Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Post About Justin Bieber?

**I hope this post at least makes you giggle.**

In the middle of wedding season and ironman training, you'd think I'd be completely overwhelmed and have not much on my mind. Actually I only have one thing on my mind:

I need a new haircut.

I have, basically, had the same style for the last five years. Here I am at my 10 year high school reunion (far right) in 2006:

In 2007 while on vacation in Switzerland:

2009 at the Boston Marathon (far left):

While at the beach with my parents in 2010:

And recently I've been growing out the bangs while the rest of the hair is long, long, LONG!!!:

I thought having my hair long would be beneficially for my training. It would be easy. It would fit into a swim cap, helmet, and hat/visor. But it's quite the opposite. It is hot. It gets tangly (although I do help myself by braiding it or wearing a double ponytail). It takes FOREVER to dry. And mostly it is bland, bland, bland. This week I cracked and cut my bangs, again, hoping to give the haircut a little variety. Honestly, it just made it exactly the same it's been for years and I kinda hate it.

Truth of the matter is, I really want to cut it. All of it. I want it to look like this:

Yep, I want to cut all of it off. According to my stylist, I have enough hair to donate, which will earn me a warm-and-fuzzy feeling along with a free haircut. ;) And she says my hair *should* be able to do this as long as I use product. I want to believe her, but somehow I feel like she's blowing smoke up my butt. You see, I've tried the super-short-hair thing before. In know, the years of experimentation.

The next series of pictures all happened during my freshman year. I tried to thing of something creative to say about these pictures, but all I can say is "OH MY GOSH!!!"

Let me say something in my defense about these unfortunate mistakes: (a) I didn't have enough money for a good haircut then and (b) I didn't have a stylist who I trust. (c) I have learned how to dress like a girl. And (d) I no longer color my hair.

But my worry is this. I don't want to wind up looking like my husband. And I don't want to look like a soccer mom. And I certainly don't want to look like this:

Or this:

**See, I told you this post would make you giggle. :)**

Monday, June 20, 2011

Running Scared

It's not very often that I look at my upcoming training and think, "Woah! That workout is scary." Generally I like the challenge and take it by the horns. But today's workout has had me scared/nervous/sick to my stomach for two weeks.

After Louisville last year, I made a list of the things I felt I needed to get to the finish line of an ironman. Coach agreed with some and disagreed with others. One we somewhat disagreed on was the need to do more/longer running off the bike and to put in more running miles. The reason I failed in running off the bike was not my inability to run, it was my nutrition/hydration or lack thereof during Louisville. We are working on the nutrition, but to heal my mental shortcomings we ARE doing more running off the bike.

Today's workout: a somewhat short trainer bike ride followed by a 16 mile run.

Did you read that correctly? SIXTEEN MILES OFF THE BIKE!!!

I started preparing for this workout yesterday. I hydrated all day, ate clean and well (mostly), checked water sources and port-a-johns throughout town, and got all my nutrition together. Then I was in bed by 9:30. Yep, the sun had barely set and I was already in bed. The alarm went off at 5:00 and I got up at 5:45. I struggle with early mornings. :) I was on the bike by 6:20. The bike went well. I kept my heart rate right where it was supposed to be and followed my ironman nutrition plan. Then it was time for the run.

Even after starting this workout I was still nervous about the run. As I was gathering my stuff for the run I was kinda gagging. I was scared about what lay ahead. I kept telling myself, "calm down. It's only a run." Soon I was out the door.

I've mentioned it a hundred times before; I liked to run by feel. Coach allows me to do this and encourages it by giving me runs that descend based on feeling and not what my Garmin says. So, I put a sticker over the Garmin and began the run. Last week had beautiful weather for my long run. It was barely 60 degrees. Today was over 70 degrees at the start of it with 100% humidity. Breathing was a little more labored, so I held back and just kept things comfortable. After 8 miles it was time to check the Garmin and begin the descending portion of my run. I had nailed those first 8 miles at a 9:09 pace. Around 8 miles is where I really feel the mojo set in and I was hitting my paces perfectly. I was following my nutrition plan and really doing well. Soon I was 12 miles in and shifting gears once again. I was on my way home and doing terrific. I don't know why I had been so scared about this workout. I was killing it! Finally I hit mile 16. I looked at the final time - 2:22 and change for a total pace of sub-9:00.

Things are really on track for a great race in a few months. I've just got to continue to keep my head in the game, attack my workouts, and follow the plan.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Due to the forecasted weather for tomorrow, I was forced to do my long bike ride today. Here's a few fun facts about today's ride.
  • I rode for 4-1/2 hours today. That's longer than any marathon I've ever run.
  • I took 5 bathroom breaks. It's sad to say but the gas station bathroom was as disgusting as any port-a-john I've used (except for the ones at Reach the Beach 2007).
  • I averaged 16.2 mph for this ride which is about 1 mph faster than last year for the same distance. What a difference a year makes!
  • While on the ride I drank 5 bottles of First Endurance sports drink and I also drank 2 bottles of water, ate 3 servings of Gu Chomps, had 4 servings of First Endurance EFS Liquid Gel, and consumed 9 salt tabs. It would have been 10 except I dropped my last one on the road. I also had 2 Advil halfway through the ride.
  • My average heart rate for the ride was 142 which is on the cusp of zone 1/zone 2.
  • The wind seemed to be coming out of every direction. Okay, that's not a fact, but it sure seemed like it. Looking out my window right now, the wind is out of the south.
  • Number of phone calls I received while on the bike? One. My mom.
  • The song that ran through my head the entire ride was Avalon's "My Jesus, I love thee."
  • Number of bugs that hit me in the face during the ride? N+1. That's for all my math geek friends. :)
I also ran 15 minutes (1.75) miles off the bike. Overall I'd say it was a great (and fun) ride/run. Next week, I'll tack on another half hour to this ride. I wonder what "facts" can come from next week's adventures?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rants and Raves

I think I'm going to start a new series on this blog called "Rants and Raves." For those of you who know me in real life, you know I can get pretty fired up about a subject. So now it's time to take it to the blog. :)

Ranting about....

...the Duggars. I'm getting myself ready this morning and I hear on the news that the Duggars have an announcement this morning. Are you kidding me? Did they not learn anything with their last baby? I'm hoping it's about their oldest child and the birth of their second child. Lo and behold, the announcement was the birth of the second Duggar grandchild. Thank God. During lunch today I'm actually watching TLC (don't ask) and a preview is shown for an upcoming Duggar special on the birth of that second grandchild. They show Anna, the daughter-in-law, laboring in a tub, fully clothed in a long skirt and shirt. Let me tell you something, Duggars, everyone knows HOW people get pregnant and we're not stupid enough to think the stork actually brought that second grandchild. The baby came out of Anna's vagina and it wasn't while she was fully clothed! What is up with these people? Does anyone care about the Duggars? I mean, come on! Frankly, I think they give Christian folks a bad rap.

Raving about...

I've mentioned before, that my goal each year is to read 12 books; one for each month of the year. Last year I failed miserably, but this year I'm just a little behind target. The book I'm currently reading, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, has been on my list of books I've wanted to read for a while. In one sentence, it's about a father's journey through his son's addiction. That's what it says on the cover, anyway. And, I freakin' love this book. It's like reading an episode of "Intervention" but getting the whole story. I can't wait to read the son's memoir about his same experience.

So, what do you think about "Rants and Raves?" Worthy of a series? Annoying? Makes you think of your own rants and raves? Comments?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"I" Week

When I pledged a sorority in college, the week you are inducted, you must go through "I" Week, initiation week, hell week. I've reached that point in my training. The half ironman is done. Recovery week is over. Welcome to "I" week/month/quarter. In this case "I" stands for ironman.

Forget about fixing your hair, wearing makeup, or wearing normal clothes for the next three months. And you better hope that house is clean now because it will not be touched again until the middle of September. It's now about hyper-organization, long hours, longer workouts, eating around the clock, sleeping any chance you get, ice baths, and emotional roller coasters.

"I" week started with a 14 mile run yesterday, a 3500 meter swim this morning, and will conclude later in the week with a 4-1/2 hour bike, with a lot of stuff between now and then. And next week, well, next week is just scary.

So if you don't hear from me in the next three months, you know where I am. I am in the pool, on the roads, hitting the trails, or sitting in a tub of ice. And I can't believe I'm going to say this...I'm giddy with excitement! This year I'm going to be inducted. I've gone through two years of hell, have ridden every roller coaster of emotions, and this year my lifelong goal of becoming an ironman will be achieved. Welcome to "I" week Mer. It's going to be a great ride.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Heart Spectating

Sunday, I got to spectate the biggest hometown triathlon, Wendy's International Triathlon and Duathlon. Dave was participating (and hopefully he'll have a blog post up soon) so I was there for him, but I saw some great things while spectating.
  • Next to Dave in transition, someone had "racked" their mountain bike with the kickstand.
  • While Dave was setting up his transition, a guy standing next to me began giving Dave advice on where he should put his bike numbers. Dave just listened intently while I wanted to scream, "He's a two time ironman finisher. He knows what the eff he's doing!"
  • The swim is in the shallow area of the beach and being that it's a mixed bag of beginners, experienced triathletes, and people just trying to survive, you see a quite the combination of wetsuits short and long and people just wearing swimsuits or their tri suits. My favorite this day was a woman wearing a lycra catsuit that zipped up the front. What the what? Where do you get something like that?
  • After Dave had taken off on the bike, I took a bathroom break and began walking to the bike dismount line. I quickly reversed course when I decided I wanted to be on the other side of transition. Well, a skateboarder decided I reversed course too quickly and ran right into me. I gave him a few choice words. And a group of kids learned some new words too. :)
  • My favorite of the day: seeing a guy come in from the bike wearing his helmet backwards. Yeah, he wore it like that the entire ride.
  • Speaking of helmet, I saw a woman wearing hers to the side, like a mortar board or like girls wore hats in the '90s. I sure hope she doesn't fall on the other side of her head.
  • At the bike dismount, I saw a guy not completely unclip and went over his handlebars with the bike falling on top of him. He rebounded quickly and didn't look like he had bad road rash on him. Lucky.
  • Finally, and I'm not sure a description does this justice without seeing it in person, I loved the very large man in spandex running capris running in several buddies at the finish line. Was he competing? Nope. Just running it in. :)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

Wow! It's been a long time since I've done a Thursday Thoughts. If you're new or don't remember what Thursday Thoughts is all about. Basically, I ask a question and you answer it in the comments. Not that difficult. Now on with it....

I hate to make decisions. Any decisions. What to have for dinner? What workouts to do? When to do my workouts? Etc., etc. When it comes to big decisions, I'm a mess. Deciding to quit gymnastics when I was a teenager just about killed me. It took a full year to make that decision. This week I had to make a big decision. It was a lose-lose situation and I've really wrestled with it. Finally last night, the decision HAD to be made. I decided not to attend my sister's upcoming wedding. I feel HORRIBLE about it! But, it's in the middle of the week and it's a destination wedding and it's in the middle of my busiest month for photo boothing. Plus, she, supposedly, is doing a celebration here for those who couldn't attend so I would definitely go to that. I don't feel good about the decision I made, but I don't think I would feel good if I had decided it the other way.

So, do you struggle with decisions? What type of decisions make you feel conflicted? What was your hardest decision to make?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Racing for Recovery Half Ironman 2011

My big A race of the year is in the books. Yesterday was the Racing for Recovery Half Ironman in Monroe, Michigan (where?) I had big goals for this race. Some I hit; some I didn't. Here's the rundown. ***Note, lots of pictures in this post***

I had a great "pre-race." Saturday morning I had a great ride and run and after getting to the site Saturday afternoon, I had a great open water swim. Dinner was eaten and then I got a full 8 hours of sleep. Yep you read that right: EIGHT FREAKIN' HOURS!!! I was prepared and calm Sunday morning.

The race was small with only about 40 women, so I decided to swim strong from the front. The men went off first, and then all the women strolled into the water. Here I am getting ready for the swim:

3,2,1, GO!!! And I was off and fast. I had worked my way out of the mess of women and by the first buoy I was catching men. By the time we were swimming across the beach, I was in a pack with two other women and drafting well. I probably touched the toes of the woman in front of me 20 times! For most of the swim I thought maybe I was in the lead pack. I could see no other pink swim caps in front of me. Before the last turn buoy, though, I got totally cock blocked when a man stood up right in front of me, causing me to stop and work around him, thus losing the two women I was swimming with. I caught back up with one of them, but she swam so close to me she pushed me into a bouy and she was off again. Finally I was around the last turn, heading for home. I got up to the swim exit, ripped off the top of my wetsuit, and looked at my watch. Hot damn! 37 minutes! That was a great swim! I saw Dave and he told me I was in the top ten women. I walked my way into transition, calming my heart rate down, and now it was time to ride.

Swim - 37:34, 1:53/100m pace, 2nd AG

T1 - 2:41

The plan for the ride was to just go by heart rate and stick to the nutrition plan. Now, I totally made an amateur move and tried something new. I got the quick release for my Garmin and the cadence/speed sensor, but the first time I really used it was for this race. I placed the Garmin on my bike before the race and made sure it was reading my heart rate. When I got to my bike after the swim, it was reading 180. Geezy Pete! Seriously?! I had walked through transition. How could my heart rate be so high? I started on the bike easy, hoping the heart rate would come down. The plan was to be in zone 2 for the whole ride. 180 was somewhere around zone 5. I did not see my heart rate drop into at least zone 3 until an hour and a half into the ride and it NEVER fell into zone 2. I wondered the entire ride if it was actually reading correctly.

Since this was my first time using my Garmin as my bike computer, I still haven't figured out what I would like to see on the Garmin while riding. One thing I wasn't seeing was average speed, which made figuring out how long I was going to be biking or if I was doing "well" difficult. Late in the ride I started doing some math and it wasn't looking good. I was hoping to be on the bike for 3 hours and it was going to go longer than that. Of course, dropping my chain TWICE didn't help my cause either. The ride was rough, my mental status was shot, and my stomach didn't feel all that great as I came into transition.

Bike - 3:11:17, 17.6 mph avg, 7th AG

T2 - 1:07

I made it through transition quickly, but I was a mess. I met Dave on the way out of transition and kind of broke down. He walked with me a bit and settled me down. Then I started running. Even with that walk I still hit the first mile mark in 8:33. Okay, maybe this won't be so bad. Just after the first mile marker was a port-a-john, and I stopped. This was the ONLY time during he entire race that I peed. Yep, I was dehydrated. With the pit stop, I hit the next mile at 8:49. Thank goodness I'm a runner. I started to get into rhythm, counting every step along the way. When I needed to walk through a water stop I did, but it looked like I was still able to run 8:30s pretty consistently. I was catching TONS of people and starting to feel better. At the halfway point I saw Dave, who reassured me I was looking good and that most people were looking really bad. It was time to go catch them.

But starting the second lap my stomach started to revolt again. I kept thinking to myself, "you only have to make it less than an hour. Just hold on one hour, stomach." I needed to make up some time so I decided not to walk the water stops anymore. It didn't matter, though, I was losing time. 8:30s became 8:40s became 8:50s. During the out and back section, I finally saw my competition ahead of me. If I wanted to get on the podium, I had to catch those chicks. And I did. I raked in three women in my age group in the last 4 miles. Here I am breaking the heart of a few men too:

Finally I saw Dave again and it was time to haul to the finish line. I wasn't going to hit some of the time goals I had established for myself, but I still had a shot at a PR. Move legs!

Run - 1:53:28, 8:40 pace, 2nd AG

Total - 5:46:05, 4th AG, 13th female

Well, it was a new PR, but barely. A whopping 47 seconds. I missed the podium in my age group by one spot (and 9 minutes!). I have mixed feelings about this race. I thought there was a better race in me, but how can I be so tough on myself with the results I posted? I am disappointed with my bike, but ecstatic about my swim. Today, I'm sore, thirsty and hungry like the wolf. And tomorrow, it's back to training. There are still bigger races to come...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Running Survey

I saw this on Melissa's blog and since I have zero creativity anymore, I thought I would use it to create a somewhat interesting blog entry. :)

What is your favorite type of cross training?
Swimming. Definitely swimming. I find it relaxing, destressing, and feels good on my sore body.

What is your favorite song to run to?
I run with an iPod, but truth be told, when returning from a run I couldn't name 3 songs I heard on the run. Olympic themed music usually pumps me up, though.

What brand of shoes do you wear?
I am currently using three different types of shoes: Saucony Omni, Saucony Fastwitch, and Avia Bolts.

Do you wear a hat when you run?
I ALWAYS wear a hat when I run. My favorite is my tattered Boston Marathon 2006 hat that my parents bought me for my birthday. It's lucky and I try to wear it for every race and every long run.

What temperature is your favorite for running?
40s or 50s. The colder the better.

Do you have any big races coming up?
Yes. That's all you need to know.

What is your favorite distance?
I like anything longer than 10 miles. I'm not fast enough for the short stuff, but I tend to get a little faster with each passing mile for the longer stuff. I will always love the marathon.

Are you a morning, noon, or evening runner?
I love to run in the morning and get it out of the way. Although, I prefer to get up when my body naturally wakes up and not when the alarm clock goes off.

Do you run solo or with a buddy?
I do all of my training solo. It gives me time to think and reflect on my own training and goals.

What is your favorite post run snack?
Chocolate Ensure when it's warm outside and hot chocolate when it's cold.

What is your favorite race?
Boston Marathon. There's nothing else like it.

Do you wear a Garmin? If not, how do you track your distance?
I only use a Garmin or heart rate monitor when I have to. Usually I use it only in practice because my workouts can get complicated with different types of intervals. When racing, I like to race by feel and not worry about pace. My workouts are designed on time, not distance, so the Garmin was never really intended to determine distance.

What is my least favorite race?
I don't know that I have a least favorite race. My least favorite distance is the 5K. Not only is it too short and too fast for what I can physically do, I think they're too expensive. $30 for 3 miles is ridiculous. I'd rather spend $30 on a half marathon. At least there I'm getting my money's worth.

Where is your favorite medal from?
Boston Marathon. Didn't I mention that already. :)

Who is your running idol?
I love Meb Keflezighi. I think he runs with a lot of heart. I also love to watch Mirinda Carfrae run. She holds nothing back.

How long have you been a runner?
I just celebrated my tenth anniversary of distance running. I did my first marathon in 2001. I ran track in high school, though, as a sprinter. The last two years have been solely devoted to triathlon.

Do you run with your wedding/engagement ring on?
No. I only wear my wedding ring on special occasions. After breaking my finger almost two years ago, and not being able to fit my ring for a whole year, I've just gotten used to naked fingers.

What is your favorite workout? tempo? long run? fartlek? repeats?
That pretty much sums up every workout. The coach and I believe in low volume with more "stuff" in each workout. Each workout is a challenge.

What is your favorite place to run?
I am lucky to live close to a country club that has miles and miles of walking trails. I usually run from my house down there. I also have a favorite ten mile route that runs from the high school, past Abercrombie, and back.

Do you use Gu?
I use all kinds of different nutrition: First Endurance sports drink (lemon lime), EFS liquid gel (vanilla), Power Gel (strawberry banana), Gu Chomps (strawberry). I buy all of mine in bulk. It's cheaper.

What do you drink to keep hydrated?
I use sports drink on the bike and water on the run.

What do you take with you on a run? Does it vary by distance?
I almost always carry water with me, even if it's just for a short distance. I carry a handheld water bottle for anything under an hour, and I'll carry a full waist waterbelt for anything over an hour. I usually carry a key too and any nutrition I need. I always wear my RoadID. On the bike I carry along a cell phone and my driver's license too.