Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ironman Week & VOMax Sponsored Athlete

Seriously, how did this year fly by so fast?!  I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid just over a year ago and guess what is this weekend?  Oh my goodness I am going to be racing an Ironman in five days!

For the first time in a long time, I am enjoying taper like you wouldn't believe.  I am feeling rested and ready to race.  I have quite a bit of anxiety, but I think I am handling the stress of an upcoming race quite well.  Yesterday, I spent the day cleaning my house.  I called it nesting, and my husband informed me that I should be resting not nesting so today I am sitting.  I have my lists written for all my bags and will get my packing done tomorrow.  Emails have been sent to my coach and texts have been flying to my friend doing the race.  So lots of nervous energy, but I think I am finally getting excited.

Something that really helped my excitement was that I got to race this past weekend!  I received an entry for the Iron Girl sprint triathlon through my work as Athleta was a sponsor of the event.  When I received the entry I wasn't sure if I would actually do the race.  After a rough final month of training, I was so excited to hear that I could race the Iron Girl.

I will do a race report after my Ironman, but I will say that it went pretty well.  I wasn't as fast as I was last year at the same race, but I did still grab 1st in my age group.  I wasn't expecting a fast race as my runs lately have been slow.  My run was by far my worst part of the day, but this was expected.  I am trained to do a long distance triathlon, not a sprint triathlon.  It was a great warmup for next week and gave me the confidence that I am getting rested and am in great shape for a good race next week.

The Iron Girl also gave me a chance to represent my new sponsor for the first time.  I am now a sponsored athlete for VOMax.  VOMax makes custom cycling, triathlon, running, and nordic gear. Their products remain like-new after washing and are made of an anti-microbial performance technology that prevents offensive odors.  You can fully customize your VOMax performance apparel with your own artwork for team and event use.

I spent a few months this summer searching for triathlon gear as this runner had nothing but running clothes.  I wanted a triathlon kit that was both comfortable and looked great for Lake Placid.  When I received my VOMax tri kit in June, I was so excited to feel how lightweight it was and couldn't wait to try it out.

My initial thought when trying on my kit was how comfortable it was.  The top was a perfect fit for my body and the bottoms were not the low-rise that I am so used to when looking for triathlon bottoms.  I really loved the colors and pattern and really hoped that my initial thoughts would hold true when testing out the kit on the road.

Sunday, was obviously not my first time wearing my VOMax kit.  I have worn it on many long rides.  Things I have loved about my VOMax kit compared to other triathlon gear that I have are:

  • The shorts stay in place during my ride.  I HATE shorts where one leg starts moving up in the middle of the ride.  This causes unnecessary chafing and I will spend the whole ride moving it down.  My VOMax shorts stay in place and are really lightweight so they don't feel heavy when I am sweating like a crazy person.
  • The padding in the shorts is the right amount.  This is huge for me as the long miles add up on the road and that padding can make a huge difference.  The chamois is the correct size and the stitching isn't raised at all which was nice as other shorts have caused a lot of irritation from the placement and rise of the stitches.  
  • The top doesn't ride, at all.  This was a huge determining factor for me when choosing my triathlon top for Lake Placid.  I HATE seeing my stomach hang out of my tops in race pictures.  It is inevitable.  I will spend an entire race adjusting my top so that no camera person will catch my stomach hanging out.  So far, I have not had any issues with my shirt riding, so HOPEFULLY this won't be an issue at Lake Placid.
  • I love the pockets in the back of the top.  There are two large pockets on the back of the top and they have elastic on them.  This makes for easy access to my gel flasks and salt tablets and also I don't have to worry about losing things when I put it back there.
  • My kit didn't move during my swim, at all.  I did not test out my kit in the water before Sunday.  I was hoping for a wetsuit swim but decided to go without a wetsuit just incase Lake Placid was not wetsuit legal.  I could have been wearing a swimsuit as my kit was so comfortable and stayed perfectly in place during the swim.  I was worried about a shirt riding up during the my swim or being annoyed by the shorts but had no such problem.  I wore my heart rate strap under my top and the top seemed to keep that in place which was a relief because I have read stories of the strap dropping to people's stomachs during the swim.
So obviously, I am in love with my new triathlon kit from VOMax.  What I am most excited about is that I got to design my kit for Lake Placid.  When they sent me the design forms, I kind of freaked out.  I have no artistic/graphic design abilities at all.  So, I sent the graphic designer a few photos of what I would love to see in my tri kit and he went to work.  I got the proof back and somehow he put my vision into a kit.  I don't want to show you all the proof as I can't wait to show you the real thing when I get it back, so you will all have to come back to check out what I will be racing in on Sunday. 

If you are looking for a triathlon kit for your upcoming race or even a cycling jersey, please check out VOMax, I promise you will be very happy with your experience with them.

**I am a sponsored athlete of VOMax.  They have provided me with the triathlon kit in my review but all opinions are my own.  I have not been compensated for this post.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mechanical Problems & Injuries

Please pull me out of my training abyss!  I obviously have been totally missing these past few months, and I can list a ton of excuses.  But it all comes down to my normal extra blogging hours were dedicated to training and recovery.

So what have I been up to?  A lot!  Ironman Lake Placid is less than 3 weeks away and I have been busy getting ready for the day.  I will fill you in on some of my mishaps.

Back in June, I was having an amazing 100+ mile training ride.  I was at about mile 80 and feeling really good.  Suddenly I couldn't shift any of my back gears.  Hmmm, I was doing some heavy climbing so continued to try and cycle through the gears thinking they were just stuck.  In the middle of a big climb, pop a cable goes flying up.  Oh my goodness, my heart rate skyrocketed.  I should have immediately thought about my gears, but all I could think was that it was a brake cable.  How in the world was I going to get home with no brakes?  Then my mind came back down to reality and I realized it was my shifter cable.  I pulled over to the side of the road and had a look.  The wire was frayed.  I called my husband, quite frustrated.  He basically told me that I could still ride but that I was stuck only being able to use the front rings to shift which meant I had a heavy climbing ring (I was stuck in the hardest gear in the back) and the big ring which was good for coasting.

So I pedaled my ass off for the next 30 miles.  And just as luck would have it when shifting back into the small ring after a huge descent, my chain fell off.  AHHH!!!  I was not smart and didn't pull over immediately.  Many times, I had been able to push my chain back into place with the derailleur.  Well today was not my day and when I finally did pull over my chain was a mess.  All tangled and around 18 miles from home.  And hot!  I called my husband, again, crying.  I was hating life.  Another biker rode on by not even asking if I was ok.  (I had stopped at about hour 2 of that ride for another rider who needed help, so karma was surely not on my side.)  Eric decided to come get me because I thought my day was over.  Finally, after calming down a bit, and full of grease, I placed my bike on the ground and got my chain back on.  HUGE sigh of relief.  I was going to get to finish my long ride.

I hopped back on my bike and took off and vowed to not touch the shifter and stayed in the big ring the rest of the ride.  BIG mistake #2 of the day.  I worked my butt off to get home in that big ring.  I had to stand on the climbs and flew on the downhills in order to get momentum to get back up the other side of the hills.  My average pace was awesome for those final miles, but I knew I was trashing my legs in order to get there.

I rolled into my driveway, about 30 minutes later than I had planned but finishing 109 miles in 6:00.  I was so excited as this was a distance PR.  I ran inside to switch into my running shoes and go for my run.  And, this is when mistake #2 came to bite me in the ass.  As soon as I started running, I knew something wasn't right.  My achilles was screaming within a few steps.  (During my long run, 2 days prior, my calves were incredibly tight and pushing the big ring made my calves even worse.)  I should have called it a day immediately, but there was no way I was not going to complete my 7 hour workout after working my butt off to get that bike done.

And, so I ran for 40 minutes.  I wasn't in pain during those 40 minutes, but I know my body and I knew my achilles was not happy with this run.  I finished up, proud of my day.  But, by the end of the night my achilles was swollen and I was in pain.  Less than 2 months to go until the Ironman and I knew I was injured...

I can promise you, I am not normally a cautious person when it comes to injuries.  I have many times run through injuries and made things sooooo much worse.  I knew with the amount of time I had to go, I couldn't take any chances and took two days off.  After the second day off, I went for a bike ride and it felt fine.  So I figured, we were good to go and went for my long run on Friday.  Again, no pain on my run, but it didn't feel right.  I stopped every 2 miles to walk and see if it was in my head and I had no pain.  But my ankle tendons felt weird, not in pain.  Post-run, I was much more miserable than I was during the run.  UGH, this was so not what I was hoping for.

So, I swam the next day and headed out for a shorter long bike on Sunday.  Again no pain while riding.  When it came time for my brick run, I promised myself, no funny feelings.  If I felt even a twinge, that was it.  I put on my running shoes and took off.  17 seconds later, I stopped.  I was not running, it was time to rest.

I went home and emailed my coach and told her I was taking the week off from running.  I wanted her to load me up with swim and bike workouts because I knew I could handle those, but no running.  Mentally, this killed me.  I knew I was approaching taper and my longest run was only 17 miles.  But, I knew if I wanted any chance of running any of the marathon that I needed to let my leg heal.  Physically, I knew the increase in bike miles would help as the bike is my weakness.  I could feel tightness while on the bike, but I never was in pain during or post-ride, just tight.  That week, I also did a lot of strength exercises for my ankle.  I wanted to get the muscles around the tendons to be strong so that I could allow the tendons to have less stress while running.

One week later, I attempted a brick run after a 90 mile ride and I made it!  :)  No pain.  I got home with tears of joy, knowing that my self control to rest when I didn't want to helped me to heal much faster than I was used to.

Has my running suffered from my little hiatus?  I think so.  Unfortunately, my return to running coincided with a heat wave, so who knows if my slower pace is due to the heat, tired legs, or lack of running.  But, I am still running strong a few weeks later and all ankle pain seems to be gone.  But, I have to admit, Ironman training has really worn down my body.  I can alter my gait for a short time and another tendon flares up, and my immune system seems down.  I have been really focusing on getting extra sleep, drinking water, and avoiding all injuries at this point as I know my body is ready to give up on me.

And if you made it this far, learn from me.....Know your bike and know your body.  Apparently, shifting cables should be replaced every year.  They don't normally snap like mine but get your bike checked out.  My chain was also stretched out way too much thus had been dropping a lot.  Chains should also be replaced annually.  And, if you know something doesn't feel right with your body, you are probably right.  All the miles on your legs have taught you what is right and what is wrong.