Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: racereports Page 4 of 13

Some days you are enough (No Label Sprint Tri)

I randomly had a dream a few nights before the No Label Tri that I got first in my age group.  If you’ll remember, my last race I came in LAST place, so this is not typically something that happens for me.

Even though my self-confidence tends to flag occasionally, I do have my moments where I actually believe I can do things.  I started to write it off, hahaha, that’s funny, you’re going to get 5th like you always do, if you’re lucky… I thought to myself.  And then I told that asshole to eff off and go away.

What do I have to lose being confident?  I thought.  What could it possibly hurt to dream big and believe I had a fighting chance at placing in or even winning my age group?  Why not start the race as an optimist for a change?  So, I attempted to hold onto that moment of confidence, that moment of standing on top of the podium, in the back of my mind through the week.

We were lucky enough to have Good Friday off work, so we had our pre-race swim, packed the camper, ate an early lunch of a giant turkey sandwich, and had a fairly uneventful drive to Katy, TX.  The RV Park we stayed at was the opposite of anything natural – it was a jungle of concrete with our little mobile boxes tucked in right next to each other – but it also had a pool, a hot tub, and an icemaker, so I was perfectly happy with what it was for it’s purpose – a makeshift hotel room.

We cooked our traditional pre-race chicken, potatoes, and salad, and puttered around a bit before we settled down with books and attempted to sleep.  The concrete jungle was loud at night, and sadly, I think I got a little less than 6 hours of sleep.  Earl grey tea and a sunbutter + honey english muffin (plus two caffeinated jelly beans) perked me right up, so I’ve had much worse and I really think I’ve nailed my pre-race nutrition for the year as I felt solid all race.

Rocket fuel!

The late night meant a later sleep and we got to transition 15 minutes before closing (don’t do that).  Yeah, no time for a warmup run.  Oh well.  Then, I left transition without my swim stuff because I felt rushed and barely got back in on time.  Then the potty line was long.  I was incredibly thankful that the planned race start of 6:45am came and went and the race director was just starting the briefing.

We stood in line for what felt like eternity (I think it was about 40 minutes) waiting for the start and then watching the fastest swimmers cruise through the pool.  Chatting with the folks around us, the general consensus was that this race was always kind of a shit show.  The course is either long or short and something is the matter with it, it never starts on time, and they were impressed because most of the right things had gotten in the packets this year unlike other years.  I took a deep breath and thought, Well, good thing I’m just here to kick off my season.  A rust buster can totally be a shit show, no problem.

All of a sudden it was my turn and I dove into the pool, like I had told myself absolutely NOT TO DO, but thankfully my goggles held their seal and I was off!  My plan was to sprint a little bit to try and catch the person in front of me and then draft off them for the rest of the 300m.  The guy in front of me took off like a bullet and I actually had to swim for my life to keep the people behind me from catching me.

Spending a little more time here lately but I’ve probably swam more in one long session last year IM training than I have collectively in 2018.

Around lap 4, I noticed that two other swimmers had passed Zliten, who had started right behind me, and I got two taps on my toes, so I stopped at the wall and let them pass.  The couple seconds it took to let them pass was so worth it, as I got to ride their bubbles spending CONSIDERABLY less energy the last two laps.  I sort of rolled my way out of the pool awkwardly but quickly, and was off to T1.

Swim time: 5:54/300m – 1:58/100m pace.  3/15 AG.

It’s hard to compare this to anything because it’s a pool swim, and you’re sort of forced into the pace of the people in front or behind you.  However, I’m incredibly happy with this considering I can probably count my swims this year on one hand so it can only get better from here.

T1 was about 10 feet from the door, which was nice.  I ran out with intent and then with purpose went down the wrong rack.  D’oh!  Once I got to my spot I did the quick sock shoe sock shoe thing, though since it was a parking lot it was nice to not have to worry about putting my stocking feet down like I hate to do on dirt or mud.  I clipped on my helmet and tried my sunglasses and immediately stuck them down my jersey – it was so freaking humid I couldn’t see out of them, but I didn’t want to not have the option for the whole bike.  I should have.  I didn’t use them all morning.

Zliten was about 30 seconds into his transition when I unracked Death Star and told him I’d see him out there, figuring he’d be whizzing past me in no time.

T1 time: 1:15. 3/15 AG.

I was on a mission on the bike here.  I know I’m not the best runner but I am getting to be a pretty darn decent cyclist.  From analysis of my age group last year, I found the bike times to be really slow.  I figured there were a few options: either something happened last year (wind, rain, etc), the course was super hilly (which it wasn’t), or that I had a chance to blow the competition out of the water and come off the bike in first and then just run for my life, hoping no one would catch me.

So, with that knowledge, my goal for the bike was just to get out there and pedal my ass off.  I spent the first mile or two rolling past about twenty people on a super chip sealy and debris laden road, and then finally I relaxed into aero when I found a nice, clear section and got down to it.  I was holding around 19 mph, 20 when I really concentrated, and I felt some wind, which I was hoping was headwind.  If I can hold this pace in the headwind, I thought, I can REALLY crank it on the way back.

Sadly, I never found the tailwind.  Somehow, on an out and back course with a box in the middle, it never felt easier and the wind was causing SOME sort of resistance at all times.  I continued to pass people (and proudly, I got passed a total of ZERO times) and just keep inching that speed back to around 19 mph average, the power around 160-170, and staying as aero as possible.

Guys… guys… GUYS!  It’s all about the bike.  Truth.

On the way back, the chipseal seemed even worse, and the sun was completely in my eyes without sunglasses so I could barely see the road.  It was super bad and I even sat up for a while on the worst of it exclaiming out loud, “How is my tire NOT FLAT RIGHT NOW?” after hearing the tenth PING of debris flying out from my spokes.  At some point I realized it was not going to get better so I just got back down, and figured it would be what it would be.  I’d either flat and get practice changing a tire quickly during a race or I’d make it back to T2 in tact, and riding like a wuss wasn’t going to help either way.

Thankfully, my tires held and I rolled into feeling pretty great and ready to do battle with my nemesis, the run.

Bike time: 44:13. 19mph. 1/15.  By like, 3.5 minutes.

In a vacuum, I’d say I was least pleased with my bike, because I feel like if I would have gotten less distracted with the chipseal and a little braver passing people in aero and pushed just a little more, I think I could have probably held closer to 20 mph.  I was not cooked in the slightest off this bike.  It was windy but not THAT windy and the course is super flat.  However, it’s the highest power (161W/167W normalized) I’ve held in a sprint so far and my heart rate was 164 average, so I didn’t have *too* much further I could have gone without jeopardizing my run, it was just a wee bit on the conservative side.

Also, you can’t complain too much about outbiking your age group that much.  So I won’t!

I headed into T2, and watched a gal coming out fall trying to clip in.  I said, “Everyone does it, don’t worry, go get em!” to encourage her and I was off mine without incident and running to my rack.  I got my shoes on quickly and decided to leave my handheld bottle (it was 63 degrees) but grabbed my caff blocks out of it and was in my race belt and headed out quickly.  I didn’t see my husband and I was okay with that because he’s usually a faster runner and I needed a head start to hold him off.

T2 time: 1:12. 6/15. 

The few seconds I took to get my chews cost me a few seconds and places on this one, but I think it all worked out.

I ran out of T1 and found two things – my feet felt like popsicles (60-ish degrees and a little wet from humidity and well ventilated bike shoes = cold!) and my arches also felt like they were running on little springy tennis ball halves with my new insoles, like the first couple times I ran in them.  This was not a good sign.

Apparently I have a running fever that can only be cured with more ‘bell (and maybe some track work and losing 20 lbs but let’s focus, people…).

I did my best to ignore it and also ignore some dudes zooming past me at what looked like an effortless 7 min/mile lope and concentrate on my form and my breathing.  I will not say that anything about what I was doing felt comfortable or effortless or flowing, but my legs were turning over and my watch kept showing about 9:30/mile, so I settled there for a bit.

As soon as that started to feel just a little bit comfortable, I tried working my pace down to where it felt just on the line of terrible and death and despair.  If you feel happy at any point when racing a 5k, you’re doing it wrong.  I’m sure it’s exactly what other people think when I whiz past them on the bike, but I get so jealous of people with great form and relaxed strides.  I’m working the strength, I’m working the flexibility, someday it will click, but I just have this hard line right now around mid-9-minute miles where my legs just don’t understand it anymore and my lungs aren’t really much of a help either.  I put down a (really stale, been open for months) caff chew to help educate them both on the wonders of going faster than that.

I passed the water stop that was about halfway, and the girls operating it said, “Less than a mile to go!” I looked at my watch and I knew that wasn’t the case at 1.55 miles but I felt like I might as well believe them for right now and just go for it.  I kept looking back to see if I could see my husband, and I expected that he would be loping past me any minute, but after my watch ticked over to 2 miles down, my goal was to give it everything I had to see him at the finish line and not any time before that.

I won’t steal race pictures I didn’t pay for but I’ll surely LINK this right here.  My bib # was 114 if you want a good laugh because I definitely had some pain face going on the last mile of the run.  I did a really nice job negative splitting the run with 9:31, 9:21, and 9:11, surging to low 8 minute miles by the time I saw the arch.  While I wasn’t sure my legs would hold up once we hit the last tenth of a mile on the gravel, I found the finish line upright and before my husband.  Less than a minute, but still.  It’s been since 2015 that I’ve beaten him in a triathlon.  MINE!

Run time: 28:15. 9:25/mile. 7/15 AG.

I will say that I’m pleasantly surprised with this run considering I took about 6 weeks off after 3M and I’ve been on a bountiful 5-ish miles a week plan since.  However, I’ve run pretty well off the bike lately and I was able to give it a little extra today.  This is one of my better 5k-off-the-bike paces, if not the best, so I’ll be happy with it.  And it did the job.

Total time: 1:20:52. 1/15 AG.

One hell of a rust buster shit show of a race!  I. will. take. it.  The insecure part of my brain wants to caveat it a million ways.  Yes, I picked circumstances in which just about everything was to my advantage (pool swim, colder weather, flat course, running to end at a brewery as motivation), but that’s strategerie, man.  Yes, 1:20 is not a particularly fast time overall (though it’s definitely a PR for me), but I was 16th female overall out of 126 finishers and I would have many of the female categories if not at least podium-ed, so it wasn’t completely a weird age group anomaly.  Plus, I beat second by over a minute and third by almost four, and 15 people meant two in my age group should get Nationals invites, so I could have come in 3 minutes and 50 seconds slower and still made it).

I’ve had a few people ask me if now I’m just going to coast the rest of the spring season since I hit my goal of Nationals qualification on the first try.  Let me tell you – standing on that podium felt way too effing good to do that.  I’m excited to work harder and get faster so that I can be in the mix like that all the time.  However, I also tend to race really well when the pressure is off (but not too far off), so this is a great place for me to be right now.  It’s also a nice sign that I’m doing the right things to improve, so I’m going to stay on this little “prioritize lifting heavy things and eating less food over all else and yes, that even means run/bike/swim” path and see where it takes me.

In my next race, I’m less likely to stand on the top spot, considering the results last year, but anything can happen.  In the next month, my goal is to improve my strength and speed, and on that day, if I leave it all out there on the course again, I’ll see what I can do.  I just might find that podium again sometime soon.

Adjusted Reality Vlog #1 – Three Ill-Advised Races in Three Weeks

It may have taken until the second-to-last day of the month, but I knocked out one of my February goals and joined the ranks of YouTube and made a video!

Adjusted Reality Vlog Episode #1  – Three Ill-Advised Races in Three Weeks.

I took my January self out for a spin… three spins, actually! On very little training, I raced a half marathon, an indoor triathlon, and a bike race back to back to back. What could go wrong?

Sidenote: I was debating even publishing it because it’s not perfect.  I say um and uhhhh a lot, I futzed up the pictures, but I’m super excited with how it turned out for it being my first go at it.  I’m proud of it, warts and all, and I’ve got a ton of ideas both for future episodes and also for how to make them better.

Have you ever started a race completely unprepared?  Had a race go off the rails?  Hit me up so I know I’m not the only one. 🙂

Pace Bend Ultra #teamdfl but still #ultraAF

I don’t think I’ve ever been so unprepared for a race.

Ready to ride?

I’ve gone to races a little battered and broken.  I’ve shown up to short races with zero speed in my legs.  But generally, if I’m planning on an endurance event that will take most of a workday, I’ve trained for it.

Not this time.

I had INTENDED to train for 3M by doing a long ride every third weekend, but then I needed a brain break and my body was falling apart and vacation and then all of a sudden it was the end of December.  I had just a few weeks left and had to cram for a half marathon, which left little time for cycling, save 20-45 minute trainer rides and one very broken up multi-hour cruiser bike ride at 10 mph.

I had INTENDED to do a long ride the weekend before, but instead we raced the Indoor Tri hard and fizzled out after another hour on the trainer and called it.  We got in one 90 minute trainer ride about a week and a half out, which felt REALLY LONG.

Yeah.  Entirely unprepared.

Then, I decided to look up the start list and scope out who else was showing up.  Huge mistake.  I found six girls in my division, and most of them were cycling pros minus one super fast triathlete that always wins her age group.  Last year I was mid-pack.  This year, there was absolutely no way except for a mechanical on someone’s part that I wasn’t coming in dead f#%*ng last.

We got to camp around 5pm and set up and cheered the 24 hour racers off at 6pm.  It was actually quite inspiring because if the were going to ride bikes for a full day, I could do it for an afternoon.  It was chilly (40s), so I added some extra layers to my ensemble while we cooked pre-race dinner of chicken, potatoes, corn, and pre-made salads.  We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and bedtime since we had a lax wakeup time as our race didn’t start until noon.  More afternoon races please!

Credit – taken from Rob Jan Martinez’s event photos.

We had set an alarm for 10, but the camp got rather noisy after 8am (there was a race going on, after all), so we were up and had a very relaxing morning with green tea and bean and cheese tacos and split a turkey bacon guac bagel closer to the race.   That would never fly with a triathlon or running race, but my stomach is pretty sturdy on the bike and some good solid non-sweet calories really set me off right.  Again, more races starting at noon, please!

Around 11:45, we lined up with the other six hour racers, got a briefing, and got sent on our way right at noon.  As expected, everyone else in the race took off like a bullet and Zliten and I settled in at the back.  We made the call to wear our non-aero helmets that had our walkie talkies and try to hang together the whole race.  It was a challenge to sort out the cadence of following him because we had to stay non-drafting distance but couldn’t be *too* far or the walkies cut out, but we got it handled within a lap or two.

We made a quickie stop to pick up his inhaler after the first lap, and then watched the miles tick by fairly pleasantly and effortlessly at first.  I was amazed at how good I felt at 20, 25, and then just more than 30 miles when we made our first pit stop to get nutrition and fill bottles.  This was encouraging.  Maybe somehow my legs remembered how to ride bikes for a long time even after a 3 month break?

Credit – taken from Rob Jan Martinez’s event photos.  My layers were keeping me warm, but definitely not looking very sexy….

Around mile 40, my legs started to feel that little bit of fatigue burn.  While I was pretty impressed with how long it took to feel tired, I was facing the idea that the second half of the ride was not going to be so pleasant.  Time slowed to a crawl once my garmin hit 3 hours.  My 16 mph consistent pace started to slow in the 15s.  I spent some time doing the math here on how long laps were taking and how much time was left to distract myself from the unrelenting hills.

So, yeah, let’s stop for a moment and talk about elevation.  The course is a 6.2 mile loop with 300-some feet of climbing.  While that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider the 50 miles I had in my legs at this point had almost 3k of climbing.   My Ironman race had less than half of that in 112 miles.  There’s a decent size hill every mile here.  I am fairly certain that my legs would have had a little more in them if it wasn’t for the constant up and down.

I was shifting a LOT to keep pace and all of a sudden I heard a loud crunch and had no pressure on my pedals.  It sounded like a simple dropped chain, but when I got off to look, it looked all mangled in the gearing.  I figured I had done something bad to my bike, and luckily Zliten was within earshot so I told him to stop.  Since we weren’t supposed to ride backwards, I walked my bike up to him and he looked at it, shook his head, fixed my dropped chain (apparently they drop differently on the TT bikes…) and we were off again.

Before that stop we were skating the line between being able to make 13 and 14 laps, but this put us back a little, though 13 was still possible as long as we didn’t take too long at our last break.  We rolled into camp at 62 miles in just over 4 hours of riding (though it was about 4:25 total race time).  While my legs weren’t feeling awesome, I also didn’t expect to feel like a little baby deer all of a sudden when I got off the bike.  I spent 10 minute on the couch of my camper trying to stretch the cramps out and got myself up and back on the bike to make the cutoff of when I wanted to be back on the bike – 4:40pm.  This would give us time for 3 more conservatively paced laps + about 5 minutes of wiggle room.

Six hours of riding = crazy eyes and non functional brains.

Then, I realized both of us were attempting to roll out without our helmets.   Right.  Race brain.  Grabbing them put us a few minutes behind so I attempted to pull us along a little faster to make up for it.  We timed lap 11 and we were on pleasantly on pace.  Lap 12, my legs started cramping again and I said that maybe it was time to go drink beer and watch everyone else finish, but Zliten convinced me not to, and then he unconvinced himself, but I was already re-convinced and in the mindset of “if I cross with more than 25 minutes to go, I can make the last lap” so we decided that was the plan.

We crossed at 5:33 and change.  26-ish minutes to finish one more and that was just enough.  Now, I knew this last 6.2 miles didn’t mean anything in context of the race.  I had been lapped at least twice by every single female out there.  My legs were screaming.  But, we both made the decision to make the turn away from BBQ and beer, sitting and salvation, to ride another loop around the park because that’s what mother effing Ironmen do.  It wasn’t our fastest lap but it certainly wasn’t our slowest, and we came around the last corner and attempted to line our wheels up to finish at the same time.

It didn’t work – technically I still haven’t DFL’d because it counted Zliten’s finish as one second later than mine.  We were the absolute two last people to cross the finish line with our 81 miles, and had the least laps by far, but it was still a glorious day of riding bikes.

Six hour racers!

Riding 80 miles on no training is no joke, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to the mass population, but it was a fun experiment to see what residual endurance I had left from last year.  While my legs fatigued a little early, they hung in there until the end.  And so did my brain.  I had a MUCH better day mentally this year than last year.  In 2017, at points I had wanted to throw my bike away and never see it again, and this year, I kept a pretty even attitude through the ride.  My speed was only 0.1 mph less than last year, so I missed that 14th lap because we took longer breaks, not because we were riding slower. And that’s pretty freaking impressive.

I ain’t even mad that literally everyone else in the race besides me got a medal because there happened to be 4 people in my one age group, especially because 3rd place was a freaking pro cyclist I know who kicks some major ass on the bike.  I would have been outclassed on my best day and that’s just the facts of life sometimes.  There is no earthly way I could ride 100+ miles at 18mph right now and that’s what it would have taken.  To get third.  It was kind of freeing to just get out there and ride my bike and not worry about where I stood with anyone besides myself.

NOMS. Doesn’t look like much but the pork was DIVINE.

Oddly enough, when people have been riding for 6-24 hours straight, there’s not much of a party atmosphere after, so we were the sole racers awake after 9pm.  We followed suit not too far behind them after housing a giant plate of BBQ and talking a lot about how our legs were sore.

I’m really torn.  I said I wouldn’t do this race next year unless it was my focus, and it probably won’t be.  It was too expensive.  It’s too pro.  However, I had so much darn fun, I’d consider plopping down the scratch to camp for the weekend and ride bikes for the afternoon.  Maybe a relay?  Maybe offering to crew for someone?  Maybe just randomly try the 12 or 24 hour race and see how far I can go with a bunch of breaks?

Either way, this ended this weird little three weeks of racing on an unexpectedly happy and positive note.  Onward and upward!

Lifetime Indoor Tri

Sunday, I found myself up at 3:30am.

While the reason for the ridiculous time was actually allergies, it wasn’t too far off from my 5am alarm for the Lifetime Indoor Tri.  While it was fairly inconvenient timing – I really should have spent the weekend logging more saddle time and also getting prepped for camping next weekend – I love this stupid little race and I couldn’t say no when Zliten gave me the puppy dog eyes to sign up.

Funny thing – on the way into work Monday, he was like, “wow, I didn’t realize how much this would disrupt our week”, and then, thankfully, “I see what you were saying…” because, yeah, I did complain about it.  However, even given the alternative, I’m still glad I did it.  It’s a great opportunity to start chipping away at the bottom of the well of the pain cave to make it deeper for the races that actually matter later in the year.

I did more of the things right than I did last week.  I ate a full sunbutter and honey sandwich, I had a few caffeinated beans and my earl grey tea (hot).  I also woke up in enough time (barely) to use the restroom enough so my stomach was clear before the race (grumble grumble maybe I do need to set my alarm earlier grumble grumble).  I went into the race feeling probably just the right amount of pressure – I wanted to do well and I knew I had a chance to podium, but it wasn’t like… the most important thing in the world.


I slipped into the water and found a song that didn’t suck on my swimp3 player and was actually longer than the 10 minutes I was going to swim, and the countdown started… 3, 2, 1, and I pushed off the wall.

I am a steady pace swimmer, I’m not one to sprint out of the gate, and I saw my husband, who was sharing a lane with me, pull ahead.  I knew we had different swim styles, and the last thing I wanted to do was race him head to head getting in each other’s way, so I actually dropped back a little and drafted off him for the first half.  He started to slow, so I passed him and offered up my feet to draft on – I think he hung on for a while but by the end I was approximately half a lap ahead of him (though since he made it halfway we both got credit for our 19 lengths).

19 lengths (475m) in 10 mins (5/17 open women)

Exactly the same as last year.  Considering how different this pace is from my normal swim at Pure’s pool (which is admittedly a little short), I think their pool is a little bit longer than 25m.  Though, I’ll never know.  Last year I was definitely in better swim shape at this point, so I will take it.  Could I have pushed harder and maybe eeked out another half or full lap?  Probably, but I always see my swim as my warmup, and honestly, anything I gain by pushing really really hard and redlining on this leg generally counts against either my transition or bike.  So, I don’t.

That’s not to say that I don’t plan to work on my swim, or work on efforts in practice that would be considered finding my edge… but that’s not where I need to be in racing.  In non-drafting triathlon, there’s not a huge advantage to coming out of the water in the first pack so I’ll continue to swim uncomfortably comfortable and save the puke-worthy efforts for later in the race.


Having 10 minutes to transition always seems like such a luxury until you actually have to manage it.  I finished at the far end of the pool so making my way back took probably a minute.  Then, I put on my bibs and jersey and grabbed a bag I had put together with all the rest of the crap I needed (good job, past me, that was helpful), and got to the cycle studio quickly.  However, I didn’t do a great job at making sure it was all packed efficiently (bad job, past me) and after fumbling with my stuff I was on the bike and pedaling just in time.

This level of effort always surprises me this early in the year.  I’ve not prepared specifically for a sustained 30 minutes of pain – I’ve been either riding easy to recover during half marathon training or doing shorter (1-4 minute) intervals.  I had a number I wanted to see (170-180 watts), though I had a coin flip in my head whether that was the right one, and I knew the effort would sort itself out eventually.  Watts don’t lie when pitted against level of effort.

Ten minutes in, I wanted the watts to lie to me a little.  I was holding in the low 160s, which was not *terrible* considering I don’t those bike’s sensors calibrations from a hole in the ground, and the effort felt like “kill me noawwww” but not “I’m dead”.  I did take 15-20 seconds every few minutes near the end to get out of the saddle and jog, dropping my watts a little, but I had to do something to break up the seemingly never ending UNCOMFORT.

Just like tempo runs, FTP testing/long intervals are my least favorite bikes.  Which means I need to do more of them.  The best way for me to force myself to do more of them is to go to cycle class and schedule them in the program and also maybe do some TT bike racing if I can find such a thing that fits in with the sprint-triathalon-a-palooza I plan to do this spring.

10.1 miles in 30 minutes (20.2 mph) (3/17 open women)

Considering that I was all bike all the time at this point last year, and in the last few months my cycling has been sporadic and highly recreational, I’ll take the .2 mph in reduction from last year.  Things are looking good for when I actually start digging into getting fit for a short and painful sprint triathlon bike split this spring.

Here’s the painful part, I crunched the numbers and if I would have pushed harder (10.4 like I did last year), I would have ended up 3rd overall.  It’s a great confirmation that it’s. all. about. the. bike.


Again, five minutes to walk next door and find a treadmill sounds luxurious, but I decided to change out of my jersey (on the gym floor, I am the opposite of modest) and futz with my shoes a bit and music and then OMG all of a sudden it was 3, 2, 1… GO!

I was super excited to crush this 20 minute run because I had been training for this – all the intervals I’ve run in the last six weeks may not have necessarily paid off for the half marathon, but surely it would help me here, right?  I had wide eyed dreams of holding some 8 minute mile pace because I actually have some experience at that this year.

However, I forgot about the whole “off the really hard bike” part of triathlon.  It’s been a while.  My goal was to start with low-9 minute miles and see how quickly I could get into the 8s.  My legs had other plans and felt incredibly noodle-y off the bike and that was a hard NO out of the gate.

Luckily, 10 minutes/mile felt fairly relaxed, so I got my bearings there and quickly found the oomph to press the UP button on the treadmill speed a few times until it felt ROUGH around 6.3.  I stuck with it.  My heart rate wasn’t pegged yet (it was high 160s, low 170s, I know I have a little more before I hit my ceiling), but my legs just felt like lead and it was taking all my concentration to keep them turning over fast enough to stay on the treadmill.

I spent more time than I wanted to in those mid-9 minute miles because I barely felt like I was hanging on, but then I found something else with about 5 minutes to go and picked up the pace.  I finished strong and improved on last year.

2.13 miles in 20 minutes (9:20/mile) (7/17 open women)

While this is confirmation that my run still needs work and is still my lowest ranking in the disciplines, it’s getting better.

I’m really happy with my speedwork allowing me to dig deep and not surrender here. A scant .05 more in 20 minutes seems like an incremental gain, but I will take it.  I think what I’m more proud of is the process.  I felt the uncomfortable part of the run where I wasn’t sure I could hang on AND I DID.

I need to do that and feel that feeling a million more times over the course of this year and realize that I’ve got more in there than I realize, I just have to get messy and tap into the uncomfortable place, and frankly, blow the hell up a few times to find the line.  Not quit because my brain says it’s hard.  Not quit because a stupid injury is nagging at me (though obvs. I need to take care of these things).  No, I need to find the point of being crumpled up on the side of the road dry heaving and barely able to stand.  Only then can I *really* know where the line is.  For the last few years I’ve been working on finding the endurance line which is actually really effing far given a reasonable pace and proper training.  Now I’ve got the need for speed.

2018 is going to be the year of HANGING THE F%#K ON.  I’ve been whining about my speed for years, but I haven’t been willing to do anything about it.  Why?  Because that work isn’t sexy and it’s really brutal.  It’s thrilling to go through the process of doing your first Ironman.  Century bike rides!  Twenty mile runs!  You look accomplished as f#&k on the instagrams.

The kind of work I’ll be doing this year will look totally weak in comparison.  Taking 20 seconds of a 5k PR, hell, finding my 5k PR again from many years ago, these things don’t smack of the heroic.  But, they are the horses that I’m choosing to chase down this year in the pursuit of race podiums.  The end result is sexy.  But the work to get there totally isn’t.  Gotta keep my eyes on the prize though!

Overall – I ended up 6/17 in the open women’s division.  If I was 2 years older, I would have ended up 3rd in masters and if I would have pushed harder on the bike…. yeah.  A little disappointed at the result but not at the process so I’ll move on and take it as fuel for the fire to train harder for the races that really matter in the spring.

Next up in the crazy winter race-a-palooza, the ill-advised six hour bike race.  I can’t lie, I would love to see a podium here (but certainly don’t expect it) and depending on who and what (aka – my brain and legs) shows up, could either be a hilarious notion or a distinct possibility.

3M Half Marathon – Rebellious Appendages

This race.  I love it, but it doesn’t love me back.

Packet pickup in Austin involves Police escorts on mighty steeds.

The cycle usually goes something like this – early in the year, I sign up for this race.  I think “next year, I’m totally going for a PR.  The course is perfect, it’s January so the weather can’t totally suck, and I’ll actually train for this one.   For reals.”

This time, I had even designated it as a goal race and made plans to train.  For really reals.  And then I was dealing with minor but nagging injuries with my left heel, ankle, and knee, so I cut into the beginning of this cycle to rest.  I let it heal, but apparently didn’t solve the actual problem, so the pain came back once I started running again.  It was never to the point where I couldn’t run 2-3 days later, but the carefree happy fun run love I’ve experienced in previous winters is so not there this year.  I’ve spent the entire last five weeks playing the “is my left leg going to let me run when I need to train?” game.

The answer, fourteen times, has been yes, since I started training December 18th, but it was always a question and added stress.  After feeling like a rockstar crushing my speedwork on Monday, my knee/ankle started to hurt an hour later and took much longer to feel better than normal.  I skipped last Wednesday’s planned run entirely and my foot never quite recovered, even staying off it for the rest of the week.  Three guesses how moody I was about that last week….

Saturday, we had family over for lunch and cards.  It was a wonderful day (and since we didn’t have long workouts in the morning, it was a very CONVENIENT day to host as well), but I did play it fast and loose with my pre-race nutrition by eating a lot more fatty meat and fiber than usual, as well as much more dessert than I should have because I am weak, it was in the house, and I couldn’t keep my grubby mitts off it. (cue ominous undertones)  Lesson learned.  Back to my tried and true pre-race meals and I need to be STRONG and skip dessert even if it’s around.

While I haven’t slept the BEST this week, I actually got pretty great pre-race sleep, almost 8 hours, which is kind of incredible.  I fell asleep putting myself through my race day plan repeatedly, which helps me wake up focused and motivated.  We both popped out of bed around 5:30 feeling fairly awake and refreshed.  I got a 10 minute bike warmup, ate, used the potty, and we left when we meant to and got to the race with plenty of time to spare.  Maybe today would be my day after all!

This one killed it with a 2:08 – just about a minute shy of his PR.

We hit the giant porta potty line, and then did some dynamic warmups and I went for a tiny jog to make sure my feet were working.  We found Brian and tried to get in at the 2:05 pacer, but everything was all blocked off, so we had to start in the back instead.  Around that time, I started thinking I could use the bathroom again, but the potty lines were still incredibly long, so I was hoping it was just the normal pre-race jitters instead of something more sinister.

I warned Zliten and Brian that I wanted to keep up with them, but I wouldn’t be talking at that pace, so I hid in my headphones while they chatted away.  The first few miles were rather uneventful, besides the lady I had to scream “OH MY GOD DON’T DO THAT!!!” toward, who was stopped in the middle of the road with 7000 other runners dodging around her taking a fucking selfie.  I almost ran her over.  JUST NO.  I told Zliten I felt bad about it because it just kind of slipped out, but he thought she needed to be educated as well. #sorrynotsorry

The pace felt just on the side of uncomfortable, but doable.  For now.  As my goal was to PR or blow up trying, I tried to keep my mile splits as close to 9:30s as possible, and succeeded through mile 6.  So far, so good, minus some wicked underarm chafing and a blister forming on my left pinkie toe (hello 70 degrees and 100% humidity…).

About halfway is when things started to fall apart.  The situation in my left shoe quickly went HIGHLY blisterific (I have no idea why – that didn’t happen in training).  This was altering my gate, which was making my heel and knee absolutely crank-tastic.  There’s a level of pain I’m willing to put up with to PR a half marathon, and between mile 6 and 7, it surpassed it.  I’m willing to dig deep mentally and work through being tired and normal muscular aches and pains but when my entire left leg starts to protest in a way that starts to feel like I’m doing damage, I knew I needed to cut my losses.  I slowed down about 30 seconds per mile and it felt better.  So I hung there for a bit.

I made sure to stick to the fastest pace I could, because at that point, I did have a little wiggle room.  If I needed to take an extra minute on miles 7 and 8 and I could speed back up after, I still had a shot.  However, the final blow landed during mile 9 when my gut started to revolt.  I was not entirely sure which end was going to win the privilege of introducing something from my body to the outside world, but either way, it was not going to be pretty.  Walking, I felt reasonably fine, running felt terrible.  I covered mile 9 in 11:17, running until I felt too terrible and then walking to recover.

I finally hit the porta potty (cue the angel’s chorus) at mile 10’s water stop for about five minutes.  While I couldn’t resolve the chafing, or my left leg’s utter rebellion, I felt like a new woman after that stop. Hooray!  I grabbed a nuun and was about to take off and saw Matt!

I felt bad because it meant he wasn’t having a great day himself, but it was nice to have a buddy to run/walk some 12 minute miles with.  I knew my PR was super busted at this point, and I didn’t care about my finish time one way or another.  Finally, Matt was tired of my company and shoved me ahead and told me to run to the finish, which I did, because finally, I could end this ordeal and rest my heel and drink some beer.

Note the outfit, which was soaked in sweat and salt by the end.  WHEN IS IT EVER 70 DEGREES AND HUMID ON A JANUARY MORNING???? #%%*^@!

Finish Time: 2:30:02.  Not my worst, but definitely not my best.

I was less bummed than I thought I’d be, for what months ago was going to be my goal race.

Even with the regular training, it’s now clear to me that I didn’t respect the distance.  I know the way I nail races, and it’s not on five weeks of training that flirts with over half the distance a few times.  It’s always nice to show up and give it a shot, which I did, but it’s not surprising that I wasn’t able to hold pace and fell apart.  I am a volume kid, if my body can tolerate it.  I train for a marathon, I take three weeks off, and then PR a 10 mile race.  While the speedwork is necessary for me to get my legs to turn over, the other component is miles, and 5 weeks of 15-20 per week or so just wasn’t enough base, which again, shocks no one.

Here’s where there is light at the end of the tunnel – I think I finally have the solution for the knee and foot issues.  Two weeks ago, my chiropractor suggested an insole that I’m currently wearing in my daily shoes. I might not hike on trails every now and then, but I did use the hiking socks recommended along with the pair of shoes. And they actually feel pretty amazing!  She did NOT recommend trying to get myself used to wearing them for a two hour race in that short of a time period, so I haven’t been running with them. Now that my volume is significantly reduced, I’ll be breaking them in and hopefully within the next month, my pain will be a thing of the past and I can be set up for a healthy tri season.  My next crack at the distance is off the bike in Cozumel, and honestly, that’s the one for the pesos (figuratively – I R NOT PRO).

Next up in our whirlwind winter race tour: lifetime indoor tri on Sunday.  I’m looking forward to the “go so hard you almost hurl” pace a bit more than I should be, and also (possibly unreasonably) hoping for high placement in the ranks and notching another fake-podium this year if all my appendages cooperate.

Page 4 of 13

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén