Race Report: Florida Challenge Half – The Intimidator

This would be the first race of 2014 to see where I am fitness wise and to wipe away the rust from not racing in a little bit. I knew doing a race in Florida may not be ideal because of the long drive down and the possibility of feeling the sun on my pasty white skin for the first time in many months. All things considered, I would say the race went alright and showed me areas I need to work on and gave me more motivation to train harder. It was also nice to meet some people from the online world…hi Maria and Sam!

Swim: 31:20

I have been working on my swim for the past 3 months and knew I wanted to push rather than just survive. I was told to go out hard and find feet. It was a rectangle swim with a beach start (need to work on that dolphin thing rather than a belly flop thing). I am starting to feel a sense of confidence going in to this part of the race, which is always nice. Not much to talk about here…I didn’t get bumped too much in the beginning but failed to get on feet for the first quarter of the race. Right before we made the turn to head back I was able to get find some bubbles. I felt the girl was zigzagging a bit but by the time we turned for home we caught up to another small group of girls and stayed together till the end. It was fun to finally feel like I was in a “pack” for the swim and I was able to push hard at times if I ever fell off for a few seconds to catch back up. As we exited, I wasn’t quite prepared for the uphill sand run but the wetsuit came off and bike stuff went on.

Bike: 2:45

I knew racing in Clermont would be hilly especially after driving around the day before and it certainly was. I used the first 20 minutes or so to settle my HR a bit since there were a few pitchy hills at the beginning that spiked it pretty good. Once settled in, I just focused on my power numbers and tried to do some catching up and see how long I could go before a guy caught up (women went first – no idea why!). There was one out and back section early in the course where you got to see where people were, much to my surprise I wasn’t too far behind the top girls. One being Nina Kraft – yes that Nina Kraft. At about mile 20 a girl came up from behind me and passed me but I was able to stay with her for the rest of the race. We traded positions a few times always staying legal but neither of us could out push the other to pull ahead.

During the bike portion for a half – I take 2 bottles with me of Infinit along with GU Energy Gels (peanut butter and strawberry banana are my favorite) and always take water at the first or second aid station. This race said there would be three aid stations on the course with water, Gatorade and bananas. Not so much. There was ONE aid station at mile 40 at the top of Sugarloaf with water and Gatorade but here is the kicker…they handed you the bottle without a top on it! I was kind of shocked to get the water and just chugged as much as I could and threw the rest on the way down the steep decline. After that, I just tried to ration the rest of the bottle I had to make it to the end.

The course was tough – it had a lot of pitchy inclines with the one steeper and longer uphill on Sugarloaf. There was nothing huge but they did make you get out of your saddle and work. The only other thing I would note about the course is the section where the roads are pretty terrible around Sugarloaf that make it difficult to get much speed and to stay aero as you are bouncing around so much.

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As I came into T2 – I was ready to run and try to catch the leaders as much as I could.

Run: 1:42

As I headed out on to the run course my legs felt pretty good and I clocked the first mile at around 7:00 minute pace and was pretty happy with my effort level for that. Mile 3 – hit the time I was looking for and as I got to the turn around still feeling good and in 3rd pace. The sun started to come out and I felt my pace drop a bit but was still running OK. The run was basically an out and back that you did twice…after the second turn around to head back I could tell I was slowing down because 2nd place was farther ahead than before. I didn’t have the jump I needed to push the pace…could have been the heat or lack of water on the bike but I stayed strong mentally and just kept running. I got passed around mile 11 by the same girl who had been with me all day and just could not pick it up enough to get passed her again.

Result: 5:03 – 4th Overall Female

Looking back – I am happy with my swim and bike for this race after looking at the times of other competitors but still question the run a little. It’s been awhile since I ran a 1:42 half marathon and whether the course was long or not I think I need to get in the hurt box a bit more out there. I don’t usually wear a Garmin for the run but I am starting to think seeing my pace may give me a bit of motivation to keep running strong or that I need to push it more especially when the mile markers are off like they were in this race. I also know I need to drop weight if I expect to hang with the top girls on the run especially in the heat. I have told myself this from the beginning of the year but to be honest have probably been half assing it a bit since I eat pretty healthy anyway but not anymore. I read a blog post recently and she put it perfectly, “nothing changes unless you change”. I need to make the changes and I need to make them now! That’s why we race to see where we can improve and give us the focus and motivation to work harder and this race absolutely did that for me.

After the race, we drove the 9+ hours back to NC which was absolutely miserable and painful but now it is Tuesday and my legs and body feel recovered and ready to get back to work!

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The Past 2+ Months

I have always been an early riser. It was engrained in me by my parents – when your alarm went off you got up or you would miss your time slot to shower or be left at home. I am much more energized and productive in the morning hours basically from 5 AM – 11 AM. If you asked me to do anything at 9pm that takes a lot of mental capacity – you are SOL….I’m done by that point, which is probably why I never pulled an all-nighter in college.

I have said it many times already but since being a part of Team HPB, I have been doing a lot of training. I wouldn’t say anything has been crazy…yet but we are putting in the some good weekly hours. Along the way I have learned a few things about myself and my body…

1. My body and mind handle volume well. Of course the aches and soreness are there but nothing to hinder my training. I’ve been averaging about 23 hours a week so far, split up to about 270 miles on the bike, 30-35 miles running, 20,000 yards in the pool.  As some people may say…more is more…

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2. Sleep is good! If I have a morning swim on a Saturday, I do not need to get up at 5 AM if the pool doesn’t open until 7. The funny part is once I gave myself the ability to “sleep in” I think my body was happy to be able to sleep past that 7 AM mark.

3. Easy sessions are in your plan for a reason. When I trained for my first marathon (picture from that race below) I always ran at race pace. Why would I train slower if I wanted to go faster? I have started to learn those days are in your plan for a reason. Go easy on your easy sessions so you can go harder on your hard sessions.

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4. I still need to learn to say no. This was one of my goals for 2014. I knew if I wanted to accomplish the goals I set for myself I would need to sacrifice things and focus on myself and training. These past months have been a build for me and I know the more intense the training gets the more important I will need to prioritize.

5. I need to do a better job figuring out my nutritional needs during training and outside of training for how to best fuel myself. It is always a work in progress for me but one day at a time. The smoothies are starting to reappear a lot more these days and I am loving it, especially green ones!

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6.  Duran still and will always be my biggest supporter, but will also put me in my place  when I may be being a bit irrational.  He’s not the type to hold my hand through anything – he will always let me figure it out first and as much as sometimes I want to be a girl and say why won’t you just ride with me – he is doing it for a reason. For one, he has goals with his own training which means he is going to be ahead of me sometimes on a ride and I need to learn things on my own! Just an example, my first time ever riding a cross bike was in Umstead last year on someone else’s bike in the pitch black with just lights on our helmets with no instructions. He could have said…oh by the way it could get a bit technical and there are some pretty steep inclines that you may just fall over on your bike because your back wheel will keep spinning. Result – he rode way ahead of me to where I couldn’t see him anymore and I ate shit on one of the hills but looking back I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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5. I need to start investing in more cycling and running clothes…2 pairs of cycling shorts and basically two pairs of running shorts is causing a lot of laundry.

6. There is still a lot of work to be done!

That’s all I’ve got for today! Oh except…I will be racing a half in Florida next weekend! Team DL ready for 2014!

PS Check out a great write-up on Team HPB Camp that went on in Tucson a few weeks ago…I couldn’t make it this year but will be participating next year!

February Comes to an End

February has come to a close and we are going into March full steam ahead.

While at the pool the other day one of the employees at the main desk asked Duran and I what we had on tap for the rest of the day. Duran replied, “Just a 4-hour bike ride”.  The women replied in a way that most do, “wow, that’s a long time!” With a quick smile at each other the conversation continues the way most do with people who aren’t sure about what an Ironman entails. She then asked the questions…how far, how long, are you competing or just finishing etc. We answer and nod and just say we love it and continue on our way.

Once again, February brought higher consecutive weekly hours and a lot of work was completed on the bike, swim and run. So why the story above, it sparked a question inside of me that I wish I had asked when she said why do we do Ironman’s?

My first answer or I guess question…what else would we be doing on a Saturday? I really have no idea what a day without a morning swim, afternoon bike and the added long run in there would be like. The second answer or once again questions would be…what makes you feel alive and what challenges you every day?

Triathlon does that for me. Some people want to do the train less plan or may not want to put in the hours but I’m not one of them. Triathlon is a lifestyle and it challenges me everyday but the motivation rarely leaves to train day in and day out. Why? It’s because of the feeling after a 2 hour trail morning run followed by an afternoon 50 minute treadmill run that leaves you smiling all night. It’s the bike interval set you nail and know if I keep waking up and riding my bike more and more I can hit an even better interval the next time.

So, no February totals because everyone has the number and mine is what works for me.

My question is what motivates you? What drives you to feel truly alive? For me it’s training and racing triathlons…yes both of them. I always use to tell my student’s…I don’t care what you are passionate about but BE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING and put your whole heart into it!

Happy training friends!

What I learned…

Since the start of the year I have been on my bike more each week than ever before. Having rode about nine 4 hour rides already this year along with riding more frequently during the week I am building my bike endurance which I definitely need. On the weekends I have been lucky enough to get outside but this winter has been tough on a lot of people so most rides during the week have been done inside on the trainer. Riding so much has taught me a few things that I thought I would share with you all.

1. Get a good saddle!

I am very comfortable on my bike in terms of fit. I could ride in the aero position all day but in saying that, since getting my bike I have never had a comfortable saddle. At the end of every ride or even 2 hours in – my lady parts were screaming at me. Before working with Hillary, I couldn’t ride the trainer for more than an hour without being in tears because of the pain. Since I knew I would be riding the trainer much more and for longer, the first thing I did was try to find a saddle that would actually work for me. I am now using and ISM Adamo road saddle, which has worked great so far.

2. Be All In!

What I mean by this is, I can’t go into a trainer ride dreading it or being bummed I have to ride the trainer. I’ve got to be ready for it and be mentally all in for it.

3. Movies, TV shows, Podcasts, and Music!

Get all the entertainment you may need to keep you occupied for those hours you are riding. Now I may be a the minority on this one but I can zone out for a long time and don’t need much to keep me occupied…for example last night I had a two-hour trainer ride and all I did was listen to Pandora. No TV on, just staring at my Garmin numbers or at the wall, zoned out or I guess you could say zoned in. This isn’t the case for every ride but I’ll have some episodes of Criminal Minds on DVR to watch or a Podcast ready just in case.

4. Workouts!

When inside especially, but outside too have a workout planned. It could be a low cadence and strength work or sets of hard interval but times goes by much faster when focusing on completing a workout.

5. Get ready for your legs to be tired!

If you are riding 5 days a week the likelihood that your legs will feel fresh everyday is zero to none. You may have only one ride the whole week that you can say, “that felt really good” but in the end your legs start to get used to the load and adapt. When I did my first two weeks of 13 – 14 hours of riding per week I was beat by the end but now I am getting more accustomed to it and my legs are coming around. On Saturday’s long ride I felt like my racing legs and power was saying hello for the first time in 2014.

6. Time.

Riding a lot takes up a lot of your time. Be prepared to say no to doing most things outside of riding your bike and make sure your family or significant other know that your bike may be seeing more action than you.  I am lucky to have Duran who understands how much training goes into this sport and he is on board and does basically the same amount of riding and training that I do if not more.

7, Towels, Fans, Windows!

Do not go into a trainer workout without the above! You will sweat a lot and keeping a towel maybe two or three towels near you is a must. I always have the ceiling fan on just to give a bit of a breeze since our bike room tends to get very hot compared to the rest of the house. I would also open a window to get some cool air especially during this time of the year.

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I’m sure I left out plenty of stuff but those are my tips and experiences riding the bike a lot and I’m sure even more coming up!

What are some of you tips during a big bike build?

January Totals

On a lighter note – today marks the end of January and one month working with my new coach. It also has been about 2 weeks since I left my job as a high school teacher to a new role that allows me to have a more flexible schedule to fit in my training.

I have loved everything about how this month has played out for training. I have full faith in what Hillary puts on my schedule and my only job is to complete the workout – it’s great! In saying that, my first Ironman was July of last year – so not that long ago. I’m still new to do this whole endurance sports thing and so is my body. I may have hockey quads that I built up for 20+ years but they are trained to go hard for 30 – 45 seconds not 9+ hours. I first got in a pool a year ago – I’ve got some serious yardage to put in. So – this past month has been a lot about building up my swim and putting time in on the bike. I have learned the joys of swimming with a band and learning to love the computrainer. January was the most amount of hours I have spent training and most miles I have put in and I have to say I can’t wait till it becomes more!

January Totals: (some estimates from trainer rides and Garminless runs)

Swim: 54,695 yards

Bike: 1,100 miles

Run: 122.5 miles

My Swimming History

My background in swimming is pretty nonexistent.  I remember swimming in gym class and being scared I would drown. My friends can attest that anytime we played water polo I threatened their lives if they dunked me.

When I made the decision to do triathlons, the first thing out of my Mom’s mouth was, “but, you don’t know how to swim”…and for the most part she was right. So I joined the Capital District Triathlon Club where on Tuesday nights they had training night where you could do an open water swim up, bike 20 miles then run a 5K. The first time I showed up with my friend Tara, I skipped out on the swim and just did the bike and run. The second week – I finally got in the water. Oh my gosh – that was the longest 40 something minutes of my life for a half mile! I had signed up for my first half ironman distance triathlon for the Fall of that year and I think I swam maybe 5 or 6 times before the race. Adding to that, the week before the race I had to buy a wetsuit since the water was going to be so cold and I had never swam in one before. I think the wetsuit was the only thing that got me through that 1.2 mile swim! The only reason my Mom came to watch the race was to make sure I got out of the water and didn’t drown! Thanks Mom!

So fall, winter and spring went by and guess how many times I got in the pool to train? Zero! Summer came and I joined CDTC and BTC triathlon clubs again where I got to swim open water twice a week with my trusty wetsuit and called it swim training!

When I made the move down to North Carolina – the triathlon club scene was completely different from where I lived before and I knew I was going to have to actually swim in a pool for the first time since middle school gym class. The added motivation from signing up for IMLP helped because I knew to swim 2.4 miles was no easy task for me!

Even with IMLP on the dock – I wouldn’t say my swim training was the best and I still wasn’t comfortable in the water. I think my longest workout was 4,000 yards at one time before Placid and to be honest some days I would get in and swimming 100 yards in a row was tough. Luckily, I was able to get in Mirror Lake a week before the race and swim the 2.4 mile course to make sure I could do it. After being down 20 minutes after the swim to my competitors in my age group on race day – even if I am a strong biker and runner I knew my swimming needed to improve if I had any plans to be competitive and get to where I want to be.

Training for Cozumel – my swimming picked up a bit but still wasn’t ideal since the only time I could swim with my schedule was at 8:30 pm on my own. That brings me to where I am today – working with Hillary and getting a new job has already drastically changed my swim and where it will be in the next couple of months.  Things that have helped….

1. I can swim in the mornings when my motivation is the highest!

2. Having a coach write you swim workouts and having you report times – everyone wants to impress their coach! And in case you haven’t heard – she loves 100 X 100 workouts and by god if she tells me to do it I’ve better be able to do it!

3. Masters! I had always been scared and intimidated to go to a Masters swim before but after doing Hillary’s workouts and getting in the water as much as I am – I finally have the confidence to get there and even lead my lane if I can. Now I just need to make sure I am moving up lanes and pushing myself!

4. Kona – I need to swim faster – not necessarily because of time lost but for positioning during the race. I need to get out of the water with bikers that are more around my level so I actually have people to work with instead of saying “on your left” or “slow swimmer coming through” all the time during the race.

So after being called out by James for not having any swimming goals – I guess my answer to him is that since my training was pretty non-existent before January 1 – it is tough for me to see where I can be with sufficient work and training…so I guess my only goal is to complete every workout given to me and push myself to get uncomfortable while in the water and see where it leads!

Updates and Announcements for 2014!

After Cozumel, life started to get a bit crazy with the holiday’s, moving, job changes etc.. which caused a bit more “off season” (which I guess was only two weeks) than I would have liked but it’s about to be a new year with new exciting things!

First, I am excited to announce I will be part of Team HPB starting January 1st with Hillary Biscay as my coach!

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She is a major bad ass and so are her athletes. I was looking for someone to push me past my limits and challenge me farther than I have been before – I am positive Hillary is the person to do this. A lot of new adventures are now in the works that I can’t wait to share about in the future.

Second, I am pumped to be part of the 2014 GU Energy Pro Program and represent GU Energy as one of my sponsors for next season!

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I have been using their products for my training for the past 6 months and can’t wait to continue to use them and be a part of the GU Crew!

January 1st is the start of a new year with new goals and fresh look on all things possible for myself, LGRacing and Team DL!

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Follow along in 2014!