Monday, August 29, 2011

Time and Change

Saturday Dave and I made our way down to Louisville, went to bed early, and rose early on Sunday morning to spectate our friends and teammates participating in Ironman Louisville. Although unspoken, I could tell there was a little tension in the air between us and we were thinking the same thing....What if I went down there to spectate and it was a horrible experience and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the ironman ever again?!

We got down to the swim start and the water works had started already. Yep, I was crying. Not because I was sad, but more because this was supposed to be my race. I felt cheated. I was jealous that it wasn't me out there. I wanted revenge. The tears dried up quickly and we began screaming our heads off. We saw a few of my teammates head out on the bike and then it was up to LaGrange to watch the bike portion of the day. We were three for four picking our friends out, and the fourth one threw us for a loop as she was not wearing what we expected her to wear. LaGrange was fun, but quick and then we were back down to Louisville to see the runners head out on the marathon. I was having a good time....

But then we got to the finish line area to watch the runners for the remainder of the day and that's when it happened. I could not stop crying. This is where everything went wrong last year. What I had wanted for so long didn't happen. But you know what? Spectating yesterday didn't break me. I walked away yesterday feeling rejuvenated and EXCITED to give this another try in a few days. It's my turn. I've waited long enough. I WILL do this....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spell Check

I once saw a segment on one of the morning news shows about two guys who took a cross country road trip, correcting spelling and grammatical errors along the way. Of course, they wrote a book about it. I've not read the book, but I certainly "get" these guys. Both Dave and I were raised to spell, use grammar and sentence structure correctly. And although we don't always get it right (as I'm sure I just botched that last sentence), we're totally going to correct others who can't get it right. :)

I bring you the newest addition to the blog, "Spell Check".

Today's Spell Check is courtesy of the photo/electronics department at the local Meijer store:

I 'guarantee' spell check would have highlighted that one.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Year

It's been one year since my failed attempt at Ironman Louisville. And it's 17 days until I try again at the iron distance. I've learned a lot in that year.

Dave has said to me that I was in denial about ironman last year. The first time he said that to me it just pissed me off. Pissed me off to the point that we had a huge screaming match about it in a car in a parking lot. I just don't like the word "denial". I knew exactly what I was getting into. I had spectated two ironmans, I had done three half ironmans, and I had put in the training. I was ready. Or so I thought.

Having gone through a second year of ironman training, I don't think I was ready for Louisville. I don't think I was in denial, but I certainly wasn't in the physical and mental shape I'm in now. Last year I just went through the motions. You can fake your way through a marathon. You can't do that in ironman. And my big fat DNF last year proved that. This year I have faked NOTHING! I thought I was mentally tough last year. Ha! This year my head is locked and loaded. I thought I was physically in shape last year to finish the race. This year I don't 'think', I know I'm physically capable of doing this.

It's taken me a long time to shake the demons of that DNF. A few days after the race last year I actually wrote on my Facebook page that I would have rather died than having to face the embarrassment of the DNF. It took me a long time to feel comfortable racing again. I felt like the whole world was watching to see if I was going to fail again. After I botched the National Marathon in March is when I took back control and established that I needed to do this for me and no one else. I don't care what time it takes me to finish. I don't care who's watching or following me online. I don't care that I'm representing a team or sponsors. This is all about me and finishing the biggest goal I've ever established. And because I've been able to shake off everything else, not only do I think I'm going to get the finish I ultimately deserve (Star, you will never know what that one sentence has done for me this year), I think I'm going to have a great race and experience.

This weekend Dave and I are traveling to Louisville to (a) see my aunt and (b) spectate Ironman Louisville and cheer on my friends and teammates. Although I'm hoping this experience will be my pep rally for my race, I'm also hoping to throw away those last bits of doubt I have. It's almost as though I need closure from Louisville to move on to my race. It's time to close that book and look ahead two weeks to when I WILL FINISH WHAT I STARTED!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

This week is Peak Week - the biggest week of training before the race. Technically taper starts next week, but with the hours still being around 15 next week, it doesn't quite feel like a taper. Yesterday I finished up my final long run - an hour bike ride followed by a 20 mile run which I did at an 8:47 pace. It's the quickest long run to date. I have nailed all of them - two 16s, two 18s, and one 20 miler. I have used each of my long rides and runs as dress rehearsals. I once heard that "Perfect practice makes perfect" and that's what I've tried to emulate during my training. I have worn what I'm going to wear in the race. I have practiced my nutrition and hydration as I'm going to do in the race. I have worked on my mental stability as I'm going to need in the race. With a mere three and a half weeks to go, here's what I've nailed down.

I have swam more open water this year than in years past training for triathlon. I am feeling calm and relaxed in open water now. I hope to use that zen in the race to keep myself calm and remember there's a lot more race to go. Depending on the water temperature (I heard it was warm on the news) I plan on wearing my long sleeved TYR Hurricane Cat5 wetsuit. If it's too warm for that, I've got a no sleeved wetsuit or a swim skin (although not WTC legal, I think it can still be used under USAT rules). Otherwise I'll just swim sans wetsuit. I'm allergic to my wetsuits and my swim skin chafes me badly, so I have no problem swimming without. I did it in Louisville, I can do it again. I plan on wearing my team tri top, my bike shorts, and my calf sleeves underneath my wetsuit. My Garmin will be on my arm as will my watch. (Why both? More on this in a minute.)

My goal is to minimize time in transition. Yes I want to make sure I get everything I need, but why waste time in transition? Even though the goal is to finish, it's still a race and I still want to be competitive. In T1 I will get out of that wetsuit, put on my socks and bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. I will spritz on a little sunscreen and use a little chamois cream. Hydration and nutrition will already be on my bike.

So you asked, why wear both a watch and a Garmin? Because that's how I've been training for the bike. The Garmin will go on my bike and used as a bike computer. I will be tracking speed, average speed, rpms, and most importantly, heart rate. The watch on my arm will be used to determine when to take salt tabs, eat, and hydrate. The type-A+ personality that I am has this crazy schedule where I drink every five minutes, eat every thirty minutes, and take a salt tab every thirty minutes. It's not complicated but it keeps my mind fresh because I'm always thinking of the next time I must eat or drink (along with constantly checking my heart rate). I will be using the Gatorade on course. I have trained with Gatorade all summer. I will be supplementing water as needed. I will be using a combination of strawberry Gu Chomps and vanilla Gu based on what time it is. My plan is very intricate, but it has worked for me.

I actually think my T2 is going to take longer than T1 which is opposite than most people. As I mentioned in the swim section above, I will be wearing bike shorts. Good for people who can do the full 112 miles in a pair of tri shorts. I am not one of those people. In T2, I will change into my tri shorts and change my socks to running socks. I will be wearing my lucky Boston Marathon ball cap. I will take the watch off my arm and will be using my Garmin to finish out the race. I will spritz myself with a little more sunscreen and spritz myself with some TriSlide for my underarms and chest. I will be wearing my water belt. I will take off my heart rate chest strap. And most importantly I will put on my garage sale sticker over my Garmin. What????

I have debated and debated about the water belt. Frankly, I don't want to wear it. There are water stations, for crying out loud! But I've gotten used to it. It doesn't move and I don't really notice it's there. It will allow me to bypass the aid stations and keep to the routine that has worked for me. It also has a large pouch on it that will allow me to carry my gels and salt tabs. I don't like, though, that I will have to stop and fill it up probably three times and that I will probably have to stop and walk to get out the gels and salt tabs and take them. But pretty much everyone walks through the aid stations to do that so I'm okay with that. Again, that's how I've practiced. I will be taking a gel and salt tab every four miles starting at the two mile mark. So why the sticker??? I like to run by feel. I know what the different heart rate zones feel like without ever looking at them. I know how to go hard and when to back off. With years and years of running under my belt, I have become quite good at understanding pace. If I get wrapped up with what the Garmin says it will drive me insane. I plan on keeping that sticker on for a good 10-13 miles and maybe for the whole marathon. So, as my husband says, why even wear the Garmin? Well, that's a good question and something I've been wrestling with. But because I will have started my Garmin and used the multisport function since the beginning of the race, I'd like to keep it on so I at least have a record of my race.

Most importantly, I am going to STICK TO THE PLAN!!!! I am going to remember to smile a lot and to have fun. And hopefully have the day I've been dreaming of and practicing for.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Product Giveway Winner (and other stuff)

Sorry I'm a day late on this. If you knew what kind of crazy week I'm having....

There were all of five entries into the ClipE product giveway. To not complicate matters, I numbered them one through five and then rolled a dice (die?) Drumroll please! And the winner is Tri Like Mary. Please contact me through my profile page, send me your address, and I'll get the ClipE in the mail to you this week.

Now on to other things...

Last week I did something stupid and upgraded the software on my Garmin 310XT. I did this because I saw there was now a way to track open water swimming while wearing the Garmin on the wrist. The problem was, I had already downloaded the newest software update when I read the reviews that the "swim" function under "other" really wasn't all that accurate. Of course, all of my data was wiped clean so I had to reprogram and reset everything, but I'm finding things about the update that I really don't like. For example, this morning I had a 2:45 run on the schedule that had four timed steps in it, but when I was done with that time, I decided I wanted to go on and finish 20 miles instead of whatever mileage I had done in two hours and 45 minutes. The old software would continue counting based on wherever you finished. So I had done about 18.75 miles in that 2:45 and if I had continued the time, it would have told me when I hit 19 miles. Today it started the mileage over at 2:45 and gave me "step #5" as the next full mile. I've also had problems with it picking up an automatic wheel size while riding so it would have it programmed for riding on the trainer (something I do every week). And I do not like the way that it downloads multiple workouts in one day to Garmin Training Center as one workout with multiple parts. How do I separate those workouts so I can upload them separately into Training Peaks for my coach?

If you have any answers to above, I could really use your help. Basically, though, I want to reset the Garmin so it goes back to the software I had when I bought my Garmin (it's over a year old). Is there any way to do that? Help please!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What a Night!

I rarely watch the local news, but last night I happened to catch it after the finale of "So You Think You Can Dance." The first story was a breaking news story about a murder that had two crime scenes. One was where the body was found in a neighboring town and one was where the shooting occurred, which happened to be in a neighborhood across the street from where we live (less than a mile away). They said the suspect was on the run and was headed to North Carolina. They gave his car make and model and his license plate. The news also said another person was wanted for questioning and that he had also fled but they were looking for him. That second person was on the loose around here and you could hear the police helicopter overhead. A half hour later, as we were still watching the news, that second person had been found and had been apprehended. I went to bed feeling okay.

Around 2:30-2:40am I was awoken by sirens. We hear a lot of sirens around here as we live between police substations and two firehouses. But this was different. Those sirens were close. I got up and looked out the window to see six police cars FLY down our neighborhood street along with an unmarked car behind them. For the next, like 20+ minutes, there were sirens and sirens and sirens. And the helicopter was back and it was close.

I woke Dave up. He was already awake. I was scared out of my mind. THIS MURDERER WAS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!!! (This is what I thought. All of this was going down less than a mile away) I was in full panic mode. I was cold and shaking and I thought I was going to throw up. For the next half hour to 45 minutes we just laid there listening to what was happening. I really had to go to the bathroom but I didn't want to get up or make any noise or turn on the lights and draw attention to our house.

Around 3:30 I asked Dave if there would be a breaking news story on any of the local news' websites. We both grabbed our phones and started searching. We didn't find anything that had been updated since 2:15am, but the stories gave a little more details. Turns out the victim and suspect were recent graduates of the local high school. It was the suspect's girlfriend who had been murdered. The police had been called just one day earlier in a domestic dispute between the two. Dave read the name of the suspect and it hit me. I knew that kid (man - he's 18). I had coached him and his twin brother. And it was probably his twin brother who had been the one who ran and was apprehended. My heart sank. He was a good kid. What happened?

He had been calling family and friends from his cell phone while driving around town. The police had been pinging his phone and had spotted him around 2:00am just down street from here. They chased him just a few miles, to basically where all this started, and that's when we heard all the sirens.

Finally around 4:00am (yes, still awake), I found an article that said the suspect had been killed in a police involved shooting. I felt better that I could go back to sleep, but I did not feel good about what had happened. The local news came on at 4:30 and I got up to watch it. It didn't offer a whole lot of information. They didn't even say if he had killed himself or if the police had killed him. The 5:00am news was on the scene, which was not where they said it was on all the news sites, still had little information. Finally around 5:30am, I crawled back into bed.

At 8:30am the police helicopter was back overhead. We read an article that said the suspect had been killed by the police. I guess five officers including SWAT officers shot at him as he drew his gun when he was stopped. So sad. So very sad.

A few months ago there was a huge drug bust just a few houses from us. And now a murder less than a mile. I thought I lived on the safe side of town?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Decision Made

Man, I hate making decisions. Today I made an extremely difficult decision for myself. I was feeling a lot of pressure about it, and I was up against a deadline, and I just had to do it.

I decided not to return to Team Trakkers/Rev3 in 2012.

I'll probably kick myself for that decision as this may be the best opportunity that ever comes around for me as an athlete, but in my heart I know I made the right decision. Here's why...

I really dislike Twitter. I just don't get it. Facebook I get. You actually know the people on Facebook, they're real-life people, so when you make a statement or respond to somebody, you feel like you're having a conversation with them or actually contributing. Twitter moves much quicker than that. To me, it feels like any status you put out there is interrupting somebody's conversation with somebody else. Maybe I'm just not on it enough. And yet, that's where most of my teammates hang out. And Twitter is the reason I feel like not part of this team anymore. Last year I felt warm and accepted and this year I just feel on the outside. I just don't have the time to keep up with all the social media and I don't want to either. I haven't been on Twitter in months and I don't envision myself logging in again.

And then there's the sponsors. I have been on other sponsored teams where you are basically a billboard for that sponsor. This has not been like that. Our sponsors treat us really well. We get great gear, gadgets, products, and discounts. I really couldn't ask for more. But, I wouldn't define myself as a typical triathlete either. I am not a gearhead. Maybe I spent too many years as a runner before jumping in the triathlon game, but I was pretty set in my ways with what I liked before I switched to tris. I have worn the same running shoes (brand and model) for like 4 or 5 years now. I have found nutrition that works for me. I have been a swimmer all my life and like what I use to remove chlorine from my hair. And although I have sponsors that provide me these things, I'm not using any of it. I like what I like. And I'd like to tell others what I like and why, a la Steve in a Speedo, but I can't. I will never be a pro and will never get to choose my sponsors, but I am willing to spend my own money on good products that work for me and I want to be able to give those products props for being good.

Finally, and the most important reason why I'm not returning, is that after The Big One!!! in a few weeks I have one more race on the schedule in January and then that's it. I don't intend to put together a race schedule for 2012. I'm not sure I'll even do any races at all. Sure, I'm going to keep swimming and biking and running and getting fit, but there WILL NOT be an ironman or even a half ironman on the schedule. I'm even of thinking of switching from the marathon to the half marathon in January. I want to get some of my speed back and just have fun at some of the local races. I will continue to support Rev3 as I believe in Charlie and his company, but I can't travel all over the place to race or volunteer. Financially, it's just not possible. Plus I have a business to run and it's season is the same as racing season.

I have had a great time being part of this team. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met amazing people and have been given opportunities that I'm not worthy of. It's time to move on and pursue other interests. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Carole, Charlie, and my teammates for letting me be part of the ride.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Product Review and Giveway

My name is Meredith and yes, I run with an iPod.

A few weeks ago I was contacted to try out the ClipE. What's a ClipE? It's a little button that holds your earbuds in place and clips onto your clothing and thus holds your iPod wires in place. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about this product when I received it. I mean, I had already figured out a way to not get all tangled up in my wires. I simply snaked them through my sports bra and shirt and clipped the iPod to my shorts. But, I was surprised when I tried the ClipE that it actually enhanced and improved the snaking method I was already using.

What I liked about it is that it held the cords that ran from the top of my sports bra to my ears in place, which meant the cords didn't slide around anywhere and the cords didn't tug from my ears. It was easy to connect my cords inside the button and easily attached to my clothing. I've used it on several different shirts and sports bras.

What I found to be difficult about it is when I tried to use it in a hurry (transitioning from bike to run inside my own house) the cords would pop out while trying to attach the ClipE to my clothing quickly. And yes, I would leave the ClipE just attached to the iPod cords all the time. My husband, however, seemed to have no trouble with this. He also has A LOT more patience than I do.

When I ran in only a sports bra during those weeks of scorching heat was to have the ClipE packaged in twos so that I could attach one at the top of my sports bra to hold my earbuds in place and one on my shorts to pull the wires taut against my body. I am a girl and my arms do cross my body and I have been known to pull the wires from my ears while running if they're not hidden.

And now the fun part....

I have an extra ClipE to give away to one lucky reader of this blog. I don't want to complicate things by making you follow on Facebook or Twitter for extra entries. That confuses me! So, just leave a comment on this blog entry and you are automatically entered into the drawing. The winner will be drawn at random. You have until Sunday August 14th at midnight to enter and then I'll announce the winner on Monday August 15th.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Triathlon for Hope 2011

I had signed up for an "olympic" triathlon for today (I put olympic in quotes as it was not an official Olympic distance). On my schedule from Coach it said, "if you're not 100%, skip the race." Well, I haven't felt 100% since ironman training started, but I had already paid for this race, so I was going to do it. On Saturday we went up to the race start to do a practice swimbikerun. I had a great swim, but once I got on my bike my legs just wouldn't move. With all the miles I've put on my legs in the last couple of weeks, they just said no. I thought and thought about it, but I knew if I did the olympic I may coming in dead effing last. When I woke up Sunday morning, I was so nervous about it that I was sick to my stomach and really didn't want to do the longer race. As we picked up our race packets I inquired about switching races. There was a sprint which was a 750m swim, 12 mile bike, and 5K run and there was a women's only sprint that was a 400m swim, 12 mile bike, and 2 mile run. I switched to the women's sprint. Sucker!

The swim was a straight shot from one end of the beach to the other. Because it's a beginner-friendly race, walking the swim is okay, so they gave us the choice of swimming between the buoys if you were a strong swimmer or swim/walk on the right side of the buoys if you were not such a strong swimmer. There were three waves for the race. Mine was 30-39 and all relays. There were all of about three of us that lined up between the buoys. 3-2-1-go and we're off. The girl to my left took off fast and I tried to stay on her toes. That lasted about three strokes and then I was all alone. There was NOBODY swimming in my wave. Not even halfway through the swim, I had already caught the walking swimmers from the previous wave. It was hard to keep a straight line as the buoys were not in a straight line and you had to play dodge 'em with all the walking swimmers. I came out of the water around 8:45ish. Dave yelled to me that I was second in my wave. I already knew that, but it was good to know what I was chasing.

Transition was one of the quickest ones I've had onto the bike and I was off.

The stiffness and tiredness in my legs from weeks and weeks of training were still there on the bike, but I just went with it. I couldn't get my speed up to where it should be for a sprint race, but I was doing well against the field and that's all that matters. I played cat and mouse with a couple women for a while, but they were friendly so I was friendly (if you know me, you'd understand that statement) and just had fun. On the back half of the course I could see the police escort and could count back and see I was the sixth biker. And, I was not in the first wave, so I knew I was doing well. I did my best to have a good bike, but it was what it was and I'm okay with that. I'm training for ironman not sprints, so my speed is just not there. I finished the bike course around 40 minutes and according to my Garmin was around an 18.6 mph average. Honestly, that's the best average I've ever had in a race, but what I should be able to do is better. And I was doing well against the field.

Transition two was a whopping 53 seconds (word!!!) and I was chasing those chicks ahead of me from the bike. I think I might have already passed half of them in transition.

The run was uphill in the gravel to the dam, halfway across the dam, and then back down the same path. Still no speed in the legs. In fact, I've run marathons at a faster pace than what I averaged on this two mile run today. It didn't matter though as I passed everyone ahead of me. As I came into the finish, I was announced that I was the first finisher. Of course, I had my number upside down and inside out, so they didn't call my name, but pretty cool to be the first finisher. I was sure I was going to have some hot-shot 20 year old come out to beat me.

But you know what? It didn't happen. I freakin' won this race today. I had absolutely no business winning the race, but a win is a win and I'll take it.

Next race....THE BIG ONE!!!!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Time in the saddle, Time in my head

I do about 95% of my training all by myself. Why? Because of my ability to workout during the day, because I have an individual training plan from a coach, because I have my own goals, because I suck on the bike, etc., etc. Yesterday I biked the full 112 miles, which left me with nearly seven hours to be inside my own head.

I have been battling depression for about 17 years. It has its peaks and valleys. I used to see a professional about it, but since I refuse to be medicated, I find that going to a shrink is a waste of time. So, I just deal and hope it passes. My current mental state has been a tidal wave of emotions. It's been a rough couple of months. I don't know if it's the wear of all my training or my current lot in life, but yesterday on my bike I decided I needed to make a few changes.

'They' say that money doesn't buy happiness. I think that's crap. The people who said that have never had to live on one income in a tough economy. I'm not sure I believe in tough economy. I think you have to be smart (like, if you pay off your credit card every month it doesn't matter what the interest rate is on it) and live within your means. The difficulty I've had is that when Dave and I got married we had established a lifestyle, a way of life that has drastically had to change when I quit my job and started my own business. And I miss my old lifestyle. I'm tired of hearing how his parents are on vacation for the billionth time this year or how my parents are trying to buy their third property or if I have to read one more status update on Facebook about how much fun so-and-so is having on her vacation, I might just hurt something or myself.

I've been thinking a lot about my business and where to go from here. We have brainstormed our brains out and we just think, currently, we've maxed out our options. And the current state things are in cause me a lot of stress - too much stress for the pennies I am getting paid or not getting paid, as it is. I really do want to continue the business, but I think some changes are in order. Dave and I have talked extensively about it and I think it's time to make a decision before we dig our grave. Having spent so much time thinking about it yesterday, in my head, the decision is made. No formal announcement needed, we will just be handling things differently starting in 2012.

With that decision made the question becomes, will we still be having enough income or getting more income from the business to at least continue our way of life as it currently is and how do we begin saving money to come closer to the lifestyle we were living? I've thought a lot about going back to work - not as an engineer, but as "just an employee." I would love to work a job where I clock in and out and take nothing home with me (troubles, work, etc.). I know, though, I will absolutely hate this. Not only because I've been my own boss for three years, but because I will be bored out of my freakin' mind and will continue to waste my intelligence and talent. I've struggled a lot with giving up being an engineer. I let it define me and I can't seem to shake that. I hate every day that I am sitting at home rotting my brain while watching the Kardashians. Is the money of going back to work enough to over power the freedom that I've gained? My inner struggle continues...

Working from home is lonely. Really, deep, dark lonely. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs keep me entertained. What I have learned, however, is that they give shy girls like myself empowerment, yet I'm only realizing now they're not real life. The "friends" I have made online are not real and never will be my real friends. Having done endurance sports for the last 10 years, while my real-life friends have gone on to create families, has put a Grand Canyon-sized distance between us. I have absolutely nothing in common with anyone anymore. So once THE BIG ONE!!! is over in a few weeks, my lonely cave will grow in size and darkness. It's hard to imagine that things could be worse than it already is, but I'm also preparing myself for what happens after ironman. What will life be like?

I use my blog a lot to hide from the real person I am. I think a lot of bloggers do that. They can create a whole new person online and become the person they've always wanted to be. I've been blogging now for seven years and that's exactly what I've done. And then when people meet you they think they know exactly who they're getting and that's not me at all. I'm so sick of reading bull shit blog posts! I'm so sick of writing bull shit blog posts!

This is me. Stripped to the core. Fully exposed.