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.