Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Totals

Man, June went fast. I probably spent more hours in spandex or a swimsuit than not. I tackled workouts I never thought were possible a year ago and have been places mentally and internally that I didn't know existed. Things are starting to come together. June was a BIG month and I know July will be even bigger. Bring it on!

Swim = 25,125 meters....that's 15.7 miles!!!

Bike = 351.06 miles....152 miles were done in two days!!!

Run = 55.87 miles....finally a month where I feel like I'm starting to train for a marathon. More running please!!!

See you in July!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


My teammate Sonja raced herself right into Kona with a 4th place age group finish at Ironman Couer d'Alene this past weekend. I am so excited for her!

But it got me thinking, no matter how hard I work EVER, I will never qualify for Kona. See, I always knew that I was going to be a marathoner. Halfway through the training for my very first marathon, I knew I would qualify and run Boston some day. And I did. I just don't have that confidence with triathlon. I was having a, well, let's call it a discussion with Dave the other day and I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs. Mind you, this was all happening while stopped at a light while we were bike riding. Anyway, I was screaming at the top of my lungs that I felt like this was my one and only chance at the Iron-distance. I didn't want to "just finish" this race. I needed to have a race of a lifetime NOW. I have to get this right the first time because there is nothing, NOTHING, on the schedule after this race. I don't know what's going to happen after August 29th. I feel like I have placed all my self worth and all my self confidence all in this one race. What if I fail? What if I'm not happy with my performance? What if "just finishing" is all I achieve?

I'm eight weeks away from taking on a task bigger than I could have ever imagined. The reality is REAL. The consequences of all my actions and decisions is astronomical. I just don't know if I'm ready...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Riding the Course

When I was deciding which Ironman to do, it really came down to two things: (1) swim start and (2) friends and family being able to watch (and (3) I didn't have to fly my bike). Since Louisville is the only one with a time trial start and is only 3-1/2 hours from home, this really was an easy choice. And because it's so close to home and because my aunt lives in Louisville, I would have the opportunity to train on the course leading up to the race. That's what I did yesterday.

Dave and I drove down to Louisville on Friday late afternoon, found part of the bike course and drove it until it get too dark to see anything. Being totally honest here, I don't get intimidated too easily. I enjoy the challenge. There were certainly parts of this course that were scaring me. It seemed there were no flat parts to the course (true) and there was always a hill (true). Saturday we got up and headed to La Grange which is miles 30ish and 60ish on the bike. We were planning on doing the loop twice and the out and back (probably the hilliest and hardest part of the course) once.

The first time we did the loop wasn't so bad. There's a spot on Ballard School Road (which I've taken to calling School House Rock Road) which has an uphill that somehow you can't carry any moment into. We did the out and back before heading back into La Grange. It's not as bad in the daylight as it looked in the dark. The worst part is the bridge where there are HUGE potholes. Both directions you come to the bridge you are flying downhill and you have to really slow down to avoid the hills, which means you have no momentum to carry you up the uphills. Hopefully that is something they fix before the race. Then it was back to La Grange via Route 393. This road is pretty hilly, but it really only has one big uphill and one small uphill to contend with.

We stopped at our car in La Grange, reloaded our bikes with fuel, and headed out to do the loop again. This time it wasn't so much fun. It was now midday, 93 degrees with the heat index over 100 degrees. You could feel the heat radiating off of the pavement. The wind gusts weren't refreshing. The sun made it feel like my jersey was melting into my back. I was starting to talk to myself and it wasn't happy things (mostly four letter word that aren't really appropriate for this blog). The flats and downhills I found myself not doing any work. I was cruising any time I could. The uphills I was still attacking but that was because it was that or stop and fall over. Route 42 felt like it would go on forever. Something tells me this will be the worst part of the ride--33 miles of one road all the way back into town. Finally we reached Route 393 again and took a picture of Cedar Point on the IMLou course. At least we knew Dave was getting training for his race too. :)

Finally we made it back to our car. 77.65 miles in 5:14. Not very fast but that's okay. Race day will be when I go faster. We were supposed to have a run off the bike, but Dave talked us both out of it. I'm really pissed at myself for not doing it. Sure it was hot, but it's going to be hot the day of the race too! We loaded up our stuff and headed to Dairy Queen and got ourselves something to cool us down. We returned to my aunt's house, showered, and drove back home.

It scares me there's still 35 miles left to that course, but I also have gained some confidence knowing that I've ridden the hardest part of the course. I have another trip planned to Louisville in August and I hope to ride the entire course during that trip. This week was one that certainly tested my character and my brain power, along with my physical abilities. Hopefully that type of training will payoff in eight short weeks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

You guys had great responses to last week's Thursday Thoughts. So, let's stir the pot a little more this week.
I don't remember ever saying when I was a kid, "I want to be a mom." I always wanted to be an athlete or someone smart or Princess Lea. But not a mom. I didn't babysit to make money; I had a job at a country club. I would say I have compassion but not really empathy. My sister on the other hand was 180 degrees in the opposite direction. She loved pets, had a gazillion friends, and babysat all the time. I went to college and got my engineering degree. She got married and had her first child two years after high school. I'm 32, been married eight years, and am childless. She's 29 and has four, FOUR, kids!!!

When I was in my 20s there were times when I thought I wanted to start a family. In 2005, Dave and I talked about it seriously, but then I got laid off and it obviously was bad timing. In 2007 we actually tried to get pregnant but it wasn't in the cards. I took it as signs. And I knew I definitely wasn't ready because of two things: (a) I was in Bible study when the pastor said the purpose of marriage was to produce children and (b) my OBGYN told me I was getting older and I shouldn't miss my opportunity. Both of those instances pissed me off so much (because I don't believe either of them) that (a) I haven't been to church in three years and (b) I didn't go to the OBGYN for three years.

Now that I'm in my 30s I definitely feel like my clock is ticking and time is running out (I've set a 35 year old limit), but that doesn't necessarily mean I actually WANT a child. I know A LOT of people who are pregnant right now. Part of me is jealous, part of me wants to scream, "What the hell are you doing?!"

When is the right time to have a child? How old were you? Did you think you were ready? What are your thoughts on people who decide not to have a child? How would your life be different if you had a child or if you decided to never have children?

Lots of food for thought today....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You Know Your Training for Ironman if...

Coach sent out some emails yesterday for her Ironman athletes. One was serious. One was lighthearted. I liked the lighthearted one. :) Some of them really resonated with me like...

  • You use toilet paper to wipe the inside of the toilet bowl and think to yourself as far as "cleaning" goes - that will do, you'll clean it 'for real' after Ironman. Seriously, I might have to hire a cleaning team to do the house after Ironman.
  • Dinner time is now what used to be bedtime. I don't remember the last time I had dinner before 9pm.
  • You get on the scale and find you have gained weight. You think there is no mathematical way this could be possible for you to train more and gain weight. I might be at my highest weight ever right now, yet in the smallest size I've worn in years.
  • You're too awake to fall asleep but to sleepy to stay awake. My sleeping patterns are all jacked up.
  • There are more dirty water bottles in your dishwasher than dirty dishes.
  • At least once a day you find yourself “on the prowl” – the point in the day where your hunger has become so huge that you start walking around looking for something, anything to shove in your mouth. And for me, I'm ALWAYS craving chocolate.
  • Before you make plans, you say “I have to check my schedule”, not your work schedule or family schedule, but your workout schedule. Dave and I did a mad dash to see my niece and nephew play softball/baseball during our rest week.
  • You keep hearing a voice in your head and it is saying “Meredith Gordon, you are an Ironman”. And it brings me to tears.
  • Anything shorter than a 500 in the pool makes you feel like 'why bother'. Today's warmup was 1000.
  • You’ve ridden more miles than you’ve driven in the past week. Especially true when you work from home.
  • You think about Ironman incessantly. You drive to work and think "I am doing Ironman." You go to bed and think "I am doing Ironman." You wonder what you will think about after Ironman. Probably doing Ironman again? Gosh I hope not, but I think I said the same thing about marathons...
And two of my own...
  • Don't bother buying new clothes. Even if you don't gain or lose any weight, your body shape will change so drastically that NOTHING will fit correctly. I, literally, just bought a pair of jeans a month ago that I had tailored to fit and now they are too loose.
  • A new rash will appear weekly and they will be random and hard to explain. This week's: right below my belly button.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

Wow! That was a big week of training and I did a pretty good job at it.

The week started with a muscle-busting bike trainer ride. It was a sweat-fest, but I totally rocked it. I also rocked the 3000m swim I had too, even if there was a little lane rage. I got through a split long run (half was on Tuesday evening, the other half Wednesday morning). My longest swim of my life, until next week, was on Thursday. Although I was starting to feel the weight of the week, I was still getting things done.

Prepping for my long ride...
The week ended with my very first bike ride over 4 hours. Dave's knee has been bothering him so this bike ride was my first long ride all by myself. I spent 5 hours trying to navigate unfamiliar roads and unfamiliar mental territories. It wasn't as hilly as I had planned. It wasn't as fast as I had hoped. But, I got through 75 challenging miles and tackled my inner demons. I was supposed to run off the bike for 20 minutes, but as I finished the ride I heard my first crack of thunder. Driving home it only sprinkled. Man, I really wish I had done that run.

As for my personal goals for the week, I did pretty good at getting up and getting moving and going to bed on time. I did not do so well on eating in. Dave and I are so exhausted by the end of the day it's hard to get motivated to cook dinner. Dinner is usually at 9pm, so ordering something is soooo much easier.

For my long ride I tried the new Ironman Perform, which will be the sports drink for all upcoming Ironman and Ironman 70.3s. It's okay. Not great, not terrible. It's not as syrupy as Gatorade, which is nice because it doesn't sit heavy in the stomach. But I also don't think it has much flavor. I tried the lemon-lime which actually tasted to me like watered-down apple juice. I'm lucky that I have a pretty solid stomach so I'll continue to train with Gatorade and substitute with Ironman Perform whenever I have it, so I'll be ready for race day.

....which, if you're counting down, is in about 2 months. Yikes!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Every Thursday in the month of June, I have been spending my afternoons with my grandma taking her to her hair appointments and then usually having a late lunch or snack with her. This week while eating ice cream (her favorite) we were having a conversation about marriage. She was talking about her hairdresser and how her son was 21 and still not married. I smiled and said, "Grandma, that's really young to get married." She said she was married at 16 and I told her that that was a long time ago. I said I was married at 24 and that's still really young to be getting married. I told her that I was going to a wedding this weekend for a friend who was 29 and her fiance in his 30s and that was pretty normal ages now to be getting married.

Every week I come home from weddings and think how I would do things differently. I'm not saying, would I still marry Dave. Duh! He's a keeper! Would I get married at 24 again? Would I wait until I was older and knew what I was getting into?

So, what age did you get married? What age would you like to be married by? What is the ideal age to get married?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lane Rage

Today I blew a fuse...

I arrived at the pool this afternoon around 3:30. All lanes were full and there were at least three people waiting for a lane. I had barely put my towel on the hook and turned around to wait on a lane when a woman asked me to join her (and the others were still waiting). YES!!! It pays to look like a real swimmer. I thanked her profusely, letting her know I had a very long swim ahead of me. I jumped in the lane and hugged the lane line so hard I hit it almost every time. I wanted to let her know I could share a lane. Barely 300 meters into my swim I noticed she was finished and gone. Sweet! The lane is now all mine.

Just 200 meters later, I noticed someone was in my lane and it wasn't the same woman I started with. I was still swimming down the middle of the lane so she was circle swimming with me, without my permission. I was pissed! This was the last straw!

You see, I've had some issues with Lifetime's pool policies (or lack thereof). I fully understand that everyone has the right to workout there, but if 3 or more lanes (of 5 lanes) are being taken up by people walking, I'm sorry, they have to share lanes. They're walking, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!! There are LOTS of people who have no business sharing lanes (terrible swimmers), yet it's the swimmers who always have to share lanes. And don't even get me started on the "aerobics" classes that take up multiple lanes when there is another leisure pool that could be used for those classes. Last week all five lanes were occupied--three with walkers and two with swimmers: myself and another woman. The lifeguard came over and asked me to move lanes and share with another person because my lane was going to be used for classes. When I got out, I noticed there were still three people walking and the other woman was swimming. Why was the lifeguard not asking one of the walkers to share a lane with another walker?!?!

So today when the woman decided to share my lane without asking me first (and for the record, I don't have a problem sharing a lane, JUST ASK!!!), I blew a fuse. I hopped out of the lane and went right to the lifeguard. I let her know I was pissed. Not just for this instance, but for all the other times and the crappy lack of policies at the pool.

I then waited AGAIN for another lane to open up. Just as one did, I noticed the woman was talking to the lifeguard. I don't know who initiated the conversation, but the woman left the lane, came over to me and told me I could have the lane back. She said, "when [she] was on the swim team, you shared lanes with people and split the lane." I told her she could keep the lane because I was taking this lane.

But what I really wanted to say was this....SWIM TEAM?! You're wearing a two-piece swimsuit and you're not wearing a swim cap. You're not a real swimmer!!!! And all you had to do is freakin' ask permission to share my lane!

Needless to say, I had some rage leading into the main set of my swim. And I swam FAST! Really fast. So fast, that when I finished my 3000 meters (under an hour, thankyouverymuch) the pool director came up to me and said "Wow, you were flying today. That was the fastest I've ever seen you swim and you kept great form the entire time."

The moral of the story...don't piss me off in the pool. Not only am I totally gonna rat on you, I'm going to kick your ass and swim circles around you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ironman Training has Officially Begun

Ironman training has officially begun. Yes, yes, I started training last November, but I like to think that was all training for the half Ironman. Now that that race is over, it's time to fully concentrate on Ironman. This week is no joke. My biggest week to date has been around 13 hours. This week? 14-1/2 hours. This week I will do my longest bike ride - 5 hours. This week I will do my longest swim - 3700 meters. This week I will put aside pain and tired and look at the big picture.

To be successful this week, I got organized. First, Dave and I wrote down our workouts so that we knew who had what workouts when.

Knowing that we would be HUNGRY (like the wolf) this week we stocked the refrigerator with pre-made vegetable and fruit salads, along with some Ensure for recovery.

Finally, Dave and I set three goals:
  1. Be in bed by 11:00pm every night.
  2. Get up to our alarm at 7:00am (yep, we don't get up very early). That way I can be working out by 8:00am (when I like to work out) and Dave can get to work earlier so he can get out earlier to finish his workouts by a decent time in the evening.
  3. Eat in. This will save time and money and will be more nutritious.
We've started the week off right. Let's hope the plan and organization sticks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Trip to the Top of the Arch

On our way to Kansas a week ago, Dave and I stopped in St. Louis to take a trip to the top of the arch. I had never been to St. Louis (or Missouri for that matter) and Dave hadn't been to the arch since he was a child, so we thought it would be fun. It's starting to seem a little weird (or funny) that everywhere we travel we like to go vertical. In Italy we went to the top of every single church and bell tower we saw. In Switzerland we went to the top of the mountains. In NYC, we went to the top of the Empire State Building. Etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, here's some pictures of our trip...

Posing outside the arch before going inside.

The ticket to open the door for the ride to the top.

The door to the "pod."

Inside the pod.

Dave and I right before our journey to the top.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy the ride.

We made it to the top!!!

It's pretty scary that you can see the bottom of the structure from the top.

Jumping for joy that I'm back down on the ground.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Foto Friday

The official pictures have come out from Kansas and mine are UGLY!!! Seriously. Every single one of them, except one, I am looking at my watch. I'm not even a person who does that! It just so happens that the picture was taken right after I got out of the swim, right at the start of the second run lap, and right after I crossed the finish line. I did get one decent picture.

At least in my next race (IRONMAN!!!!) Dave will be carrying a camera so I'm hoping to get more than one stinkin' picture.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ironman Kansas 70.3 2010

When I go to bed at night before a running race, even a marathon, I sleep like a baby. I'm comfortable with running races. I know my abilities. I know my competition's abilities. After nine years of competing I know what to expect. I'm just not that comfortable with triathlon yet. Although I slept pretty good the night before I was super-nervous when I woke up Sunday morning. I just didn't want to be racing: the race is too long, the expectations are high, it's going to be hard. Dave helped me settle down by showing me my favorite YouTube video:

At the athlete meeting on Saturday we were told the water temperature was 81 and that no wetsuits would be allowed. Although I prefer to swim without a wetsuit, I was a little distressed about this because the swim was a deep water start and I wanted to wear the wetsuit only to tread water easier. When we got on the bus Sunday morning to head to the race site, they told us wetsuits were allowed. Okay, game on. We set up our transitions (yep, there were two different ones) and headed down to the starting corral. My nerves eased a bit once I was into the corral. I entered the water and it was WARM, almost too warm. I lined up to the outside, which for me is safe but dumb as I like to swim right on the buoy line. Once we got started I was relaxed. I was able to swim on bubbles but also find my own space at times. I swam right on the buoy line as I hit SIX bouys with my left hand as I swam past them. The swim was crowded as I caught slower people from the waves ahead of me and got caught by people from the waves behind me. I just tried to stay relax and follow my plan. When I exited the water I wasn't really excited about my time (39:48), but I was happy I didn't waste energy as I was going to need it for the bike.

I thought of three things on the bike: (1) let the bike do the work for you - meaning, keep it in a big gear when I could and go faster while not putting a whole lot of pressure on my legs, (2) let the race come back to you - when things were difficult or when I wasn't feeling well I used this thought to remember that things will change and MY race will come back to me, and (3) it's okay, it's fine (yet another one of my favorite YouTube videos).

I actually didn't think this course was as difficult as everyone was saying. Sure it was hilly, but for every uphill there was a downhill and after mile 41 there was a long flat section that went on for over 10 miles. Until the very end, I stayed seated up the hills. I passed a lot of people; a lot of people passed me. I just found my rhythm, followed my nutrition plan, and stayed focus. As I got closer to the finish I started doing the math in my head and kept coming up with 3:14 for the bike portion. This was great as I was expecting to go between 3:15 and 3:30, but was incredibly shocked and excited when I dismounted in 3:10:20.

Onto the run. It didn't feel good, to be honest. Not my legs so much, but just overall I was feeling tired and sluggish. I started off around an 8:30 pace and that's how I stayed for the remainder of the race. This was my first Ironman-branded race so I was excited that the water stops would be more than water and Gatorade. I took that opportunity and not only took water to drink but often took water, ice, and/or a sponge to help cool me down. I was thirsty in between the water stops too so I used the ice I put down my sports bra to suck on when needed. I know, gross! But, dude, I'm an athlete. We start at gross. :) I saw Dave when I was about to start my second loop and he was entering the campground portion of the run. He said I was looking good. All I noticed about him was that he was wearing two watches. After the first turn on the second loop I had two women start running with me. Normally, I would hate this as I'm super-competitive, but it was very welcoming as I was getting tired and they helped get my spirits up. One of them read my blog (hey Spie, I can't find your blog to give you acknowledgement!!!), which is just crazy when you meet people who call you by your online name. They helped me get through a couple miles and then we all disbursed when we hit the next water stop. I really got focused in the last couple miles and found a good rhythm. My Garmin was way off from the mile markers so I had no idea how well I was really doing. The math I was doing in my head kept coming in around 5:50. As I approached the finish line and started my final kick, I was beyond ECSTATIC to see my watch say 5:46. My final run time was 1:50:52.

My official time was 5:46:52, which is a new half IM PR by nearly 23 minutes. And the best part...Chrissie Wellington gave me my finisher's medal.

Secretly my goal was to qualify for the Halfmax Championships, which I needed a 5:40 to do so. I knew it was a long shot and realistically thought I could probably only go 5:55 on this course. I missed qualifying by only 6 minutes and change, I know I can do it with the right race and course. Now the push begins for Ironman. I can't believe I only have a few more weeks to go. This week I'm going to celebrate my success in Kansas and then it's back to the grind starting next Monday. The year of triathlon continues...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

My Nemesis

When I was a gymnast, beam was my nemesis. The state meet where I won the floor exercise, I also fell off the beam twice. I was scared of beam. Seriously, it's four feet off the ground, four inches wide, and you want me to do flips on it? You're crazy! But that same summer something happened when I just stopped being scared and dominated beam. I did all my tricks with elegance and stayed on the beam. I scored my first 9 on the event and even won a meet on beam.

This weekend is my third race at the 70.3 distance. I did my first one in 2005 and my second in 2008. The time difference between those two races? Fifty nine seconds. The first race I was happy with; the second race was a little more disappointing because I should have gone faster. Both those races I did all the training on my own and did VERY minimal bike riding. This time around I'm working with a coach and have done a TON of training for all three disciplines. And, I'm hoping to really have a breakthrough this weekend.

Today we leave for Kansas and will be stopping in Effingham, IL. Where? Yeah, exactly. Friday we will arrive in Kansas and will be staying with a family friend (20th cousin, 17 times removed--just kidding!) who we have never met. We hope to stay pretty relaxed and calm on Friday and Saturday. We've been to many big events (Ironman, Boston Marathon) so we've done the big expos and now avoid them like the plague. We just want to check in, do a little warmup, turn in our bikes, then get out of the heat, sun, and away from the action. My wave on Sunday starts at 7:06 and Dave starts at 7:26. I have to worry about him catching me the whole race! I plan on being a little conservative in the swim, using my heart rate monitor to guide me on the bike, and bust out an awesome run. I've got some time goals, but I don't want to disappoint myself or others so I'm not saying them aloud. I just want to have fun, have a good performance, and represent Team Trakkers well.

I don't know if you can track me online, but if you want to and you can, I'm number 988.