Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: sprinttri Page 1 of 3

Texasman Cometh

I have been absent from the blog, but not from life.

In fact, life has been full of things, starting immediately the next day after vacation. Work has continued to challenge me, some days, in the way that makes me want to fist bump someone and say eff yes, and some days, in ways that makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Training was a challenge to resume after vacation, as well as proper nutrition, but I feel like a fortnight of that is behind me and things look to be settling into a comfortable level of organized chaos.

This weekend, I journey back to Texasman as my first outdoor triathlon of the year, and I’ve had varying levels of feels about it over the months. A few months out, I was, like, megamaniacally ready to crush it. I had some aggressive thoughts about how I was going to conquer and run everyone down and be amazing and powerful and it fueled some of my training to be better than before.

Right after vacation, I had thoughts of despair. “I can barely make myself train, ” I whined to myself, “how am I going to do anything worthwhile at this stinkin’ race in a few weeks? I’m bloated and soft and fat and I probably have forgotten how to even do this ish.”

Spoiler alert: I have not forgotten how to do this ish. And I’m actually down a few lbs.

I have been utterly lacking on swim training, but something lately has clicked with my form to help me at least maintain that slightly-under-2:00/100m without much effort. I’ve swam twice in the last month or so, and they have both been *fine*. In fact, I jumped into Quarry Lake in a wetsuit for the first time this year, expecting the normal mild panic and feelings of aqua-incompetence (not to be confused with incontinence, though I did pee in my wetsuit because this is how we do as triathletes…) and found that I felt great.

It wasn’t my fastest time around the buoys, but at a nice cruising pace, I feel like I may be able to improve my ~10th out of the water this weekend. My goal is simply to keep form as best I can, a comfortably hard pace, and try to find some feet to follow that are going slightly faster than I want to go from which to draft.

The bike is another place where I feel like it’s more about muscle memory than anything. I have been spending time with Death Star riding in my living room, but not as much as I think I should. I crushed my recent FTP test, finding 181 watts out of nowhere, and when I make the effort, I’m mentally and physically ready to rock. I just remember by this point last year I felt SO EFFING CONFIDENT about my biking prowess and I’m not entirely in that mindset yet.

I’ve found in the last few races though, having a bit of untested fitness and an open mind has lead me to things that I didn’t believe possible, so I’ll roll with that on race day. I want to replicate last year, where I set out on the bike to go hunting. I know I can do it, and I want to concentrate on chasing everyone down. That’s how I rock on two wheels, and I can’t wait to have my first opportunity of the year for relentless pursuit.

The run is always my question mark, although, I have much more confidence in my feet this year. I’m about 11-13 lbs down from where I was at last year this time. My body has finally come to terms with that, as well as absorbed a year of strength training, and my average paces are much lower than they were before even with the minimal hours I’m calling training this year.

I can’t wait to see what I can do with my new running proficiency and also my new mental strength. I have had visions over the last few months where instead of falling back on the run, I rise to meet the challenge and run people down. I’m not sure what I have in me in this situation but that is SO EXCITING to me right now. I know there’s greatness in there somewhere, and I’ve found some really unbelievable things in my body and brain this year, and I can’t wait to go run it out for 3 miles, testing my mental and physical fortitude.

While I always strive for excellence as of late, the pressure is off. Zliten and I discussed the matter, and we are probably not going to go to Nationals even if we qualify (he reserves the right to change this if we both qualify, but it’s not a driving goal). I simply get to go out there and give it my all, however the chips may fall. I could have an amazing day and come in first. I could overestimate my capabilities and blow up or have a rare (lately) day where I just don’t have it, and in all instances, that’s okay. I’ll either win some or learn some and live to race again this season.

However, with all the caveats, this year my goal is to lead out strong and fight my arse off for first place. Aiming for anything less is bullshit.

Kerrville Pre-Race – becoming my alter ego, and… calm the @#%$ down, it’s just a sprint

I am reading a fantastic book called Calm the F*ck Down (The Brave Triathlete).

Yes, this is actually the title of the book…

I’m approaching my third and final sprint triathlon this season.  The first one was a frustrating exercise in showing me truly how out of shape I was two months post Ironman.  The second one showed some promise, somewhere between out of shape and where I was at last year (which made sense, since that’s about where my training was at the time).

For this race, earlier in the year, I had envisioned coming to this race fit, closer to race weight, and specifically trained to kick ass at the distance.  Ironman recovery took longer than expected, my motivation for adhering to a strict schedule ALSO took a while and to be honest, is still not completely there, and I really just felt like riding my bike all summer.  I suppose a loss of about 3 lbs depending on the day is technically *closer* to race weight, but my intention was to have a tri kit that fit and I didn’t feel like a sausage in, which has not been the case yet.  THAT in and of itself is also another novel post, so let’s gloss over that and get back to racing, shall we?

Where I’m actually at right now is pretty all-around decently fit even though the scale is still laughing at me.  I don’t have the utmost confidence of a full season of consistent training, but I’ve had some workouts lately where I have surprised myself.  Also, this is a race that is set up for my success.  The bike course is relatively flat and fast.  It’s my second to best sprint bike split back from 2011 when I had no business getting my second best sprint bike split (I didn’t even have clipless pedals yet).  The run is on concrete, not kitty litter, and also pretty flat and shaded.  However, this one also seems a little more competitive in terms of where I’m likely to place in my age group, but the only thing I can do is show up and see what happens.

I’m sure this is going to sound like John Madden type commentary, but what’s really going to make the difference is how hard I can hammer the bike, and how my legs (and brain) feel at the start of the run.  I finally found the entrance to my pain cave again late this summer.  I’m still stepping into it apprehensively, there’s no “eff yeah, let’s go hurt ourselves today” attitude back yet, but I’m finding that once I get going, I can open the cave door and spend some time inside again instead of my body and brain immediately freaking out and going:

Here are things that I have done recently to give me some proverbial feathers in my cap:

  • I have ridden 100 miles and have not been too wrecked at the end at a not-completely-embarrassing speed.
  • I rode about 6 miles on the bike at about 20.5 mph average for the speed loop part of the bike and I was breathing hard but also chatting a little.
  • I ran 9:30 min/miles off a hard bike for 2 miles and was chatting in multiple word phrases on the first mile and also not completely shelled after.
  • I have seen 8s on the run for a little bit whilst really pushing myself.
  • I have done all these things without caffeine and some at the end of a long workday in the relatively hotter-than-race-day weather.
  • I’ve done an Ironman, which actually means absolutely nothing in this context except I’m too damn stupid and stubborn to quit hurting myself by moving forward rather slowly for 15+ hours in a single day.  And I like to remind the world that I’m an Ironman.

So, there are two sports psychology things I’m taking into this race.

Thing one – I’m crazy in the brainpan.  No wait, that’s not it…

First of all, like I usually do, I’m going to set goals and intentions for this week and that day.  But, we’ll do this a little differently.  First, I’m going to get all the insecure crap out now.  Here we go…

You’re too heavy to PR/podium you haven’t trained enough Ironman training wrecked all your speed forever all the fit girls are way faster than you especially after a full season of training and you’re going eff something up and  finish in the bottom half of your age group and then whine about it all weekend…

*record scratch*

Ok, beyond THIS point, we leave all the negativity and bullshit behind and I’ll walk you through the perfect race weekend.

I wake up on Friday refreshed and relaxed and excited.  I’ve had at least 8 hours of sleep every day this week and I’m ready for the trip up to Kerrville and reasonably calm.  I’ve got everything packed and I’ve thought ahead to pack all my tri gear in separate bags so I can put them right into the T1 and T2 bags.

I eat my normal breakfast, lunch, and snacks.  At 2pm, everything is settled at work and we head out.  The drive is uneventful, and so is packet pickup.  We have everything dropped off for the race and are done by 7pm.  At that time, we drive to our campsite, do minimal set up – just what we need to function for the night – eat our sandwiches, have some sleepytime tea, and go to bed.

After a restful night of sleep, we’re up and to the race site around 6am.  I’ll eat half a sunbutter and jelly sandwich and have some tea for caffeine and a coconut water for electrolytes.  I’ll get my tires pumped up, drop off my bottles, arrange my T1 area, and then get in the porta potty line and take care of all that nonsense while nomming some caffeinated blocks.

Then, as I approach the water, I become Sapphyra, the badass barbarian warrior chick who is going to fearlessly dominate the course.

Sapphyra conquers things.  Especially large rocks.

Ok, don’t laugh.  Fine, you totally can because I am honestly laughing at myself a little.  I need a slight break in the positive-only mandate with some some not-so-sunshine-and-rainbows thoughts from the past to explain what this is and why I’m doing it.

/rose colored glasses off

Part of the Brave Triathlete book that I really identified with was showing up as your alter ego (the version of yourself you want to race as).  Yes, this is a video game avatar, which has nothing to do with triathlon, but, here’s the thing.  Becoming Sapphyra made me feel strong and powerful in times where I was horribly obese, out of shape, and didn’t have that much going for me in life besides a powerful avatar.  She was confident and up to any challenge.

Ever since I (low speed) crashed and fell apart afterwards at this race two years ago, something has been broken in me more often than not on race morning.  I used to show up with big dreams and goals, scary ones, ones that I didn’t always reach but that’s okay, and most importantly, be SO EXCITED to go toe that line and see where ended up.  Now, I’m somewhere between calm and numb and full of ennui about the day.  Even Ironman morning I wasn’t so much crapping my pants like I expected, I was just worried about finishing using the bathroom for the fiftieth time before they closed the start line.

Sapphyra, however, is not apathetic.

/rose colored glasses back on

Sapphyra is unreasonably excited to have a reason and an arena to test her mettle.  She’ll look at that start line, at the competition, at the dawning day with eager anticipation to just get this thing STARTED ALREADY.  She’s hungry to find the entrance to the pain cave quickly, get inside, and start digging to see how deep it goes.  She’s eager to see if she can condense all the effort of 15+ hours of an Ironman into under 90 minutes.  She’s interested to see how she can use a course that is SO in her wheelhouse and cooler weather to dominate.

Sapphyra will line up in the right place for the swim, which is not at the back of the pack.  When she hits the water, she’ll concentrate on smooth form but also push the pace as much as possible without blowing up.  She will not sit behind anyone and she’ll swim aggressively (without being mean).  She’ll realize that she cannot win the triathlon in the swim and swim smart and not outside herself, but not lose focus and take the pedal off the gas.

She will move expediently but not rush through transition.  Once she hits the mount line for the bike, she’ll kick it into badass warrior overdrive (weather permitting – if we have rain, it will be semi-safe sort-of-overdrive on the turns).  She will cycle aggressively, building speed on flats and false flats, recovering on the downhills only when the Garmin reads 23+ mph.  She will take a salted watermelon gu that will already be ripped open in her bento box on the first long downhill section, drink a few times, but otherwise just effing hammer the bike as fast and as hard as possible with literally no regard for the run.  What run?  Are we running after this?  I’ll deal with that later.

Maybe the last mile, after entering the park, she’ll recover a bit.  She will do the same expedient but not rushed change from bike shoes to Hokas and get out of transition as quickly as possible because THAT TRANSITION IS HOT LAVA.

Here’s the epic quest.  She will get out on the run course and fight all the brain demons that tell her to slow down.  She’ll take her big ol’ two handed sword and slash the leg fatigue and the lungs screaming “NOOOOO” and the voices that say “slow down, you’re not a good runner anymore” and all the frustration that I rarely run at my potential during these things and that I’d actually be a podium contender sometimes if I could stop tanking this last leg of the race.  Not today, because eff that noise and nonsense.

She will get out on the course and find the highest level of hurt she can maintain for the distance.  She will concentrate on good posture and form and get a mantra in her head that helps keep the pace while rhythmically chanting it.  She will stay within herself but also look for people ahead of her and go “fishing”, especially those in her age group.  The last mile, she will turn it up one more notch and give a kick at the turnaround when she can see the finish.

Then, she’ll cross the line and become me again, and make a beeline for the food and the beer.

Barbarian badass recovery program

I am really sure that I’m making wayyy too big a big deal out of a little race, but it’s good practice.  The last thing I want to do is have a completely untested strategy when I approach one of these that really DOES really really matter to me.  So, even though it feels a little ridiculous, Sapphyra will be making her triathlon debut Saturday morning.

So, Sapphyra’s triathlon goals are:

  • A strong swim.  No idea what this means right now but it’s 10-ish minutes of my race I just want to get over with as quickly as possible while not wrecking the rest of my day.
  • 20+ mph on the bike.  It’s been my goal for a while, I feel very fit on the bike and this is one of the better courses for me to try for it.  Let’s do this!
  • A run with an average in the 9s.  8s would be awesome and maybe I’ll have enough caffeine and magical unicorn dust and badass secret identity mojo to do it.  However, I want to at least run sub-10 min/mile and run near the edge – outside my comfort zone, just before redlining.

Wish me/her luck this weekend!



Baywatch, flat tire ghosts, and run sex – the Jack’s Generic Triathlon race report.

It’s been a very good (busy, but good) week.  I’ll get to the rest of what’s going on soon, but it’s time for an overdue race report.


Spoiler alert: I finished.

A week ago, I raced Jack’s Generic Triathlon (the sprint version).  I’ve done this the last three years.  2013 I raced the Intermediate distance and realized that a longer triathlon ending with a 6 mile run with no shade in August is not exactly my cup of tea.  So, we race the sprint version now, typically to kick off the end of offseason.  This year, I’m about 6 weeks into a very gradual build (but still a build), which means I’m going in with more fitness but also more fatigue.  What condition would win?

Turns out, the fitness.  Who knew, right?

I tried a new thing with recovery week on race week – I split it over two actual weeks (Thursday – Wednesday).  Due to life getting in the way, I ended up taking this whole week lighter, but on a normal week, I can see how it would work out better.  Physically, I think it was perfect for a B race and I’ll do it again.  Mentally, it was a little weird not having a Mon-Sun week of recovery, but I’m looking forward to giving it another go for the next B race.

The swim challenge ended up falling the day before the race, so I swam 5 easy laps (3750m) in open water less than 24 hours before toeing the line.  That’s not actually something I would have chosen to do, but I think it might have actually worked out.  Between the long swim and the few days of recovery before, I think I came to form on the right day.  Instead of being twitchy or oddly fatigued the day before, I had this nice tiredness about me that made sense, and it meant I stayed calmer than normal and actually slept really well.


Before caffeine sleepy “why am I up so early” smile.

The morning of, I had one of those new cliff nut butter bars and it was a perfect breakfast.  Pure carbs seem to make my stomach icky in the morning, but carb + fat is the best combo.  Plus, it’s a bar, takes no preparation, and I can easily pack it for an out of town race.  Three more nutrition successes: I had a caffeinated gel about 45 minutes before the race, I brought a water bottle to continue to drink up until the race start, and I took two electrolye caps.  I think all three did good things for me.

I was in the last wave, so I had a lot of waiting around (female triathletes end up having to wait… a lot… so I’m used to it).  Finally, once it was time to go, I got *kind of* in the right position and the volunteer that was manning the time trial start told me to run like Baywatch, so I did my best impression on the way to the water.  I hope there aren’t are pictures. 🙂


The long swim the day before was either going to make this awesome, or suck.  I started out paddling my way through loose hydrilla (which thankfully they had spent the week cutting and harvesting, the swim course was REALLY NICE compared to the grabby plant monsters that normally are around in August), and just worked the swim course.

I have zero bad things to say about this swim.  I feel like I nailed the pace right away and kept my effort strong but not over the line.  I got out of the water feeling like I had done some work but not shelled.  I don’t think I got passed once and I passed a lot of people.  I clocked my best time on this course I’ve been swimming in races since 2011.  If I had to throw out a negative, I placed further down in my age group than normal, but we ended up having some fasties, so it had nothing to do with my performance.

Swim time: 10:59 for 500m.  8/29 AG.


Not much to note here, except I ended up having to race incredibly close to swim in, which is my least favorite.  And… I still beat Zliten, who was racked right in front (jerk! :D).  It was my worst T1 in years, but I don’t think I’ve ever had to rack this far back.

T1 time: 3:01


Working with the pictures I have of this race.  So you get a lot of selfies.  That’s why you’re here, right?


I’m definitely still getting used to this bike, so it’s a little awkward, but it rides like butter. Awkward butter? I mounted and got going without incident since I actually remembered to put myself in the right gear.  I pushed the effort really hard on the first half of the course and when I took a gel I checked my garmin.  I was at 20.6 mph average! RAD! Then we hit a bunch of hills into the wind and my happy little balloon deflated.

After that, I let off the gas a little because I was really ripping my legs off keeping that pace. One of these days I’ll have the confidence just to go all out on the bike and see what happens on the run.  Practice might be a good place to do that, but I’ve just never been able to simulate that high of an effort not in a race.  I almost ALWAYS run very well off the bike in training and it’s a toss up in racing. *shrug* If I had it figured out completely it wouldn’t be any fun, right?

During a portion of chipseal uphill into the wind, I was convinced my tire was flat. I actually asked the guy next to me and he told me it wasn’t. Brain ghosts. Weird. Thankful it wasn’t, but again, still getting used to the feel of the Death Star.  On the way back in, I ping ponged back and forth between some dudes and had to do a whole lot of “on your left” and probably had to double pass about 20 times and hop the yellow line at least 10 because of course crowding. #lastwaveprobs

While I have some improvements to make, I’m pretty happy with how I rode at this point in time.  I was almost going to get grumpy about not being able to hold 19 mph, let alone 20, but this is my best bike split here by far, by almost 1 mph.  Some (maybe all) of this is purchased speed. I think I’m still ok with that. The awesome thing is this stuff will be even speedier once I really learn how to ride this bike and get comfortable with the new position.

Bike time: 41:34 for 13 miles. 5/29 AG.


Again, nothing really to note but my terrible rack position.  My time was pretty average.  I made the choice, as I typically do in August, to run with a frozen hand held that I stored in a cooler, so that took an extra second or two to navigate.

T2 time: 1:31


After a pretty great swim and bike, I get onto the run course and ugghhhhh my legs.  They did not want to turn over quickly AT ALL.  I’m looking at my garmin seeing 11 minute miles, which felt like 9 minute miles.  No bueno.  I’m starting to see people pass me who I passed on the bike and I’m like… no no no no… crap… not this again.

A few dudes passed me, girls not in my age group, girls in my age group but doing the intermediate distance, and then finally, a girl with a 35 on her leg and a race number close to mine ran past.  This was my cue to go, since that was the plan.

It’s easy to say sitting in the chair in front of my computer that my goal is to try to go with anyone who passed me.  Of course you want to do that.  But in the moment, when you’re sweaty, hot, tired, sore… and then someone changes the pace on you?  Your mind fucking rebels.  But my goal was to run down third.  In my head, she was third and I told myself to remember her race number, if she came in third and I was fourth (not how it went down, but whatevs), I would remember this moment where I let it go and I’d have to face that.

I couldn’t get my legs to speed up enough yet to match her pace, but I put a big freakin’ bullseye on her back and kept her in my sights and tried to find another gear I could maintain.  I don’t really remember much of the first two miles except sticking to her like glue, reeling her in, and then finally at the last water stop, I passed her.  Decisively.  And I ran for my life for about a quarter of a mile until I realized she wasn’t trying to pass me back.

The last half mile, I was running about the same pace as a guy who was breathing about as heavy as I was.  More random race thoughts: if someone just heard our soundtrack, they would think we were having very vigorous sex.  I saw the end, found another gear to kick and pass one more person right near the finish, and I crossed the line feeling strong and happy.

Run: 29:21 for 3 miles, 12/29 AG.


Team Tri – Zliten atop the podium because he kicked some serious ass and had a 6 minute PR.

Total time: 1:26:33.  6/29 AG.

Let’s talk about outcome goals first, since this year I’m really trying to figure out how to start placing in my age group (or at least finishing closer to the top).  Cycling really pays off.  You wouldn’t normally put together an 8th, a 4th, and a 12th and get a 6th… unless that 4th is on the bike.  I beat girlfriend that I passed on the run by over 2 minutes.  I needed 1.5 minutes (which would have been possible, if I had a real banner day) to move into 5th.  I needed 5 more minutes to move into 4th and almost 8 more to move into 3rd.  I don’t have that yet – but considering my first Jack’s Generic Sprint was 1:40-something, it’s not to say I can’t keep improving and get there.  But on August 7th 2016, ranking almost top 20% of my age group, top 15% of my gender, and alllllmost top 33% overall is a pretty good place to start to trying to chase down a podium.

In terms of process – I swam better than expected, faltered a little on the end of the bike but still did pretty well, and took some rough feeling legs through a fairly strong run for me, especially at this point in training, and my transitions were solid.

You can’t ask for much more six weeks away from a long offseason.  I now have six solid weeks of training ahead of me, wherein the weather should transition at some point from scortching to almost pleasant, before my next race.  It’s an Olympic.  The times from last year are pretty fast, so I don’t love my chances at getting on the podium, but after seeing how it affected both the outcome of my run and my self talk during it, I think I’ll continue with the goal to run down third even if I’m actually running down, like, eighth.


Also, can we talk about how I look slightly less ridiculous in wet spandex at this point in time?  I’ve still got some work to do, but this picture summarizes how I feel about progress.

Shattering plates and chasing down third.

I’m in a state of OVERWHELM right now.  I’m simultaneously juggling 4 milestones at work without any help anymore, plus an extra pet project, plus trying to wrap up this Personal Trainer thing and pass the test, plus I’ve got about 3000000 other things I want to work on and learn as personal projects, plus getting ready for vacation, plus social commitments, plus, OH RIGHT, I’m training for a half ironman about 10 hours a week.  And probably some other shit I’ve forgotten.



There are a lot of plates spinning, and some of them are inevitably going to drop.  I’m ok with this.  You can’t produce games for as many years as I have without just expecting for a certain amount of breakage.  However, there is a lot more than normal going on in a lot more areas than I normally have to focus on.  Some of the plates are going to shatter and I’ll have to pick up the pieces later.  My goal is to make it the least important ones, and the easiest ones to glue together.

So, I race Sunday.  It’s a sprint, admist a larger training block for a longer race, so it’s a B race at best, probably B-.  Right now, I’m beat down and tired, but I’ve got a slightly lighter training load than normal from now until Sunday, so hopefully that will make me springy (or at least less draggy) again.  I have some of my best workouts when I think I’m too tired to even THINK about going fast, so there is the possibility for that to work in my favor.

I kind of raced Lake Pflugerville where I normally am at for this race (fresh off time off, springy, wide-eyed).  Now I’m about 6-ish weeks into training and feeling both more competent but also more fatigued.


Splat.  Not quite here but we’ll see what the next few days deal me.

How I’m getting ready:

  • Today: off. studying. sleep.
  • Friday: 3 mile easy run with strides.  packet pickup. sleep.
  • Saturday: 3750m swim.  lunch and games with parents. sleep.

Saturday is not my traditional race prep, but I don’t think a long swim the day before a race (with a 500m swim) is going to kill me.  It’s the second to last swim challenge, so if it’s a bad idea, I’ll just not do it again.

Saturday’s nutrition plan is some sort of breakfast (muffin, bar, shake, something), snack after swimming (probably something similar to breakfast), a lean steak or chicken with veggies, salad, and bread, and then a turkey sandwich and fruit for dinner.

Sunday, I’ll probably stick with my belvitas + nut butter, caff chews, and I’m BRINGING A DISPOSABLE water bottle with me so I can stay hydrated while I wait 1 hour and 22 minutes after transition closing for my wave (the last one of the day) to start.  Since my shoes are pretty new, I’d like to get a warmup run on the trail this time.


I’m actually rather excited to see another sunrise over expensive bikes.

Swim Goals:

I want to seed myself where I expect to finish in my wave (about 5th) instead of close to last like I usually do because I’m spacing out.  Once I get in the water, I want to hurt myself just a little.  I’m missing that top swim speed because I’ve just been working on getting back into it, and that is what it is, but I’d like to see if I can pull out just a little more than I did at Lake Pflugerville Tri.

Bike Goals:

If I were smart, I’d be quoting power numbers and cadence and specific strategy.  I’m not.  I want to ride my bike hard, I want to stay in aero, I want to pass people, and not give an inch.  I want to hit 20 mph average.  If I’m in the right mindset, feeling good, have the right legs… I might could do that.  I want to come off the bike in 4th or better.  I want to ride aggressively and stay in the moment and think “this is where I’m suffering right now” and I’ll get to the run when I get to the run.

Run Goals:

My goal on the run is simply to run down 3rd.  Now, this is kind of a stupid goal for a few different reasons.  It’s outcome based, not process based.  If a bunch of fast people show up, I have NO chance at succeeding.  I am probably not going to know what place I’m in besides a vague idea of how many bikes are in.  However, it’s MY dumb goal and it’s time to try something new.  I’m going to fly off the bike and move my feet as fast as I can with form as proper as possible.  I want to run like everyone has a target on their back and reel everyone in one by one.  And if I see someone with my age group on their calf pass me, I’m going to try go with them and try to pass them back.  Why not, right? Three miles is short.  Maybe I can do it.


Goal – try to look at least this happy at the finish.

Race day nutrition plan:

I’m really going to try to push more nutrition than normal me here and try a few new things.

  • Belvita with almond butter around 5am ~200 calories
  • Caff chews slowly from about 6:30-8am ~160 calories
  • Pop an electrolyte cap with my disposable water bottle around 8am.
  • Skratch or gu on the bike, 1 caff gel as soon as I’m on the bike and going ~170 cal
  • Potential second gel at the end of the bike or start of the run ~100 cal
  • Skratch or gu in a handheld on the run ~70 calories

My head may be a little scattered right now, but I’m hoping I’ll get it together by Sunday morning.  I think I have a chance to do really well.  It’s always scary fun to put yourself on the line to be tested, and I think it’s about time to see how employing some different training and racing strategies are working out.

Podium Dreamin’ and Fixing My Running Form

If you take a look at me, especially in wet spandex, in high resolution, at some particularly unflattering angles, I’m not exactly the person you would size up and think about being on the podium.  That’s for skinny, fit people with 8% bodyfat wearing extra small tri kits, right?


Which, let’s face it, I am not.

Well, I’ve proved that theory wrong a few times with some podium action, but it’s the exception and definitely not the rule.  And because I keep improving just a little bit at the short, local stuff each year, it’s starting to be in my grasp to be fighting for the top few spots in my AG if things go really well.  It’s another avenue for motivation during a race besides just hitting HR/pace/power numbers, which is fun.


I didn’t know it then, but 15 of the other 21 pink caps were behind me.

Size is barely a limiter at all in the swim.  Frankly, most triathletes that enter the local sprint tri not great swimmers.  Because I have pretty good form and practice swimming (both open water and speedwork in the pool) a few times a week, I usually come out pretty close to the front of the pack for my age group.

Cycling, I’ve clawed my way up the power to watt ratio with lots of specific work on how to hurt myself and like it over 1, 2, 5, 20+ minutes.  It’s changed from my worst sport to generally the one I place the highest, even with my old, entry level road bike.  This year, once I get the hang of my new Death Star, I have a feeling that I’ll be hanging on with the top ladies in my age group for said reasonably local-ish, smaller (and flatter) races.


Thumbs up for doing all the passing and not much of the falling back.

My transitions could use a little work sometimes, but I rarely get hit by gravity anymore.  As the season goes on, I get more efficient, and I believe I’ve pared down to only things I really need.  I could do the shoes on the bike trick and go without socks, but I’m not quite there yet.

The run is where it all falls apart.  I’m generally hanging on in a good spot after the bike, if things went well.  I was fourth last race.  If I had a good run, I could have tried to hunt down third place and voila! Podium!  However, the ladies that are swimming and biking like me run 1-2 minutes faster per mile than I do.  What happened instead – I was in fourth, I got passed once putting me in fifth, and I’m actually really surprised that I finished in fifth because my run was only ninth best.  I just beat sixth, seventh, and eighth by enough on the swim, bike, and transitions, they ran out of room to catch me.


Horns up because I earned my freezy pop!

There are two paths to get my 5 seconds of fame at an awards ceremony.

  1. Get so good at the swim and the bike that I’m coming off in first place, and hope I don’t get caught by more than 2 people in my age group on the run.
  2. Try to improve my run so I could possibly, potentially, maybe actually run someone down off the bike instead of getting passed passed passed passed passed all the time.

While the first would be really cool in and of itself, I think that I need to find the missing link for the second and it’s not the obvious things.  I’ve thrown volume at it, I’ve trained fast miles off the bike consistently, I’ve trained in the heat, there’s just something that’s not clicking on with my run in races.  So it’s time to do some things that I haven’t done before in pursuit of a better run leg.

First…nail down a nutrition plan AND FOLLOW IT.  I am NOTORIOUSLY horrible at this.  I went into the run at Pflugerville on ~40 calories in the hatch (from the half bottle of Scratch I sucked down on the bike).  I forgot how to eat on the bike and I am SO lucky I put an emergency gel in my handheld (who needs a gel on the run for 3 miles?  …that would be me).  The ONLY reason I did so well before that is I had remembered to eat some highly caffeinated chews about 1 hour before the race, and they were OBVIOUSLY wearing off the first half mile of the run.

Here are things I’m going to do:

  • Carby snacks.  I’m already working towards making sure I don’t overdo the protein and fat (while still hitting my daily recommendations) so I can dedciate every other calorie possible to CARBS (more carbs while taking care of the other stuff = better fueled workouts).
  • Fueling more workouts in better ways.  This is pretty much sports nutrition 101, but in practice, I think I’m a special snowflake who doesn’t need the calories to perform.  Yes, this takes away some of my french fry calories.  Suck it up, buttercup.  This will make me a better runner and probably more likely able to hunt someone down…. 😛
    • AM workout (less than an hour) – gatorade, coconut water, or other carby snack before I leave for work unless I’m eating breakfast right away.
    • AM workout (more than an hour) – one gel or equivalent every 45 mins, carby snack either before the workout, before I leave for work, or split between both (ideal).
    • Lunch workout – carby snack if I’m not immediately eating lunch (which is rare, but happens).
    • PM workout (less than an hour) – carby snack before (I should not be super hungry starting a PM workout), carby snack after or dinner within 30 minutes.
    • PM workout (more than an hour) – carby snack before, one gel or equivalent for every 45 minutes, and a carby snack or dinner within 30 minutes.
    • Any workout that goes beyond 2 hours – must have carbs before, every 45 mins, and immediately after.

Second…work on my running FORM.  Now that I’ve studied up on biomechanics and optimal running form, it’s pretty clear to me I’m doing it wayyyy wrong.  Apparently, I’ve been JOGGING and not RUNNING (running means both feet off the ground at the same time and according to race pics – I don’t do that).  We need to fix that, because my pride says that I am NOT a jogger.

Here’s some pictures from the race to illustrate my point.  Learn with me while I analyze my race photos.  This is what running is supposed to look like:


My running “pose” position sucks.  I should look more like this guy above.  Instead this is what I look like:


With my leg so low, I’m not getting any momentum as it swings through, so my stride length is super short and shuffly.  I am bent at the hips, I should be leaning with my whole body and my ankle should be dorsiflexed instead of straight up and down.


With my pose lacking, it means the rest doesn’t go very well.  My leg doesn’t swing out very far because it has very little momentum, and I don’t have far to fall, so I’m not getting that good lean going on.  And that’s not good because that means my stride is short and lacking power.  Look – I’m jogging.  My feet are not both off the ground at the same time.  I’m a jogger.  Ugh.


Because I’m not leaning (or falling) enough, I’m heel striking.  If I could get my body over my leg a little more I’d be hitting the ground on my midfoot, touching just a little heel (and also a little toe).  But I’m not.

This essentially puts the brakes on.  I’m giving up energy I worked really hard to create!  That sucks!  Why would I want to do that unless I was running down a steep hill?  If I can move my strike more forward, I can keep more momentum going, which means less energy needs to be created by ME per stride.

So, how do I do this?

Concentrate on my form every run.  I need to work on improving my pose, I need to learn how to fall correctly, and I need to strike in the correct spot on my feet.  Like riding a bike (or at least, riding a bike in traffic with clips), I need to concentrate on this all the time until it’s totally natural… and then probably some more.

Photographic proof of progress.  I need to have Zliten and I play paparazzi with each other more often to snag pictures and video of our running form to see how it’s developing.  Either set up a camera outside the house and do loops of our block or go to the track or something.

Drills.  I always say “yep, I should be doing drills” and what do I never do?  Drills.  I found a pretty comprehensive list of things to do here and I’m doing to make sure I do them at the very least once a week during an easy run.

Monitor my cadence.  Oddly enough, when I trend towards a 90+ cadence, I feel better, expend less energy, and I bet I’d be running instead of jogging.  This means smaller strides, but much quicker ones if I’m doing it right, which is not a bad thing.

Strength Training.  I’m already doing this, but I need to pay attention once I am running with good (better) form to see if it reveals any weaknesses.  Who knows, maybe this will solve the glute/hammie cramping thing I get during long runs?  That would be rad!

And, hey – if nothing else – it will be nice to do something on the run this summer instead of think about how hot it is!


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