Sunday, July 31, 2011

July Totals

July: it was the longest of months, it was the shortest of months. It would be easy to say, "I have no idea where July went." But I know where it went. It was spent in the pool, on my bike, and running the roads. My gosh! I trained my buns off in July.

Swimming - 18,800 meters

Honestly, I dropped the ball on swimming. I mean, I got in the important workouts. I did two 4000 meters swims and a 3900 meter swim. But I also skipped A LOT of swimming sessions. I have to put swimming first thing in the morning or else I have a hard time leaving the house to do it later in the day. I don't know why. It's just a thing. But the weather got HOT this month and if I didn't get my bike or run done in the morning I would absolutely melt into the pavement later in the day. Therefore swimming fell to the wayside. Still, I'm pacing well and feeling really confident about my swimming. And Coach said I could back-off a little on the swimming. I don't have a whole lot of guilt about this. Moving on...

Biking - 551.0 miles

I believe this is the most miles I have ever biked in a month. I only skipped one bike workout. I believe that's the first bike workout I've skipped since November. I need the most work in the bike and you better believe I'm taking it seriously. This month I did a 90 mile ride, a 100 mile ride, and a 105 mile ride. The mileage should have been higher too as many of my workouts were designed and done on the trainer. Mileage on the trainer does not equate to outside mileage. Two long bikes left!!!!

Running - 113.04 miles

Y'all, this is marathon training mileage. Sure, I've had bigger months of running but not while training for triathlon. I'm not even sure I had this many miles while training for the National Marathon (which did not happen) this past spring. (I just looked it February I ran 117 miles) I have had a fantastic month of running. Shoot! I've had a fantastic year of running. I did not skip one running workouts. ZERO!!! The plan seems to be falling into place and I'm planning on a great marathon at THE BIG ONE!!! in a few weeks.

With a mere six weeks to go, I am feeling great. My head is in the right place (after my mess of a week last week) and I couldn't be in better physical shape. Only a few weeks to go no before the taper....

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Best Money I've Spent on Triathlon

The best money I have ever spent in my life was on my eye surgery in 2005. Seriously, I don't know how I wore contacts and glasses for all those years.

The best money I have spent on triathlon happened last week at Dick's Sporting Goods. (Seriously, can you type that or say it without giggling a little?!) I had gone to Dick's (he he he!) for gel as I had a coupon, but took a detour into the bike section just to see what they had. I don't know what lead me to the wall of "gadgets" but there I stood staring at a wall of water bottle holders, tubes, etc. You know, gadgets. And staring right back at me was something genius.

For many years now I've been trying to figure out the best way to clean my aero bottle and straw. By the end of last season there was mold in both my bottle and straw. Ew! I decided to try my bottle in the dishwasher, which has worked wonders and now is completely clean, but as for the straw I decided to just buy a new one. As this season has rolled along, my straw has begun to get pretty gross. Honest to goodness, I do my best to clean it but the inside of it was beginning to turn colors again. Good grief! I had decided I was going to make my own scrubber out of pipe cleaners and had even decided to make a tutorial to put on this blog. But a $10 find at Dick's Sporting Goods changed all this.


No, I do not have a Camelbak. But the tube scrubber inside this kit worked wonders to clean out my straw. Thank you Camelbak for being geniuses.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A great story, but I couldn't think of a catchy title...

I mentioned in the last post that this was going to be a big week of training. And today was definitely a big day: 6-1/2 hours of biking followed by a 35 minute run. But let's back up...

With a bike ride of that length there's a lot of logistics that goes into it. I leave from home in the beginning of the ride, but don't return until the end of the ride. That way I'm not likely to stop in the middle of the workout. Instead I usually make my parents' house my base to work out of. This allows me to have a real bathroom, water to refill my bottles, ibuprofen when needed, etc. Yesterday I decided to take over supplies so I wouldn't have to carry as much. When I got to their house last evening I couldn't get the garage door code to work. The numbers weren't even lighting up. We had a power outage earlier in the day so I thought maybe they didn't have any electricity. But we were able to look inside and see that the power was indeed on. So Dave tried the keypad again and this time the numbers lit up but the code was still not working. I remembered my mom had said something about the keypad getting a new battery the week before, so I called them to ask them what was up with it (my parents are on vacation). Of course, they couldn't help me and doing a quick search on the iPhone it looked like the code needed reset but it couldn't be done without an additional code that was provided in the manual that was located somewhere inside the house. In addition, my key only works in the door inside the garage so I was out of luck using my parents' house as my base for this long ride. My sister lives 20ish miles away from us and I could use her house except all the roads around her have been recently chip-sealed so I didn't really want to risk a flat tire riding out to her house. Also, I knew my bladder wouldn't be able to make that trip early in the ride. Instead I decided I would need to carry all my junk and use the school for my bathroom (port-a-john, YUCK!) and to refill my water bottles in the drinking fountain.

I have to admit, I really wasn't looking forward to this workout. It's not that I've checked out of training, I'm just a little tired of training. Yes the race is close, but it's still far enough away that there's still plenty of training to go. I knew the day would be long and hot and I was just going to have to settle in and just go with it. And I did. I got into a zone, focused on nutrition and pace and just cleared my head of the bad stuff. But the day got hot quickly and the wind started picking up and my mood quickly soured. It was going to be a long struggle. The ride didn't go badly, it just wasn't a happy experience. I rode the same roads again and again to try to keep the wind at my side. Throughout the day I noticed my pace slipping and my heart rate going up, which I knew meant that I was dehydrated but I also was drinking tons. By the end of the ride I had drank (drunk?) 7 bottles of sports drink and somewhere between 3-4 bottles of water. And I covered just over 105-1/2 miles. Not as fast as I would have liked, but the pace has been consistent through all my training.

When I returned home to start my run I was feeling really shaky. I even had trouble tying my shoes. I got started, though, settled in and things were going well. Pace was good and I was feeling better than I thought I would. Sixteen minutes into the run, I started to feel overheated. Very overheated. I stopped my watch, found some shade and took a short break. I poured some of my water on my back, on my face, and over my head. And then it hit me. I started feeling really bad, really fast. I walked over to the side of the road that didn't have any houses and started throwing up. Lots and lots of gatorade vomit along with some snot and many tears. A few minutes later I was done and decided it was time to walk home. I was feeling better, though, and thought, "Meredith, you're tougher than this. Finish the workout." So I started running again. At the two mile mark I took my nutrition and kept on going. Gosh darn it, I finished that run! It wasn't as fast as I would have liked, but I think I earned some "tough" points.

It was a long day out there. I battled my demons and won. It wasn't my best workout and I certainly hope race day goes better. After my breakdown in Louisville last year, this workout was a huge victory, vomit and all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


This past week was a recovery week in my training. And I didn't do jack crap! Three runs, two bikes, and zero swims. ZERO!!! I'm not gonna lie, I've reached that point in my training where I am burnt out. My knee and achilles have been hurting, I'm tired, I'm hungry. There are seven weeks to go until THE BIG ONE!!! it's time to re-up...

Rededicate and Refocus

Seven weeks can feel like a long time. But I also know there are only three to four weeks of big training left. I've already done some big training too: a century ride, two 16-milers and an 18 mile run, two 4000 meter swims, so really the training that's left is no different than what I've already done. This week includes another 4000 meter swim, a 100+ mile bike ride, and yet another 18 mile run. That's just three days of training this week. Whew!

Refocus, Mer. The reward is worth it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thunder Dog

My dog Sloopy has recently become scared of thunderstorms. She shakes and her heart rate races and she pants and it's just awful. This has become a problem since there have been some big scary storms as of recent. Dave and I were doing a little reading about what to do and we saw a recommendation for a "thunder shirt". Basically, it's a shirt that makes your dog feel like they're getting hugged. Well, we're a little more creative and a lot more frugal in creating our thunder shirt for Sloopy. My sister gave me a bunch of her children's clothing as the kiddos have gotten bigger (no, no plans on the horizon...she told me I could sell them if I wanted). Introducing Sloopy in her thunder outfit:

Yes she is wearing a onesie and overalls. Funny enough, I put her in these the other day, went to the bathroom and when I came out she had somehow taken all of it off. How did she do that?

In other dog news....I am watching my parents' dog Kirby while they are on vacation for the next eight days. He came over last night and within the next three hours threw up on my brand new carpet. Awesome. Then I put him in his crate, put Sloopy and myself in bed, only to have Kirby bark THE ENTIRE NIGHT!!! I may have gotten three hours of continuous sleep. Did I mention Dave was out of town too? Oh yeah, I'm fighting this battle all by myself.

Here's hoping for a nap...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Product Review: Scape Sunscreen

Every year that Dave and I are together buying gifts for him gets tougher and tougher. This past Christmas I really dug deep and thought of some good stuff with which he was totally surprised. And every year I try to think of really creative items I can put in his stocking. While sitting in the library reading magazines (hey, it's FREE!!!) it was staring at me in the face out of the glossy pages of Runner's World....really good athlete sunscreen.

You see, although I do burn I turn a nice crisp shade of tan as the summer goes on. Dave on the other hand, burns and the peels, and he complains and WAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Since I still had no idea what his training and racing plans would consist of, I thought sunscreen would be a good idea. Of course, now I know he would be training for shorter races and I would be the one using the sunscreen.

I bought Scape athlete sunscreen in SPF 50+ from my local RoadRunner Sports. Actually, I bought two bottles of it: one for Dave's stocking and one for mine. Look what Santa brought me!!!

We first used it when we went to Mexico back in January. Since then I have used it for every single one of my long bike rides. I use a lot of it and it's thick and covers well. And it is the best sunscreen I have ever used. It stays on for like, forever. It keeps the sun from burning my skin but doesn't run into my eyes or doesn't make me feel sticky. It does seem to turn white as the workouts get long and I sweat more. But I'd rather be turning white than turning red. I have been burnt while using the sunscreen, however. When I did my half ironman this summer, I got pretty burnt on my shoulders. I don't know if the sunscreen didn't outlast the swim or if pouring all the water on my shoulders to cool myself down caused the sunscreen to fail. I also get a little burnt around the edges of my shirt where I rub for hours on end.

I am trying to figure out a sunscreen plan for THE BIG ONE!!! coming up. Sure, I can put the sunscreen on before the race, but the time in the water along with wearing a wetsuit may take all of the sunscreen off. At Louisville last year there were people who put sunscreen on you as you left transition, but as I recall that was not the case with THE BIG ONE!!! :) Scape is coming out with a spray sunscreen but I can't bank on it coming out by the time of the race. They have a foam sunscreen which may be an option as it says it can be used hands-free, but I'm not sure how much time I want to "waste" in transition. I'm also thinking of getting two spray bottles of the Neutrogena Wet Sunscreen-one for my T1 bag and one for the T2 bag. Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

Overall, I think this is the best sunscreen I've ever used. I preach it to my triathlon friends and I hope you consider using it too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amazing Blogger Award (or another "questions about me" post)

Melissa nominated me, wanted to know about me (because you know, we've only known each other for TWENTYFIVE YEARS!!), or I just can't think of anything creative or interesting to write anymore...

My favorite cartoon character is…I've got to be honest, I don't like cartoons. I KNOW! But I do love the Muppets. That's close, right?

My favorite thing to photograph is…Once I started my photo booth business my photography really took a back seat. But, I do love to do TTV (through the viewfinder) photographs. Here's one of my favorite's I took two years ago at on a dirt road near my sister's house.

My favorite thing to cook is…Dave does almost all the cooking in the house. But, I do make a great spaghetti/pasta sauce.

My favorite way to exercise is…Swimbikerun. Isn't that obvious?

My favorite movie is…You've Got Mail. How can you resist the cuteness that is Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?

My favorite article of clothing is…I'm a basic t-shirt and jeans kind of girl.

My favorite flower is…I like orchids. They're easy to take care of, last a long time, and they're pretty.

My favorite breakfast is...I love a really yummy eggs benedict with lots and lots of hollandaise sauce.

I know I'm supposed to nominate/tag people but I don't want to pressure anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. If you want to participate, go for it! I'd love to read it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Triathlon is not a poor man's sport

Once upon a time I had a real job, a real profession, a real career. I had money, good money, and could do things like buy clothes, take vacations, and afford to do whatever race I wanted.

But then I started my own business and quit my cushy job. And then I got poor.

Here's a little fact for you...owning your own business does not mean you're rolling in the dough. I have employees to pay, taxes to pay, supplies to purchase, and at the end of it all I take home very little. VERY LITTLE!!! Dave and I try to stick to a strict budget and have given up luxuries. The first year it was fun, almost like a challenge. The second year we survived. This third year, I'm sick of it. I miss my money. I want to go on a real vacation, not one that involves staying with either my parents or Dave's parents intruding on their vacations. I want to improve my wardrobe. And I want to be able to buy things for sport that I want.

I posted on Facebook the other day that I had spent $67 on nutrition (gels and such) in addition to buying a new pair of running shoes which I had luckily found on sale for $82. I also recently bought a new pair of biking shorts which everyone was raving about. Again I found them on sale for $98. And I signed up for a local triathlon which was running a special where if three people sign up, they split the cost of two people. So I paid less than $45 for an Olympic tri.

Some of those things I needed, some I didn't. Either way, I didn't have the money for any of it. Needless to say, triathlon is not a poor man's sport. I think I once read that the average salary of a triathlete (or maybe an iron-athlete) is over six figures. Are you kidding me? How does the average joe afford it?

For me, I pick and choose what I actually need and what I can get by without. Here's a rundown of how I save money in triathlon:
  • Dave and I use a credit card for all purchases, which makes us points, which earns us money or things. I used points to buy my Garmin and essentially got it for "free." We are also accumulating those points to help pay for our trip to Houston for the marathon in January.
  • I buy all my nutrition wholesale from Road Runner Sports. It makes my gels and things less than a $1/piece. That's cheaper than buying them one at a time from the grocery. I also mix my own sports drinks which saves BIG money to buy the powder. And thankfully we have a RRS store close by so I don't have to pay for shipping.
  • I try to plan my race schedule a year in advance, therefore signing up for the races as early as possible to get the lowest rate. And I always search the internet for a coupon code to try to get that fee even cheaper.
  • I rarely buy any new gear, except for shoes. I have been wearing the same workout clothes for years. I will wear it until it falls apart, can no longer get the stink out of it, or you can see through it. Fashion? I rarely match. :) And as for swimsuits which do fall apart often, I buy mine from Splish which seems to have figured out how to make them last longer, plus I guy the grab bag suits when they're on sale for $29. I don't care what it looks like. $29 for a swimsuit that's going to last longer than 6 months? Yes please.
  • Some of my splurges include paying for a coach, which I would not train for an ironman without one, and having a gym membership. Although, we do get a discount for that too because our gym is located in the same area where Dave is employed. We get an employee discount.
So, how do you afford triathlon? What do you do to save money? What can I do more? What is necessary and not necessary for triathlon? Do you think race fees are out of control? Are there things or races you absolutely say no to because of the price? Speak up triathletes!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Achilles Heel

With just about two months until THE BIG ONE!!! I'm starting to put together realistic race expectations/goals. For me, it all comes down to my achilles heel: the bike. In the past year I've made great gains on the bike but I'm still left wondering, how is everyone so fast on the bike?

I have watched the 2010 Ironman World Championships about a hundred times. Thank you DVR! Although I CAN'T STAND Chris McCormack, he says one thing (and only one thing) that I agreed with during that telecast regarding the so-called cyclists during the race..."I have immense respect for the Stadlers and the Lietos who race this event that way (hammering the bike). It's a lonely, tough way to race this race. Especially in the sense that all you get all day once you get off the bike is lost time." So that has me wondering, are people really that great of bikers or do they know that's where they can make the most amount of time gains and don't necessarily care about the rest of the race?

When I look at the best triathletes in the world, Chris McCormack, Craig Alexander, Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carfrae, Andreas Raelert, not only are they really good all-around athletes, I would say that running is their strength. And really, it all comes down to the run in the end. Craig Alexander said it best during that same telecast, "If you spend too much energy somewhere, you're going to pay for it somewhere else. So, when you see guys really fade badly in the run, usually it's because they've gone too hard, spent too many pennies on the bike."

For me, I want to put together a good race from start to finish. I want to look back and think there was nothing I could have done better. I want to follow my plan to a "T." And if that means I have to let everyone in the whole damn race pass me on the bike, so be it. I'll see them again on the run.

Monday, July 04, 2011

You've Got to Want It

It's July now. Midway through the summer, which means, midway through triathlon season, which means we're getting ever closer to THE BIG ONE!!! The training days are getting long. The miles are accumulating by the day. Last year at this time I was not only scared of what lay ahead, I was suffering. I didn't want to swimbikeruneastsleep. I just wanted it to be over. This seems to be a common theme with other iron triathletes. But for me, something's different this year.

I have never wanted this more.

Last year I was consumed with thoughts of the finish--what it was going to be like, would I cry, would I remember everything about it. Sure, I'm still thinking about the finish this year, but I'm also thinking about everything else in between. I am practicing specifically for this race. Every stroke, every step, every gel eaten, every ounce of sports drink consumed is going toward this race. I think about pacing and speed and electrolytes and heart rate and who I want to beat. I'm finding this year that it's so much easier getting through the long hours being completely focused on one task.

Right now I am fully focused and ready to go. With ironman you've got to want it. And I want it badly. See you at the start line.

Friday, July 01, 2011

June Totals

June was a BIG month. I raced one of my 'A' races for the year: Racing for Recovery half ironman, setting a new PR along the way. June also brought about full-on ironman training, which brought about BIG numbers. Here's the breakdown:

Total hours: 44 hours, 42 minutes

Swim: 20,100 meters (~12.5 miles)

Bike: 363.18 miles

Run: 90.06 miles

Many more BIG numbers to come next month.