Friday, November 8, 2013

Making Lemonade

Ironman training is months and months, sometimes years, of making lemonade.
In our everyday lives lemons are thrown at us.  What we do with those lemons determines who we are.

At the end of August I raced an Olympic distance at Clear Lake.  This race was considered part of my training so the day was about collecting data, trying out some nutrition and having a good time.  The swim was very good practice as it was one of the rougher swims with more contact than any other triathlon I have done.  I was excited to get on the bike.  At the time I was riding the Litespeed with aero bars, the same bike I rode at Bridgeland.  Unfortunately out of T2 I crashed, completely my fault. Helplessly my husband and sister were only a few feet away but could not help me.  I popped back up and started pedaling.  I soon realized my rear derailleur was no longer working so the race was done in the only two gears I had, big ring and small ring.  Lemons.  Made it through the bike and suffered through the run.  It was wonderful to see Ken and my sister, the first triathlon she had been able to attend, along the way.  Unfortunately, the crash had some lasting results.  Lemons.

My shoulder was sore but I pressed on.  September 22 I was in Oklahoma with a good friend, Trisha, to race the Redman Full Aqua-Bike.  I felt a full distance swim & bike would be better training for me than the usual half Ironman distance most triathletes use in their full distance training.
The swim was great!  I swam 2.65 miles in traffic and negotiated well finishing in 1;29:29.
Once again I was excited to get on the bike but shortly after the Litespeed and I left T2 I had a very sharp pain in my side.  I kept telling myself it was a stitch and would work itself out.  While on the bike I tried stretching and every position I could manage to get more comfortable.  The intense stabbing pain got worse and I could only sit straight up (so much for aero bars).  I had many arguments with myself over those 56 miles.  Sadly at the turn around I knew I could not continue.  Trisha saw me at half way and told me to get off my bike.  At this point I was hyperventilating and couldn’t speak.  I had not taken a deep breath in almost 4 hours.  The folks in the med tent were lovely and did their best to make me comfortable.  Two IVs and several students and a couple doctors later their best guess is intercostal muscle strain.  They were sympathetic and assured me stopping was the smartest decision I made all day.

When I got home I was determined to get whatever this was fixed, I have a race to do, bigger fish to fry and all that.  I met with a local chiropractor who specializes in ART and is a triathlete himself.  At my first appointment he asked me if I had been in a car accident.  I assured him I had not.  He told me he usually sees ribs in this kind of shape after somebody has been broadsided.  My ribcage was completely locked up like a solid mass. 
At our second appointment he discovered I had a fractured rib.  He asked if I had crashed my bike.  Well, now that you mention it I did crash my bike!  LOL  My focus post Clear Lake was on my shoulder but apparently when my body hit the pavement my ribs took the brunt.  “The good news is you can continue with your training, the bad news is it will all hurt.”  Lemons.  Gee, thanks Jonathan.  For me the good news was I knew what the heck was going on.  My ribs had been spasming on and off since Redman and let’s just say it was very uncomfortable.  Knowing there was a reason helped me realize this reason will heal and this is something that will end. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Racing Naked

Racing Naked isn't nearly as sexy or frightening as it sounds, however, it is very liberating!

Going naked is tri speak for no watch.  In general triathletes are very data driven.  We wear sun dial size watches that tell us how far we have run, how fast we are running, what our heart rate is, our average pace, how long we have been running, the options for the display are many just don't ask us what time it is.  During my runs I spend a lot of time looking at my watch, too much time.  Running by heart rate means you need to keep your pace slow and even which is difficult in Houston heat and humidity, heaven forbid there is an elevation change.

Leading up to the Bridgeland sprint this weekend the store where I work had packet pick up during my shift both Friday and Saturday.  This gave me the opportunity to speak with a lot of racers and a good percentage of them were first timers.  Having done this race four times before I did my best to answer their questions and give them some tips to lessen their anxiety.  My general spiel is '"read the information the race director has given you, nothing new on race day, get there early, thank the volunteers and smile for the cameras."  I decided to take my own advice.  I didn't have a computer on my bike and didn't wear my Garmin.

This was my first time racing Bridgeland in the age group category rather than Athena.  The first year I took 2nd, the next two years I came in 4th and last year I got 3rd sharing the podium with a very good friend.  The last 3 years I was looking to make the top three in my division and wondering where the other girls were on the course.  Looking at my watch and being disappointed I wasn't running faster.  This year I was racing age group feeling like a little fish in a much bigger pond competing against 58 women rather than the six 40 and over Athena's.  I was less concerned with who was in front of me and who was going to catch me and more concerned with having a good time.

While visiting with my coach and friends after the race I told everyone I had a great race because I had a great time and felt good about how the morning went.  It wasn't until I got home and looked at the results I realized I would have been the first Athena finisher for the first time ever.  My time was seconds slower than last year and I know I could have pushed myself a little harder on the run but training for an Ironman left my legs heavy and sluggish.  Arizona is my big picture.  Bridgeland was a day to enjoy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Long Run Perspective

Yesterday was another two hour run.  I am currently coached by Adrienne Langalier who has me running by heart rate.  To determine my zones I did a threshold test a few weeks ago and based off my max heart rate I was given my training zones.  Long runs are zone 2 which means incredibly, terribly slow for me.  While I hate using the term slow when referring to running we are talking a pace 12:30-13:15 depending on temperature, humidity and distance of the run.

After only one months use my Garmin heart rate monitor is no longer working.  While going up a hill at a pace that should be zone 3 my heart rate was reading somewhere in the 80s.  This was pretty annoying but I took advantage and went a bit faster than I knew I was supposed to.  The result of going just a little faster over a 2 hour period was how I felt when I was finished compared to my last two hour run.  My body was pretty darn grumpy at the end of the run yesterday.              

The good news is Ken has been able to do some of my training with me.  Yesterday we did a 4.25 out and back on the Faulke Gully then a 1 mile loop.  He had to get to work so I ran the next out and back solo.
Often times when I run I use mantras but usually not until I am hurting or incredibly bored.  Yesterday I just let my mind wander thinking about the coming week.  I came off the trail and turned right to head home I noticed an older gentleman sitting in a wheelchair in his driveway and my first thought was he was recovering from some kind of surgery.  However as I came upon him I noticed both legs had been amputated below the knee and by the look of the bandages this was recent.  I wasn't sure whether to ignore him or say something.  Then I thought he probably gets ignored a lot.  I looked right at him and said "Good morning!" he smiled right back and wished me a good day.  I got chills.  I thought this man would probably give anything to have both his legs and be able to run or go for a walk with his wife or grandchildren.  At that moment I felt so grateful that my body lets me do what I want to do. I picked up my pace repeating to myself "You have legs, you should run!"  I can pretty much guarantee I was in zone 4.

Any day you can run is a good day. 


Friday, June 28, 2013

Full Swing

A lot has happened since my last post.  I won't go into the boring details, here are the high and low lights:

Kemah did not happen
Bought new house & moved in
Sold old house and closed
Brendan graduated from high school
Family came in town for graduation and were forced to help us move (NOT part of the plan).
Training took a backseat during a week of packing/moving and a couple of runs was it.

Ironman training is now in full swing.  Following the plan Ken (husband) and I put together with some guidance from the Fink book, my run coach and the amazing Liz Baugher professional triathlete and co-worker.

For the most part my plan builds for three weeks and is followed by a recovery week.  This is the last week of build and next week is recovery week.  Unfortunately, recovery week does not mean lots of sleep, pedicures (could really use one) and bon bons.  Recovery week means my long run is ONLY 1.5 hours and my long bike is 3 hours.
One adaptation I have made to my plan is to have my longer swims during recovery.  I don't have the time and energy to go long in all 3 right now, we will see if that will change.  So next week is shorter in the run, no change in bike and more swimming.

My bike training is pretty intense right now because my next event will be the Katy Flatlands Century.  This will be my first 100 mile bike ride.  The wonderful news is Ken does my weekend riding with me.  During the week a small group of women meet for a 23 mile ride, I take a spin class with a tri group at the YMCA on Friday and I joined an amazing group of women training for Tour de Pink.  We are team Wonder Woman and are working together to raise money for breast cancer.  This is a link to my donation page, everything helps.

I hope the link works this site won't allow me to imbed the link .

Friday, April 12, 2013


There is a plan.  It is already written.  It is a mystery to me.

Our house is on the market should be an excuse for just about anything.  The problem is the gulf water of Kemah does not care if my house is on the market.  The water on that day is going to be whatever it is no matter what. 

Yesterday we were getting our house ready for a showing.  We are still in the stage when we are happy about a showing though mildly annoyed rather than the other way around.  The girls get excited and are convinced every time these are the people who are going to buy our house.  I love that all things are possible and positive in their lives. 

One of the girls questioned whether these people would love our house and want to move in and what would we do if that happens.  I got out a piece of paper and drew a timeline.  Our House at the bottom (vertical like with markers) New House at the top.  I explained many things will happen between now and the new house.  This is a process.  There is a house that is OURS.  It is possible we haven't seen it yet.  He has chosen the house, we just don't know it yet. 

I then did another timeline with birth at the bottom and death at the top.  Along the vertical line were markers some with happy faces, some sad.  I explained a lot of things happen in our life.  There will be many good things and some bad things.  The bad things are not there because God has abandoned us or we are cursed in any way but the bad things are building blocks to create the person God intended us to be.  Pretty deep huh?

That is when it happened.  Once I said it out loud it was true.  God has a plan for me, my story is written. 

Kemah 2012 is the race where I had my first full on panic attack.  I have been reminding myself for weeks now 2013 will be different and while the conditions for me were very difficult last year I finished that swim!  The experience has likely helped me empathize with others who have open water anxiety or anxiety in general.  The panic that day was very real and I was truly terrified.  I made it anyway.

This year Kemah will be different for many reasons.  Women go first (no dudes in the water with me is a good thing), the water will be different (I hope for the better).  I will have more experience under my belt.  Not to say my swim training is where I think it should be right now but I have swam this distance and more many times.  My goal this year will be to enjoy the swim and welcome the day He has made with the body that allows me to do what I want to do.  What a gift!  I will pray, I will train, I will let go and trust in the already written story.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ugly Run Day

Last Tuesday just two days after my 5K PR I had a great 10 mile run.  It started out good, I felt great the whole time and I exceeded my expectations for my pace finishing with my fastest mile.  My overall pace for that 10 mile run was 11:49.

Yesterday coach had 13 miles on my plan.  My training at the end of last week and this past weekend was not spot on as Ken and I were able to take a little couple weekend away which did not include triathlon training.  I asked coach about the jump from 10 miles last week to 13 this week.  She said if it was easier to wrap my head around 12 that would be OK.  Why, yes, 12 sounds SO MUCH EASIER than 13.  13 is a race.  I have done 13 exactly two times, both were races.  Why would I do 13 in training?  LOL 

I just decided 13 is only a race number.  We all know it is unlucky so why would you do it if you didn't have to?  I worked in hotels for years and the 13th floor is almost always used for storage rather than guest rooms.  Having said that 12 didn't feel very lucky yesterday.  The plan was to repeat last week start off slow for the first couple of miles and then do what feels good.  Nothing felt good.  I should have known I was in trouble when the first mile felt long.

I have been doing my long runs in Terry Hershey park.  I generally go just past half way for distance and turn around.  The out and back prevents me from cutting my runs short which I would have definitely done yesterday if I was on a shorter loop.

I tried a new hydration bottle yesterday.  It is a Camelbak bottle bigger than my Fuel Belt bottle I usually carry.  I realized immediately it was difficult to store the bottle in my Lululemon Dart and Dash shorts so I held the bottle for the first two miles until it was a bit lighter and I could store in the side pocket.  During mile 4 the bottle popped out and when I heard it hit the ground I was able to retrieve it.  Yesterday I turned around shortly after the 6 mile mark.  Once I turned around I stopped my watch and took a minute to put in my earbuds and use my ipod Shuffle.  I don't use music when I run outside but with this long solo run I thought it might come in handy.  I am so glad I had that music to get me through the next six miles.  Unfortunately, because I had the music I did not hear when my bottle full of Cytomax hit the ground somewhere around mile 6.  I reached for that bottle at 7 and it was gone.  Going back wasn't an option, I had no desire to add mileage to this already miserable run and I was short on time having to pick the girls up from school.  The good news is this park has plenty of water fountains, I got through just fine.

The last 2 miles were painful, there was walking.  I told myself this is a good mental day because the Ironman is going to hurt and I will have to keep going.  At the end of the run I could not fathom going another 14.2.  A marathon is a long way.  Then I reminded myself this was my longest training run by 2 miles.  Back when I started running in 2009 two miles was 4 times around the YMCA track and I couldn't do it without stopping.  I've come a long way baby.

The pace for those 12 miles? 11:46 but the finish was Uuuuuugly!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Tights

Last week I was fortunate enough to be gifted a pair of recovery tights.  I already have a pair but thought these would come in handy as my training increases having two pair would be nice.

Tuesday I had a good 10 mile run and thought this would be a great time to test out the new tights.

My original pair of tights are Zoot similar to these but without the super cute pink stitching, mine are a few years old.  I have long felt these tights were well worth the money I spent and worth their weight in gold.  The ones I own are technically active recovery meaning you could exercise in them and these are Zoot's big Daddy tights.  My husband owns those but doesn't care for them.  They slide down his tuhkus and the stirrup style cuts into the arch of his foot.  He likes what they do for his legs but he is uncomfortable in them.

In the last couple of years my only complaint about my Zoot tights is they are tricky to get on but that is part of the whole recovery deal.  I keep telling Ken somebody needs to create spray on recovery tights! 

The new tights are CEP.  For a while now they have had a clone recovery tight that is custom to each athlete given their own measurements.  This is their first non custom recovery tight.  They look just like the clone tights.  What I like about them is they cover the heel and arch of the foot but stop short of the toes allowing you to wear flip flops and your toes don't get squished.  That is the end of the good news.  They look and feel like something your Grandma would wear.  The control top is thicker and itchy almost like wool, the rise is too high (I am 5'9"), they come up so high they kind of roll down and cut into me like panty hose (and we all hate panty hose).  The other complaint is the actual crotch of the tights.  I won't go into details, lets just say they rubbed me the wrong way.

My Zoot tights look like athletic tights, you can see the different weaves of the fabric, they are soft behind my knees and even more important the crotch is very comfortable.  I was originally reluctant to buy tights because of the panty hose feeling at the waist.  Not an issue in my Zoot's because the compression is graduated they are not tight on my tummy at all, hit me below my belly button, stay in place and they are so comfortable I often sleep in them.  I could never sleep in the CEP tights.

 I work in a triathlon store and sell plenty of recovery calf sleeves, socks and tights.  They are not a MUST have but I'd put them at the top of the 'nice to have' list for those racing longer distances. 

In closing I will say I love my CEP socks and have no idea why they didn't transfer the same technology to their tights, they missed the mark in my opinion.