Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What it Takes

When I decided to do Ironman a year ago, I knew from the beginning I could finish the race. And despite having not finished the race, I still believe I could finish the race, I was just dealt a bad hand in Louisville. Now that I'm considering another nine months of training and shooting for iron, what will it take to have the iron experience I want? I've been doing some thinking...

Open Water Swimming: I did all my training this year in the pool. The only time I did any open water swimming was in a race. And I did pretty well considering my past freak-outs in open water. But you only get faster in open water if you practice in open water. The problem IS the open water. There isn't a whole lot of it around here. The closest place is The Quarry, where you can only swim with the local tri club. I'm not part of that tri club. Plus two people have drowned there this summer and I don't think it's open for swimming anymore. The other place is Alum Creek, which...ewww. They only let you swim inside the beach area which means you go back and forth and back and forth. If you go outside the area, they'll ticket you. There's got to be other options, right?

Longer Bricks: In training for Ironman I did long bikes and long runs but not together. I would do long bike rides with short runs topping off at maybe 4-5 miles of running. For the first 10 miles of the Ironman run I felt great and then disaster struck. I need to learn how to handle the nutrition shift between biking and running. I need to learn how to fall into a good, solid pace for many miles off the bike. I believe I can achieve this with longer bricks. We're talking LONG, like 30-60 miles of biking followed by 8-15 miles of running.

Racing: I know that you are supposed to train more to race better and having been coached the last two years I can absolutely say this is true. However, training for Ironman is LONG and daunting if it's looked at as nine months as a whole. After putting all my eggs in one basket this year and coming up with nothing, I need other races to look forward to in my season. Plus racing more helps my confidence in triathlon, which is still growing. Right now I've got many races I'm looking forward to in 2011 of all distances.

Weight Training: While at the Rev3 Cedar Point race my dad kept saying to me, "You don't look like those other girls. They're big. You look like a runner." Believe me, my dad meant all of that lovingly. :) He's right, though. I have tiny, T-Rex arms that runners have. And not that you need big arms and bigger muscles in general for triathlon, but a race as long as an Ironman does require more strength. During the last training cycle, the strength training was the first to go when I didn't have time. Not this time. I don't necessarily want to be big; I just want to be stronger.

Nutrition: If you all knew what I ate, you would be disgusted. I grew up in the typical American household: completely overscheduled. And because we were overscheduled I ate easy to make, quick, processed food. When I became an adult and cooked for myself, this didn't change. I need to learn to plan my meals, eat cleaner, and snack wisely. I don't want to lose weight, but I certainly could become leaner and drop some body fat.

Harder Workouts: For years I have been going long. Doing longer swims, bikes, and runs doesn't mess with my head the way it used to. Generally, I fall into a trance during long workouts and the minutes, hours, and miles tick by without me even knowing it. When things got tough in the Ironman I'm not sure I knew how to dig deep to pull myself out of that hole. Sure the workouts for Ironman taxed my body. I have never been more fatigued. But I need to fatigue my mind more and I think that can be achieved by doing harder workouts. I want to look at my schedule and see track intervals, crazy paces that could make me cry, and trainer sessions that leave you saying, "You've got to be kidding me!" I want to train for what I'm actually capable of, ie- a 3:30 marathon, and not what reality will be, ie - a 4 hour marathon. I need to be broken and rebuilt. I want to train like I'm trying to win every race. (I could totally be making a mistake by putting this out there for the world to read, like Coach.)

Part of me can't wait to get training again. The other part of me is dreading it like the plague. But hopefully changing things up a little is going to help me have a successful season in 2011. I still can't believe I'm gonna give this triathlon stuff yet another chance....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Team Trakkers 2011

Want to be something extraordinary? Then apply to be part of Team Trakkers for 2011. We are a group of multisport athletes of every shape, size, and ability who love to train, race, chat, and have fun. We're looking for a some new people to join our team in 2011. If you think you've got what it takes to be part of the "Green Machine", then click here and fill out the application. Good luck!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Deer Creek Fall Challenge 2010

Last week while doing a recovery run I thought, "Huh! Why don't I race again this weekend?" Problem was, we had a weekend FULL of photo boothing and I wasn't sure I could find someone to work for me and if I would feel up to racing after being up late and standing on my feet all Saturday night. Originally I wanted to do the half race, then talked myself into the Olympic distance, and finally decided on the sprint. And I'm so glad I did.

After a whopping 3 hours of sleep Saturday night I loaded my bike, stuff, and myself into my car and headed down to Deer Creek. I was TIRED and wondering why I had signed up for yet another race. I reminded myself, though, it would take me less than an hour and a half and it really wouldn't be that bad. I arrived at the race site good and early, checked in, set up my transition, put on the wetsuit, met up with Colleen, and headed down to the water. I was ready.

The sprint waves began to assemble and soon it was our turn to enter the water. The last time I raced at Deer Creek, the entire beach was flooded and the water was deep and murky. Not this time. The water was super shallow. When the gun went off I took off with the other ladies and attempted a dolphin dive when I thought the water was deep enough. It wasn't. I hit the bottom and somehow water got into my goggles. Dummy! I stood back up, rearranged my goggles, and ran a little more until it was deep enough to swim. Now, I consider myself a pretty average to a somewhat faster swimmer. But the swimmers I saw in this wave looked like swimmers, so I lined up kinda in the middle of the pack. That was a mistake. I should have been aggressive and gone out in the front. Instead people were being aggressive with me. I was being swam over, kicked, punched. I liked to swim close to the buoy line and when I reached the first turn buoy it was so crowded you couldn't even get around the buoy. It was time to switch it up. I decided to swim a little wider and swim harder. I didn't need to hold back and I was sick of people being in my way. After the second turn buoy (it was a rectangle swim), I was in clear water. I was even able to get on some feet on the backside until I was able to overtake her. I reached the last turn buoys and was heading home, but this part was ROUGH! The winds and current were strong and the chop was right in my face. In addition, the faster men from the Olympic waves had caught me and were jostling me around. I was ready to be out of the swim. And soon I was. I swam until I touched the bottom, ran hard out of the water, up the hill, and into transition.

Sunday was one of the coldest days we've had in a LONG time. I debated all morning if I would need something warmer than just tank and shorts for the bike. I had my arm warmers in transition, but opted not to use them. They would take WAY too long to put on. It was only 12 miles. It couldn't be that cold for 12 miles. Plus, I was going to go hard and would be warming up. I totally made the right call. Helmet, glasses, socks, shoes, and I'm out!

My goal was to keep the bike in a big gear, push hard, and fly. And I was doing that. I was passing people like I usually get passed. Kinda made me smile. :) I was cruising over 20mph for most of the ride until BAM! I was headed into the wind. I got to a smaller gear and kept pushing. I stayed aero and surprisingly found myself still in the 16-18mph range. I was still passing people and doing well. I reached the one "big" hill on the course and cranked right up it. It's always fun to pass people going up the hill. This is totally where my tiny stature works to my advantage. Finally I could see the dam and I knew I was close to being done. Suddenly I was passed by a girl and I totally did not like that. We turned the corner and started climbing again. I got out of my saddle and hammered passed her. As soon as I crested the hill I shifted and shifted and shifted. My lungs and legs were burning but I was not going to let her catch me. And she didn't. I ran my bike into transition. Kicked off my shoes, put on my running shoes and was out of transition in just around one minute.

When I had biked by the dam I saw a girl beginning her run and she looked quite fit so I determined she was in first place. I wondered what place I was? My legs and lungs were feeling good and I felt like I was running quite quickly. I passed a girl probably within the first quarter mile. One picked off. It's a left hand turn up onto the grassy dam and I'm still flying. I'm picking off people left and right and pass two more women. I hit mile 1 at 7:11. I decide I'm feeling good and the race is too short to slow down. I move on. As I'm off the grass and onto the pavement of the dam, the lead women are returning. They're two of them right together. I look ahead and see one more woman on the return and three more women on the way out. I'm going after them. I pick off one on the other side of the dam at the water stop. The turn around is just ahead and that's where I catch another one. The last woman to catch is moving, but is also obviously hurting as she was sort of "dragging" her right leg. I reach mile 2 at 7:12. At this point I decided to just go as fast as I could. I finally catch the last woman I could right before exiting the grass and hitting the pavement. I figured I was in fourth. I did that last 1.1 miles in 7:46, which is a 7:03 pace. It's nice to know I still have some fast twitch after all that Ironman training. :)

Final result...1:24:12. I won my age group and finished fourth overall female. This is the first time I've won my age group in a triathlon and definitely my highest overall accomplishment in a triathlon. And, I even walked away with a nice little plaque.

And the coolest thing happened to me while leaving the race. I was stopped by and asked if I was Meredith. I answered yes and the gentleman let me know he reads my blog. He had started reading it after I did the Beat Michigan, Beat Cancer 5K last November as it was his son's class (I believe) who put on the race. Thank you Bill and Greg for introducing yourselves to me. I hope to see you again at another race soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Look at the great stuff Santa brought me this week. (And in September! He must think I've been extra good this year.)

1. Saucony's Heiress Softshell Jacket. For the last several years I've been wearing my Chicago Marathon jacket for pretty much every winter run I did. With as much running as I do outside in the winter, it was time to add another jacket to the fold. This one is going to be fantastic.

2. Two pairs of Saucony's ProGrid Omni 9. The Omni is my favorite running shoe. I have been wearing a pair of them for probably the last five years. If they ever discontinue this shoe, I might die.

3. A new Splish swimming suit. After nine months of swimming, I've gone through four swimsuits. I was down to one so I ordered a new one. This one makes me feel like I'm wearing Dorothy's ruby red slippers. So shiny!

In addition, I also replaced the folding chair I've been sitting on for the last ten years in my office with a brand new manager's chair. Movin' on up!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!!

Happy anniversary to my partner-in-crime, best friend, and love of my life. The last eight years have been awesome!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Product Review: Amphipod Airflow Lite

For years I have been looking for the perfect way to carry my gels and salt during racing and training. I have tried a variety of tactics. First, I tried a pair of Race Ready-type shorts (mine were not Race Ready). They worked pretty well, except the pockets tore over time. I also didn't like how as my shorts got heavier as they got wetter, the gels and wet shorts got droopier and droopier. Fail!

Then I tried a couple different waist packs, aka fanny packs. :) (One was by Fuel Belt, the other by Nathan.) The problem with these was I couldn't get them tight enough so they would bounce and ride up around my ribs instead of staying on my hips. This, of course, created unbelievable chafing. In addition, I was quite embarrassed I was wearing a fanny pack. :)

For a while I started wearing shimmels to race, which was great because they had pockets built into them. My only problem with the shimmel was that I have terribly inflexible shoulders and sometimes reaching into the pockets could be quite challenging.

After a year of nothing but spandex, I have been looking to find a way to carry my gels and wear loose fitting, comfortable running clothes, while in the running portions of tris or during running races. The week before Cedar Point I had decided I was going to wear my Fuel Belt and wanted to find an attachment, if you will, to the belt to carry my gels. I went to the running store across the street and, of course, they didn't have what I was looking for. That is ALWAYS the case. They recommended an Amphipod Airflow Lite, which to me, looked like another fanny pack. I was hesitant to buy it. I hadn't had the best experience with the waist pack, but they assured me that Amphipod prided itself on staying-put and I had heard great things too. So I bought it and tried it out on my next day's 15 minute run. I wore it with slippery tri shorts and put three gels in it to see if it would stay put. totally did.

Then yesterday when I ran the 20 mile race, I loaded it up with 5 gels, a baggie of salt, and pinned my number on the front of it. It worked terrifically. It didn't move off my hips. It was easy to whip around and grab what I needed out of it. It never felt heavy or bulky.

So, I'm back to the fanny pack. But, I love it. I'm now I HUGE fan of Amphipod. I plan to try out another product very soon...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

EAS Distance Classic 20 Miler 2010

I didn't want to end my year with disappointments in Louisville and Cedar Point. So I decided to use all my training and put it towards some running events. It's very rare that I have a weekend without a photo booth event, but this weekend I didn't and luckily there was a very long race in town: the EAS Distance Classic 20 Miler. Sure I hadn't done a long run since Louisville. Sure I hadn't done a long run before Louisville since the start of August. But, I was prepared to do a full iron distance race last weekend so certainly I had the conditioning for this.

I really had no expectations for this race. I knew it would be lonely out there as it was all inside Three Creeks Metro Park, so I decided to run with my iPod and treat the race as training to gauge if I wanted to sign up for the marathon next month. Luckily when I got to the race site this morning I ran into several people I've run with in the past. I felt right at home. My friend Patty, who've I've run with for this 20 mile race before and the Columbus Marathon, lined up with me and we decided to keep the pace around 9:00 or under.

I was a little concerned when we hit the first mile at 8:41. That was faster than I wanted to be going that early in the race but to my surprise, we held almost that pace for nearly the whole race. We soon realized there were two other women, Molly (who is the sister of a mutual friend) and Shawna, in our group and the four of us ran together from the start of the race until mile 15.

That's when I started to feel the effects of having absolutely zero training at the pace I was trying to run. Seriously y'all, I've been training for a 9:00-9:30 for Ironman. I had absolutely no right to think I was going to be able to sustain an 8:45 for this race. At mile 15 I noticed Molly and Shawna slipping away. Patty continued with me and we hit mile 16 at 8:42. Still on pace. At mile 17 I walked through the water stop, as did Patty, but when she started moving again it was quicker than me.

I only walked one more time in the race, but at this point I was pacing over a 9:00. I was all alone. I restarted my iPod and just tried to put one foot in front of the other until I got to the finish line. I finished in 2:56:16, which funny enough, netted me a 3rd place age group finish. Three years ago I ran in this race in almost exactly the same time and it got me 7th in my age group. I love me a small race! :)

Will I run the marathon next month? Probably. Will I be able to qualify for Boston again? I don't know. But, there's still some good training left to be done and a fantastic pace group to run with. Hopefully, I can, but I will be happy to end the season with any success. And finishing itself, is a success.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ironman and Rev3: A Comparison

I've run a lot of marathons and they've ranged in size from small (Towpath) to medium (Columbus) to large (Boston) to OMG! (Chicago). My favorite type of marathon is on the larger size. I like the spectacle of it. I like it to be an event instead of just a weekend run. I like traveling to the race and making it a vacation.

Having experienced both Ironman and a non-Ironman iron distance event this year, I would say the opposite is for triathlon for me. Ever since I tiptoed into triathlon years ago I have found the sport to be unbelievably intimidating. I think it's the equipment. I lovingly refer to triathletes as sheep. Yes sheep. :) Triathletes tend to follow trends and hold onto them very tightly. The gajillion dollar bikes. The compression socks. The sperm helmets. If they can afford it, they've got it. The other part that's been intimidating to me is the speed at which triathletes can bike. Seriously, how can you do that? Oh yeah, I know. You can't run. :) See you on the run, sucka!

Anyway, getting back to Ironman and Rev3. There were things I liked and thought needed work for both races.

Ironman Likes:
  • Community supported. I'm convinced that a large portion cheering on the course were not family and friends of those doing the race.
  • Volunteers aplenty. More volunteers than racers. 'Nuff said.
  • Established. There will be another Ironman.
Ironman Dislikes:
  • Having to decide a year in advance if you want to do the event with no escape plan.
  • To me, it's a big spectacle that makes a person like me very, very nervous.
  • Corporate greed. 'Nuff said. :)
Rev3 Likes:
  • Small and friendly. It felt like a hometown race instead of a big spectacle.
  • Not as many volunteers as IM, but friendly and super-knowledgeable.
  • Family friendly. Yep, you can cross that finish line with the ones who supported you.
  • There's a half option if that full is just too much for you.
  • The swag is much better and FREE!
Rev3 Dislikes:
  • Not as many volunteers so there weren't things like wetsuit strippers.
  • Not every aid station had everything.
  • The finish line was fabulous, however, I'm not really sure why it had to be IN the amusement park. For those of us who didn't have park passes, it wasn't very accessible and not a lot of space to watch.
With all this said, IF I decided to tri again next year it will be at Rev3 Cedar Point. I was much less nervous there and felt at home. To each his own...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Foto Friday

My favorite part of Ironman/Rev3 was the signs that people made. My favorite one I saw in Louisville said, "Bike with the energy of a 1000 chihuahuas." I didn't get a picture of that, obviously, since I was on the bike. Here are some others that Dave captured:

And then I might have been part of a scheme for Dave's poster at Cedar Point:

That poster is currently sitting in the passenger seat of our car. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Every morning when I wake up I have a routine: look at the clock, pee, crawl back in bed, check my email, read blogs, and check the news. I usually read my blogs on Bloglines. But I just found out this week that Bloglines is no more as of October 1st. Crap! If you read my blog via Bloglines, make sure you switch it over to another blog reader or just become a follower on the blog. Don't you worry your pretty little heads! There is still plenty to blog about even though it's time to move on from Ironman for now.

Now that I have to find another place to read my blogs, I'm looking to redo my blog roll of sites I read. I need some recommendations. Here's my criteria of the type of blogs I read:
  • Well written
  • Not super wordy
  • Mixes pictures in posts to help tell stories
  • Posts often, preferably more than once a week
  • Running/triathlon or photography related
So, what should I be reading?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time and Change

Yesterday I was set to tri again at Rev3 Cedar Point. I didn't do it.

With my disappointment in Louisville I was looking to redeem myself and quickly. Cedar Point was a natural choice as I was already going to be there, I knew people who knew people and was able to get myself in as a late entry, financially it made sense, and most importantly, Dave and my family were okay with it. I signed up and retapered. I didn't really tell anyone about it until right before the race when I started leaking things on Facebook and immediately people knew what I was doing. The game was on.

Physically I felt fine; mentally, I was a mess. Since the race I keep having visions of what happened at mile 16 of my Ironman. It really scared me and I didn't know if I was ready to try again so quickly. The night before the race I tossed and turned all night long and came to the conclusion: it's not worth it. So when we woke up Sunday morning I told Dave my decision. He was not happy. He convinced me to put on my race uniform, grab all my stuff, and head down to transition. I fought kicking and screaming the whole way. Finally in the parking lot, I made my final decision. I WAS NOT DOING THE RACE!

I felt good about my decision. I felt bad about my decision. I felt good about my decision. And now I'm back to feeling bad about my decision.

So what happens now? Honestly, I don't know. I know I'm burnt out on triathlon for the season. No I am not going to be signing up for Great Floridian or Beach to Battleship. My season of triathlon is over. I am hoping to do some more running, hopefully doing some running races since I missed a whole summer of road races. Will I come back to triathlon next summer? I'm not sure. Louisville was supposed to be my one shot at Ironman. I was looking forward to moving on with my life after that race. I would have finished what I came to accomplish: marathons, Boston, Ironman.....LIFE. I want to progress my business. I'd even venture to say I've thought about starting a family (Mom, Pat if you're reading this, don't get your hopes up). But now I still feel like I have unfinished business; unfinished business that I should be able to finish.

I don't know what's going to happen with becoming Iron. Tomorrow, I'm going to leave my Garmin and heart rate monitor at home, strap on my running shoes, and just run.

Monday, September 06, 2010

August Totals

Obviously, it was a big month in August with my last big week of training and 130 miles of the Ironman. I'm surprised my arms and legs are still attached!!!

Swim = 26,600 meters (that's over 16-1/2 miles of swimming!!!)

Bike = 415.39 miles

Run = 88.98 miles

September will be NOWHERE near those totals. Thank goodness. :)