Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Plan & Feeling Better...

Wow, the heat has hit Austin and has hit hard! Welcome summer. Everyone has been saying the past week they've been feeling groggy, sluggish, times are a bit off, etc...but, it's OK! (I have to tell myself this too). The humidity and heat are a killer especially the first few weeks (as if I have 'that' much experience here!)...but let your body adapt, and don't be too hard on yourself. The pace on the run may have to give a little (especially the hard efforts) and you may be feeling sluggish but do the work, and then focus on recovery...getting out of the heat, ice-bathing if needed and hydrating and fueling well. That's my 2 cents on that. :)

Despite feeling like I was most definitely getting sick last week (immediately after Skeese Greets), I think that I have kept this 'at bay' thanks to a lot of sleep and a small decrease in training. The scratchy throat, congested cough and mild sinus pressure are subsiding so that is encouraging. I also have to be extremely careful with our adorable little cat, Shackleton:

as well he is a cat and he carries cat allergies. I figured out that he is probably adding to my stuffiness, because with the heat he is shedding more. Poor little allergy-furball. So, I am trying to keep him off the pillows, out of the bedroom and well just not kiss him as much. Which is tough.

So...moving on to the 'new plan'. I opted to do Eagleman 70.3 in 2 weeks! This is pretty exciting as it is an entirely new race for me. I was able to talk my parents into meeting me there, which works out well as my dad has a cousin in Annapolis, MD. We are all set and good to go, it could be a bit of a wake-up call as I have not ridden a 'ton' the past few months but I feel good about the strides I have made the past few weeks with cycling and overall fitness. I figure this will be a good 'see where I am at' kind of race. And the fact that it is flat will be nice, as I can really settle in on the new Scott Contessa and feel her out. The following race will be Buffalo Springs on June 29th, which is much hillier, so I'll definitely have my work cut out for me in Cambridge, MD in that I'll be spending lots of time in the aero position. I have yet to be truely comfortable (but, are any of us?) so hopefully I can stay down and low the majority of the ride...

In other news today was Capital of Texas Triathlon, just down the hill from us. I opted to sit this one out and spectate. Reasons...not quite sure you want me to get into that but if you ask me I will tell you. Sometimes things are just best left to rest...moreso because those involved are just not worth my time and energy. All in all I am kind of glad I was not 'tempted' to race because I put together a great string of 3 days of longer training (thanks to Mel for a great ride Saturday!) and the R&R has done me well. But to everyone out there, great did not look easy and ya'll battled the heat and humidity like champs. Special congrats to Reem Khashou and Nick Bannon, both SE guys both looked great out there! Also nice job to Andrea Fisher on her win, and Brandon Marsh and James Cotter taking 2 & 3 on the mens side. We had the results in the Source Endurance tent which was very cool! Everyone was able to print up their results and walk away with them.

So that is the weekend thus far...Derick is dozing on the bed (with Shackleton, how cute) as he was out there at the race from about 7:00-2:00. He deserves a nap. We'll head off to a little Memorial Day weekend BBQ in a bit...I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday weekend, try to take some down time! Speaking of which...I need to get to addressing wedding invites...

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back to my 'roots': Skeese Greets

Well this feels to have been a whirlwind of a week. I really feel that I should not say "I'm Busy", because I don't feel terribly stressed out, but I do feel like the weekend has come and gone and I am left wondering where it went. Needless to say, it was a good week and a fun weekend to cap it off.

Last week I would say I was 'introduced' to my first week of 'real' triathlon training in awhile. Sure, I run, swim and bike all the time but I actually did some concerted efforts and stuck to a prescribed schedule. By Friday night, I was feeling it. Just ask Derick. Our game of Frisbee Golf (and riding our commuter bikes to it, which happened to be an hour on commuter bikes) turned into just dinner. I got hungry, tired and oh-SO-grumpy. Once I had some food in my tummy, the world was all good again. :) We had a good evening of eating burgers and drinking some beer at Lamberts, a nice local music restaurant/bar in Austin.

Saturday I did a 'long' ride of 3 hrs 15 minutes with Jen Perez, which was fun. I did however make sure that I was able to sleep in and eat pancakes prior, it seems that Derick and I must have one 'sleep in and make pancakes' day each weekend. We do our best to stick to this routine. We stayed in Saturday night, and watched "Pride and Prejudice"...which I believe was the 2nd time but the first time I dosed the entire time.

Sunday was where I got 'back to my roots'. I did the Skeese Greets Triathlon this morning, which was put on my Stacy Keese, 'founder' of Skeese Greets...'greeting cards for the athletically minded'. This was an all womens triathlon. I knew I could have used a training-only weekend but Jack and Adams does a lot for this community, and I really wanted to go and support Stacy and her event. And, what a cool event it is! This is limited to 500 women, and of course there are probably a handfull of women who are first-timers. While the 5:00 am alarm came too early, I woke up easily (with the sun) and drove out to the race with a friend of mine (who was 'scoping' what this whole triathlon thing is about). The energy there was great, yet also a very chilled out environment. There just was not the 'rush' around this that you typically feel on a race morning. ( The course was actually the same exact one as The Rookie a week ago, and ...incredible...but I went the same EXACT time as last weekend!! a 48:29 for the 300-swim, 11-mile bike and 2-mile run course. What was very cool was that I was able to go and jog the run course after I finished, just cheering for all the ladies out there. I find nothing more incredible than people not afraid to get out and just try something. My friend Sarah Bannon dropped 4 minutes from her last weeks time! And this was only her second triathlon ever. All ages, all abilities and all backgrounds but one common participate. Some to compete, some to just finish. I just want to say thanks to J&A's for your endless work, setting up, tearing down and cheering with oodles of energy the entire way...and congratulations to all the women out there who took part. The first step of any journey always the toughest, so if you accomplished your first triathlon today, congrats and welcome aboard!

Oh wait, the roots reference...right. I loved this because a race like this really epitomizes the roots of triathlon. I have done plenty of high-profile races, high-energy, high-intensity, nerves abounding, famous names right and left-races...and those are great, as they push me not only 'to' but often times trying to go 'beyond' my limits. But this is the triathlon of a different sort...good people, good music, good food, and positive energy. No egos, no pushing, no shoving, but everyone doing their thing out there on the race course. Just a bit of advice...amongst your 'race schedule' this year if you have one, throw in a couple of 'just for fun' races! They are good for the mind, body and soul. OK that's all for this Sunday evening...signin' out...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Le Rookie

Yesterday was a Jack and Adams event, The Rookie Triathlon. It was out at New Braunfels, the Texas Ski Ranch, where Jack's Generic was last year. I was not going to race it since last weekend I decided "No racing for awhile!"...but, it was a 300 swim-11 mile bike-2 mile run...all of under 50 minutes of racing. So I figured, what the hey, and I planned to ride my bike back to give myself a good bike-training day out of it.

It kicked off at 8:00, in the little pond out there which was thick with...plants of some sort. I have to say, this was the most congested swim I have EVER done in all my 6 years of racing! Well, actually World Championships in 2002 in Cancun was pretty bad too, felt like a washing machine all the way and I got out scared and intimidated, only to get yelled at on the bike by (who was she? someone famous) to 'Stop taking a drink and pull, Handel!'...oh god that was scary. I then got lapped by the eventual winner, Leanda Cave?, as I went out on the last lap of the run. I should have just raised my arms, finished and confused everyone but...well I am too honest. :)

ANYWAY, I opted to just stop and go AROUND everyone in the swim b/c it freaks me out to be so congested. I was laughing at myself b/c I knew it was so awful, I actually did not come out too poorly in position but it did tell me to work on my swim speed. It will come. :) I exited the swim and headed to the bike, where I whisked away my new Scott Contessa Plasma, and began to hammer away. I had a few women ahead of me but I just tried to keep them in sight. I was able to secure second place by the end of the 30-min bike ride, which was good, and I hammered the shit out of this ride! I figure it's a good way to WHIP this cycling back into shape! Exited the bike and on to the run, only 2 miles, out a mile and back a mile. I was very plesantly surprised that I was able to manage 5:55 pace here, though it was pretty tough. Amy Marsh was a good bit ahead of me, which I was OK with. I know that I need to work my way back into this and I am fine with that. I tried to 'thumbs up' all the women I saw out there, they were all working so hard and I loved knowing them all...very cool. There was a little hill at the end of the run and I was tired, I slightly backed off here, knowing I wanted to finish looking decent. Over the hill, down the gravel path and there was the finish! I crossed as 2nd woman to Amy, soon followed by Andrea Fisher, who also had a great race. A fun little event for sure, Jack and Adams never fails to make it a good time had by all. I also wore my Zoot green race flats which felt great, I continued to wear them until I rode back to Austin.

The next couple of hours were spent bouncing between helping out with food, trash, and other things they needed, as well as 'manning' the Source Endurance tent! We were situated right next to AJ Zelinski and his crew with Advanced Rehabilitation. We were promoting out upcoming Swim Clinics at Pure Austin Quarry, as well as a discount on physiological testing if you bring your The Rookie bib # in. The ride home was LONG but fun! I rode with a nice little group and arrived back around 3:15 with tired legs and a roasted back (forgot sunscreen b/c it was overcast....argh....)

All in all a great day! I am really happy to see that I am so excited about getting back to triathlon, yet I need to be careful of not over-doing it, too. I can tell my legs are still tired at the end of my races, and I think this calls for a cautious approach to the next month of training. The next 'big' race as of now will be Buffalo Springs in June. But tonight is WILCO at Stubbs BBQ! Better get in some training and grocery shopping before...


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Enjoy the Moment

Has been awhile since I last posted, as last week was insane...I left for a 6-day trip to Indiana. The trip was to accomplish a few things, including a) do a 1/2 marathon and b) help out my mom with wedding plans! It was an excellent trip, good race but also great time with the family.

I headed out last Thursday, and Derick came in on Friday to Indiana. We all had dinner with my sister Robin on Friday night, pre-Mini-Marathon. Donatos Pizza (sorry, Pat) :) is the dinner of choice when I get into town the first night. Works for me pre-race, however I have to say, the stomach was a bit temperamental Saturday morning...could it be their 100-pepperoni guarantee on their pizzas? Nah...

The race on Saturday was the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, which is the largest 1/2 marathon in the country. I have done it a few times in the past, notably last year when I did a 1:18 and was 6th overall. This year, well, a few months ago, I was really gunning for a top 3 finish here and a sub-1:16. BUT...going into this, I was just feeling a bit 'blah'. I had gotten a little sick between this and St. Louis (April 6), and I think that kind of rattled my confidence. I wanted to hit workouts that would make me feel confident running a 5:50 pace for this, but I was not really able to get them in. So, I tried to approach this saying "Let things take care of themselves, relax, run and don't overthink it."

This I did, as Derick and I got up Saturday morning (I at 4:50, he at 6:00...he was not too concerned about this, the start time was 7:30) and ate my normal breakfast, waited around and spent a LOT of time in the bathroom at our hotel (we were at the Westin, which was about 1/4 mile from the start line). This had me a bit worried but I just had to STOP drinking water, then I was fine.

Once I got outside and warmed up, I felt great! The energy at this race is incredible!! Imagine being surrounded by almost 40,000 others, music playing, sun is coming up, and the place is just bustling with energy. I avoided the whole 'Elite Pre-Race Readyt Room'...I didn't really want to see who was racing, just wanted to go run. I spotted my parents and my nephew William at the start, which was so nice...always puts a smile on my face to see my mom and dad. :) The very cool thing too was that my sister Cori was also running the half, and Robin doing the 5k...a family affair!

The gun went and we took off, Derick and I, and I tried to stick a 6-min pace (no faster) for the first 6-miles. Then, I'd just drop my pace. No big deal. Simple as that. Well, we hit the Indy 500 track right at mile 6. I believe I said to Derick, "Not picking it up." Meaning, not feeling it. This section of the race is that you are going around the Indy 500 race track, but this is 2.5 miles long! If you are hurting, you'll probably feel it here and I did. Nothing was really 'clicking' today. I noticed at the 8-mile mark, I was slipping on my pace. I tried to ignore it and just keep on running. We exited and soon hit mile 9, where I think I said, "I can't do this..." This is odd because it is not like me, I have not really experienced races where I truely tie up the last few miles so often...I think that around mile 10, I slowed to almost a walk, and said a lot of negative things. Such as...

"I feel awful...I cannot finish this. This is horrible, what am I doing out here? I cannot even hold 6-min pace...just quit, don't finish this, you'll embarass yourself..this is so painful..."
INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, my body felt HORRIBLE when I said this.
Talk about the power of the MIND!
This was so vivid to me! So, to test the theory, I decided I'd load myself with positive self-talk. Such as...

"KEEP GOING. You were running in 4th place, why give up? You HATE QUITTING. And you'll regret it, suck it up and one foot in front of the other. Stay with that girl who passed you, she is hurting too, you are not alone here and thousands here would love to be running your proud of who you are and what you do!! Do not give up."

Needless to say, I felt pretty strong from 10-12 and was even holding position to the girl who had passed me. I struggled home at the end as I felt the 'surge' I had attempted to a 1:19.49, I believe, good for 5th overall (Thank Goodness!!!). I was just toast. I think that my body is just a bit worn down, and I think I also saw the effects of putting a bit too much pressure on myself the past few months.

So...I tried to chalk it up to a good training day, a bit of prize winnings ($1000) and a good effort. Things just do not always click. I know this was not a terrible race, I know a 1:19 is a respectable time, but I also know that a year ago I was clicking off 1:18's and I like to be improving. That said, I had family there and my wonderful fiance Derick...we had the whole weekend and more together, my sister Cori ran great as did my sister Robin...and it was a beautiful day in downtown Indy. Some days, the results are just not the most important matter on hand.

And the trip just got better, as Derick and I 'designed' our wedding cake on Sunday, tasted our food for the wedding and also met Pete Sebert who will 'marry us'. It was so incredibly nice to relax at my parents house in Trafalgar, IN, and fish, drink beer and eat good food. I even swam in their lake on Tuesday, which was awesome, their place is just quiet and peaceful. While I was kind of itching to get back to some training, I was sure not in a hurry to leave there.

So...ending comments? It's not always about the race. I know I take this stuff seriously, put a lot of my heart and soul into it, but sometimes it is so much needed to take a step back and just enjoy the moment and appreciate all we have around us. This past week, seeing my family and seeing my sisters go out and race their hearts out, every moment was great, ...even suffering to the finish line. :) That is just part of living life.

P.S. I just got my new Scott Contessa TT bike, courtesy of the Zoot Triathlon is sweet. Granted, it is white with pink and I am not really the 'pink' person (give me bright orange, yellow, green) but I went for a ride this morning and it felt awesome! If that is not motivation to get back in the saddle, I don't know what is! Thanks tons to Zoot Sports for the support, as well as James at Jack and Adams for getting it all set up! You're awesome James, the fit is perfect and it is running smoothly! Now, I just need to 'make' it speedy. :)