Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Totals

Unfortunately, being sick I missed a big week of training which really would have made these numbers shine. But, even without that week, I think I had a great month, had solid training, and totally rocked two races. Here's how May looked:

Training Time: ~34 hours

Swim: 20,750 meters (~13 miles)

Bike: 163.93 miles

Run: 51.75 miles

Other: 2 hours

From here on out, there will be one race per month until the big one with lots and lots and LOTS of training in between.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Garmin/Bike Computer Questions

Alright, all you gurus out there, I've got questions! I posed this question a little bit ago on my Facebook page, but I've got more questions and a broader audience on the blog.

Here's my problem...I've got a wired Cateye Strada with cadence that I use for my bike computer. It probably only works about 30% of the time. It almost always gives me cadence but rarely gives me speed. The husband (who has exactly the same issues with his) and I have narrowed it down to either the sensors on the computer itself, which I don't think it is or else I don't think the cadence would work either, or the sensor that's actually on the bike to read the magnet and speed on the wheel. My problem is that my regular "training" wheels and my racing wheels are not the same widths so the sensors gets moved around and fits really loosely on the bike. Even if I get it working, every time I hit a bump, the sensor moves and I lose the speedometer.

Switching gears....

I train with a Garmin 310XT. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I think it's been a big help to my training. I love being able to program it and being able to track heart rate and speed, etc. BUT, I hate to race with it. I prefer to race on feel, especially with running, and don't like to know how fast or slow I'm going. With longer endurance races on the schedule (half ironman, full ironman), though, I need to wear a Garmin for the heart rate and speed on the bike. In general, in a race no matter what the distance, I don't wear heart rate for the run.

So, I've been thinking about getting a quick release for my Garmin along with the speed/cadence sensor for the Garmin to use on the bike. I like the idea of having all of the information I need all in one place so I'm not looking down at my computer for the cadence then up at my watch for the speed and heart rate. Here's the thing, though. I don't envision actually using the quick release portion in a race. As I mentioned before, I don't like to run with the Garmin and I don't really need it on the swim. I envision myself turning the Garmin on while setting up my transition and then using it only on the bike portion. Here are my concerns.
  1. I would hope that all triathletes are trustworthy, but that's a might expensive piece of equipment if it were to get stolen off my bike.
  2. If I turn it on before the race actually starts and make sure it's reading my heart rate, but then I go away for say, and hour and a half to two hours, will it still read my heart rate when I get to my bike?
  3. The Garmin 405 turns itself off after a period of time when not in use, does the 310? (I don't think it does.)
  4. My different wheel size problems are not going to change, will I have the same problems with reading any sensors? (This isn't a problem when riding outside because it will use GPS, but I do a whole lot of trainer riding.)
  5. Is the quick release a "piece of crap" and will I be ruining my Garmin by changing it?
  6. I've heard that the same Cateye in the wireless version is much better. Should I just invest in one of those?
Alright smarty-pants, I need your input. Please help me out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's a Mystery

After Rev3 last week, I came home to a sore lower back. I had raced hard in Knoxville and I figured it was just soreness and some residual pain from my fall back in February. I still believe that. Having raced so well and so hard, not only was my back hurting, but I was feeling a little let down, tired, and unmotivated when I got home. It was raining for the bajillionth time and I just didn't want to do anymore training. So I sat on the couch for a few days. I realized that it may never stop raining so I finally took my bike to the basement and placed it on the training. I did two workouts last week, both 45 minute training rides.

Thursday of last week I tried to go out for a run but my back was continuing to bother me so I scrapped the run. In the "big picture" that run meant nothing. Later in the evening, however, I started developing a new pain in my back but this one was in my left side, up by my ribs, kinda in the kidneys area, and it was super strong pain. I sat with a heating pad on my back while watching my evening TV. By the time I went to bed, that pain area had gotten larger and had moved into the front of my ribs and was intense in my chest. I thought maybe it was just gas or heartburn so I took a Zantac before I went to bed.

In the middle of the night I was awoken as the pain was getting worse and now there was pain in my shoulder. I started to panic. Oh no! I'm having a heart attack! Oh no! I'm having a pulmonary embolism! I was in so much pain I could barely move. I barely slept the remainder of the night. I was a little scared there would be no waking up if I did. Friday morning I asked Dave what I should do. There was a part of me that knew I needed to go to the ER, but we've been slammed by unexpected bills recently and that same part of me knew we couldn't afford a trip to the ER. Honestly, that should have been the last of my worries. There was another part of me that was scared to find out what it was because I thought my triathlon season might be ruined. If it was indeed a PE, and I would be on blood thinners, triathlon would be a no-no perhaps forever. I called my mom. She's had, unfortunately, many blood clots including a PE and I described my symptoms to her. She told me to call the doctor. I did and luckily they could get me in that afternoon. They told me if I started feeling worse to go straight to the ER. I waited it out.

I got to the doctor and started to describe the pain. By this time the pain in my shoulder had subsided. It seemed to come and go as I laid down and got back up. The pain in my ribs remained. The doctor did a urine test for my kidneys. Everything looked fine there. Then he thought maybe my lungs were leaking. What the what?! He said this happens with skinny athletes. Really?! I had a chest x-ray and everything came back looking fine there too. He didn't want to put me through any more tests that day. I thought that seemed a little odd (this was not my regular doctor I was seeing, by the way). Why wouldn't you want to do a blood test, at least? He concluded that I was either having inflammation in my ribs from the training, which I guess is also common with skinny athletes, or that I had shingles. He mentioned shingles three separate times in that appointment. He gave me a prescription for Naproxen, basically extra strength Aleve, and told me to wait out the weekend to see if the shingles rash started to appear.

Friday night was another night of restless sleeping. I could only be on my right side, so I was woken up any time my body tried to find another position and was met with immense pain. I think the longest I slept at any one time was two hours. Saturday morning I felt a little better. The pain in my shoulder was here to stay, but the ribs were doing alright. I had a full day of photo boothing, so I got myself ready. As I was finishing up, however, the pain got intense. I don't think intense is the right word for it. It was more like someone had ripped out my rib, broken it in two, and was using the broken ends of it to poke me in the lungs. I couldn't stand up straight. I couldn't sit. All I could do was lay on my right side. Unfortunately, I had to work. I got in the car and laid in the back seat as we dropped our dog off at my parents' house. My mom saw how much pain I was in and offered me some Tylenol in addition to the Naproxen I was taken. An hour later, the pain was manageable.

I felt okay for about four hours. Yep, four hours was my max for Saturday. By the afternoon I couldn't complete a sentence, the pain was so intense. I put on a happy face, though, and continued to work. By late afternoon, I made a call asking my dad if he could fill in for me that evening. I hated doing it, but my level of discomfort was off the charts. I spent the rest of the evening crawled up in a little ball. Looking back, I probably should have gone to the ER on Saturday even after seeing the doctor on Friday.

Sunday came around and I thought maybe I had turned a corner. My shoulder was still killing me, but the pain in my ribs was subsiding. My breath was "fluttered", you could feel it both internally and externally cracking and fluttering every time I took a breathed in. I also woke up Sunday with my left eye bothering me. It was puffy and itchy, but didn't look like I had pink eye. And my left ear was echoey. Yet, I had no rash. I spent all day Sunday in bed.

Yesterday I felt about the same. I called my doctor and we consulted over the phone. He said it wasn't shingles. I would have had a rash by now and shingles wouldn't have pain in multiple areas. I was surprised he didn't call me back into the office to do more tests, but he did prescribe me something stronger: Prednisone. Yes my friends, I'm on steroids. Call Tyler Hamilton! He needs to do another "60 Minutes" interview. I'm on high doses for the first three days and then the doses get lower with each three days thereafter. I took my first dose last night with dinner.

This morning I feel SO much better. Like, 85% better. The pain in my shoulder seems to be gone. I can still feel the rib pain, but finally I can get a full breath in. I plan on testing all of it out on a short workout this morning. I'm guessing I just had a virus that was affecting me strangely, but without having had a blood test, I guess I'll never know. I'm glad it wasn't worse and my triathlon season and summer are not ruined. I'm hoping with each passing day I'll keep feeling better. I just want to return to my normal life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rev3 Knoxville Olympic Triathlon 2011

Last year I raced seven races total. Sunday was my seventh race of the season and my third triathlon. I feel like I've gotten a good jump on the year and have settled into my goals and expectations. I was ready. I was SO ready!

I slept great Saturday night and woke up Sunday hungry--hungry to eat up the course. I had established two goals for myself: PR and place in the top ten of my age group. I was ready to eat those for breakfast. I got to the course early, set up my stuff, and waited around patiently. I would be in the very last wave.

As we headed down to the swim start, I did get a little nervous about the swim, but overall I was excited and ready to tackle the day. I was here last year, had previewed the course again this year, have had GREAT training in the last couple of weeks, I knew exactly what to expect. Finally, my wave was called and we headed down the dock and into the water.

Look how calm I look before this race!

I'm the tiny one about to jump in.

I never know where to line up for a swim start. I know I am a strong enough swimmer that I should position myself nearer the front, but I really don't like the crowds. I am not good at drafting and I don't like to be around other people when I swim. Unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot of time to find the right position as the horn sounded and we were off. And I, of course, was right in the middle of a gazillion bodies. I kinda panicked. I treaded water for a good amount of time and actually said to myself, out loud, "this isn't worth it. I'm gonna swim over to those rocks and quit." But, I didn't. I pulled myself together, found space, put my face in the water, and just swam. And then I started to catch people. A lot of people. People in my wave, people in the wave before me. Before I knew it, the swim was done. I rolled myself onto the dock, started running up the dock, and then error #5 of the weekend happened: I couldn't get my wetsuit off.

See, I'm stuck!!!

I had, stupidly, put my watch on the outside of my wetsuit and the wrist cuff had gotten stuck. Really stuck. So stuck that I screamed at Dave when I saw him near transition, "I'M STUCK!" He and another volunteer pulled and pulled, which really hurt, until my hand popped out. I lost good time and my Garmin had gotten all screwed up in the process. Finally into transition, I had to restart my watch and would just wonder and do a little math for the remainder of the race to figure out how I was doing overall.

Swim - 30:20, 2:06/100m pace, 10/25 AG (All the swims were slow this year. I hear the course was a little long.)

T1 - 3:08 (This may have included the time I needed help getting my wetsuit off. I have no idea where the timing mats were.)

I have to admit, I love hills. I love to ride them. I love to run them. I enjoy the challenge. I love passing people. This bike course was made for me. I have worked for the last year on hills and I knew I was ready for a big bike day. I had something to prove. I started out conservatively, but made a conscious decision on the out and back portion of the course, "Meredith, you have got to go." I popped my bike into a big gear, which I never do, and pedaled as hard as I could. I raced up the hills. I pedaled every downhill. I stopped looking at my speed because I didn't want to freak out about it. Just go hard until the bike is over. I started to do a little math in my head. My goal was to go under 1:30 as last year I went 1:33. Soon I was realizing I was going to be in the 1:20s and before I knew it, I was back to transition in 1:22. Holy crap! I just became a legitimate triathlete.

Have you ever seen me smile getting off the bike?

Bike - 1:22:04, 18.13mph, 10th/25 AG (I was 12th AG coming off the bike.)

T2 - 1:15

Finally, I was out on the run, but things didn't seem to be clicking like they normally do. I saw Dave and said, "I may have spent too much on the bike." He told me I was within striking distance of several girls in my age group. I knew what I had to do: RUN! I didn't have the speed of last year, but I was still dropping 8:00s on the course. I was catching all kinds of people and soon found myself having passed 3 or 4 girls in my age group before the turn around. Right before the turn around, however, one very fast chick in my age group passed me. There was no way I could go with her. Turns out, she averaged 6:50s on the run. Yazow!

In the last two miles, I found myself in the land of men. I saw no women in front of me and knew I wasn't going to place any higher in my age group. I had no idea where I had placed, but I was pretty sure it was in the top 10 of the age group. My last mile was the hardest and slowest of the day. Had I known there was one more girl in my age group only 30 seconds in front of me, I probably could have found the strength, but as you can see, I was very much alone:

Looking very fit.

Run - 50:20, 8:06 pace, 7th/25 AG

I finished the race not knowing how I had done. Dave came running up to me and asked me what I thought? How big was my PR? Well, it was a 6+ minute PR. I had PRed on the bike by 11 minutes. I had made my goal and had finished in the top ten of my age group, taking home 8th place.

Total - 2:47:08, 8th/25 AG

This was a big breakthrough race for me. Finally, I feel like a real triathlete. I put together the total package: swim, run, AND bike. This was a real confidence boost for me. I can do this sport. I'm ready for the next challenge that lies ahead...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Comedy of Errors

Saturday was my first open water swim of the year, the day before my first all-outside triathlon of the year. And well, it was a comedy of errors.

Let's start at the beginning. I am so thankful to be sponsored by TYR this year and received a lovely new wetsuit. That thing is delicate and I knew it as many of my teammates ripped theirs the first time they put it on. I did not want to make that mistake so I've been handling it like a flower. But, it seems super small compared to my previous wetsuit even though it's the same size. It took me forever to get into it.

This is the face you have to make to get the wetsuit on.

The wetsuit was on and zipped up. I made on final yank to get the crotch where it was supposed to go and BAM, it ripped in the stomach. Gosh darn it!!! Luckily the rip didn't go all the way through. I plan on fixing it this week. Error #1.

Then we headed down to the dock and watched everyone else jump in. As their heads popped out of the water there was usually a scream and then "Wow! That's cold." Great. I hate cold water.

Here I am, thinking about getting into that cold water.

I finally worked up the courage to jump in, got ready to jump, and then the klutz in me took over. My foot slipped out from under me, I went face and belly first into the water, hitting my shin on the dock along the way. I really didn't hurt myself, but looked like a complete idiot falling into the river. Error #2 What I didn't know, however, is that I hit the water so hard that my ear popped out of my swim cap which made me look even more like an idiot. And yet, no one told me! Error #3.

Nice ear.

Thanks for telling me about my ear, friends!

The swim was cold, very cold, take your breath away cold. And it was dirty. There was grass, twigs, and even logs in the river. It was good, though, to get in the river and get used to being in the open water again.

I love the new wetsuit. It felt great on my shoulders and I felt fast in the swim. But, my problems with wetsuits continue. I am allergic to rubber and despite doing all I can do to avoid it, I always wind up with a horrible rash after the fact. I am covered in rash. It's on my back, my legs, my neck, and the worst of it is on my right ankle. It itches and is just plain awful. Error #4.

Dude, that itches!!

One more error to go and that happened race morning...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Few More Things I Think You Should Know

This weekend I will meet many of my new teammates and will be reintroduced to my teammates from last year. Before all the craziness begins, there are a few things I think you should know...
  • I am PAINFULLY shy, which can come across as stand-off-ish. That's not the case at all. I have no idea what to say in social situations and therefore, say nothing at all, which may seem like I don't like you. I'll open up. Just give me a while.
  • Growing out my bangs sucks. Please don't make fun of my hair. :)
  • Because of my shyness I tend to be a little socially awkward. I don't really look people in the eye; I will talk in incomplete sentences; and most likely I will stick my foot in my mouth at some point. I am going to go ahead and apologize for my awkwardness.
  • Yes, I am that tiny. :)
  • During the race, I may not exchange pleasantries on the course. That's not to say I'm not cheering you on the inside, I like to race as hard as I can and go for it. There isn't energy to cheer and race. I'll throw you a high five after the race, though.
Well there you have it. I probably just revealed too much about myself, but I wanted to make a good first impression. I'll call this my pre-pression. :) See you all in a few days.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Capital City Half Marathon 2011

Yes, this is my 6th race of the year. Yes, that's a lot of races. Yes, I wasn't planning on this race, but it had purpose. Let me explain...

My friend Mandy qualified for the marathon Olympic trials after winning the Wineglass Marathon last year with a time of 2:44. Our running group decided to go down to Houston in January 2012 and watch Mandy in the trials and then we thought we would run the Houston half or full marathon the next day. After doing some research we found out that we either needed a qualifying time or risk our luck in the lottery to get into the race. Dave had already established a qualifying time at the National Half Marathon. Technically I had qualified in DC too, but since I was registered for the full marathon, my distance was considered "incomplete" and my time was not verifiable. Surprisingly, with all the races I've done in the last year, none of them were correct distances and times to get me into Houston. I needed another option.

Dave was running the Capital City Half Marathon as his "A" race and I really, really wanted to just support him and cheer him on from the sideline. When I saw, however, that my training plan had a one hour, 40 minute run on the schedule for last week, I thought, "shoot! I might as well sign up for the race and get my qualifying time." So I did.


Dave had his plan and I, well, I just wanted to get in under 1:54. In fact, I had no plan. I would start slower, pick up pace, and see where the cards fell. My friend and teammate Colleen had plans to break her PR, which would get me in under that 1:54, so I thought maybe I could help her do that. I lined up with her. Dave was lined up just in front of us with the 1:45 pace group. Yes, this half marathon is big enough to have pace groups. The gun went off and I started comfortably. The first mile marker was off so I wasn't really sure how slow or fast we were running. Neither Colleen nor I were wearing a Garmin.

Mile 1 - 7:03

It was obvious we weren't running 7:00s because (1) it felt too easy and (2) we hit the second mile mark in 8:54. Let's average that out and call miles 1 and 2 around an 8:30. Perfect. I couldn't believe how well I felt. I had a great week of workouts last week and things were just going my way. Finally!

Mile 3 - 8:08
Mile 4 - 8:10
Mile 5 - 8:05

I was pacing really well, feeling great, and was hoping Colleen was excited about the pace and knowing this would get her the PR she wanted. But I also heard her breathing and knew she was working harder than me. In my head I was feeling conflicted. I didn't need to run as fast as I was to help her out and I wanted to help her out, but I was also feeling terrific and wanted to see what I could do. When we hit the water stop at mile 5, she told me to go ahead. I wished her good luck, bid her farewell, and continued on my way, picking up the pace as we turned downhill.

Mile 6 - 8:01

And then I felt great. I had planned to keep the 1:45 pace group in my sights so I knew I was going to finish in enough time. By miles 7, though, I was moving right along and the 1:45 pace group was right in front of me.

Mile 7 - 7:57
Mile 8 - 7:48

Miles 8 - 9 were back downtown. The 1:45 group was right in front of me and then it happened. I spotted Dave. He was running right in front of the pace group. I picked up the pace just enough to get in front of the group and tapped Dave on the arm. He said "You're moving well. I'm in trouble if you're feeling this good." Yes, we're a little competitive.

Mile 9 - 8:03

I had no need to try to outshine/outrun Dave. This was his race and I wanted to support him. We ran shoulder to shoulder and sometimes shoulder into shoulder for the next three miles. We were both pushing each other and the pace; both of us still feeling really great. I couldn't believe how great I was feeling!

Mile 10 - 7:54
Mile 11 - 7:51
Mile 12 - 7:52

The last mile started uphill through the judicial district downtown. Having spent many miles by myself, talking to Dave for the last couple of miles had brought about a small stitch in my side. Dave wanted to go for it in the last mile and I just couldn't go with him. That's alright. We would see each other after the race. I pushed and pushed and pushed and finally the race was over.

Last 1.1 miles - 8:08 (7:23 pace)

As it turns out, Dave and I finished within 17 seconds of each other: I ran a 1:43:59 and Dave ran a 1:43:42. I easily got my qualifying time and had a terrific race. Even without a plan, I really ran a perfectly planned race. If I ran a great race, Dave ran the race of his life! He PRed by over 6 minutes. SIX FREAKIN' MINUTES!!!!!! Three cheers for Dave. He has worked so hard to do this. Go tell him good job on his blog. For Colleen, however, she had a tough day and was not happy with how she ran. She could use a little love too. Here's her blog.

Dave and I celebrating!

Colleen, me, and our big-ass medals.

There's some big training and big races in the next several weeks. This past week of training, along with this race, really give me a shot of confidence to tackle the big goals. I can't wait to see what's next.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Come Hell or High Water

...or rain, or snow, or wind, or whatever I was getting this workout done today and it was not going to be on the treadmill. Today's workout was a bike/run brick that involved hard, crunching gears biking, and fast, fast running. Today also brought about 40 degree temperatures so the bike started with multiple layers:

The workout was complicated and required a watch, a Garmin, and written instructions.

The run intervals started fast and ended faster. For me that was a 7:29, 7:11, and 6:41. Dang! I haven't run that fast in quite a while and it felt so natural and easy. Finally! I'm starting to feel like me again.

Here I am checking my watch to make sure I'm on target:

And here I am after I finished, looking like I might puke on Dave:

Things are starting to click and come together. Good thing. There are races on the horizon...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday's Menu

Each week, I will feature a recipe on Monday that Dave and I cooked the previous week. If you'd like to contribute a recipe, please leave a comment below or send it to me via email: meredith-gordon@insight.rr.com.

Easter was different this year than normal. My sister's fiance's family had their Easter earlier in the day so my mom didn't want to duplicate food choices. In addition, my mom had spent much of the week in the hospital (blood clots, she's better, thanks for asking) so the majority of the food prep fell on my dad, sister, and me. Given that my family STILL doesn't believe that we can cook (they do read this blog) I was assigned, once again, the dessert. We made....

Striped Delight

Striped Delight consists of layers of cookies, cream cheese, pudding, and cool whip. Here's how to break it down.

Cookie Layer:

1-1/2 cups cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

We used graham crackers as our cookie layer. We crumbled our graham crackers by using our food processor. Take the cookie crumbs, mix with the sugar and the butter and press firmly into the bottom of a 13 X 9" pan. You can either chill it for five minutes or bake it at 375 degrees for eight minutes and allow it to cool. We baked ours.

Cream Cheese Layer:

1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (we used the reduced calorie cream cheese)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 container of cool whip (we used the no-fat cool whip)

Beat cream cheese with sugar and two tablespoons milk until smooth. Mix in half of the container of cool whip. Spread over crust.

Pudding Layer:

2 pkgs (4 oz) instant pudding (we use the sugar free pudding)
3-1/2 cups cold milk

We made the pudding first and put it in the refrigerator while we mixed and layered everything else. Prepare pudding as directed on package, except use 3-1/2 cups of milk instead of what's directed. Spread pudding over cream cheese layer.

Cool Whip Layer:

Using the remaining half of cool whip, spread over the pudding.

Chill the Striped Delight in the refrigerator for several hours or over night. Serve chilled. It's so yummy!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

April Totals

Well, it happened. I didn't get all my workouts in this month. And it happened just last week. I actually had fallen behind the week before and then tried to make those workouts up last week, which caused me to be behind last week. Before I knew it the week was over and there were still FOUR workouts left. Good grief. I'd love to try to make them up this week, but the truth of the matter is, at some point you've got to let go of the workouts, move on, and be more prepared next time.

Swim - 26,200 meters (~16.38 miles)

Bike - 297.25 miles

Run - 57.59 miles (I missed a 10 mile run last week, goshdarnit!)

Strength - 2.5 hours