Monday, April 29, 2013

Peak Week

I have somehow managed to fall behind on my weekly training updates, but for good reason.  I have been training!  

Last Monday began the biggest week of training for this training cycle and it started with a bang, one that had nothing to do with IMTX.  Monday found me in a dental chair dealing with pain and fear of the unknown that I had been trying to ignore until after the race.  

I had started noticing that after each workout, the pain in my last molar would increase greatly to the point where I could do nothing except go to sleep and pray it would stop by the time I woke up again.  

The doc said I needed a root canal and a crown, maybe two.  He figured I would get into the endodontist in a week or so, and then we would proceed from there. As luck would have it, the endo had an opening the very next morning at 7:45.  Lucky me!

I went on home and got my workouts in for the day and prepared myself mentally for the root canal and the probably loss of a solid week of training.

Tuesday morning came with the sun and I sailed through the root canal.  The doc was amazing and numbed me up enough that I was able to put in another solid day of workouts before the medication wore off.

Wednesday, I was back in the dental chair for the temporary crown placement.  Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the tooth adjacent to the problem molar had an ill-fitting crown that he felt should be replaced.  I agree to having both crowns done and when the bad crown was removed, 3 cavities were discovered.  Guess it really was an ill-fitting crown.  3 hours of drilling and filling, fitting, and molding were completed and again, I was numb enough to get solid workouts in.

Thursday was our last co-op day which I spent teaching and monitoring my pain level which was surprisingly low.  I was a bit tender, but nothing a few Advil didn't take care of.    I went ahead with my long run of 18 miles that evening and felt great.

Friday was a nice evening spin and short run.  Saturday I was able to do the open water swim in Lake Woodlands with a 40 mile bike ride and 2 mile run.  I really felt great.

Sunday was supposed to be a rest day, but I felt great and ended up going to a spin class.  

All in all, I am very pleased with how I am feeling coming off of the biggest week of training.  I am so thankful that I have not had any injuries and my fatigue is manageable.  I know beyond all doubt that Tailwind Nutrition is a perfect fit for me now.  With all of the dental work I had done, eating solid food was difficult.  Drinking Tailwind throughout the day and in each workout helped keep my calorie intake up and therefore I was able to get through each one, each recovery, with enough energy to prepare for the next one as well as take care of a very busy household.  Thank you, Tailwind!!

Weekly Recap
Apr 22th- Apr 28th

Swim: 4 miles in 3 hours (swam ows in wet suit)
Bike:   126 in 6 hours
Run:    29 miles in 4:58 hous
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  15:00  Total Miles:  161

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Being a Runner

April 15, 2013

Patriot's Day in Boston.  The beloved Boston Marathon.  An event so much like every other marathon, yet, in the same breath, so uniquely different.

The attacks that transpired yesterday were an attack on freedom.  Be it a domestic or foreign source of origin, it was an attack on the American Spirit.

As a running community, support and steadfastness are never in short supply.  Any reason we can find to run, be it a way to help a local food pantry, raise money for a cancer patient, drum up support for our fallen heroes, we are there, doing sometimes what is the only thing we know how to do.  We run.  Some fast, some slow, some middle of the pack.  But we run.  We don't care where our fellow runner stands politically, spiritually, or financially.  We only care.  We share a bond that very few others share.

I have met many people, discovered that they are runners, and while we may have no other thing in common, we run.  Together.  Even if we aren't together.  We race, together.  Even if they run a 6 min pace and I run a 12 min pace, we are connected by the spirit of the run.

Many have noted that the attack in Boston was on runners.  And it was.  But what's more, they attacked those who support runners.  The ones who might never run, who may have run once upon a time, the ones who make it possible for US to run.  The attack was directed at our support, our life line, the very ones who sacrifice the most to allow us running folks to do what we do. 

While we runners will do most anything to support one another, we will do even more for them, the unsung heroes in our world.  There are no bounds.  There are no limits.  There are no excuses for what evil has done.  There is no explanation that will suffice.  Evil is evil, but God is God, and Truth, Freedom, Peace, and Love ALWAYS prevail.  Always.

However you choose to honor those affected by the senseless, selfish, evil that took place yesterday, never allow your heart to be tainted by what occurred.  Allow it to grieve, allow it to heal.    But don't let evil win. 

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

First Century Ride

From the title of this post, you might suspect that I plan to do more than a First Century Ride.  And you might be correct, but for now, I have one down. 

It was hard.  Very hard.  And IM training is harder than any ultra I have ever prepared for, but at the end of the day, when my exhausted body hits the pillow, I am content.

Do what you love.  Love what you do.  What do you love?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

This weekend was a weekend full of firsts.  After the races I've done and the challenges I have been fortunate enough to have, it was a true blessing to fall into a race that allowed me to be a "first-timer" on many different fronts.

The Ironman 70.3 was set in beautiful Galveston, Texas.  A few years ago, I would not have referred to Galveston as beautiful, especially with the hurricanes the area has endured, but WOW, Galveston has really pulled itself up by it's bootstraps and it looks better than ever.   The race was based in Moody Gardens.  If you have never been there, I highly recommend a visit!  It's affordable, beautiful, and very relaxing.

From the outset, this race was not going to be a "race" in the truest sense of the word for me.  I needed to test out my training plan and my ability to adapt to the endurance triathlon scene.  Most importantly, I needed to get an idea if the changes I have made in nutrition were going to be a good choice for the full IM in May and for ultras in the future.

In short order, here is how things went:

Pre Race Check-In

Ironman has got their act together.  Check\- in was an art form, something to behold, and something all race organizers can strive to achieve.  Of course, this is largely dependent upon the volunteers, just like any race, and to say that they were wonderful would be an understatement.  They really were remarkable.  So helpful, friendly, and encouraging.  They were quick to point a first-timer in all the right directions and I was in and out of check-in very quickly.

I was eager to get the bike racked and walk through the transition area.  This went smoothly as well.
A sea of bicycles!

Mark and I found Richard and we headed for a late afternoon lunch at Moody Gardens Hotel.  We chatted about race stuff, and then headed off to see a bit of the Island.

The water was a bit chilly at 63 degrees.  Thankfully it warmed to 65 by race morning.
After a pretty good night's sleep, which in and of itself is very unusual for me, we were on the road to the race start by 5 am.  The early morning workouts I've been doing have helped to prepare me for this and I felt awake and ready to go.

I did have quite a bit of pre-race anxiety and after donning the wetsuit, snapping a few pictures, and kissing Mark goodbye, I shed a few tears of fear which is quite unusual.  I was overwhelmed with the gratitude I felt to be able to be in that moment.  So many sacrifices were made financially, emotionally, and physically by my wonderful family and friends so that I could live this dream.  Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday and is my favorite Feast day of the liturgical year. I love the Divine Mercy prayer and novena as it always seems to heighten the Easter experience for me. Knowing I was racing on this day which is so special to me only made it that much better.

The Swim
I headed off to the pier I would be jumping off of with the others in light pink caps.  Our wave was at 7:25, and the wait leading up to our start was filled with many nervous conversations between ladies that were new to the sport and distance and sweet ladies that shared their experience to soothe the others' nerves.  It was really a beautiful thing to see.

On time, our horn sounded and we were off.  I had scoped out the swim course the day before and knew I would be following the yellow buoys, turn at the red, swim along the orange to the next red, then the yellows to the paddle boat.  It looked so far, and I suppose 1.2 miles is quite a far distance, but thinking about it in terms of yards helped to calm my nerves.  2112 yards.  I can swim that very comfortably any day of the week now.  Yet, as my body hit the water and the wetsuit pulled the cold water in, the breath left my lungs and I had a difficult time reclaiming it.  Within moments I was looking for a canoe and made the decision that I was going to quit.  Then, a man who I had just heard passed away from cancer came to my mind.  Lou was a young man with a young family and I could only think of how much he would loved to have had another day with them.  How could I possibly quit and lose this experience that I had been blessed with?

I talked myself into sticking with the swim until it felt good.  I knew I could handle the distance.  I knew I could handle the wetsuit.  So I started my counting routine.  One.  Two.  Three.  Breathe.  One Two.  Three.  Breathe.  Sight.  And I did this til everything felt right.  Before I knew it I was rounding the first buoy and heading back towards the next turn to shore.  The buoys were very helpful and there was not much on the coast line to sight.  My goggles were pretty fogged up and difficult to see out of, so the colored buoys were instrumental in keeping me on course.  If I could not see a buoy, I would breast stroke until I could find my next sight.  I didn't trust the swimmers around me as I noted many swimming way off course.

After a bit, I felt the pelting of many of the swimmers who were in the wave after our wave that were now catching up to us.  These were young men, obviously much quicker than us in the 45-49" pink ladies" wave.  I swam to a more outside position and found my groove once again.  The water became a bit more choppy along this portion and I realized that instead of fighting the water, I worked with it and it seemed to make things go more smoothly.

By the end of the swim, I was almost sad it was over, but I ran out of the water, stripping the wetsuit down as far as I could so that the strippers could take it off for me.   I didn't feel tired or winded at all and was looking forward to getting to the bike.

Predicted swim time was 45 minutes; actual swim time was 46:57.

My T1 time was ridiculously slow... 9:46.  I didn't even try to be fast.  I wanted to be sure I did everything properly and not rush through critical nutritional things.

The Bike

The bike aspect of this sport is the portion I am most unsure about.  I do not feel at all strong as a cyclist.  I only started cycling a year ago and even then, it was very haphazardly.  Most of my early biking was don in a spin class.  About two months ago, I switched to most outdoor rides.  I was able to overcome most of my fears on the road, but my strength has yet to show up.

The way out felt good for about the first 10-15 miles.  After that, I tolerated the ride and then I was pretty miserable.  No matter how much I pushed, I couldn't see speeds higher than 18 or 19 mph and just when I thought I was going to turn around and catch the tailwind, I hit more headwind.  I told Richard that I am convinced that I cycle in a bubble of headwinds.

I was able to get into the aerobars quite a bit, but I was in pain.  Neck pain mostly, then low back, then glutes.  Nothing felt comfortable.  And my hands were going numb.  They have been affected for about 2 months also.  I have no strength in them anymore and fine motor activities such as handwriting, nail clipping, application of make up, is near impossible or done very poorly.

I saw quite a number of riders with flats and a few went down right in front of me.  I felt like if I could look down instead of up and out, my neck would relax, but I didn't think that was safe with so much going on so quickly around me.  I think that perhaps my helmet needs to be adjusted so that it fits a bit further back on my head allowing me to look more with just my eyes rather than craning my neck so much while in aero position.

By the end of the ride, my predominant thought was that I just confirmed that there is no way I can do a 112 mile bike ride. 

A positive that did come from this ride was the nutrition.  I was able to take in exactly what I planned, 800 calories in the form of Tailwind, plus I drank two full bottles of water.  This seemed to work very well.  I was happy with the way I was able to take the bottles from the aid station volunteers and put it into my bike bottle.  Just a few weeks ago, I couldn't take my hands off the handle bars at all.

My predicted bike time was 3:30/ actual bike time was 3:28:49.

T2 time was slow as well:  6:30.

The Run

The run course was set up with 3 loops of just over 4 miles.  I am not usually a fan of loops and typically avoid them, but this time, I actually really enjoyed them!   The course was all within Moody Gardens which is beautiful.  There were plenty of people out on the course cheering us on.  I am fairly certain many of them didn't even have anyone running the race, just folks having fun sending out good vibes!  The course was also set up so that most of the route we saw other runners coming and going.  I had many moments were I saw people and passed them up only to find out later that they were on a different loop than I was.  Kind of funny to see my competitive nature come out like that.  I kept my pace intentionally slow so as not to blow up before the third loop.

By the time I began the 2nd loop it was quite warm, 85 degrees, and I was feeling a bit "weird".  I started having chills and that is usually the first sign of electrolytes being off.  So far, Tailwind has worked very well for me, but I knew going into the summer, I may need to take a few S caps to offset the electrolyte loss.  I decided to take one Scap and drink more water at each aid station.  I walked through each aid station to be sure I got a good drink and continued to drink from my 400 calorie bottle, taking mental note of drinking one third the first loop, one third the second loop, and one third the last loop.

This in and of itself was such a change for me.  I typically drink at will because I only carry water.  But now, knowing my calories are measured out for time, I was more conservative in just drinking because thought I was thirsty.  Instead, I drank when I felt I needed some calories and then drank as much water as necessary as I entered the aid station.

The first few times, I got things backwards drinking the water first and then taking the calories.  After awhile, I figured out that my palate liked it better if I drank the Tailwind first as I entered the aid station and then the water to wash it down.
The first loop I did use the 8/2 method for the first 3 miles.  Then I went to the walk through the aid station methodology.  This seemed to work very well for me.  I felt stronger on the second loop and by the third loop, I felt ready to push the pace.

The best part of this run was seeing my family several times on the course.  The run route lent itself well to spectators and for this, I was very grateful!
I was finding that I needed to hold myself back by the end of the third loop.  I wanted to push it, but I knew it was too soon.  The last mile I did open it up a bit and came in at an 8:30 something pace.

I crossed the finish line and blessed myself as I did.  I felt completely reliant on my faith for this race.  I overcame many fears through the encouragement of friends and family and good old fashioned "just do it" mentality.

My run time was predicted to be 2:15; actual time was 2:10:58.  I couldn't have been more pleased.

My race time was 6:43.  I was 44/74 for my AG.  Not too shabby for my first 70.3.

My initial reaction to this race was that as much as I enjoyed it, I was convinced that it only confirmed for me that I am not anywhere near ready for the challenge of the full distance.  Today, I can assess how I am feeling physically and while I still do not feel "ready" per se, I do trust what those who know me and those who have helped me get to where I am now have to say and they say I can finish IMTX.  Physically, I think my body is closer to being ready than my mind is, but with more work, prayer, and trusting in the plan, body, mind and spirit will be at the start line on May 18th.

And as always, Phillipians 4:13 will forever remind me that I CAN do all things, in Christ.  My Savior. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2 fer 1

Life has been a bit busy the last two weeks leaving little time to update my blog.  I am putting the last two weeks and the monthly totals for March in one post.

Ironman Training Week 22
This week was shortened as I had a 4 day retreat that began on Thursday morning and kept me busy until midnight Sunday.  It was well worth the lack of sleep (6 hours over the four days) and missed training, which allowed for some recovery time.  God's time is always better than any training plan man can devise.

Weekly Recap
Mar 18 - Mar 24
Swim: 3,600 in 1:20
Bike:   18 miles in 1:03
Run:    5 miles in 1:00
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  4:00  Total Miles: 25

Ironman Training Week 23 
This week was a challenge as I attempted to catch up on sorely needed sleep and better nutrition. It was also Holy Week which for my family means we are at Church from Thursday night until Sunday morning.  By the week's end, and the end of my longest bike ride thus far, I felt great!  Rested and stronger than I have felt on the bike ever. 

Weekly Recap
Mar 25 - Mar 31
Swim: 6,400 yds in 2:20 (tried out the wet suit which felt good)
Bike:   105 miles in 6:45
Run:    20 miles in 3:16  (two 3:30 am wake ups)
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  13:00  Total Miles:  129

March Totals 
Highest mileage in one month ever!  I am loving how great I feel, despite the fatigue, and while I look forward to backing off of the length of the workouts post IM, I expect to continue with all 3 disciplines of training to prevent injury and overuse of any one muscle group.  I guess this makes me a convert to cross-training!

Total Time for March: 55 hours
Total Mileage for March:  521 miles