Monday, October 19, 2009

Seattle is a No Go

I found out this last week that my training for work will not happen in Seattle. This means no Seattle half marathon for me. I plan to regroup and try and find a race I can work towards. Shoot, maybe I'll just train a little longer and do the whole 26.2.

Just kidding. . .maybe.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tri Glenwood Review

I apologize for the delay in this post. I hope to be better at blogging now that the season is over.

If you ever have the opportunity to do this race - DO IT. I don't know what exactly made this one so much fun; it was my second triathlon, the swim was pool and not open water, and the atmosphere was much more. . .well. . .friendly. There were a lot of families doing this race - husbands and wives, parents and their kids, brothers and sisters, etc.

M and I made it to Glenwood Springs on Saturday afternoon and played tourist for a while. He dropped me off for the orientation, which was relatively informative. The USAT official was there to give us his spiel, and they noted that there were 75 first timers to race. I thought that was pretty neat. I found out I was in the first heat (6:30am start time), so we were getting up pretty early.

Like, 5am early.

I prepped all of my stuff the night before and packed my transition bag. I woke up at 5am and got dressed and ready to go. M went down to the car to make sure everything was okay on the bike (we didn't need that kind of drama again), and I tried to take a few bites of my Powerbar. We left the hotel around 5:40 and started walking towards the Hot Springs Pool. Our hotel was about 1/3 mile from the Pool.

One thing I really liked about this race was that they had an assigned spot for each bike. I like knowing I don't have to worry about where to put all of my stuff, or to fight with other competitors about who gets what spot. When I got to the transition area, they were just finishing the set up, but a lot of people were already there. I had an end spot on my row (score!), but someone was already there setting up. I started looking at the stickers to make sure, and when I made it to her she said something like, "oh, I didn't realize they were marked." Um, if you're here at 5:45 in the morning to make sure you get an end spot, I'm pretty sure you know how this works. Rant over.

I learned a couple of things from my first tri and how I wanted to set up my gear. One thing I noticed was that most people who wore socks rolled them up like pantyhose, to make them easier to get over your feet when they're wet. I had my bottle of water, bottle of Gatorade, and Shot Blocks set up and ready to go. It was pretty darn cold Sunday morning (~47 degrees), so I had a jacket ready just in case. We made our way into the main entrance of the pool so I could get marked and get my chip. They were running a little behind, and didn't start giving out chips until about 6:15. I was amazed there were people there that were in a later heat. Luckily, everyone was really nice and let me cut to the front of the line so I could get out to the pool on time.

M walked me outside to the pool, took my "before" picture, wished me good luck with a kiss and sent me on my way. The pool itself if fed off of a hot spring, which they said they "cooled down" for the race. I got in and basically knelt down on the pool floor to keep warm. If you've ever been in a hot spring (or even a hot tub) before, you know what it feels like to be nice and warm and then get out. As 6:30 approached, the race director started to call out the numbers of people that hadn't checked in yet to see if they were in the pool. We had 58 people in our heat, and I'm sure he called out at least 10-12 numbers. Hey, that means more room for the rest of us. We all counted down together, the buzzer rang, and off we went for our seven lengths (the pools is over 100m long).

I was definitely more aggressive during this swim than the last. I had a (slightly) better idea of what I was doing, and I wanted to keep the swim as short as possible. The pool was set up with one long string our buoys in the middle. I followed them intently to make sure I wasn't swimming all over the place. M said he was watching people zig zag everywhere. There was a woman right in front of me that I could drag off of; once she left me I could definitely tell what a difference she made in cutting the water. Thanks anonymous athlete! The water felt noticeably cooler than previous times I have been there, I could notice a difference in all spots but one. I'm sure this is where the hot spring itself spilled into the pool. It felt like I was using more energy in this spot, so I did my best to streamline myself. It really felt like I was going much faster than normal; I wanted so badly to come in under the 25 minute cutoff. Once I finished the 7th length, I didn't see any other way to get out other than to pull myself up on the side. My arms were *exhausted* by this point. I think I did a belly flop to get out of the pool. I'm sure I looked like a beached whale. I got myself up and raced over to T1. I refused to look back.

M was outside the transition area to cheer me on, which was a nice surprise. I was sure he was heading back to the hotel for a nap. He told me later that about 1/3 of my heat was still in the pool when I got out. I got into my gear, took a big swig of Gatorade, grabbed my bike off the rack and jogged towards the end of the transition area. Jogging in bike shoes is WEIRD. I felt like a horse running in its shoes with all the noise I was making. I decided against putting the jacket on; I didn't necessarily regret that decision, but more on that later.

The ride on I-70 was not as bad as I had feared. There were volunteers at every on ramp slowing traffic down so riders could pass. Everyone was very friendly, bundled up in their coats with their coffee just chatting away. It was on the bike that I started getting passed. I expected this to happen; I'm not the fastest cyclist in the world. I lost count at the number of times I was passed, but I made sure to shout out at each one of them, "have a great day!" I wanted to repay some of the kindness I received during my first triathlon from other competitors. The first heat consisted of mostly beginners or those of us who knew they would take a while (like yours truly). It was when I started getting passed by those in the heat after me that I got a little discouraged. As much as you want to say that you are competing only against yourself, there will always be a part of you that looks to the others. There is nothing wrong with that, it's simply human nature.

The course was quite deceiving when I drove it. It looked to be uphill on the way out, and downhill on the way back. It was in fact the opposite. Bummer. Once I got to the half way point and made my way back up I-70 to the Glenwood exit, I hit a horrible head wind. I hadn't had a chance to put a computer on this bike yet, so I have no idea how slow that second half really was. It's probably better that I didn't know. This is where I started getting passed by people in the second heat. I'm sure they are much stronger than I and could push through the wind. This is also the place where I was singing praises that I had a geared bike. I love my single speed, I really, really do. But, I don't know how I would have made it without walking a portion if it hadn't been for gears. About that decision not to wear a jacket on the bike? That head wind was *cold.* I had goosebumps the whole way back. I am very proud to say that I rode the whole thing, at no point did I have to walk. This made taking a Clif Shot slightly more difficult. I took my shot last time when I was walking up the widow maker, so trying to keep upright with a head wind and get all of the shot out of the package was quite the juggling feat. Maybe my real calling is the circus.

I made it back in to T2 and racked my bike. I swapped my shoes, which got a little frustrating as my socks had absorbed all of the water from my feet. This made getting my running shoes on slightly difficult. Having jello legs did not help this transition either. I saw some women sitting down on the curb, which I did not want to do. To me, it is a waste of valuable time to sit down and get back up. I grabbed my running hat and got on my way.

I really need to incorporate more brick workouts into my training. I have the hardest time making it more than 1/4 mile without stopping to walk during an actual race. It happened again this time, but because I had an opportunity to run the course the week before I felt a bit more prepared. There were more volunteers and more cheerfulness. The first mile of the run also took you by the finish line, which was neat to see before hand.

I did the run/walk method until I got to 27th street, which is the turn around point (around the three mile mark). My run/walk method is not time or distance based, but HR based. I run until I hit 165, then I walk until I come back down to 130ish. My HR recovers very quickly, so I was never walking for more than ~90 seconds at a time. Once I hit 27th street and got up the initial hill, I knew the rest of the course was a slight downhill. I knew at that point I was golden. I didn't stop running after that, I am proud to say. There were signs plastered along the back of the route; people cheering their friends on. My favorite one was a poster that said, "Run like hell, Katie Bell!" She was one of the favorites to win the women's title for first time triathletes. She came in 75th overall, and 13th for first time women. Great job Katie! I got passed some more on the run, more and more by people in the second heat. I didn't see anyone from the third heat, I think that would have really discouraged me. On Midland Avenue (the downhill stretch home), I was passed with 1 1/2 miles to go by a woman who told me, "thank you for being my pacer." I didn't get her bib number to see how she did, but I'll take that as a compliment.

I turned the corner at 8th Avenue and knew I had about 1/2 a mile to go. I tried to ramp it up and finish strong, but I had already given it every last thing I had. I'm sure I looked pitiful crossing that finish line, but I finished. They looked up your name based on your bib and called it out as you approached the end, which I thought was really nice. People cheered for everyone who crossed.

I immediately made my way to the service table. I was ravenous! There was quite the spread of goodies, of which I grabbed a banana nut muffin and some water. I made my way back to the transition area to grab my stuff, and then back to the hotel to relax and shower. The sulfur from the water gave me a nice "rotten egg" smell that I really wanted to get off.

Sadly, M was not there to meet me at the finish line. So, I don't have a picture of me crossing it either. I told him how long I thought it would take me, and he went back to the hotel to take a nap after he cheered me on at T1. M slept through his alarm and we missed each other by about five minutes. I'm bummed he wasn't there, but he beat himself up over more than I ever could (or would, for that matter). As a way of saying "I'm sorry," he let me choose where we went to lunch. M really wanted to go to this burger joint off the highway, but my hungry belly was saying Moe's. It was delicious!

My goal this time was to do better than before, but still not be last. My goal times were:

Swim: 25:00
T1: 2:30
Bike: 1:00:00
T2: 2:30
Run: 1:15:00
Total time: 2:45:00

My official times were:

Swim: 24:55
T1: 2:29
Bike: 1:03:17 (stupid head wind)
T2: 2:22
Run: 1:06:25
Total time: 2:39:26

Coming in 5 1/2 minutes under goal time isn't too shabby, if I do say so myself. The overall time was over 15 minutes longer than Highline, but this was also a longer course. Being the math nerd that I am, I like to look at an apples-to-apples comparison:

Highline: Average .89 MPH
Glenwood: Average 1.20 MPH
Highline: Average 12.89 MPH
Glenwood: Average 14.22 MPH
Highline: Average 13:59/mile
Glenwood: Average 13:20/mile

There is still plenty of progress to be made, but I am coming along.

I have yet to download the pictures M took, so I will update this post with the "before" pictures later. Have a great week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

You know what really grinds my gears?

When people are outside on their bicycles at 6am, when its still dark, and you can't see them until they are right on top of you.

Last Wednesday, I went for my morning run at 6am. On my way to the park behind our development, I saw a black shadow coming towards me (I couldn't really see that great without my glasses). I finally determine its a cyclist:

- On a black bike
- Wearing black cycling clothes and a dark helmet
- With no headlamp or tail lamp
- All reflectors had been removed off the bike

She did have a reflective piece of fabric on her messenger bag, which was on her back. She was riding on the road *against* traffic. I don't know how much more irresponsible you can get. They have recently passed a law in Colorado that if you're going through a tunnel on a bicycle you are required to have a head and tail lamp. Why on earth would you not have this equipment when the sun doesn't rise for another 20+ minutes???

In other news, I swam last week for the first time in almost three weeks. Amazingly, I took a minute off my time, bringing me under the 25 minute mark required for the swim. I swam it in 24:12, which gives me 48 seconds to get out of the pool and run to T1. I think that might be cutting it a bit too close. I really pushed my arms the last 75 meters this last time, which appeared to make all the difference. Perhaps if I work up to pushing the last 150-200 meters or so, I can shave some more time off. I still have 2 1/2 weeks to work on it.

I also went for a long bike on Sunday and averaged 15mph; not bad for my new bike. I'm debating going back to the Highline course and trying to tackle that hill again. Crazy? Probably, most definitely, yes. There is nothing like that on I-70 (at least that I could tell on the drive, the exit to cross over is obviously a hill, but probably the largest one on the course). It may be a good idea to face that demon though (the hill) before I tackle my next tri. I travel to Glenwood Springs for work at the end of next week and plan to jog at least some, if not all of the run course. I think after that I might treat myself to some Moe's. It's the only location in Colorado.

Finally, I should know in the next couple of weeks where my training will be later on this year. I really don't think I'll be ready for the Moab Half Marathon my October, so I guess my first choice is now Seattle. It was fun when we were up there last year; I wouldn't mind 2 1/2 more weeks in Washington.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hello, Internet

When I logged into Blogger today, it shows I haven't made a post since July 13, 2009. I know that Liza had left me a message asking "what's new" and I had a whole bunch to say, but just didn't really have the motivation.

My mom died a little over a week ago. She had been sick for quite some time; but as prepared as you think you can be, you can never be ready. My dad is heart broken, as they would have been married 42 years this October. She was only 65; I never expected to have to bury my mother at such a young age.

I had been traveling from my home on the Western Slope to the Front Range of Colorado to visit her and my dad. While I want to say I kept up with my regimen while I was there, I failed miserably. I did take my new bicycle* up there this last time, but only got on it once for a total of 19 miles. I ran three times up there as well, but with everything going on. . .well, to quote a country song, "My give a damn's busted."

I got home on Thursday and realized the race I wanted to enter was yesterday. I could sign up online through midnight and still get the early registration rate. I had decided not to enter the race, given the overall exhaustion of the last two weeks. I hadn't even gone out for a run in 10 days! But, M talked me into it and I signed up via I needed to get in a training run anyway.

Now, just two weeks ago I went for a 5 mile jog and was able to go the whole distance without stopping. I had finally pushed through that mental block and knew if I could just get through the first two miles, I was golden. I guess when you don't run for 10 days those mental demons come back with a vengeance. Nothing seemed to go right yesterday; people were cranky for trivial reasons in line to get their race numbers. The race started 10 minutes late because of a flooded spot on the course. No matter how slow I went, once my heart rate went up I couldn't get it to come back down. I struggled the last half of the race and ended up finishing last. I guess I was so far behind everyone else that when I made it to the finish they were already handing out the awards for both races (there was a 5K and a 5 mile, which is the one I did).

Now I know what you're thinking, I finished and that is the important thing. While this is true, I thought I had made some progress against those mental demons telling me to walk instead of run. I also realized yesterday (hopefully not too late) I really need to do some hip work to strengthen those joints. Finally, I think I may need new running shoes. I've had mine for a year now and estimated they have about 250-300 miles on them. It doesn't sound like much, but I felt a thin spot under the ball of my foot that gave me another indicator its time for new shoes. I believe there is a local running store in my town, so I will head over there next week.

I hope to get back into the swing of things with training and the blog this week. There are four weeks to go until Tri Glenwood. God help me now.
*Yes, I bought a new road bike. I will post about her later in the week (and yes, it's a girl).

Monday, July 13, 2009

I took the plunge

M and I stopped at on outlet mall on our way home yesterday and found that the Pearl Izumi store was having a *huge* sale. I finally took the plunge and bought these. They are the Attack MTB II cycling shoe.

M promised we will go to the park this weekend so I can learn how to clip in & out of my pedals. We bought pedals last year that had one "regular" side (for use with sneakers) and a clipless side. They have been waiting for the day I would decide to start riding with real cycling shoes.

Why go to the park, you ask? Because there will be lots of grass there to cushion my many, many falls.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I made the cut!

Of course, I'm bummed that my co-worker didn't make it in this year. She really wants to do a triathlon (its a life long goal for her). From the information I found, they closed the registration on June 21; she sent her stuff in later that week. She was going to do Highline with M and I, but her step-sister was getting married the same weekend in Las Vegas. I told her if she went to the wedding (long story on why she didn't want to go), that we would go to Glenwood together. I feel awful I have to go back on my word.

In other news, I re-worked my training schedule and had my brother-in-law and his wife take a look at it. They are quite the knowledge base! I could sit there for hours and hear stories about their training and adventures. I guess that will have to wait until we don't have 12 people at the lunch table.

Instead of using TriNewbies as I did for Highline, I modified Hal Higdon's novice half marathon schedule to incorporate all three sports. The run is 5 miles instead of 5K, so I think if I focus on that leg I can shave a lot of time off. I've worked up a preliminary "goal time" in my head, but I want to get some more training under my belt before I share it with the world.

Nine weeks to go, with promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I have been stalking

The entry form said they would post which athletes made the lottery "the first week in July." Well, I've been stalking the website ever since July 1. There is still nothing listed, but I guess if you consider this the first full week of July, they have until COB today.

On a brighter note, I went to look at my checking account online this morning and guess what got cashed??? My check for the entry fee. I would hope they would only cash the checks of those they accepted and return the others instead of cashing them all. DON'T BE A TEASE TRI GLENWOOD!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Traveling and Training

I seem to have an extremely hard time getting my training in when I travel. Traveling overnight for work is a twice monthly occurance for me (at least), so I try to find a hotel that has a fitness center and pool (out here my choice is pretty much limited to the Hampton Inn). By the time I get there, three thoughts run through my head:

1. Dinner
2. What work should I do tonight to get ready for tomorrow
3. Training

The great thing about my job is that I can work >8 hours while I travel and get "credit" for them later. So, if I work an extra 3-4 hours while I'm gone I can take Friday afternoon off. That dangled carrot always seems to get in the way of working out.

I'm traveling to see my parents this weekend. I'm going to try a couple of different things to get my training in before I come up with an excuse not to. This will probably mean switching my runs to the morning. I prefer to run in the evening after it cools off, but this means we don't eat dinner until 9pm. While M said he had no problem with this, my run schedule last night proved otherwise. At least I got a good reminder why I don't run with anything in my stomach.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I've been working on modifying Hal Higdon's Novice Half Marathon Training to meet my schedule. I have master's swim class on Thursday nights and would like to keep going to work on my speed and technique. I also ride long and swim on Sunday mornings. With everything in pencil on my print out, I think I am ready to begin this week. The training schedule is twelve weeks long, but the Seattle Half Marathon is over twenty-four weeks away. Being able to repeat each week is going to be nice.

The schedule also allows for two races - a 5K during week 6 and a 10K during week 9. I've been searching for races to do in my area and here is what I've found:

Palisade Peach Festival 5 Miler - August 15th
The Other Half (Half Marathon in case we don't go to Seattle) - October 18th

There really isn't anything else out here on the Western Slope that isn't already full. I'm hoping I can also find some races near my parents so I can combine a visit with a race. The options there appear to be much more abundant.

Here's the funny thing; had we not moved away from my parents, I don't think I would have ever thought to do any of this. There is no way I would have considered doing a triathlon; I would have been happy to just walk various courses. What a difference a change in scenery makes. My training begins again tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


You'll have to click on the comic to enlarge it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Signed up for Tri #2

I sent in my application and entry fee for Tri Glenwood last week. They only allow for 300 spots, so I'll know sometime in July if I made it in.

My goal in the next couple of weeks is to get back into the swing of things. I have downloaded Hal Higdon's novice half-marathon training guide. I'm hoping this will help with my speed and endurance. Also, there is a possibility I will be sent to Seattle again for training in November. The Seattle Marathon (and associated half-marathon) are during that time. Once I find out if I'm going to Washington, I will sign up.

I couldn't run a year ago and now I want to do half-marathon *and* and second triathlon by the end of the year. Yep, I'm definitely crazy.

Allow me to introduce you to "The Hill"

I had to travel by the tri course this week for work, so I thought I would get out of the car and take a picture for all of you to see. There were two other large hills on the race course, but this is the one I lovingly referred to my father-in-law as "the widow maker."

I still can't tell what grade the hill is, but it's probably somewhere in the 12-15% range and ~125 yards long?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I didn't say it would be easy . . .

Just that it would be worth it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I finished. 9 1/2 months of training culminated into an experience I will never forget. I was certainly not the fastest, but I wasn't the last one either.

My main goal was to finish. My secondary goal was to do each leg within a certain amount of time:

Swim - 20 minutes
T1 - 5 minutes
Bike - 1 hour 15 minutes
T2 - 5 minutes
Run - 45 minutes
Total time - 2 hours 30 minutes

Let me start off by saying we had a bit of drama the morning of the race. I thought I might have a slow leak in my tires, so I pumped them up before dinner on Friday night. If they were lower in the morning I knew I would have to carry an extra CO2 cartridge. I didn't even bother to look at my bike until 5:50am Saturday morning when my father-in-law showed up to drive us to the course (30 minutes away).

My front tire was completely flat.

I tried pumping it up again, but as I began to hear that unmistakable hiss of a punctured tube I knew I was in trouble. No problem, I thought; M is faster at patching a tube than I am so I'll ask him.

M sat there and quickly patched the tube, got it to hold some air and we put the bike back together. He went to pump the tire up to pressure and we heard the hiss again. Had we missed a puncture? We took the wheel off again to find that there wasn't another hole in the tube, but the patch M just placed had busted off. He sat down and began to mend the tube once again. It was about 6:10 at this point; we should have left the house at 6am. My father-in-law took M's bike and gear outside to start loading the car. I asked him if we had another tube for my bike, the answer was sadly no. We had tubes that would work, but they also had punctures (we really need to sit down and have a patch party). He patched my tube again and this time gave it a couple of extra minutes for the glue to dry.

While we were waiting I told him that if this didn't work he needed to go. I would catch up later and cheer him on. Apparently, this was out of the question for him. If all else failed, he said he would adjust his race bike and I could ride that instead. My wonderful husband wasn't about to let his wife give up.

M pumped the tube up again and within seconds the patch busted off.

It was 6:18 and the race started at 7:30. M told both my father-in-law and I that we needed to get in the car. We loaded my bike and gear and headed down to the only place in this small town open at 6am to get anew tube - Wal-Mart.

For those of you that know us you'll understand how much it pained us to have to go there. We don't shop at Wal-Mart unless there is no alternative. We choose not to use our money to support business practices we don't agree with. Obviously, we were desperate. We make it to Wal-Mart, get the tube (we only bought one, I have no idea why we didn't get a spare just in case), and run back out to the car. It was now 6:36. The 30 minute drive to Highline State Park begins.

I'm in the back trying to collect my thoughts. I have completely accepted the fact that I may not race. Stuff happens, and this time it just wasn't meant to be. We get there at 7:10 and park at with the other athletes. M then decides to tell me that he may have bought the wrong size tube. Awesome. He changes everything out, pumps my tire up, and miraculously my bike ready to go! We grab all of our gear and make our way (hurriedly) to the transition area to set up. At this point, we can see everyone else making their way to the starting line at the swim beach.
We first have to stop by the desk and get numbered and chipped. We are the last two athletes to check in. I get my number written on my left arm and left calf and my timing chip that straps around my ankle.
We then run over to the transition area only to find that all the spots are taken. Both M and I park our bikes against the make shift fence surrounding the area and I hurriedly put out my stuff and jump into my wetsuit. I grab my cap, goggles, nose plug and ear plugs and start walking quickly towards the water. Within 60 seconds, the first heat of swimmers has started. Thank goodness we were in Heat #2.

The water was so much warmer than it had been the two times we had trained in the lake. Everyone was excited and friendly. I had no time to stretch or mentally prepare. M said it was better for him that way; he was focused on getting my bike up and running instead of becoming a ball of nerves. Five minutes after the first heat left, it was time to go.

We purposefully waited back about 15 seconds until the mayhem had subsided. Other athletes had the same idea we did, so when we all saw each other standing there we laughed. M and I made our way to the first buoy and to be honest, it wasn't that bad; I didn't freak out like I thought I would. The thought of not being able to touch my feet to the ground really didn't bother me until I saw the first guy swim back to shore about 30 seconds in. He said he just couldn't do it. Then I started hearing people cry for help and wave their arms to the lifeboats out on the lake. It was great to see other swimmers stop to help them, but I knew I had no business trying to help someone when I can barely swim myself. I had to keep going.

M told me later there were two men that would swim quickly for 60 seconds or so then cry out for help so they could hold onto a boat to rest. Are you kidding me? What good does that do? I found myself repeating one phrase in my head to keep myself calm, "slow and steady wins the race." Or, in my case, "slow and steady keeps you from drowning." Either way, it worked. I stayed to the outside of everyone towards the end; I kept running over another swimmer and I didn't want to get in anyone else's way. I probably ended up swimming more like 600 meters than 500.
I got out of the water and walked my way to T1. After the last two times in the water, I didn't want to stumble and fall with my head spinning. Luckily, I did go ahead and buy some wax earplugs and put them in for the swim. What a difference some wax makes! I wasn't dizzy at all, but still wanted to be careful as the beach was rocky and really comfortable to walk on (as my girlfriends would say, the jagged rocks made me stabby). I joked with another woman who also set up her bike and gear against the fence. She was talking to her children while getting ready for the bike portion (she had to have been at least 60, what an inspiration!). I jumped out of my wetsuit, put on my shoes, grabbed my glasses, helmet and gloves and made my way to the end of the transition area (I don't know if you can see it in the pictures, but it's a pink line). You have to mount and dismount outside of the pink line or you can be DQ'd. This is always a good thing to know.

The bike was uneventful overall. The course is pretty hilly, there is quite a large hill at the beginning (and subsequently end) of the course. Going out was great, out of the three bigger hills two of them were downhill. It was coming back that was a bit more challenging. I had to walk all three hills; I just couldn't do it on my single speed and I had to strategize what would be in my (legs) best interest. Walking up that first hill I could feel my calves tighten up, I should have tried to stretch! I know all of the walking did horrible things to my time, but I also know that had I stayed on my 16 tooth cog I would have had the same problem *and* more time on the clock because I spinout at a lower speed. The walking also gave me a good spot to take in a Gu for the run portion. I'm satisfied with my choice to change cogs a week before, but I'm going to say here and now I'm doing the Hustle next year. Those hills will not beat me again!

I was only 3-4 miles into the course when I saw the frontrunner (who I believe ended up winning). I saw M about mile 9, but not before I saw a guy flip over his handlebars right at the turnaround point. I stopped for a few seconds to make sure he was okay, which he was. He had no idea what happened. All I saw from behind was his front wheel turning90 degrees and off he went. I think the fall spooked him a bit because I beat him and his race partner back to the transition area.

I made it back in what seemed like a reasonable time to hear the cheers of my in-laws as I went into T2. I have to say I'm pretty lucky in the family department. Since I don't bike with clip less shoes/pedals yet, I didn't have to waste time changing shoes. I can only hope once I start riding clip less I can still keep my T2 time down. Speaking of which, how do people have a T1 time of under 60 seconds? I need to get in on that secret. My helmet and gloves were off, my running cap was on and I was on my way to the trail. I think I made it less than a quarter of a mile before I had to walk. I knew the run would be difficult after expelling energy for the last hour and forty minutes, but its something I don't think you can ever really prepare yourself for until you're in it.I mean, brick workouts are great and give you a good feeling for your "jelly legs," but most training plans have you run for 10 minutes or less after a 6-8 mile bike. I will need to beef up my brick workouts for next time. The trail was pretty hilly, but very well marked. Highline Lake has a lot of side trails going off of the main one we were on, the organizers did a great job of putting down arrows to keep you on track. I made myself a deal that I would walk the up hills and jog everything else. That worked for me. There was one last hill around a dam before the final straight away, then probably 1/3 of a mile to the finish line. My legs felt warm and loose by the time I made it to the end; why couldn't they have been that way at the beginning of the run? It would have made things so much easier. My final pace was 13:59/mile. I know I can shave off a lot of time by building a better running base. That will be my next area of focus. After I crossed the finish line I was immediately asked for my chip. While I was taking it off I muttered, "Thank the sweet baby Jesus" and got a good laugh out of the race organizers. I got to spend some time with my family while waiting for M. We saw him coming up the straight-away and I went out to meet him. We jogged in together and I fell back as he crossed the finish line too. It was so easy to jog with him after the race, I almost feel like I didn't give it my all. I wasn't very sore on Sunday either. I don't know if I should be happy that my training helped me not be sore or sad I didn't give it 110%. The woman who won overall finished in 1:23:29 and is 42 years old, so there is hope for me yet. My final times were:

Swim - 20:29 (goal was 20 minutes)
T1 - 2:46 (goal was 5 minutes)
Bike - 1:14:33 (goal was 1 hour 15 minutes)
T2 - 1:13 (goal was 5 minutes)
Run - 43:19 (goal was 45 minutes)
Total time - 2:22:18 (goal was 2 hours 30 minutes)

I'm taking things easy this week and working on active recovery. I rode my bike to work today and will go to my Master's swimming class tomorrow. I want to start running again this weekend and build strength training into my regimen. I think this would really help my endurance. Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Workout!

Tuesday: Bike ~14.5 miles
Wednesday: Swim 300 yards, run 25 minutes
Today: Swim ONE MILE!
Tomorrow: Absolutely nothing. Woot!

I took my bike for another spin with the 14 tooth cog. 36 hours from race day and I still don't know which one I'm going to ride (14 vs 16). Way to put off things until the last minute, huh?

I did my final run on Wednesday and my last swim tonight at Masters class. I hadn't planned on swimming that long or that far, but I ended up doing 3X500 and a 150. I also found out the pools is yards, not meters, so I went a whole mile tonight. Morgan said that my form was really good throughout which surprised me; I expected that as I grew more tired my form would get sloppy. I feel really good about tonight's workout; I'm going to stretch well tonight and tomorrow and enjoy my in-laws coming into town to cheer us on.

I probably won't be on again until Sunday, so wish me luck! Or at least send good thoughts that I don't drown or DNF.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Better. Not great, but better.

Monday - Wednesday - OOT for work so no training (boo!)
Thursday - Master's class, swim ~1200 meters
Friday - Day off
Saturday - Run ~4 miles
Sunday - Bike ~20 miles
Today - Open water swim (about 300-400 meters)

Our wetsuits came in on Friday and we had a chance to test them out today. My husband took the picture for me.

The water was probably 60-62 degrees, but that suit made all the difference! Yeah, it was really cold at first, but after about 10 minutes in the water I was able to put my head down and swim freestyle! Yay! I think the trick for me is doing some backstroke to warm up; this allows my head to get acclimated to the water so when I put my face down its not so cold. Looking up and sighting was easy as well. It still took my breath away and I was dizzy afterwards, but nowhere near as bad as it was last weekend.

It appears by using good ol' Google that I am not alone in this dizziness. There seem to be two trains of thoughts on this:

1. The water going into your ear is cold and causes vertigo, so wear earplugs.

2. Your blood circulation changes when you're swimming and trying to save your legs. Try kicking hard the last 50 meters or so to get the blood flowing again.

It looks like the majority say earplugs have taken away their dizziness completely in the cold water, so even though its a big "no-no" to bring something new into the mix on race day I may have to bite the bullet. I don't need to fall off my bike on the 16% grade hill (I should have taken a picture for all of you to see. It's going to be pretty interesting).

I switched out my cog on Sunday to 14 teeth (from 16). It's harder to start pedaling, but I get a lot more speed. That 16% grade hill is the only thing I'm second guessing. I'm going to give it one more ride tomorrow before I decide. My biggest fear is giving up my legs just to shave 5 minutes off the bike. Not worth it.
5 days to go.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Scopin' out my nemesis

Friday's workout: Day off
Saturday's workout: Run 60 minutes (~ 4.5 miles)
Today's workout: Open water swim (I think I went about 350 meters)

We made our way over to Highline State Park today to check out the course. My husband (we'll call him "M" because I'm tired of typing out "my husband") couldn't swim with me because he has stitches that won't come out until this week. We found a spot for him to sit with my bag and I made my way to the water.
Now, I knew the water was going to be cold. The race website says that the average temperature at 7:30am is 67 degrees. I have no idea how warm the water was today. We went around 12:30, but it has been overcast all weekend so I didn't think it would make a huge difference. I expected the water to take my breath away; it was just a bit shocking the first time. I can't imagine ever doing a polar bear swim after feeling that water today.

There were two other lap swimmers in caps and wet suits. I made small talk with one; his name is Ryan. This is also his first race, he watched it last year and told his friend Dave (the other one in the water) that he would try it out this year. We chatted about water temperature, why he's choosing to wear a wet suit (buoyancy mostly), and the bike course. I guess the bike section is hillier than he expected, and he hasn't trained for hills at all. The next two weeks will be no fun for him.

I made two laps around the outer edge of the swim beach, that way if I got freaked out I could grab on to the rope. I have no idea why, but I couldn't breathe out under water at all. Every time I tried, it felt like there was too much pressure. I ended up swimming two laps (~350m) with my head above water. That was definitely not a good idea. I was so dizzy by the end of the second lap I was sure I would lose my lunch right then and there. We left today with me dizzy, nauseous, frustrated and a little freaked out. I came home tonight, broke down and bought a wet suit for buoyancy and warmth. Every bit of psychological advantage I can get in the water will help. We're going out next weekend to try the underwater breathing again. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nothin' but freestyle, baby

Yesterday's workout: Swim 700 meters
Today's workout: Swim 1350 meters (all freestyle!)

The normal swim coach wasn't there tonight, so she sent her brother as a substitute. I told the guy a quick back story - race in two weeks, been swimming for six months, anything is helpful, etc. I also told him not to be afraid of being mean. By the end of the lesson he was stopping me every couple of laps to bark out what I was doing wrong. He did give me some very good tips though:

- Keep my knees together so my kicking is more efficient
- Don't separate my fingers
- Dig my hand into the water half way through my stroke and keep my arm on top of the water, not in the air. He told me I should be making an "S" shape.
- Keep my arm tight when I come up for air. My arms flail about when I come up for air.
- Try to breathe out of the side of my mouth. I'm bringing my head above water more than I should need to.
- Don't look ahead of me when I come up for breath, just tilt my body and come back down.

I could definitely notice a change in my efficiency over the course of the hour. I was able to do 200-300m at once without freaking out. Yes, I was tired at the end of it, but that's the farthest I've ever gone without having to flip over and do 25 meters of backstroke to catch my breath.

We might try and go out to the park this weekend where they are holding the race. I'd like to get in the lake and try it out. The temperature of the water is supposed to be around 67 degrees at the start of the race, so if I need to rent a wet suit I should do that soon.

Fifteen days to go.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I went. I swam. It sucked.

Today's workout: Swim ~700 meters, run for 30 minutes

So, I didn't exactly make it to the gym yesterday. By the time I got around to going it was eight o'clock. The best "punishment" I could think of was to get up at 5:45am and head over to the gym to swim before work.

I went. I swam. It sucked.

I haven't swam in a week. I was having the most horrible time breathing this morning, its almost like I forgot everything Morgan taught me. I think I wasn't getting everything out before coming up for a breath, at least that's what it felt like. I started Googling for answers, and I found this: What is the #1 issue? Not letting out all of your air before coming up. By George, I think I'm on to something! As hard as it was, it felt great to go this morning and it felt even better to go running tonight.

My co-worker came over and my husband watched the little one while we went running together. Its a 1.82 mile loop door to door, and I think we could have done two but I was worried about leaving my husband alone with the kid for that long. Don't get me wrong, he loves children. But the little one was not very happy that mommy (co-worker) left her, even for 30 minutes. I'm sure as time goes by, she'll get better with him. But for now, its Mommy or Bust.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Corrective Exercises

I found these on another blog I follow (how did I not learn about Google Reader sooner?). I hope they are helpful to anyone that is looking for new ways to cross-train.

Corrective Exercises #1:

Corrective Exercises #2:

Corrective Exercises #3:

Corrective Exercises #4:

And finally, three exercises they believe no one should ever do again:

I've been bad. . .

Tuesday workout: Bike to work (~8.33 miles)
Wednesday: Day off! (Which are very important)
Thursday: 30 min cross training (eliptical)
Friday, Saturday: Day off (This is where I've been bad)
Yesterday: Bike 20 miles, save a goat, walk 30 minutes

I've been very, very bad this week. There is something about taking a day off that throws my whole schedule off. At least when I bike to work I'm doing something. I know that a day off is good for me; and I know that I have probably been overtraining. But, I can't seem to shake the fact that taking a day off is derailing this whole program. I feel like I'm trying to sabotage myself. I have worked so hard and so long for this; why am I setting myself up for failure? Maybe its because I know I can finish at this point, which is my primary goal. Everything from here on out is just improving my time and preventing injury. At the same time though, I don't want to be the last one to cross the finish line.

Traveling for work doesn't really help either. When I get back to the hotel, all I want to do is work on stuff from earlier in the day; trying to write up paperwork or prepare reports so I don't have to do it later. What I really should be doing is going downstairs to the hotel gym. I did actually do that on Thursday, although after 1/4 mile their treadmill automatically shut off which when you're going 5.5 mph is quite the jolt. I ended up on the eliptical instead, whick added in some badly needed cross training.

Sunday my co-worker and I went for a bike ride on the country roads behind my house. She says I've inspired her to do the triathlon, so if I could take her on a bike ride and not kill her she'd sign up. This is the same co-worker that taught me to swim in Seattle. She also used to be a runner before she had her daughter last year. With only three weeks to go I can be certain she will finish faster than I do.

About 2 miles from home we went past a farm and saw a goat. I couldn't tell it was in trouble, but it had gotten stuck in a fence and was crying for help. We turned around, co-worker jumped the fence and spent a good 3-4 minutes de-tangling what turned out to be a massively pregnant goat from its metal restraint. I think that made us feel more accomplished than the 18 miles we had just riden.

Alright interwebs, I need to get off my butt. I *will* do something tonight, either swim or go for a run. I haven't decided which yet, but I'm putting this out there to hold me accountable. I have not come this far to screw it all up now.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Today's workout: Bike to work (8.71 miles according to MapMyRide), swim 700 meters

I can't believe I did it. Today, I swam 500 meters without stopping. FIVE HUNDRED METERS! I know it doesn't sound like much, but those ten laps felt like they would go on forever.

This is the distance I have to swim in the triathlon. Of course, I'm swimming in a pool and the race swim is in open water, but lets enjoy my baby steps for a moment, mmmmkay? I couldn't do the whole thing freestyle, but here is what I did to be successful:

100m freestyle
25m backstroke

Repeat this two more times

125m freestyle

I felt so accomplished at the 475 mark I decided to freestyle the last 25m. The breathing technique that Morgan gave me at the last master's swim class really helped. I have a problem with holding my breath under water, which is just taking more energy than it should. So, I asked her about it and she told me to hum under water. It sounds crazy, but I've been able to get a pattern down where I get all of my breath out before I come up for more oxygen. Sometimes I can make it four strokes; if I'm feeling tired I can only make it three before having to come up. But, I know that I can modify things as I go to make it work.

There were a couple of times where I just couldn't make the whole 100m freestyle, so I would do the breaststroke for 10m or so to catch my breath. I wish I had a video camera to see how ridiculous I looked trying to be a "froggy" in the water.

The best part is that my fabulous husband bought me a heart rate monitor for our wedding anniversary. I was able to time myself, and I did 500m in 15:28. I'm certainly no Michael Phelps, but my goal of 20 minutes for the swim leg of the race seems easily attainable. The HRM came with a footpod that I'll try out tomorrow when I do my brick workout.

Side note: I was coming home on my bike and signaled at a stop sign that I was turning right (so it looked like I was waving). Some high school kid thought I was waving at him and waved back from his Jeep! BWHAHAHA! A good end to a productive and encouraging workout.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heaven. . .

Friday's workout: Day off! (very important)
Saturday's workout: Run 45-50 minutes (about 3.5-4 miles), swim 600 meters
Sunday's workout: Bike ~12 miles (mileage per MapMyRide)

My husband I and went out of town this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We went to Avon, Colorado (at the base of Beaver Creek) and stayed at a beautiful hotel right next to the Eagle River. There is a trail that goes from Avon to Edwards (about 4 miles one way) that I followed for my long run on Saturday.

I was in heaven.

The scenery was gorgeous. I turned down my MP3 player so I could hear the river rushing past me while I tried to keep up. I wasn't going even close to the same speed, but the river didn't care; it was just happy to have the company. Of course, you can't see the river in this shot (it is on the left side), but you get the general idea of the view.

The hotel we stayed at also boasts the largest pool in the valley at 25m. It's a saline pool as well, so no clorine to make your skin dry and itchy. I was able to go 350m without stopping on Saturday, which I'm happy with considering the whole pool length debacle of two weeks ago.

Back to work and reality tomorrow.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I can haz breath?

Today's workout: Bike to work (~5 miles, I met my husband at the gym and we threw my bike in the back of the car. I know, I'm a wimp), swim 950 meters

My gym just started a master's swim class on Thursday nights and this is our second week going. I met the girl teaching it in the locker room one afternoon while changing into my bathing suit (don't all good stories start out this way?).

Are you a swimmer? She said.

I try to fake it. I replied.

I thought I was doing pretty well until I started going to her class. Man, does she kick my butt. I found out from her last week that the pool is only 25m long, instead of 50m like the woman up front told me. I didn't even know how to swim until late last year; I don't know how long a pool is. All this time I thought I was doing great, but it turns out I was only going half as far as I thought. I found myself pretty upset last week; wondering if I'm going to be able to swim 500m without drowning. My friends keep telling me that I'll be fine, but I just can't seem to shake this off.

I almost drowned when I was six. We were in Kansas City visiting my grandmother in the hospital. I wasn't allowed to see her because you had to be 14 to enter the ICU. So, my cousin took me to a water park called Oceans of Fun for the day. We were in the wave pool and she went to go flirt with some boy (she is 10 years my senior) while I was left by myself with an inner tube to keep me afloat.

I lost my grip and slipped through the middle.

All I really remember after that is seeing blue water and legs and feet. I remember trying so hard to swim up to the surface, but as hard as I tried the waves kept pushing me down. I think the harder I tried, the deeper I ended up going. I don't know how I got back above water, but from that day on I've been scared of drowning. I could only go in pools where I could touch the bottom standing up. Lakes were out of the question unless I had a life vest on me *and* another to hold on to. Over twenty years later, all that little girl sees is blue water and legs and feet.

I guess that's just another reason to do this triathlon, to overcome my fear.

I will make it across the lake.
I will not drown.
That little girl will no longer have to be afraid of the water.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BRICK Workouts

Today's workout: Ride bicycle to work (~8.33 miles since there is no detour to the gym today), BRICK, Run 30 minutes.

What is a BRICK workout?


Bike/run Bricks are included in this workout for one reason only – To help your legs acclimation from cycling legs to running legs by simulating the bike to run transition. Bricks are not about proving how tough you are. A brick can be either a valuable training component or a training liability (causing overuse injuries).

How you approach your brick will determine the outcome. Basically, a brick workout is a back-to-back workout to help simulate real racing. The most popular brick is the bike/run brick, which as we stated above, is performed primarily for leg acclimation from your cycling legs to your running legs. During this training program, bike/run bricks will be included during weeks 5 through 8. You will be performing one a week. Depending upon where you ride, you will need to do some preparation. Have your running gear ready to go when you finish your bike ride. This is where you want to simulate your race transition from bike to run as much as possible. During your race, you will not have a tent in which to change clothing, so you will want to cycle in the same gear you plan on running in.

On the run portion of the brick, you will only need to run for about 10 to 20 minutes (20 minutes tops!). This will provide enough time for you to make the acclimation from your cycling legs to your running legs. And do not simply take off running hard! Begin walking for about 2 minutes, then start out with an easy jog. You may notice your heart rate is higher than your typical zone. That is why walking initially will help lower it providing active recovery. Try and keep your heart rate in your zone during the run.

Brick Tips

 If possible, perform your brick transition at your home. Why? So you have a safe place to store your bike when finished. If you travel to do your cycling (like I do!) make sure you lock your bike in your car before heading out on the run!

 A stationary trainer is a great place to perform your brick workouts. It may be boring but you are assured your bike will be safe when you hop off and it allows you to bike and run in a familiar area. It will also allow you to focus solely on cycling speed work without worrying about automobile traffic.

 Plan ahead. Have everything you will want for your race. Your shoes, perhaps a running singlet (shirt), a hat, and your nutritional drink or gel. Again, you want to simulate real race conditions as much as possible.

 Practice your bike to run transition as if you were in a race. Take your time initially. Yes, speed in the transition area is important, but not right now. If you decide you want to stick with this sport, then you can worry about being competitive and focusing on time saving steps. For now, get used to bending over, slipping on your running shoes and heading out on the run.

 Begin your run with a walking warm-up. Take a sip of your drink during this time. Ease into your run. Do take off sprinting.

 Play close attention to how you feel. Yes, the first time you head out, you
will probably feel awful! You will not be used to the feeling of switching from cycling to running. But you will get used to it. On your first brick be patient but take note of things that stick out. Are your legs tired? Probably, but that will improve with practice. Are you cramping? Could be you didn’t drink/eat enough on your bike ride or it could be what you ate! Are you dizzy? Probably due to nutrition/hydration related. My point, take note of how you feel. In most cases, how you feel on the run portion of the brick is directly related to your nutritional consumption on the bike. And it may not necessarily be how much you consumed but what you consumed.

I did my third brick today and it wasn't too bad at all. I got home, grabbed my running cap and MP3 player and set out on my warm-up walk. I can't make it as far without stopping as I can when I do just a running workout, but my time for the same distance is only off by about 2 minutes. Now I just need to practice a brick after going the race length of 16 miles on the bike instead of just 4.

For those interested, the training program I'm following can be found here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some Interesting Legislation

Today's workout: Bike to work (~9 miles), swim 550 meters

Yesterday, Governor Ritter signed a law that will require motor vehicles to give cyclists at least 36 inches of room when passing. The law also allows vehicles to cross a double yellow line to do so. There was some pretty interesting debate on 9news about whether the law will do any good, with the same old arguments brought up on both sides.

My views on cyclists and motorists sharing the road will have to be saved for another day. Until then, I leave you with the State of Colorado's Bike Manual that states the rights and responsibilities of cyclists on the roads.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Little Background

Yesterday's workout: Swim 550 meters
Today's workout: Run for 30-40 minutes

Since I started this towards the end of my first triathlon, I wanted to give you (the reader) a bit of history on where I have been.

This is me when I met my husband; the picture was taken on our third date. I topped out at something like 203 lbs. I was not a happy girl.
Like most women, I wanted to slim down so I wouldn't look like Shamu in a wedding dress. I didn't really exercise, but I did diet and probably do some things I shouldn't have. While we were planning our honeymoon I found a 12K race that looked fun (as fun as a 12K can be when you wheeze going up stairs). We could walk the whole thing, dress in costumes, and enjoy seeing the beautiful streets of San Francisco. My first "race" ever was the Bay to Breakers in 2006.

It was after that race we decided to enter one every year. That didn't work out in 2007 as my husband had shoulder surgery that took a while to heal. In 2008, we were able to "race" the Bolder Boulder with most of my husband's family (his dad and two sisters). I keep saying "race" because we walked both of these events; it was not about time for me (or us), just saying that we did it.

This is the first year I actually care about my time. My beginnings will be humble, but I can now take the quotation marks away. I am happy with a 12 minute mile average. I hope I can keep that up during the triathlon, but I was fresh during this race and I won't be come June 13th. This picture was taken last Saturday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Inagural Post

I don't think I realize just what I've gotten myself into. I don't write well and I certainly don't write quickly. It takes me thrice as long as my other co-workers to write up a summary. That is one of the few things at my job that I don't like - all of the paperwork and documentation I have to do. I guess I should have thought about that before I became an accountant, eh?

When I decided to join the rest of the world by carving out my own little corner of the internet, I realized that my first attempt may not succeed. I'm okay with this. My main goal with this blog is to keep myself accountable. My secondary goal is to keep those who aren't too bored with me talking about my journey informed as to my progress.

Before my husband and I moved last year, he found a triathlon he wanted to do about 15 miles from our new home. I can't say I remember how the conversation went, but here I am 5 weeks away from D-Day.

I couldn't run more than 60 seconds at a time last September.
I didn't even know how to swim until last November.
My husband and I only used to ride our bikes for fun.

I now work out 5-6 times a week with a training schedule. I ran my first competitive 5K yesterday with a time of 36:24, which I am darn proud of considering my main goal was to finish in under 45:00. I'm slowly learning to not be afraid of the water. I try to ride my bike to work at least 3 days a week. In 5 weeks, I will put all of these elements together and hopefully cross that finish line knowing I can push my body to do things it didn't even know existed. My bib number written in sharpie on my arm will become my badge of honor.

I don't think I realize just what I've gotten myself into.