Wednesday, August 31, 2011

13 Things Your Training Partner Won’t Tell You

I love this... 
From a July 2011 Article

1. There are at least two embarrassing songs on every playlist. There is no need to pretend you don’t know how they got there. Just own up to your love for N’Sync.
2. Everyone pees in the pool at some point. Everyone. Anyone who says they haven’t is lying. The same goes for the mass start of an open-water swim. There’s a reason the water feels so warm.
3. Please limit yourself to no more than two electronic devices when you work out. Anything more and you’ll have more wires coming out of you than an ICU patient.
4. Outside of your running group, no one really cares if you did a brutal 12-miler this morning. No need to try to work it into every conversation you have at work, at school, while shopping, at the bank…
5. It’s embarrassing when you stretch in inappropriate places, like at the checkout aisle of the grocery store.
6. Everyone’s first open-water swim is scary and induces panic. That’s normal. The real champs are the ones who face it and get back in there for a second time.
7. Don’t wear your aero helmet on a group ride unless you want people to think you’re a tool.
8. It’s not bragging if you can do it, but until you’ve done it, zip it.
9. If you’re on a Century ride and take a break, eat first, then reapply chamois cream. Never the other way around. Ever.
10. Do not pee on the bike or run when your training partner is in the “spray zone” behind you. That said, if you haven’t peed on the bike or run, you’re missing out on one of the greater joys of being an endurance athlete.
11. Everyone cringes when they see their race photos online. Do you really look like that when you run? Yes. Yes, you do.
12. Unless you were trying to qualify for the Olympics and failed, please refrain from throwing a hissy fit at the finish line if you are unhappy with your performance. If your child can’t do it in at a restaurant, you can’t do it at the finish line.
13. Even if your training partner is faster than you, don’t discount yourself. Chances are very good that person admires something about you, but just hasn’t told you: your positive attitude, your persistence, or your ability to make compression shorts look good. Whatever it is, keep it up! There’s a reason he or she is still training with you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What a Hurricane Sunday Looks Like In Our House..

Waiting for Irene to pass allowed everyone to take a turn riding the trainer:

I need that child to teach me how to get that aero!

Tea Parties:

And chillin':

Poor Oscar - it's tough living w/ all girls.

We came out of the storm with no basement flooding, and only losing power for a little while. A huge win for us! I hope everyone else stayed safe this weekend too!

I managed a long "run" (I use the term "run" loosely, it was pretty terrible) on Saturday, and then a 1.5 hour trainer ride yesterday. Yesterday marked the end of a recovery week, yet both my mind and legs feel so far from recovered. We'll see what surprises this week has in store, I'm trying to stay positive.

Happy Training!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Strap in, here comes Irene..

In Massachusetts, we're seeing a lot this:

And this:

forecasted for the end of the weekend as Irene comes barreling up the East Coast.

At my house, I have a basement that is susceptible for flooding, and then some of this going on:


So on this beautiful Friday morning, the calm before the storm, I have started negotiations with both my basement, roof, and surround big ass trees.

Stay safe everyone, and happy training!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

My personal 94.35...

On tap this past weekend was what would become the biggest training weekend of my life. A 20 miler on Saturday, to be followed with a preview of the Pumpkinman Half Ironman bike course on Sunday. What it ended up being was that, plus a little bit more.

Saturday morning brought warm (turning to hot) humid temperatures as Lisa and I headed out for our sweat-fest. This run would push me up over 50 run miles on the week, and I lost some sleep due to a sick Caitlyn, so I knew it was probably going to require some digging deep to get this one done. Luckily I was running with someone who's the best at doubling a therapy session with a training session!

Lisa had graciously set out water at miles 10 and 15 (thank you!), so we wouldn't run out of fuel. At the mile 10 stop to refuel, I had to sit down. The heat had gotten to us, and I started feeling dizzy. Knowing we were only halfway there made me want to just sit and cry. The goal then became to just make it to the mile 15 water stop. Lots of gels, water, and a Gatorade powered us to mile 15, where I realized I needed something sugary and bubbly to settle my stomach. We happened to be running through a school campus, and I flagged down a girl on a bike (who's name happened to be Lisa - what are the odds?!?). $1.25 later, and bottles filled with sugary goodness, and we gutted out the last 5 miles. We finished nauseous, dizzy, and hot - but with the reward of a Garmin which read "20".

Time to switch gears - I had to take my beaten down body and start to rest/recover/fuel for my Sunday ride, which would be the longest ride of my (short) cycling life. Trying to get down food is always a struggle for me post long runs, but I put in whatever my body would accept. I drank tons of water, and also managed an hour power nap in the afternoon. To bed early, I had a 530am alarm Sunday morning.

Small tangent here - holy crap does it take a lot of preparation for a long ride!!! I'm used to lacing up my shoes, grabbing some gels, and heading out. Notsomuch. One of the benefits of having a cyclist boyfriend is the knowledge of every last thing I needed, so that made it all more manageable (thanks Phil!). He had also pimped out my bike with a new saddle, aero bottle, a bento box, and another little thinger to hold stuff in the event I flatted on the ride. Yikes. My head was spinning before I even got ON my bike!

I was fortunate enough Sunday to be riding with Sara, who has been racing triathlon for 10+ years, and is a very knowledgeable cyclist. She proved to be a lifesaver, providing me tips and tricks throughout the ride. We set out (another hot/humid day of course!) with our bikes full of Gatorade, Clif/Powerbars, and salt tablets, ready to tackle the Pumpkinman course. The goal was clear - prove that I could make it 56 miles. My longest ride to date was 50 miles.

Holy hills. Call me a skirt, a sally, a wuss - I'm really okay with it. The course was beautiful, and cars were sparse, but it was NOT easy. We had our directions written on an index card, saw other cyclists out on the course, and cruised along for awhile. Sara kept reminding me when/how much to take nutrition, on my gearing, and how to make the ride as manageable as possible. My legs were feeling the 20-miler the day before, but I was focused on the goal. There was a job to be done.

Coming into the last 10 mile stretch, I was feeling so proud of myself. Rockstar status actually. Then we (unknowingly) took a wrong turn. We saw a woman down the road who had flatted, and asked her where we were. She mentioned we had about 10 miles to go, but gave us directions back to the start. Mostly uphill. Awesome. Then as we're about to get going again, Sara flats out. We're hot, tired, sore, and we had passed 56 miles on the Garmin a few miles back. We look at each other, and without saying a word, got on our bikes and started to pedal. No words exchanged, just the sound of our bikes and the road. We were digging deep. And I stopped looking at the Garmin. Just get me home.

As we pulled up next to the car, I stop my watch. 72.35 miles. On top of my 20 miler yesterday. Man, I'm awes....wait a second.. Sara, WHY ARE YOU PUTTING ON RUNNING SHOES?? No, no, no - I am NOT running. No, I will not. My quads, calves, IT bands all threaten to blow up if I so much as LOOK at my running shoes. And then as if I couldn't control myself, I did it. Like ripping off a band-aid. Helmet and shoes (gingerly) off, visor and running shoes on.

Now, I hesitate to classify what I did as a "run", but I moved in the forward direction for 1 mile, and then turned around and came back. Suffice it to say, it was not pretty. And I chose not to think about the other 11 miles I'd have to cover on race day. Wise decision. We hopped in the car, reveled in our accomplishments, and headed back home. You better believe that I topped off that training weekend with sangria and a piece of cheesecake last night. It was glorious.

So here I am, one day after my own weekend of 94.35 miles. I learned a lot about myself this weekend. I am so incredibly thankful for the ability to train hard - I know not everyone is afforded this opportunity, and I never ever take it for granted.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mindful Ignorance....

Which is surely going to turn into "ignorance kicks my ass.."

I'm struggling lately with decision making. Very unsettling for a Type A like myself, but I can't seem to snap out of it. Its this pesky 70.3, that lies 26 days in my future, which I just cannot bring myself to withdraw from.

Being deep in the throes of marathon training isn't helping either I'm sure. I'm a numbers girl, and I want to see my run mileage be a certain number the end of each week. I'm struggling to give up those runs to the swim and bike, but know damn well what this means on 70.3 "race" day.

I feel like I'm one of those people that tells me on a Wednesday that they're attempting their first marathon on the upcoming weekend, and the longest run s/he did in training was 14 miles. I try to mask my horror, and try not to cringe at the pain that poor person is going to feel at mile 20. Shudder.

Yet there's a huge (masochistic??) part of me that wants to see what I'm made of. Clearly, I'm expecting this race to take a solid 7 hours, and God knows I've never had a 7 hour training day. Sure, I can run, but how well after a 1.2 mile swim/float and 56 miles worth of saddle time? I'm assuming it'll be a "wog" at best.

I'm in shape, that I know. I'm on week #3 of consecutive 50+ run miles, plus a swim (yes, singular) and a bike (maybe 2, both over 30 miles). No, I'm not foolish enough to think that run miles convert to anything other than pounding the pavement, but I'm certainly banking on that run fitness to get me to the finish line of the 70.3.

My "A" race for the year is Chicago. And I'm an intelligent person who's well aware of the stupidity of throwing in a half ironman 4 weeks before my "A" race. Especially when the longest triathlon I've ever done has been a sprint. Yet I've somehow convinced myself that if I take two whole days off after Pumpkinman, I'll be good as new to march along with my Chicago training as if nothing ever happened.

In my practical brain, I know full well it's silly, but my emotional brain is overriding everything at the moment. Case in point - there's a the Race Around the Cape 25K on Labor Day (6 days before Pumpkinman), and also a 30K race that I would LOVE to race the weekend after Pumpkinman. I was an Exercise Physiology major in college my friends; I know FULL WELL that this is a terrible, horrible, no good idea. However, my heart wants to do it all, to see how far I can push myself. Fear not, I can pretty much guarantee you that I would laugh at the idea of that 30K thirty seconds after I cross the finish line at Pumpkinman.

This upcoming weekend is calling for a 20 miler on Saturday and a 60 mile ride on Sunday. The 20 miler will push me up over 50 run miles on the week, so if my legs can make it through Sunday's ride without falling right off, I'll feel much more confident in my survival of this race.

And if it doesn't go well? I've chosen not to think about that.

Happy Training!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Birthday Getaway..

I know you've all been sitting hovered over your laptops, hitting refresh again and again in hopes a new post would appear. And if you haven't, lie to me and tell me you have.

Caitlyn is enjoying sunny Florida this week with her dad, so I decided to escape to Stowe for a few days as well. The boyfriend and I packed up and left Massachusetts in our dust early Monday morning, for a week of running, cycling, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. What? You thought I actually RELAX on vacation? Nonsense my bloggy friends, nonsense.

It was a simply fabulous few days, and my body is sufficiently trashed. We went on a great hike when we arrived in Stowe on Monday. It was a steep technical hike that made me engage muscles I never use. Yeah, not so warm and fuzzy feeling. And you HAD to know that the trail we took was appropriately named "Hell Brook". Right.

As a reward for our hard work, we fed our my sore muscles table side guacamole and margaritas. Delish.

Tuesday I woke up early enough to get in my double digit marathon training mileage, and then geared up to summit Mount Mansfield. My legs were sore, but I told them we were sending off year 31 in style, and they should probably just lock it up. They eventually gave into my whining.

The hiking Tuesday was a perfect mix of gorgeous and challenging. Lots of steep rocky sections, mixed with a few flat sections that allowed you to gulp water and chow on swedish fish. Don't judge. And the pay off was this view at the top. Perfection.

Wednesday was all birthday happiness. An early birthday run with perfect weather for this newly appointed 32 year old; a cool 60ish degrees along a bike path winding me around very cool parts of Stowe. A ridiculously fabulously awesome pancake breakfast (banana chocolate chip, thankyouverymuch), and then we were on a mission to find water. I was in need of an open water birthday swim. We were lucky enough to land at a reservoir in Waterbury that allowed me to swim about 2 miles. For someone that's only swam twice this season, I'm lucky my arms didn't fall right off. I asked Phil to canoe in front of me, so I wouldn't get taken out by any of the recreational toys in the water; secretly it was to act as a bail-out device for me, should my shoulders wave the white flag. They hung on, and I was in heaven.

As for birthday dinner? Un-freaking-believable. I ate dessert AND had a boozed filled coffee. In addition to a bottle of wine. Yeah, thats right. And enjoyed every last 28746582 calories.

We left Stowe today, but not after a last run on the Stowe bike path. Upon our arrival back in Massachusetts, I was able to squeak out the last few miles of this double run day; I'm finishing up my mini-vacation cozied up with some Phish Food Ben & Jerry's fro-yo (I can't quit Vermont quite yet) and a pre-season Patriots game. Glorious.

One day in, and year 32 is pretty damn awesome.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yankee Homecoming, or Idiotic Racing 101...

Starting off this post slightly off topic - got my bloodwork back from my physical; my RBC, Hematocrit and Iron levels are through the floor again. While it would be lovely to use as an excuse to sandbag every run and race moving forward, Im reaching out to all my fellow anemics to ask what you do? I currently take one iron supplement a day, but clearly thats not helping enough. Oxygen in my muscles would be an added bonus when running, so any thoughts would be appreciated!

Moving on to yesterday. It was a good day - work was busy, I made sure to make smart food choices (minus the mini bag of Skittles - it was calling out to me, totally not my fault!), and drank plenty of water.

Came home and rolled out the hamstrings and piriformis with this candle. No, I'm no joking - I have yet to obtain a foam roller, and couldn't locate a rolling pin. Desperate times people..

Worked like a charm, with the added bonus of having scented running shorts by the end (you're welcome, to all those running behind me last night!). The only thing I didn't think about was how waxy my butt would get. Oh well, small price to pay..

Got to the race in plenty of time to get in a decent warm-up - 2 painful slow miles, watching the stormy sky, and just waiting for it to open up. Thankfully it never rained more than just a sprinkle.

I haven't raced in forever, and as much as I would like to pretend that speedwork in training is the same, it's not. You put me on a line with 2000+ other people, and it's nothing like doing a track workout or a tempo run. As I made my way to the starting line, I changed my race plan about 6 times. I was a giant ball of nerves.

Thinking there was a starting mat (it was chip timing), I tucked in with a group of people mid-pack. We were a good distance from the actual starting line, but my plan was to just jog to the start, and take it from there.

Gun goes off, the crowd inches forward. As I cross the start line, I look down. No mat. *&^$%&*!!! I just lost almost a minute!! Doesn't matter, I have my Garmin, which will give me MY accurate time. Okay - time to focus.

I found a pace which felt "good". Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I knew it was too fast (for me), but it was nice to feel like I was working. Mile 1: 7:37. Oh shit. Again, my mind was telling me that unless I wanted to this to be a death march at the end, I should probably slow down. However, the legs felt like moving. And they won the mind vs legs battle. Mile 2: 7:39. It was about here that my mind told my legs that this race was NOT a 5K, and I was going to be in monster trouble in about a half hour. My legs gave in a little, but not much. Mile 3: 7:51.

The realization that I was an idiot and went out WAY too fast washed over me. My legs felt it, and my mind knew it. I needed to avoid the downward mental spiral, or it was game over for me. I needed to re-adjust, and try to stay around 8's the rest of the night. IF I hadn't already blown up too hard. Mile 4: 7:57. Okay, this is where I probably should be - settle in Meaghan, settle in.

My legs were feeling 10K-ish, and this is a 10-miler. Glorious. There's a hill that although doesn't get steep until Mile 6, starts somewhere around Mile 5. I'm NOT a good hill runner, and the aforementioned 10K legs aren't helping me much. Mile 5: 8:18. Oh, this is so not good.

Mile 6 was the low point of the night for me. I saw a group of people in front of their house with an extra lawn chair and a cooler. "Hmmm, maybe I can gracefully bow out. No one would really care, and I could be done.." "This is stupid. I feel like hell, this hill hurts, and I'm not meant to be a runner. Maybe I should take up competitive knitting. Yes, that's what I'm going to do, starting tomorrow". "if I stop here, and cut through neighborhoods, would the walk back REALLY be that long?". Yeah, it got reeealllllyyyy ugly in my mind. This is what I shall call my "meltdown mile". Mile 6: 8:40. Nope, not a typo kids, NOT a typo. Don't be jealous.

I needed to make a choice - mail in the rest of the race, or figure out how to push through this and pull out a somewhat respectable time. I knew I wasn't going to bring it back to 7:37's, but I needed to force my legs to do what they could at this stage of the game. Just focus, and trust my legs know what to do. Mile 7: 8:14. Better.

Facts: I felt like hell. My stomach was cramping, I had gone to a much less than ideal mental place, and my head was all foggy. I needed to just trust my legs. I only needed to get to mile 8. I was now running for "2 miles to go". I can do this. During this mile, I overhear a tween talking to her friend: "if these people aren't winning, why are they doing this?". Good question kid, good question. Mile 8: 8:12.

Two itty bitty miles to go. Worst case, 20 minutes. I'm thinking "I can run for 20 minutes. I'm only going to focus on getting to mile 9. Then I only have a mile. Every step I take is one step closer to mile 9. Just keep moving forward." It was about here I swore off ever doing a marathon again. I'm only 8 miles in and feel like I wanted to die. How the hell would I ever make it 18 more?? Yikes. Mile 9: 8:17.

Last mile. Oh God I just wanted to be done. I could feel my stomach revolting, and just needed to keep everything down for another 8-10 minutes. I just put my head down, and concentrated on one foot in front of the other. It was such a long mile. I knew I was in a place to most likely PR on this course, but knew I had no chance of PR'ing at the distance. I knew it was due to my terrible race pacing, but chose not to think about that until after the race. Mile 10: 7:59.

Total time: 1:20:45.
Average pace/mile: 8:04

(1) I knocked 3 minutes off my time on this course from last year
(2) I was only 45 seconds off my 10-mile PR, and this was a Tuesday night "race".

Not so positives:
(1) I ran the race like a moron
(2) I allowed myself to go to a terrible mental place
(3) I lost perspective
(4) I didn't run to my potential

I have a lot of thinking to do, and clearly a lot of work to do. I'm happy I did the race, and I'll most definitely do it again next year.

Happy Training!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Month to ME!

Its August, which can only mean one thing - it's my birthday month!

And today, I shall celebrate this first day of my birthday month with my very first Lululemon running get-up. And then, I shall debut my new outfit at the Yankee Homecoming 10 miler tomorrow night. I mean, if I can't run fast in shorts like these:

I should probably just hang 'em up, right?

Speaking of the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler tomorrow night, I still don't have a race plan. Then again, how do you really prepare for a race that starts at 6:15pm in the middle of the week on a summer night? Right. I ran this race last year, with the intent to average goal marathon pace, and executed perfectly. Naturally, I want to run faster this year. I need to have a successful race (whatever that means) so badly, to get my head back in the running game.

The first step is defining what success would look like tomorrow night - I can't afford to set myself up for disappointment again by going after a PR in every race, with the mindset that anything short of that equals failure. I think success tomorrow night is multi-tiered: (1) finish feeling strong/confident and (2) a faster finishing time than in 2010. Of course, breaking my 10-mile PR would be awesome, but I won't make that my lead goal.

I get paralyzed with fear anytime I toe the line for a race - whether it's a race to practice a certain pace, or to practice nutrition, or to test the turnover of the legs. In fact, if I have a workout planned with speed or pace work in it, I stress out about it for days prior. I put incredible amounts of pressure on myself, and my fear of failure at times feels insurmountable. I'm attempting to overcome this fear with several races during my birthday month this year. I'm doing this in hopes that the more I practice racing, the less big and scary it will feel.

I could come up with a million and five reasons to either not start, or to sandbag tomorrow nights race. Instead, I'm going to do my best to push the negative thoughts out, let the positive thoughts in, and put together the best 10 miles that I can.

And with my new LuLu outift, at least I'll look cute doing it!

Happy Training!