wanted to be tired on that run.

And, yesterday I rested.  What a wonderful thing to wake up on my day off and know I didn't have to do anything.  We spent the day getting my bike prepared for my race and getting my husband something to wear to his sprint triathlon.  (He is doing his first triathlon the day before mine at Pumpkinman as well, I am so excited to be a spectator!)

And then, today was the day I have looked forward to all summer, yet dreaded at the same time.

My Gabbie, left me and started kindergarten today.  She was more than prepared to walk into that school today and as a bonus, I didn't cry.  I dropped both kids off, went home and wondered what I was supposed to do with myself.  Today seems to be going by pretty quickly, and I haven't accomplished much.  I guess my free time will fill up quicker than anticipated.