Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miscellany for Thursday

Good grief I've been busy. And I really don't have anything interesting to say. My world has been workout, eat, sleep, workout, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat. Pretty boring. Here's a few little tidbits into my last week:

  • Our Team Trakkers gear has started arriving. Last week I got my new TYR Hurricane 5 wetsuit and team kit. I'm digging the new design and since I've been working on my getting my body bangin' the last several months, I don't even mind that it's a tiny little thing.

  • I have signed up for two more races this week: a half marathon and a half Ironman. That's all you need to know. :)
  • I have been attending the same weight lifting class on and off for the last several years. During that time, it's been the same instructor teaching the class. A few weeks ago she decided not to teach the class any more. For a few weeks we had different instructors and one I really liked who actually teaches the class on a different day. Yesterday her class was AWESOME!!! She did such unique exercises. Today I'm sore, but really happy about it.
  • It may be just me, but I am so excited about the royal wedding tomorrow. Of course, I work in the wedding industry and love all things wedding. I will not, however, be getting up at the crack of dawn to watch it. I will be using my DVR and watching it at a more normal hour.
  • Today I got an email that the iPhone 4 is being released in white. Gosh darn it! I have waited for over a year for the white one to come out. Dave and I have already decided to wait for the next generation of the iPhone to come out, but with my broken vibrate function and a cracked screen on my phone, I don't know how much longer I'm going to wait.
  • I'm in the middle of an epic training week. It seems early in the season to be having such a big week. So....I've got to get out the door to train. Catch ya later!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Deposits in the Bank

I have a knack for memorizing song lyrics. They come into my brain and never leave. Seriously, if we went to a Garth Brooks concert right now, I would be able to sing every word to every song he sang onstage. If I could harness this memorization skill in other areas, I'd be a genius! (Actually, it's served me very well at remembering every bride and every wedding I've worked with.) Anyway, one of the song lyrics that seems to be always in my head is by Mary Chapin Carpenter: "The stars are stacked against you, girl, get back in bed."

And that's how I felt leading into my long ride this week.

It's been raining around here. Not a little rain, like, my sump pump has been running around the clock the whole daggone month, kind of rain. Miraculously there was no rain yesterday so I knew I HAD to get in my weekly long bike ride. Things were in motion long before this ride, though, that had the cards stacked against me. See, I'm not recovering very well from my fall back in February. Although I'm not in pain, per se, my back, butt, and left hamstring have been in a constant state of uncomfortableness. When I woke up yesterday, my back felt all tweaked. Sure, sitting in aero for over three hours sounded like a great idea to fix that! Not only did I wake up to back pain, I woke up to 40 degree temperatures. Having trained for Ironman Louisville last year, I don't exactly have any colder weather riding clothing. So I waited until the afternoon to start this workout and still wore multiple layers including my running tights (yep, that's the best I got) and Dave's booties. Once I drove myself to where I would be biking, and started biking, the fantastic day got so much better. My bike computer wasn't working (I hate that damn thing--it works about 20% of the time), my HRM was reading wrong, and the trails and roads were a wreck.

Forty-five minutes of this nonsense and I was ready to call it a day. I was back at my car, calling Dave, and ready to pack it in. But, I also knew if I wanted to work on my mental toughness I had to continue the workout. The next two and a half hours of the workout would be on a rolling course. Mental toughness here we come.

I started out and it was more of the same except this time I was being run off the road by the wind and other cars. I enjoy sitting in aero to ride my bike, but this entire day would be spent sitting up, death-gripping my handlebars, and surviving. The next couple miles were torturous. I finally had to say aloud, "Settle down, Meredith. You can do this." And then I hit a zone. I was doing loops that included the part of the course from the 15 miler I ran in February. Each loop took me about 45 minutes. That would mean three loops and a little more. I could do that. I settled in, found my mojo, concentrated on nothing except nutrition and made it happen. Before I knew it, my three hour and 15 minute workout was done and I was ready to start my run.

Did I mention before my heart rate was reading erratically? It was. It has been. It's a pain in the butt. I've read on the website that the battery life is supposed to be 4 years with 1 hour use per day, but I beg to differ. When I wore my Timex, when the HR read high it was time to change the battery. Guess I'll have to give that a try with the Garmin. Anyway, my run off the bike was supposed to be heart rate based. Obviously, that plan was out the window. So I went on pace based on what those heart rates would be (yeah, I've been doing this a long time). It was a great run. Dude, I'm super-excited about the season!

A friend left me a note before Ironman last year that said "training's like money in the bank." Today's ride and run were not ideal. I fought many physical conditions along with my mental shortcomings. But, I got it done and made some serious deposits in my training bank.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Miami University Student Foundation Triathlon 2011

What a better way to celebrate a birthday than to do a race, right? Friday night Dave and I traveled to Oxford, Ohio (otherwise known as the middle of nowhere) to race the Miami University Student Foundation Triathlon. Our 2-1/2 hour trip turned into something more like four hours after a stop for dinner and a detour after a terrible car accident and we got to registration check-in 5 minutes before it closed at 10:00pm. Then we found our hotel, checked in, got our stuff ready for the race, and then fell asleep. It would be an early wake up call.

4:45am we were up, doing our thing, eating breakfast, and we were out the door at 5:30. We're getting better at this. We set up our transition, got in one last bathroom break, and headed to the pool for warm-ups. It was going to be a good day.

Perfect socks to celebrate my birthday race.

I absolutely freakin' loved this swim! The swim was done at the student recreation center in a 50m pool. When we entered the race, we input our predicted swim time, and then were seeded based on that. Then waves of 50 were called down to the swim deck where we were sent off one person at a time every three seconds. You would swim down one lane, push off the wall and under the lane line to the next lane, and swim back down the next lane. At the end of 8 lanes, you had swam 400m, you pushed yourself out of the pool and ran to transition.

My number was 159 so I was, essentially, in the fourth wave. I waited in line and then it was my turn to cross the timing mat, run around the end of the pool, and jump on in. I took off pretty fast, but the guy behind me caught me in the first 50 meters. Then he decided to swim the exact same pace as me. So, I drafted off of him. I got right on his toes. I mean RIGHT on his toes. I even touched them some times. This may be the first time I have successfully drafted in a swim. At some point, though, I needed to go faster than he was going so I tried to get around him. But, just like open water swimming, another dude was on my other side and I was totally boxed in. I did like any good, offensive swimmer would do, at the end of the lane as I was pushing off, I totally cut him off and got in front of him. Then I dashed to the finish line. I wiggled my way out of the water and sprinted my way into transition.

Time - 7:55, 3/12 AG

I am totally over-the-moon about my swim. I have been working hard in the pool and it's been paying off. Swimming is quickly becoming my favorite thing about triathlon.

When we arrived to the race in the morning, the weather was better than I expected. It was around 55 degrees and it wasn't raining. That wasn't at all what the weather was predicted! But as we were waiting in the natatorium for the swim, I noticed that the temperature was dropping. And when I exited the swim and ran outside, not only had it gotten cold, it was now raining. Awesome. I took the time, or I should say I tried to hurry, and put on a long sleeved shirt for the remainder of the race. It was a struggle and a long transition, but worthwhile as it would be cold out on the bike. The bike was rolling. I would spin my way up a long hill passing people as I went, and then would descend quickly while getting passed by the big dudes on the way down. That's how the whole bike went for the whole 20K.

Time - 47:20, 15.8mph, 4/12 AG

Did you see that? Fourth fastest in my age group? What the what? Sure, it wasn't "fast" in terms of mphs, but I have been on that bike working hard to become a better biker all winter. It's paying off and I'm excited to see how the rest of the season will play out.

Let me just brag about my T2 for a second. I dismounted that bike, ran it in quickly, tore off my helmet and shoes, grabbed my hat, stepped into my running shoes and was out of there in 1:00 flat. Only one other girl in my age group beat me in T2 and she only did that by 1 second. Thankyouverymuch!

Generally, I love the run portion of triathlon. I get to fly. I get to pass people. I feel most comfortable. Not today. I was suffering. I got off the bike and I was freezing. FREEEEEEZING!!! I could not feel my feet and didn't the entire run. And it was pouring rain for the run. I didn't feel like I was working hard yet my breathing was erratic. At one point I tried to breath in through my nose and my nostrils closed in on themselves. This made drinking at a water stop impossible. By the end of the run I got a stitch under my ribs so badly I had to stop twice and try to stretch it out. This was the only time of the day where I said aloud, "I'm not having very much fun." What an ugly run.

Time - 24:19, 7:49/mile, 3/12 age group

Because the weather was terrible, the race officials cancelled the awards ceremony. This allowed Dave and I to cash in our free breakfast where we were staying and we headed home shortly after. It was a good day for both of us. I finished third in my age group and Dave had a terrific run with a 21:59. Despite the bad weather, it was a fun way to celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Under Pressure

After my meltdown at the National Marathon, I've been rethinking how I want to go about my season. I can't exactly "turn off" but I can certainly tune out and retool.

I've been thinking back on my days as a youth athlete and as a student. And I figured out, I've never done very well under pressure. I was always good at homework, but cracked when it was time for a test. My final couple of quarters in college was a nightmare. I had a final project that was not going well and if I failed, there would be no graduation. I didn't eat for, like, a month. I itched all over from the inside out, yet there was nothing medically wrong with me.

I don't handle pressure very well.

In the last couple of years with the growth of social media, my presence online has grown too. This blog became something my family checked in on to having many, many followers and many, many lurkers. I've got a bajillion friends on Facebook, all of whom I "know" and then another bajillion followers on Twitter, most of whom I have no idea who they are. Throw into that being on a competitive team with sponsors and my anxiety level is through the roof. I feel like I have to be on all the time.

I can't take that kind of pressure.

So I've needed to change some things. 2011 is about finishing what I started. Let me repeat that: Finishing what I started. I'm not doing any races because my team, my sponsors, my coach, my husband, etc. want me to. This is all for me. I have tweaked my racing schedule but the only people who know that are me, my coach, and Dave. My 2011 schedule has been taken down from this blog. And I'm not going to talk about upcoming races on Facebook or Twitter. The only time I will talk about a race will be after it happens. I want to feel a little more anonymous when I show up for a race.

I want to love racing again. I want to have fun with my racing. I want to feel like I'm racing for me. I want to finish what I started.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mer, where you been?

I know, I know. I haven't posted anything in a week. That's because last week I was dog sitting. Dog sitting a 12 week old puppy, which meant going outside a THOUSAND times a day. It also meant extreme jealousy in our house by our dog. Which means, it was extremely loud barking, nonstop, ALL.DAMN.DAY! I got nothing done last week.

This is what I'm talking about. I call this "Dog Mania."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon 2011

Okay, so, I didn't do the local marathon. I didn't want to. I wanted to have fun, race hard, and get some experience in the tri game for the upcoming season. Luckily Dave and I were still able to sign up for the indoor triathlon held at our gym, Lifetime Fitness. We would be able to get up at a good hour (6:00), start at a normal time (8:00) and be home before lunch (10:00). That's the kind of race I like.

Body marking was done on our hands. That's my wave, 4, and my race number (36).

The format of the race was this: 10 minute swim, 10 minute transition, 30 minute bike (on spin bikes), 5 minute transition, 20 minute run (on treadmill). The race was scored based on the number of the people in the race. If you won the swim, swam the most number of laps, then you got the most points. So if there were 80 people and you won the swim, you got 80 points for the swim. Although there were no race awards or actual winners, the person with the most points technically wins.

Dave and I swim together all the time and almost always share a lane. So it was a no brainer who I wanted to share a lane with during the race. Dave's been doing almost all run training, while I've been tri training. I thought I might have an advantage on him in the pool. I have been swimming really well. The start whistle blew and we were off. Side by side. I started fast and intended to stay that way. After all, it was only a 10 minute swim. Surely I can go hard for 10 minutes. And I did. I swam until I thought I was going to puke. I checked my watch after 300 meters and I was under 5 minutes. My goal was 600 meters (~1:40/100m pace) so I was right on track. Shoot! Maybe I could even eek out 625 meters. Every time I pushed, Dave answered. We swam side by side the entire swim. When the final whistle blew we had both done 600 meters. I'm really happy with that. The swimming training is paying off.

See? Really excited about my swim.

Even though a 10 minute transition sounds like a long time, it is not. I got changed, grabbed my stuff, filled my water bottle, and only gave myself about 1 minute to get my bike set. Luckily whoever was helping me did a pretty good job of setting it up. The only thing I adjusted was my seat; I needed it a little higher. I have to admit, I am not a big fan of spinning bikes. My lady bits hurt right from the get-go! Nor am I a big fan of spinning. The way this was set up was you had to ride with high rpms to produce many miles. The faster you spun your legs, the further you went. It was ridiculous! I was averaging 43 mph and was barely breathing hard. I was holding conversations with the guy beside me, with the spin instructor, and Dave and I were taking pictures. In the end I (should have) biked 21.5 miles. Yeah, not even close to reality.

Another thumbs up!

Finally we were on to the run. There were 5 minutes between the bike and the run and by the time I got to the treadmill there were only three minutes to go. Problem was, I had to go to the bathroom. While I have no problem peeing on myself during most races (yeah, I just went there), I didn't think it was going to be socially acceptable in an indoor race. Our gym doesn't have a bathroom on the second floor, so I raced downstairs, peed as fast as I could, and made it upstairs as they were calling 3-2-1 start. I jumped on my treadmill only to realize that I didn't have my water bottle. It was behind me sitting on the floor. Crap! I jumped off the treadmill, grabbed it, and jumped right back on. I guess they could have disqualified me, but seriously, it was less than 5 seconds that I was off my treadmill. Dave and I were running a tight race between the two of us. It was all coming down to the run. We had joked beforehand that whoever turned up his/her speed on the treadmill, the other person would follow suit. And that's exactly how it went. One minute into the run and Dave was already turning up his treadmill to a 7:50 pace. I hit my button and did the same. Another minute in and we're down to 7:45 pace. And again down to 7:40 only 3 minutes into the race. Dave was pushing me and I was going to push back. Ten minutes into the race and I'm cranking somewhere in the 7:20-7:30 range. Dave reaches for his buttons and I thought, you have got to be kidding me. How fast are we going to go?! But, he backed off his pace and I asked him what was wrong. He had gotten a side stitch and he couldn't hold the pace anymore. I felt bad, but this is a race, and I was going to stick with my fast pace. In the last five minutes of the run I really cranked it up, pulling my pace down to a 6:58. I was on the threshold of crazy and puking. The final whistle blew and I had done 2.65 miles in the 20 minutes for a 7:32 overall pace.

Done. Sweaty and happy.

In the end, I got screwed in the results. I should have gone, at least, 21.5 miles on the bike, but they didn't reset my odometer, so they just guessed on my mileage. Instead of 21.5, they gave me 20 miles. My score for the bike should have been 45 points but instead I got 22 points. That's a BIG difference. I finished 5th overall female, but I should have been second. Sucks. Oh well. I think this was a positive experience and I feel good with the way my body and mind responded. I was the 3rd fastest swimmer (tie) and the 8th fastest runner and that's for both men and women. I have to admit I'm a little disappointed with the results, but I also know they mean nothing. There are real races on the horizon and I'm really excited for what's to come.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

National Half Marathon 2011

Because of the upcoming triathlon season, I was given a small window of opportunity to have a running season. Winter isn't exactly a great time to have a running season in Ohio, but I thought choosing a marathon a little further south at the end of March would be perfect. There were a few things I didn't take into account though: (1) it could still be very cold and (2) the trees might be in bloom and allergies could be bad.

When we arrived in Baltimore on Thursday I was already feeling a little "off." I was stuffy and my throat seemed drier than usual. I also had a pain in my chest that has been off and on for four years. I chalked it all up to being dehydrated from flying. But it continued the next day when we traveled to Washington. I didn't feel sick, but didn't feel like me either. Dave registered for the half marathon and I picked up my race packet. We made it to our hotel, which was amazing, and headed to the grocery store to pick up some fixings for dinner. Yes, we had a full kitchen in our hotel room.

To my surprise, I was really relaxed about this race. I let everyone else hype it, but I was calm and realistic. I knew there would be no PR. I just wanted to have a fun race and enjoy running. I slept pretty well the night before and we were up really early on race morning. It was cold in DC and race morning was no different. It was in the low thirties at race time. What the heck do you wear with that kind of weather? I wore tights and two long sleeved shirts: one to wear, one to take off. This proved to be a mistake too.

We got to the race site, checked in our stuff, had enough time to take a bathroom break, and lined up at the start. Dave was in a different corral than me so we didn't get to pace off each other. The gun went off and so did I. Wearing my Garmin for the first time I paced right around a 9:00 for the first mile. Perfect. For the next six miles I tried to pace over an 8:30. At mile 6 I wanted to pick up the pace to around an 8:15-8:30, but this part of the course was uphill so I backed off. The course guide said this course was flat and fast. The Columbus Marathon is flat and fast. This was rolling. By mile 8 I was feeling bad. I would try to pick up the pace to what should have been comfortable but I felt like something was sitting on my chest. I couldn't breathe comfortably. I couldn't take a deep breath. I felt out of control. My legs felt like they were running through carmel and my mind was racing at a million miles per minute. What the hell was going on? I started to wonder if I should run the whole marathon. If I continued on it could a miserable, long slog. That is not exactly what I had in mind.

I continued on and felt a little better in miles 10, 11, 12, but then I needed to make a decision. The marathon and the half marathon broke off right before the finish of the half marathon. I debated over and over again in my head and finally made the decision. I would just do the half marathon and be done with it. And that's what I did. I finished the half, called my dad, cried a little, and found Dave. He had a great race with a new PR. Check out his race report here.

The silver lining in all this: the medal was cool and I got to enjoy and have fun with the rest of my time in DC.

So what went wrong? I'm gonna be brutally honest here. I am totally screwed up in the head since my DNF in Louisville. I am scared to death of the dark times in races. I have no idea how to fail. I have no idea how to succeed. I am torn between wanting to be a running and finishing what I started with Ironman. I have become comfortable with training and can't remember what it's like to race hard, finish strong, and most importantly, have fun. I have a lot to work on, mentally, as the triathlon season comes up quickly.

We returned home on Monday and there were many, many email exchanges between my coach and me. The very next weekend (this weekend) there were three marathons within driving distance of our home. Should I try again? There was also an indoor triathlon at the gym where we workout. Was it time to start my triathlon racing season? Or should I just move on with my triathlon training, keep my eye on the prize, and finish what I started? Details to follow....

Saturday, April 02, 2011

March Totals

I'm becoming the queen of training. This will be three months out of the five I've been training, that I did all the workouts. Wish I could translate that success to racing (more on that in a few days). Here's the numbers:

Swimming - 24,100 meters (~15 miles)

Biking - 169.11 miles

Running - 87.52 miles

Strength - 1.5 hours

I'm hoping April is also going to be a good month. And hopefully the weather will get better so I can enjoy running in shorts and biking outside.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Cupcake Crawl

I'm starting to wonder if this is a foodie blog instead of a running/triathlon blog?

One thing we were excited to try out in Washington DC was all the cupcakes. We had done our research, consulted websites, mapped them out, and were ready to tackle the task. We decided on four stores: Georgetown Cupcake, Sprinkles, Hello Cupcake!, and Baked and Wired.


Location: 3015 M Street NW, Washington DC, 20007

Menu: Available here.

What we ate: M-Black and white, red velvet. D-Coconut, Cherry Blossom

Thoughts: We hadn't initially planned on going to Sprinkles, but trying to go to Georgetown Cupcake on a Saturday night was ridiculous. The line was an hour and 40 minute wait. We were too hungry to wait that long. Instead we went to Sprinkles, waited in line only 20 minutes, picked up a pizza and headed back to the hotel. M-My black and white cupcake was really dry, a little overbaked, and maybe had sat out too long. But then several days later, after we had gotten home, I ate the red velvet cupcake and it was really good. Maybe I got a bad batch of the black and white. D-The coconut cupcake was a little on the dry side as well, but the frosting was yummy. The cherry blossom was probably a little better, though I didn't taste the cherry flavor in the cake.

Hello Cupcake!

Location: 1361 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20036

Menu: Available here.

What we ate: M-hc original (vanilla with vanilla frosting), heart of darkness. D-24 carrot, vanilla gorilla

Thoughts: Unlike the other cupcake shops, this one was not in Georgetown. This one was in the heart of Dupont Circle. No waiting in line either! Hello Cupcake is known for being all natural so there is no red velvet or anything else that uses artificial colors or flavors. M-The vanilla/vanilla combination was very good but the heart of darkness, aka, CHOCOLATE!!! was soooo good. I mean, SO GOOD! D-I started with the 24 carrot cupcake, which was a good moist carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese topping, not too sweet. Vanilla gorilla was a yummy banana based cake, almost like banana bread, again with a cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Baked and Wired

Location: 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington DC, 20007

Menu: Available here.

What we ate: M-red velvet. D-Strawberry, Menage a Trois

Thoughts: This place was cool. It had a great laid back vibe, like something you'd find on a college campus. The cupcake selections were displayed really artistically. I liked that there were three distinct areas of this store: baked goods, coffee bar, and sitting area. We would have loved to stay and hang out. Baked and Wired is known for making small batches of baked goods. The cupcakes are bigger than most. M-I didn't actually eat this cupcake until later in the day. It was good, but I've had better. The presentation and overall love of the store made up for the lack of flavor. D-I was really looking forward to the strawberry after reading about it. The cupcake actually has real strawberries baked right in! It was really good, although the frosting was a little too sweet for me. The menage a trois cake was a chocolate cake, filled with a raspberry jam center, and topped with vanilla frosting. Yeah, it WAS that good.

Georgetown Cupcake

Location: 3301 M Street NW, Washington DC, 20007

Menu: Available here.

What we ate: M-chocolate mint. D-mint cookies and cream

Thoughts: After our failed attempt at waiting in line at Georgetown Cupcake on Saturday, we decided to order ahead of time and just pick up our cupcakes. But come Monday we had forgotten, so we just went to the store at the beginning of the day, right when it opened. We only had to wait in line a few minutes. M-I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about the quality of cupcakes from a store that has it's own TV show. I've that the cake from those a lot of those "fancy cake" shows actually tastes really bad. But, this was far and away the best cupcake I had all weekend. The mint frosting was to die for! And the cupcake was so moist it did not fall apart. Well worth the wait. D-I think Meredith's was just a touch better, but mine was pretty great as well. Great cake, nice sweet-but-not-oversweet frosting, and both were full of crumbled Oreos.