Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

When I crossed the finish line – I had a familiar feeling wash over me. We lost. I lost. I looked up at my Mom and said, “I feel like I just lost a big hockey game.” The feelings were merely identical. Disappointment, failure, anger and sadness washed over me knowing I did not accomplish what I set out to that day at Eagleman 70.3. My Mom’s response surprised me, “that just means you’re competitive, just like you were in hockey.” After hearing that, I thought maybe this was the race that now made me believe I was finally a triathlete, not a hockey player who is trying to swim, bike and run. Even so, Eagleman was a disappointment but lessons can always be learned and positives can always be taken out of a tough day.

Swim: 40:26

We parked at the Middle School parking lot to get on the shuttle when the news broke that it would not be wetsuit legal. Now to all of your swimmers out there who laugh and make fun when you see people freak out over this – get off your high horse. If there was some way to have a “wetsuit” for running that made you faster and then one day you aren’t allowed to wear it, you would be bummed as well. I am not scared of the distance of a half or full without a wetsuit, but I do know I will lose more time to the top swimmers without one and sure enough I did. We were the last wave to start and I thought the swim was fairly choppy once we got going – but I just swam the best I could. One positive is I did swim six minutes faster than my previous non wetsuit half swim – 1 year ago. Still slow as molasses but faster.

Bike: 2:32:49

eagleman2

Going in to the race – if I was going to grab that top spot I would need to make up time somewhere and take a chance on the bike. After my swim – there was no way I was going to hold back now. Plus, I wanted to see how well the new bike performed. Not much to say about the bike course, it was flat and I think fairly fast but since I was in the last wave there was a lot of weaving and bobbing going on to get passed the other bikers. I will note that in some sections there is a rumble strip on the side of the road in the bike lane which makes it incredible annoying to pass people. I was passing a lot of people and keeping a fairly strong effort that may give me a fighting chance on the run. I did notice my face was caked with salt already even with constant hydration and my left butt was literally being a pain in my ass for the last 20 miles or so. I wasn’t sure how the run would go but – I was going give it my all. I did have my fastest bike split ever for the half distance and only biked 2 minutes slower than my half in Charleston this year with a similar course that was 3 miles short. I’ll take it.

eagleman4

Run: 1:43:39

I believe in my run but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I didn’t have the legs I needed to push a sub 1:30 half and the worst part is knowing it in those first few steps. Yes, it was hot and I can’t say for sure if it would have been different if the heat wasn’t a factor but the legs were not turning over quite how they should. I knew the run would be mostly a mental game which thankfully HB has well prepared me for (think running around a track for 2 plus hours) so the main goal was to keep pushing and maybe things would turn around. I kept moving at a respectable pace until the turn around grabbing water and ice at every aid station. Side note: I thought the aid stations were very well stocked with great volunteers but there was one area on the course that went way too long without an aid station. Around mile 9 is when I felt the side stitch come about…it was so painful to run. I did my best to slow down and let the pain go away then pick up the pace until it came back and repeated this until the finish. I know I am a salty sweater and this race confirmed salt tabs are a must on anything that resembles a hot day.

eagleman1

As you can see from the finisher picture – there was pure disappointment crossing the finish line. I felt like I let myself down, my coach, my parents who drove 6+ hours to see my race on my birthday and my friends who have been cheering and believing in me. I want to compete against the top girls in my age-group and I failed to do that at Eagleman.

eagleman5

Overall: 05:00:05 8th in AG

Bad races will happen – but it always fuels the fire to get back to training for the final push to IMCDA. It was great to finish off this week with a long brick on Saturday of a 100 mile ride with a 40 minute run followed by one of the most mentally challenging long runs I have ever done before on Sunday. Looking back on Eagleman now, I know the race wasn’t great but the fact one week after I can bike the fastest 100 miles I’ve done and run that many laps on a track gives me confidence in my fitness and ability going into Ironman.

Advertisements

TryCharleston Half Race Report

It had been about 4 weeks since I last raced and HB had shifted me from bike centered training to more run focused. I had never put in the number of miles I did for the last 3 weeks or the intensity they were done at but I was really enjoying it. I think my body was a bit shocked to be running so much but after getting back into the routine of stretching and foam rolling things were looking good for this weekend.

photo 3

I had been looking forward to this race for a few reasons. For one, I was excited to race a flat race that could simulate Eagleman (minus the heat) and to test out what my run could be. The second was that my parents were coming down from New York for vacation and stopped to watch the race. I also had a new kit to try out with my new Saucony A5’s plus our ‘Team DL’ hats to rock!

photo 1

Friday brought a lot of rain all day and into the night. When we went to bed that night, Duran and I weren’t sure what Sunday would bring in terms of weather. It was calling for 70% chance of rain and flash flood warnings kept going off on our phones all night.

Luckily when we woke up race morning it wasn’t raining and the wind didn’t seem too bad. The race had two different transitions for the bike and run which made it a bit of a logistical nightmare but it ended up working out fine besides them not having any water at T1 for people to fill water bottles.

Side note: this was my first race ever signing up for the “Open” division since I’ve never felt quite worthy yet of being in the elite group. Especially knowing I will probably get dropped on the swim fairly quickly had made me hesitant to sign up but I knew it would help me with the bike and run part of the race.

Swim: 34:07

I entered the water not expecting it to be so cold but it seemed the rain had drastically chilled the water as my feet immediately started to go numb. I was definitely intimidated lining up with the open competitors. I knew that I needed to swim a strong race and not worry about being dropped right off the bat. Once the gun went, we were off. This race has a two loop swim course and I made it a goal to not be caught by the group going off 3 minutes after us as long as possible. I didn’t feel great but didn’t get passed for quite a while and took that as a good sign and made my way around the loop twice and headed out of the swim. I looked at my watch and was pretty happy with my time since this course is usually a legit distance so I know my swim is improving and I didn’t get eaten by a gator…double win! As soon as I started to run to T1, my feet were frozen which for me isn’t out of the norm but really annoying when trying to run and then put on your bike shoes.

Bike: 2:29:59*

This course is known to be fast but with the weather I figured we would be in for some sort of headwind at the beginning of the race. Luckily, the wind wasn’t blowing like it was the day before and we only had a slight headwind to deal with. I headed out and immediately was hitting the watts I wanted and even a little over which was fine with the headwind and hoping to have a tailwind at some point to bring the watts back to where I wanted them overall. It was nice starting in the first group because I didn’t have to constantly say on your left and even had some people to work with on the bike! At about mile 25 or so a girl came and passed me. Honestly, my first thought was…damn that doesn’t happen often but hey I’ll go with her. I stayed with her for about 5 miles but she ended up hooking on to another group and pulling ahead. I knew in my head I would need to catch her on the run. Looking back, it was probably best I let her go since to keep up, my watts would have been way too high for me to be able to run well off the bike. I had three GU’s throughout the bike in case people are wondering. At the beginning of the race they announced that the bike course had been underwater and we would be re-routed to the old bike course from a few years ago which include a bumpy road. Holy shit, they were not kidding. I had way too many curse words come out of my mouth that even my old hockey coached would not be proud of while riding on that road along with thinking my shoulders were going to break. The only good part of being on that road was how pumped I was to get off it and hammer it a bit to T2. *The bike course was short by about 3 miles by what some of the other competitors had on their Garmin’s.

When coming into T2, you can see the start of the run and who is already out on the course. I saw Duran first and managed to yell a good job to him and then was able to count the 2 girls that were ahead of me.

Run: 1:28:25

photo 5

As I entered T2, I saw my parents waiting for me and they were able to tell me I was 5 minutes down from 1st place. Once I heard that, I decided I was going all in on this run and see where it left me. I headed out and clocked 6:30’s for the first two miles and figured I had to be making ground on the girls already. That was confirmed by Duran as I passed him saying they were probably one or two minutes ahead of me. Since the run was a 2 loop out-and-back course, I broke it down into 2-10K’s and raced them as that too. I managed to pass the girl who was previously in 1st at about mile 3 and saw the other girl at the turnaround…I was close. It’s worth noting this course is done on a side-walk and with all of the rain, the puddles were long and deep on the course. Many racers were going around the puddles on the grass but I took a more direct route and pretended I was competing in the steeple chase and doing high knees right through them. Your feet were going to get wet no matter what so it didn’t matter to me if they got soaked! I finally made the pass on the first place girl before mile 4 and tried to put some space between us but she was hanging tough. At the next turnaround to head out I had only 30 seconds up on her so there was no letting up. I was not only pushed by her but also to break the 1:30 half mark that has been my goal for quite some time. I always go into the run trying to take 3 GU’s and grab water but only usually manage to get down 2 which was the case for this race.The run course got more crowded on the second lap but again most people were going around the puddles which left plenty of room for me to run right through them. I made it to final turn around to only see her still there! I knew if I let up at all she would surge and pass me. I told myself treat it like a 5K and finish it off. With about 2 miles left I ran up to one guy who said, “I hear you”! He had a kit on that said “Put the hammer down” so I proceeded to respond, “you better do what your shirt says” and off we went to hammer those last miles. With one mile left I had a good feeling I would have the win and it turned into a race against the clock! I was so excited to finally break that 1:30 mark for the half and feel so strong doing it.

r

Overall: 4:35 – 1st Overall Female

I’m happy to see how my body performed and even more how I felt after the race. After the Florida race my body was beat up. My hips felt like knives were going in them and I felt really run down. But, after Charleston, I felt like I could easily train the next day and wasn’t waddling when I walked. This race was the last time I will race with Finn – my Felt B12 but I can’t wait to get on my new bike!!

6 weeks to put the head down and as Duran says, “finish the mission!”

photo 4

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.

Untitled

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!

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…

image_3

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.

459788_3417214829492_481819510_o

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!

image_2

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.

image

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.

photo 1

photo 2

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