Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sweating to a New Beat (and a Corn Maze)

Not but a few minutes ago did I finally publish my Chicago Triathlon race report. "Pam, wasn't that months ago?" Yeah yeah yeah.

I brushed off that race and have moved onto new things this off-season. Since my fifth triathlon season has wrapped up I've gotten involved with two new-ish and awesome hobbies, both coincidentally from Groupon: group running and hot yoga. Back in May I purchased a one-year membership the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA - the largest running organization in the area) and in August I purchased a one-month unlimited membership to CorePower Yoga. I've taken my passion for fitness to a whole new level.

I'd like to take a moment and interrupt this portion of the blog to bring you this week's seasonal race: The Corn Maze 5k! It was so corny!!!! I jogged with a good friend Lori and we took our time and I actually documented it the whole way from my phone. Here we are!

Okay, back to business.
Group training isn't new to me but there weren't any organized running clubs or groups near home that were convenient. So, I decided that I was going to make my own fun. I emailed CARA and asked if there was anything in my immediate area. They responded and said there wasn't anything official or organized but if I wanted to host a weekly fun run they'd allow me to do so. They'd promote it and somewhat co-manage it. Shortly after I received another friendly email saying that there was another young woman in my town who also asked the same thing who also wanted to join a weekly fun run. It was great timing actually! We met up before the first fun run and actually have quite a lot in common. I was happy to have a new friend and listen to her marathon experiences while I spilled the beans on triathlons. We began our first weekly fun run not far from home and with some great weather. There were about 8 women total and we ran about 3 miles. It's truly amazing the people you meet when running brings you together. Since then I've twisted my ankle a few times, pushed my pace a bit and conquered a few longer distances (4 miles is "longer" for me). I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to meet since it's stupid dark by 6-6:30pm but at least we all got out there and have supported each other.

There's a pace that I've had to maintain when running in a group and I've really enjoyed it. Before I know it I'm maintaining a pace that I couldn't do by myself and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I don't run often anymore but the minimum once per week with the CARA ladies keeps me going.

On October 1 I turned in my Groupon for the one-month unlimited class at CorePower Yoga. Prior to that I took advantage of a free week and wasn't so sure how I was going to feel about hot yoga. (Here's a hint: it was hard, sweaty and challenging.) I've always enjoyed yoga just haven't found the right studio to join. Since then I've been totally hooked. The classes I attend are minimum 100 degrees with 40% humidity. (Here's another hint: I'm sweating when I'm lying on the mat.) Since joining and attending 3-5 classes per week I don't know if I could do anything BUT hot yoga. If I'm not dripping wet when I leave then the class wasn't a success. I can tell that I've worked hard and I've accomplished so much. With hot yoga comes added strength and flexibility and I can see this during my strength workouts in the evenings. My 6am yoga classes energize me and I actually look forward to getting up at 5:20am. Combine that with strength training some evenings I'm slowly losing inches and adding strength.

Bottom line, since the triathlon season has wrapped up I've kept myself ever so busy trying new things and exploring strengths I didn't know I had. I'm very happy I've come across these things even though the monthly membership to the yoga studio will probably cost me a small fortune.

And with my final note I will temporarily transition from my regular motto to...


Learning from the Unexpected

I have been avoiding an update from the Chicago Triathlon. It's been nearly two months since it happened, and I think I'm going to let this one go. I don't have much to report on that I'm proud of, not that I didn't try hard, but the unexpected circumstances really drove my attitude into the ground and destroyed any chance I had of doing well (mentally).

The temperature was nice, but possibly due to Hurricane Irene the water in the harbor was insanely choppy and incredibly hard to manage. People were giving up just as the swim began and it was hard to keep my head in the game. The water was so choppy that the water was all stirred up so even with the minimal visibility under water it was all lost with the water conditions. I couldn't see the swimmers ahead of me, and in turn kept getting kicked in the ribs. Normally I could avoid this if I could see the swimmers, but alas, it happened. I tried to play this game where I wouldn't allow negative thoughts into my head, but it wasn't happening. I checked my time when I excited the water, it was a few minutes slower than I had hoped. I was so exhausted from the swim that the long transition distance seemed like an eternity.

The conditions on the bike weren't any better. I felt like I was going to get knocked off my bike from the gusts on Lake Shore Drive. I don't train in these conditions so I was scared. I knew going northbound the wind is always harder than southbound, but good grief...

Long story short, here's the three disciplines:
After going back and looking at my posts from DailyMile it seems like the run helped my time but it still wasn't what I hoped for.

Since it has been nearly two months I'm going to officially let this one go. I'm in a better place about it and there's no sense hashing it out online. This post has been in draft mode since the race and I'm putting it to bed.

I've learned over the past five seasons that to a degree there is a lot I can't control. Not every race is going to be good. I put each season and all my races up on a pedestal and expect to have a total blast at all of them. I cram in so much and expect so much. Hey, four out of five races isn't bad and it was a big season for me. I'm proud that they're all sprint distance races but I'm not any less proud than longer distance racers. If I'm smiling and feeling good that's all I care about.

I'm 95% sure I'm going to spectate the Chicago Triathlon next year and maybe try another race sometime in September. But who knows... there's always that email in December or January luring me back in with their $10 off discount (by the way, the race registration fee is more than the Chicago Marathon, so even with my USAT discount it's nearly $160). Another reason to chalk it up and let others enjoy the course.

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unsupervised Shopping Part 1

Just writing the title makes me giddy! As much as an inconvenience the Chicago Triathlon is, the Multisport Expo is the best. All 8000+ athletes must visit the expo to pick up their packet, and this provides another opportunity for some unsupervised shopping. Fortunate for me, I get to pick up even more goodies and end of season gotta have deals, more Spinervals DVDs, another pair of triathlon shorts I have to have. This is unfortunate for my pocket book, but hey! I've got all year to make money and only one opportunity a year to be amongst friends and vendors who've seen me at my best and worst. I have a belief that if I were to actually sign up and train for an Ironman I would bring our country out of a recession.

Here's what happens when you have a multisport expo and the average summer temps were in the 70s: very cool Lake Michigan temps and the need to try on neoprene swim caps too small because they're sold out. As you can tell, it's sucking the life out of me because I have a big melon. Please note, I'm wearing a fleece sweatshirt IN AUGUST. This was 2009. Brr! But the point is, we had fun at the expo.

Because there are 8000+ athletes visiting the multisport expo, there's limited space to try on the must have, most awesome clothes of all time (for this instant because in another few weeks said item will be replaced with a new must have, most awesome item of all time). This leaves me dressing down to my birthday suit to try on clothes with nothing but a nylon tent standing between me and all others. (It's especially fun when I try on a top and my shirts start flying over my head and all you can see is my head popped up over the tent. I think I've found a new genre for the adult film industry. "Triathletes Gone Wild.")

Bottom line, here's what I can't wait to do this Saturday:
  • Pick up my bib (#1168! Track me by downloading the athlete tracking app)
  • Participate in another round of #unsupervisedshopping (love you, Kevin!). Shopping list includes: Spinervals DVDs (for a less boring off-season training on my bike trainer), badass running socks, and the ever exciting must have, most awesome item of all time
  • Be amongst other dedicated and passionate endurance athletes
  • Plan my fall racing calendar
  • Food and drink samples! (Think there'll be Twix bars there?)
I better get some rest, it's going to be a busy expo! (Oh yeah, I'm racing on Sunday, right? Until then...

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Got Banged... Bangs Lake

Got your attention, no? Good gosh, folks. This is about triathlons.

L to R: Ellen, Lisa, Me
I started the racing weekend off at the Fleet Feet Elvis is Alive 5k and that was a hoot! Great weather, awesome company, and fantastic outfits. I convinced Ellen to run with me, and recruited Lisa to join us! She was a total badass and paced us the whole time. Ellen said, "I'd love to beat 35 minutes!" Much to our surprise, we finished at 33:42. Thank you, Lisa. Just what I needed. That's a recent PR for me. Whoa.

Friday night I slept quite a bit, clocking about 9-10 hours. I hopped over to Running Away Multisport to pick up my packet. Packet pickup was super; RAM Racing has the best swag bags. The sprint race swag included: triathlon bag, towel, water bottle, hat, drawstring bag and an American Apparel zip up. (Again, I am still undecided: do I race for the achievement or for the swag?)

Coach Anne (right) and Me
I didn't get as much sleep Saturday night as I had planned, but I was mentally prepared and ready for a new course. The alarm went off at 3:50am, I was on the road by 4:15am, and at the race site just before 5:00am. I was very pleased with the transition area set up, and was fortunate to have decent space to set up my transition area. I love women only races; the attitude is much happier. (Take a hint, boys.) I was a few spots over from Coach Anne and kept running into familiar faces. (I love race morning!) I ran to the water to check the temperature and decided to ditch the wetsuit.* I caught the shuttle bus to the swim start. Funny enough, the water temperature was warmer than the outside air temperature. It was quite bizarre feeling cool after getting wet in a triathlon situation. (Although this race could have been a bit more pleasant with the wetsuit because of all the friggin seaweed. Ick Factor: 10)

My wave was first. Yahoo! The sun provided a nice blinding sensation and I couldn't find the buoys (of which there weren't enough). Every time I felt that I was back on course I really wasn't. The ridiculous seaweed at the end really threw me off and in turn got me very worked up. This was somewhat of a domino effect after that leading up to the bike. My first transition was a total tea party. 4 minutes. This included a pretty decent run from the swim. But still, I was molasses.

The bike course was to be expected, rolling hills and open roads. I was happy because most athletes hadn't started their bike yet so it was just the other women and me.

T2 was a bit speedier and included a pre-run right calf stretch in hopes of achieving a strong run. Well, Plan A worked!

The run course was also hilly, what the heck? This is ILLINOIS. Last I checked Illinois is in the Midwest and should be flat. I went out there with the mentality of trying to be strong and push through, just like I did at the 5k a few days prior.** Not only did I ditch my wetsuit but I left my music behind too. I saw a lot of my friends out on the run course, and found some kind words from my friend Kara too. She said I looked strong and fast, and that was all the music I needed to hear. It was true; I had my fastest 5k during a triathlon in recent years. I finished strong, hydrated and relatively pain free to my friends Katherine and Coach Anne cheering me on.*** Another proud moment for our group of athletes is Coach Anne's victory as the winner of the inaugural She Bangs Sprint Triathlon.

All in all, it was a fantastic day and the weather mostly cooperated. The sun was a nice and warming, and the post-race food of pancakes and French toast were yummy. It's over 24 hours since finishing and I'm still living off the high (or is it the soreness?) giving me the excitement to carry me through my last and final triathlon of the season.

 I am also happy to share that this was my 15th outdoor triathlon. I'd say 15 is a good number to get Bang(s Lake)ed.

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri.

When I got home I realized I had brought a part of race back with me. Here's the conversation:

* Any race that doesn't require a wetsuit is a big win in my book.
** My goal in life is to one day vomit post-run, but I don't actually want to get to that point. Vomit is gross.
*** I probably should get faster so I can cheer them on, yes?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Flair and Chuck Norris

Yes, work is getting in the way of training and racing. Therefore now is my opportunity to work harder at this blog. Today's issue: flair and quotes. Here's some of the better flair I've seen today. (I do not hold the copyrights to these images or quotes but want to share them with the community.)

Cafe Press

Cafe Press

And the mother of all quote sites has a special meaning to me. In college I nominated myself to be the Chuck Norris quote reader during my sorority's weekly meetings. Gawd it was fun. Borrowed from this site, I bring you these:
  • Chuck Norris can volunteer at a triathlon and still win it.
  • You know what Chuck Norris puts in his Fuel Belt? Fuel.
  • Chuck Norris didn’t get an Ironman tattoo; Ironman got a tattoo of Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris tested his VO2 max. We all suffocated.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t need a wetsuit because water gets out of his way.
  • If Chuck Norris got a flat on the bike, he would take yours.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t need a razor to shave his legs. Just has to flex.
  • A Chuck Norris triathlon is Round, House, Kick.
  • During the post-Ironman interview, Chuck Norris responded with, “What race?”
  • Chuck Norris is allowed to buy “Finisher” merchandise before the race.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't wear a timing chip on his ankle. Once the race is over HE decides what his time should be.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't train for triathlons. Triathlons train for Chuck Norris.
  • Had Chuck Norris been present the day they coined the term "Ironman", our full distance triathlons would be called "Chuck Norris Recovery Days" instead.
And the others...
  • "There are clubs you don't belong to, schools you can't attend, neighborhoods you can't live in, but the trails are always open."
  • "Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, or an hour, or a day or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." Lance Armstrong
This is my ultimate triathlon quote, and is the signature of my emails:

Swim like there is no bike. Bike like there is no run. Run like you stole something. 

Any other endurance or triathlon quotes to share with the group?

I'm No Ironman, but I Still Tri.

P.S. I couldn't leave the real Chuck Norris facts off this post. Enjoy. Most of these, courtesy of this and this site.

  • Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.
  • They once made a Chuck Norris toilet paper, but it wouldn't take shit from anybody.
  • Chuck Norris can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.
  • When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris makes onions cry.
  • Death once had a near-Chuck-Norris experience.
  • Chuck Norris can speak French... In Russian.
  • Giraffes were created when Chuck Norris uppercutted a horse.
  • Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.
  • Chuck Norris sleeps with a pillow under his gun.
  • There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.
  • Chuck Norris can delete the Recycling Bin.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives and Twix

This week is shaping up to be interesting. I've lost some interest in training, probably due to the fact that I was very physically exhausted last week. This happens every year, right around this time of my training. Okay, fine. I can move on. I also had a crummy workout last night, could barely get through the swim, and was super tight during the run. Blah. A drill we worked on last night was working on our positive and negative thoughts. We would swim towards a location thinking negative thoughts, and on the return we'd only focus on positive thoughts. While it was a great drill, it gave me an excuse to start crabbiness. It was a perfect storm, and I was just downright crabby last night. It's ridiculous, even my new Lululemon purchase arrived today and I'm somewhat apathetic to it. (rolls eyes.)

Trying to shake it off and get excited for my two adventures this week: the Fleet Feet Elvis is Alive 5k tomorrow and the She Bangs Sprint Triathlon on Sunday. I have no idea how I'm going to perform tomorrow night for the 5k, but if I hydrate enough tonight and tomorrow and avoid crappy eating it could turn out well. I'll be running with a few friends so I'm hoping they'll distract me.

The sprint triathlon on Sunday is part of the multisport festival, with the inaugural women's sprint triathlon. I know I'll be amongst great company, just hoping I can shake this stupid attitude before then. I know it's all a part of the little resentment I get around week 10 of my official triathlon training.

Bottom line, I need the next few days to refocus, shape up, and get my head back in the game. Even writing it makes me feel better. If you have a(n) insightful quote/Twix bar/stiff cocktail to spare please send it my way, I'll take it. But please if the stiff cocktail comes with a garnish, a blue cheese stuffed olive will do just fine. A Twix bar in a cocktail is just bizarre.


Thanks for reading. (Now, where's my hidden stash of chocolate?)

I'm No Ironman, but I Still Tri.

P.S. I feel substantially better. Thanks to the "preview" button for lifting my spirits.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I can now count on one whole hand how many times I've completed the Glenview Sprint Triathlon. I've got to say, that's five races each with fantastic stories. Here's last year's story.

Fortunately I don't have a lot to report, other than how fantastic the race was and I still can't believe it's already over. This is one of the two races I plan my summer schedule around and yesterday's race again solidified my passion for the sport. I see this race as my biggest social event of the year. I know so many of the athletes, they expect me to be there and I know I'll see so many of them throughout the course cheering me on.

As you can see, I managed to snag a stellar transition spot, and there was even room next to me for my friend Robin! I arrived at 5:15am, set up, did a quick warm up and headed to the starting line. I always say, if I don't have to bring my wetsuit, the race is going to be a piece of cake.


I got in line with Robin, and we slowly made our way to the front of the line. This is a pool swim with athletes starting every 10 seconds so we got to hang and chat.

The swim begins, and right away I knew I hadn't started my watch. D'OH! I turned the sucker on and started timing. (Now that's a first.) It's a 300 yd swim in an s-pattern, so every lap we must go under the lane dividers. This causes many "tea parties" while the swim volunteers tell us to let others pass. Regardless, my swim pace was right on target.

Green cap (by request, so my pit crew can find me)

I felt great transitioning from the swim to bike, and the tips I learned from our coach this year really shaved time off. I can't believe it. It flew by! Took me a minute to get my bearings and to get on the bike, but I was off! The two five-mile loops were mine!

I didn't feel too bad and tried to keep my cadence between 80-90, but I couldn't maintain that pace. I averaged about 75-77, but I'll take it! I kept visualizing my next steps through transition and WHAM, I made it out alive, pretty speedy too! All I had to do was get through the next three miles and the five-peat would be complete. Easier said than done, but I actually felt pretty darn good. I was properly hydrated, I had enough nutrition and I was ready. I was off to a speedy start so I had to remind myself to sloooow down. My right calf irritation started up and I eventually found a tune that carried me throughout the 5k. It wasn't fast by any means, but I did what I could. The second half was surprisingly easier. I finished strong and wasn't struggling to catch my breath after. I was hot, but not hot enough to feel the need to pass out. (Phew.)


And there you have it, another Glenview Sprint Triathlon in the books. My results are also pretty decent. I am not a fast racer, but I've managed to demolish my previous times, nearly year after year. I guess it pays off to start with higher times, right? Last year I shaved 6 minutes off my 2009 time, and this year I'm proud to say I knocked nearly 2.5 minutes off my 2010 finishing time, meaning I'm damn close to my PR. I give credit to our new coach who gave amazing tips on decreasing transition time.

(Racing made me loopy, so I forgot to upload the course, but that'll change tonight.)

Congrats to my fellow athletes who I train with and see every year, some with amazing finishing times. Thanks to my family for supporting me and for being the best pit crew out there. Love you all.

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri

Course Details

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Need My Job to Support My Hobby

...or is it really my obsession?

Either way, I need my job (fortunately I love my job so it all works out). Let's take a trip down "history lane" for a moment. This is probably a bad idea but I'm going to estimate the costs I've incurred over 5 seasons (triathlon only, been racing 5ks for about 8 years now).

I'm only able to remember a handful of purchases, but my race entry fees are relatively easy to track (I'd like to thank my lack of email purging). This only includes outdoor triathlons.

Let's begin...

  • Glenview Sprint - $45
  • Niles Sprint (Michigan) - $64.90

  • Glenview Sprint - $50
  • Chicago Sprint - Free! I won a raffle!

  • Glenview Sprint - $55
  • Lewisburg Sprint (Pennsylvania) - $54.63
  • Chicago Sprint - $158.79
  • Danskin Sprit - $128.30

  • Glenview Sprint - $60
  • Trek Sprint Triathlon - $102.66
  • Chicago Sprint - $158.79

  • Palatine Sprint - $65.30
  • Trek Sprint - $86.65
  • Glenview Sprint - $65
  • She Bangs Sprint - $94.25
  • Chicago Sprint  - $156.04

And for those of you who did the math the total for my first five years of races is:
  • Total: $1345.41
  • Annually: $269
  • Average per race: $89.69
I really enjoy the "per race" figure, brings more sanity and light into my life. But if you think about it, the $1300 I've spent in five years* is far cheaper than any drinking activity, therapy, and a shoe obsession. You can't replace achievement, success, happiness and personal gain with any dollar amount. Sure that number sounds kind of high, but it's less than $300/year to have a blast and stay healthy.

I'm No Ironman, but I Still Tri.

*Please don't include the amount I've spent looking good while racing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

And Then There Were Five

Oops, I accidentally registered for a fifth triathlon this summer. (I hate when that happens.) I decided that it was unacceptable to go more than two weeks without racing. This summer has brought on an entirely new focus and obsession. Drum roll please...

Introducing the fifth race of the 2011 season! The inaugural She Bangs Sprint Triathlon. (Insert standing ovation and applause here.) I hope I make it out alive after all the hills. Thank gosh there aren't any hills during the swim...

(What, did I really just say that?)

I'm no Ironman, But I Still Tri

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Heat and Me

No, no. Not Lebron, the actual temperature. I am referencing legitimate news, not some overpaid and overhyped basketball player. Go Bulls.

Yesterday was my second of four (maybe five?) races for the season. This was my third time doing the women's triathlon series in Pleasant Prairie, WI (last year's race report here). The drill is as follows: drive up Saturday, stand in line to collect race items, look at stuff to buy (yipee!), rack bike (didn't this year), grab a bite to eat at the McDonald's, and go home. That was the drill this year too, including the "buy stuff" part (minus my girlfriends). We all know why endurance athletes race; it's for the swag and crap to buy at the pre-race expos. I have to keep the triathlon economy booming, don't I?

After packet pick up and the drive home I spent the afternoon hydrating, vegging, and packing. Sunday was doomed to be a long and hot day. I was able to get a decent amount of sleep Friday night, followed by a brick workout with the group Saturday morning. We were supposed to push it a bit, but I held back even though the coach pushed me a bit to pick up the pace. He said, "The only way to get faster is to run faster." If I had a nickle for every time I heard that phrase...Well, I heard him and picked up the pace a bit but held back on completing the rest of the workout to preserve for Sunday.

Saturday evening I was asleep by 9am (thank you, sleep aid) and I was thrilled. Sunday, 4:25am rolls around and crazy enough I forgot why I was getting up. I was on the road by 5am, parked by 5:40am and at transition before 6am. I didn't realize transition closed at 6:30am but the 30 minutes gave me enough time to find a spot to park my bike, set up transition then even move my transition area to a more spacious spot. The original game plan was to wear my wetsuit, but a last minute decision was made to ditch it. It was already very hot and humid and I wasn't interested in dealing with a long sleeved wet suit.

  • Weather: Hot and humid. Mid 70s and 8934984735% humidity (sort of)
  • Swim: (See here. I have no clue what the distance was.) This was sans wetsuit. I was in Wave 12 at 7:40am. There were 13 or 14 waves total, so I had a while to wait. I got to stretch, visit the loo and see who my competition was. Nerves were calm. I visualized the race and got ready to party. After starting out I felt off but realized it was because I was sans wetsuit, and about half way in my breathing slowed and I got into a groove. Only negative was swimming into the sun, but it wasn't the end of the world.
  • Bike: 14.2 mi (see here). Buh, windy and hilly. They change the course every year so I never know what to expect. The wind got to me and I felt as if I was riding into the wind and hills most of the time. No big deal. I could have pushed myself more, but before I knew it I had gone 13 miles and the time slipped away from me.
  • Run: 5k (see here). Sunny and flat; two things I can always count on for this race. I was mentally prepared for this run but was anticipating the moment my right ankle would act up. The run started out as planned, visited a water station and kept going. At mile 2 the right ankle pain paid a visit and we had fun (yeah right). My pace slowed, had to stop once to stretch it out (bad decision). One hard part about this 5k is you can see the entire course and how far the finish line is from where you are. Time sort of flew by but I was soaking it in and I was inspired so often watching other women conquer the race. The last quarter mile I picked up the pace and finished strong.
Here's where things get fun. I finished the race and immediately went towards volunteers who were cutting off the timing chips. I sit down and realize I can't catch a breath and my body was so hot I couldn't think. I got this across to the volunteer who helped me get to the med tent. I couldn't get words out, make decisions and catch my breath. All I could do was point and make motions. They sat me down and threw iced towels over my back. It was scary. But funny enough, this happens about once a year when I race. Took less than 10 minutes and I was good to go. (Freak show!) Fortunately I was collected and was able to get my bearings. Yeesh.

All in all, it was a fun race. I love the race atmosphere and being among inspiring women. It makes me remember why I race and how I can push myself. Thanks for reading.

Up next: July 23 - Alexian Brothers 10k in Hoffman Estates with Lori. I guess this means the next two weeks will have a lot more run miles! Hopefully the weather will cooperate

I'm No Ironman, but I Still Tri.

Monday, June 27, 2011

19 Miles of Awesome

Ah yes, the day after a race. Always fun. The first step out of bed is pretty comical.Yesterday was the first of four triathlons I have lined up this summer, the Twin Lakes Sprint Triathlon nearby in Palatine, IL. Woof. The details: 700 m swim, 14.5 mi bike, and 4.5 mi run. If you read my other posts, I had some time off running and my triathlon coach said to use this race as a "workout" and not to push myself. I probably took that a little too literal, but ya know what? I finished and finished happy.

  • Weather: Unbelievable. Perfect temp (62-65), no humidity and sunny. I normally would argue for clouds, but it was delicious!
  • Pre-race: Arrived on site around 5am. Put air in my tires, and walked over to transition. I recognized a few faces, but I found my bike rack station and got a pretty good spot. It was up against a pole in the middle, so I had a bit more room. I did a quick 5-7 min warm up, of which I hardly ever do, but this is the year of the new and any attempt to prevent ankle pain is key! I felt pretty calm, excited, but it was kind of bizarre not to have a ton of friends on site. Of course, I chit chatted with the people around me. I didn't make it into the water, but hey, I hadn't even been in my wetsuit or had an open water practice yet so why start now? I somehow put my wetsuit on, made my way to transition, and got ready for the 6:42am start.
  • Swim: 700 m. (To see the sloppy mess that the GPS recorded and more commentary, visit here. When swimming, my wrist GPS incorrectly records route and pace, but it's generally accurate on distance. It's kind of funny to look at though.) I'm so happy I got new goggles! I can't recall the brand, but they fit so snugly on my face, didn't leak, and hardly fogged. My wetsuit was a bit tight although I felt very comfortable in the water. I alternated between 2-3 strokes for every breath. The second half was swimming directly into the sun. Awesome. Thankfully they placed bright orange colored milk gallons so I was able to sight to some degree. Okay, here we go, on to the bike.
  • Bike: 14.5 mi. (To see the route and more commentary, visit here.) Yes, yes. I know. It's slow. I decided to enjoy the ride while riding at a moderate pace. You have got to realize that the portion through Inverness, IL is ridiculous. The houses are mansions, and the properties are estates. So I dozed off and enjoyed the scenery. This is around mile 7. You'll note that the course takes us through Harper College, and what the heck is up with all the rumble strips?! Freaked me out! It was somewhat of a quiet course for me, as I was in wave 7 of 8 and the field was small (around 400 participants) so I didn't see many people. Very few aches, and before I knew it I was back at transition.
  • Run: 4.5 mi. (To see the route and more commentary, visit here.) Okay, again, I know it's slow. This part was the reason I was or wasn't going to race. I started out feeling spectacular, especially with the post-transition heavy leg syndrome. Pace was around 11:15. Again, didn't want to push it so I could avoid ankle pain. Around mi 1.25 here comes the ankle pain! I knew what it was and other than it being annoying, it didn't stop me. I stopped to stretch twice and walked through the water stations. I pulled my pace back and just did my thing. My iPod failed and again, being towards the end of the race there weren't a lot of people racing near me so it was so damn quiet. It was just me and my mantra (edited to stay G-rated). "You're doing this, you're really doing this. You're kicking ass, this is awesome." I saw the pace on my watch, but it didn't bother me in the least. In fact, it was the easiest 4.5 miles I'd ever run because I was so happy to be there, to be racing, and be in my zone. This was totally crazy considering the longest I'd run in recent weeks was around 2 miles. (Insert R-rated mantras here.) When I hit the longer runs, I usually break it up into multiple segments. The 4.5 mi run was two 2.25 mi runs. After I finished the first segment I was all, "I've totally got this, another 2 miles? Whatever, it's in the bank! I'm so happy I didn't pull out of this race!" My ankle pain didn't go away, but I ignored it and kept on. Finishing was a huge moment for me and strangely enough I was thinking about how glad I was that it was over.

If you made it through this entire post, thanks for reading. Every race teaches me something and this was no different. I can't put my finger on it, but I'm still living off the adrenaline!

Shout out to my friends who helped me play the ping pong match and decide on this race, specifically Dan M. (cubicledad) and Coach Anne, and of course my Kevin for supporting my decision, even when I flip flopped.

I'm No Ironman, but I Still Tri.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Motivating Myself

If you'll read my recent post, you'll notice that it's been nearly two months (to date) that I haven't blogged. This usually happens when a race isn't coming up, or I'm too busy. Well, I have some downtime and you'll see the post before, it's the first race (triathlon) of the season on Sunday. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and read what I wrote about some of these races last year. 

Enter Scene A:  2010 Glenview Sprint Triathlon Recap. Somehow with my training I managed to shave 6 minutes off the 2009 time, so 2010 was a success, despite the hip and ankle pain. Oy vey!

Enter Scene B: 2010 Chicago Sprint Triathlon Recap. Yes, both of these races were grueling in one way or another, but you know what? I finished them and with stellar times! Every year I have a different strength than the previous year and last year, maybe it was my commitment. Who knows? Regardless, it dawned on me that I can be my own motivator, as can everyone else. Journaling, whether through a blog or handwritten journal (I do both) can be a great tool to get yourself through any doubts or concerns. These past two weeks have been a mini roller coaster of ups and downs (making the decision about whether I'd be racing on Sunday or not) and re-reading my posts just gave me more ups!

Bottom line, I've become my own motivator. How cool! Anyone else experience this?

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri

Race Weekend is Upon Me

Phew, been quite a long time. Back to it.

This weekend marks the first triathlon of the season for me. It's a bit earlier than normal, and the run is a bit longer than normal. This wouldn't be such an issue had I not had a minor setback recently. A few weeks ago group training began with Together We Tri. This is my fourth season training with the group, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. We like to call it Summer Camp!

On Tuesday, June 7 we began the workout with run drills and even a one-mile time trial. Okay, fine no big deal! I haven't done hardly any speed work the past 6 months, but I've been running every week. The one-mile time trial was awesome. I felt tired while running, but overall not too bad. My final time was somewhere around 9:27 (which is about 90 seconds faster than normal, holy cow). After the time trial we hit the pavement again for a moderately paced 2-3 mi run. Well, as timing goes for me, around mile 1.5 my right inner ankle cringed and I had to stop almost immediately. Walking wasn't an issue but when I tried to shuffle again, right back to where I was. Long story short, we originally thought it was Achilles, but later a friendly physical therapist completely ruled that out. Thank gosh. After over a full week off running I went for a jog and miraculously there was no ankle pain! I only ran 2 miles, but still, I was so thankful.

Fast forward to today. This week I've gotten in a group ride followed by a 7-minute run, spin class, swimming and I'm attempting to run again today. There was debate by our fabulous coach Anne if I should hold off on racing, but in the end it's decided that I'm going to go to the race on Sunday, but treat it as a workout. I'm 100% okay with this. I had the opportunity to send in a doctor's note and receive 50% back of what I paid, but knowing that recent activity doesn't bother me, I might as well try. (I'd also be beating myself up about it Saturday night, and that's not good for anyone in my vicinity.)

I can't believe after nearly 9 months I'm hitting the water and pavement once again and it's the official start of my 2011 season. Here's my schedule:
Bottom line, I'm stoked for this weekend. I absolutely love racing and being in that atmosphere. Keep your fingers crossed that this "workout" I'm participating in on Sunday (with 400 of my close friends of course) doesn't involve ankle pain and I can just enjoy the day.

Thanks for your support!

I'm no Ironman, but I Still Tri.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shuffling, 10k-ing and Focusing

Well, the Shamrock Shuffle was a few weeks ago, and blah. I was battling a week long sickness, ranging from swimmer's ear to allergies, and it wouldn't go away. I only had the energy to exercise one day, and that ended up being a 2 mi run at a fast-ish pace. I was happy with that but I had this feeling that with the lack of exercise the upcoming race wouldn't fare well.

Fast forward to Friday. I fell asleep around 9:30/10pm (thank you melatonin) and woke up at 8 to coach the triathlon group. I was still so out of it so I couldn't run or swim with them. I spent the day relaxing with Kevin and trying to feel better. Saturday night I didn't get much sleep because I didn't pack my stuff earlier in the day. (Shame on me, I know better.) I was also excited to race and get my 2011 season started right. 

Sunday morning rolls around and I make my way to the race site. Checked my bag and met up with Emily. I started drinking water around 6:30am that morning and even brought an extra water bottle. I had been so thirsty all week, but even the extra water bottle couldn't prepare me. This year the organizers moved the race back a few weeks into April but kept the same start time at 9am. If you know Chicago it is entirely possible for a day in April to start with flurries and end with bikinis. Well, we had a freak day where the temps would hit the 80s on Sunday. Just my luck.

Long story short, I ran with Emily the majority of the way, but around 5k things went downhill. Dehydration really began to set in and as usual, my right ankle and right hip were screaming at me.

Fast forward to this past weekend, April 23. It was time for my long awaited 10k with Jen. Monday, April 18 began the first night of Passover and with that comes a restricted diet. Blah. I never enjoy the holiday and I'm always hungry and irritated because we can't eat anything with leavening, corn syrup or yeast. This leaves out: bread, cereal, pasta, beer, most liquor (except potato vodka), granola and any grain you can think of. (The debate is still out there on quinoa, and yes, we ate it. Take that!) Wonderful! Not only can I not fuel myself for the week but the first two nights will be filled with late night family gatherings and stuffing ourselves. (Love me some family time, but this does get in the way of training. But hey, you do what you've gotta do.) I was unable to workout in the mornings because I was still somewhat sick, the weather was crap-tastic and chose rest over working out. I was still able to get in a 2 mi run before my 60 min spin class, booya!

Saturday morning, I was very excited. I picked up Jen and we were off to the race site. I knew what I had gotten myself into and based on my previous performance at the Shamrock Shuffle I knew I was in for a long run (pun intended, you can laugh now). I hydrated so much that I had to take three potty breaks before lining up! While we were in line I needed to go again! We started off, and as always I felt fine, minor aches. Well, I quickly learned that mother nature wasn't going to be kind to me for the entire 6.2 miles, so sadly at mile 1 I had to depart from Jen and take care of business. Quick transition, only about 45 seconds off my time, but still. I wouldn't be able to race side by side with Jen, but oh well, had to keep going.

I was keeping a decent pace, around 10:30-10:45 but again, that dreaded 5k had something in store for me. Just like clockwork; right ankle, right hip. To make a long run short, I finished, and even with the potty break and occasional walking I manage to finish at approx. 1:13:00. I was relieved to be done and very proud of what I had accomplished.

Time to work on strengthening my weak sides and focusing on my pace. I think it's safe to say that I'm even more hooked on racing!

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Races

As you may have heard, I have two big races this month. They're not long, but they're challenging for me! I am participating in my second Shamrock Shuffle 8k (registration closed with 45,000 runners, WHOA). 8k = 4.97 mi, but for purposes of this post, it's 5 miles. Last year I ran with two good friends, Emily and Jess, and we finished in just under 1 hour. We were so happy considering our previous training and our first time doing that distance. It was so great to run with them too.

This year I have a much better base, although I don't have the high mileage yet. I've been routinely running this whole off-season. I've only had two 4 mile runs (on a treadmill sadly) but I'm hoping for a 4-4.5 mile run today or Sunday. I was out of the country for almost two weeks without any running, but I stayed active mostly every day. But with the base I've built, this should put me in the clear for the 8k. They pushed the race back this year to April 10, which is amazing. I would have missed it otherwise had it been in March, but hopefully the April 10 race day will bring us nice weather. (Although we're still in chilly temps and it's April 1 - okay Mother Nature, we get it. April Fools.)

Then, April 23 (Easter weekend) I'm racing with my close friend Jen S. for my first 10k (6.2 miles) at the Wrigley Early Start 10k. I'm a little anxious about that because I haven't hit the higher miles for that either, but I still have a few weeks to hit the longer distances. And hopefully finally be able to run outside. I can't wait to race another race with Jen. We have such a good time together.

Triathlon coaching is also going well. I'm inspired every time I meet with them and I love sharing my knowledge with them. There are a few who started the training very uncomfortable with the water and I've taken them from shallow end standers to entire length swimmers! (I think I am supposed to be a teacher in my next life.)

And how could I forget?! It's Birthday Month!! That's right, April is birthday month! One day shy of being a Tax Day baby (although some years it is Tax Day), so April 16 it is. What a great birthday month; an 8k and my first 10k. I couldn't be happier! And then triathlon training starts early June and I have four races lined up for the summer. It's going to be great!

I'm No Ironman but I Still Tri

P.S. If you want to see a photo album that captures the adventures of my traveling squirrel, take a look here. I started traveling with him almost 6 years ago. He's been all over the world!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Triathlon Coaching

Triathlon coaching, who me? Yes me! I was approached by the fitness director at the Leaning Tower YMCA to coach the beginning triathlon training group on Saturday mornings. I currently teach a group cycle class on Wednesday evenings there so I am familiar with the facility and staff. But whoa, me?! I met the group last Saturday and they're a very excited and eager bunch. Most of them have never done a triathlon, some are currently working, and others are just getting off the couch. I wasn't prepared for the workout, other than a spin class routine. Well, we had a blast!

I put together a 12-week training plan for them, based on all the training I've done. WOW! I can't believe I'm their "go-to" gal! I'm very excited for this, and it will bring other opportunities for me down the road. It will also force me to get the workouts done, improve my fitness, and practice what I preach.


I'm no Ironman, but I still tri.

Strong for 23 in 2011 follow up

Well, #strongfor23in2011 didn't start off so well. January 1 came around, as did a sushi dinner and WHAM! Food poisoning hit me like a semi truck. It was very unpleasant. I lost 4 lbs in one night and I couldn't stay out of the bathroom or keep anything down. You're supposed to eat plain yogurt when you have food poisoning to help "bring back the good bacteria." Well, I was sick for so long that the mucus lining in my small intestine that produces lactase (processes dairy) was gone so yogurt kept fueling my illness. Yada yada yada. The challenge didn't start off well, so on January 7 at 12am midnight, I started 2011 all over again. So, I'm now onto 2011.2!

After recovering and finally having enough energy I got back on my bike trainer and began working out regularly, and sticking to 5 days on, 2 days off. Here's Alan's follow up report as well. Not bad!