Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Phone Call Changes My Life

This blog post has been a long time coming, so I apologize for its tardiness.

Let’s rewind the clock a bit.  All the way to August 14th, the day I got a phone call.  It was a harmless enough phone call, but one that would send both my life and T’s life in a dramatically different direction.

That day, I got a call from crew planning at my airline, wondering when I could be in upgrade class for the Q-400.  Upgrade means becoming a captain, and the Q-400 is a 71-74 seat turboprop aircraft.  I fly for Republic Airlines, which is a “regional” airline, or a contracted airline that does service for other airlines, such as United or Delta.  So this means that I would be flying the Q-400, which would mean I’m providing lift for United.  As a captain.  Which means a significant pay raise, and more importantly, it’s a chance to further my career.  The typical progression of a pilot is to work at a regional for a few years, get that captain time, or “pilot in command” time, and move on to a better airline.  Regionals are typically not the greatest places to work.  They fly harder and longer than their counterparts at the “majors” or “Legacy” airlines.  The schedules are more demanding and the benefits are not nearly what they are at the “big boys”.   Nevertheless, it’s a job, and it’s an opportunity to advance your career pretty quick.  That’s what I was doing around August 14th.  Grinding it out as a first officer, waiting for that call to upgrade.  And it came. 

So you might be wondering “why is Brandon talking about this?  What do I care?”

You might also remember I’m training for an Ironman?  I’m sure I’ve mentioned it once or twice on here.  :-)

My main concern when that phone call came was twofold. 

One was that they wanted me in class August 26th.  Class, or “ground school” is what you’d expect.  You learn things.  In my case, I’m going to learn an airplane that I’m familiar with (I flew the Q-400 for Lynx from June 2008 to May 2010) and procedures that are already familiar with.  So what was the problem with that?  Well, it left me with only 12 days to completely get ready to uproot my life AGAIN and head to Indianapolis and St. Louis for a few weeks of my life.  No biggie, but still a slight concern.

The second problem, and this was the big one, was Ironman.  Would I be able to train for it?  Would I get the time off I need for the actual race?  Hell, would I be done with ground school and the simulator before peak training?  I mean, as badly as I want to do Ironman, I certainly have to think about my career first, right?

So while T was at work, I paced the apartment.  I walked outside.  Made damn near a dozen phone calls to my friends, coworkers, and family to discuss my options.  This clearly was going to be a huge decision, and while I had my mind very close to made up, I wasn’t 100% convinced.  And while my friends and coworkers and fellow pilots were helpful, I ultimately needed to talk to T about it before I pulled the trigger.

When she got home, we chatted.  And we chatted some more.  I talked and talked and talked.  I verbalized everything I was thinking at the time.  I laid out all the options on the table.  And there weren’t many of those.  It was either “take the upgrade or don’t take it”.  What it came down to was more “what will happen to us/our life/Ironman if you take it?” 

The next day, after getting very little sleep, I emailed crew planning and asked them to put me in the August 26th class.  You may be wondering how I reached the decision to do so.  It was pretty simple.

Why not do both?

Our thought process went something like this: I like running in Indy and can treat my time there more like a run camp.  Get my long rides in on the weekend when I come back to Denver.  Play on the exercise bike in Indy and splash around in their pool a bit and I really won’t miss much of a beat.  In St. Louis, there are 24 Hour Fitness locations, so swimming is suddenly taken care of.  With running still able to happen no problem and plenty of exercise bikes, I really don’t see training being impacted much.

Of course, ground school doesn’t mean that I get a free pass and can just run and swim.  It’s ground school.  There’s limitations on the airplane to learn and emergency procedures to get down.  I also need to learn some stuff that pertains only to captains.  Things like logbook stuff, signing the release, etc.  Which means that if ground school goes from 8-5 (east coast time, mind you.  2 hours from me!) I have some time in the early AM if I wake up for it, or time right after class.  Factor in breakfast time, dinner time, and you can see my options are limited in what I can do. 

This last week was the first week of ground school, and thanks to T’s awesomeness (I’m not just saying that because she’ll read that!) and her ingenuity in planning workouts, I buckled down in the discipline department on all fronts.  I didn’t waste any time in ground school, using breaks and lunchtime and other downtime to study my limitations.  When our new hires (there’s brand new airline guys in addition to some captain upgrades in my class) were learning something that we didn’t have to worry about, I studied.  That way, when I got back to the room, I was able to quick change my clothes, bang out the workout, shower, and study. 

I didn’t miss a workout this week, and honestly, in terms of studying and preparation, I’m probably ahead of where I need to be.  As Dr. J said to me a few months ago when I was studying for my Airline Transport Pilot test, my training discipline probably helped me focus in that department.  And I’m guessing that is the case here as well.  While I know I will miss a workout here and there down the road (our schedules during training will not always be this regimented) I know I have the discipline to focus on both avenues I’m pursuing right now. 

With the opportunity to upgrade to captain and become an Ironman in the same year, I’d say 2013 might be the most eventful year of this guy's life so far.  :-)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weeks Thirty-Three and Thirty-Four: 8/12-25

Also weeks #7 and 8 of IM training.

When one doesn't train due to say, an injury, one disappears into one's own bubble of misery. One doesn't want to update things like training blogs because it's too damn depressing. Also, one might not be able to type well due to said injury.

Still, I've committed to recording all this crap, so here it goes: life from the past two weeks:

Monday, August 12: Bike: 26.27 mi in 1:22:54; avg cad 87; 19.01 mph
- 31.8 mph max
- Spinervals 22.0 - TimeTrialPalooza
- toes weren't happy today ...
- Might need to up the trainer resistance on this one. First 10 min or so were rough, but after that, I felt great.

Tuesday, August 13: Run: 5.36 mi in 48:55 - 9:07/mi
- MX12 treadmill set - intermediate
- "Phantom Agony" a hell of a song for the final interval ...
Run: 3.37 mi in 31:09 - 9:14/mi
- Run CO pub run
- a lot faster than expected
- my feet hurt now
- acc. to my Garmin, my most consistently paced run in a long while
- Either I'm finally getting my run legs, or this is what they mean by running faster post long-distance tris. In any case, two solid runs for an 8 mile day.

Wednesday, August 14: Off: mental health
- My work schedule this week just blows. It was stressful trying to figure out what to do, so we just decided on a pool day ... a fun pool day.

Thursday, August 15: Swim: 3000m in 1:11:26 - 2:22/100m
- 60x50m
- OH GOD BORING KILL ME
- mentally, very difficult
- my arms hurt now
- Long swim before work. This set was ungodly hard, but I know it will make me stronger.

Friday, August 16: Bike: 46.65 mi in 2:52:19; avg cad 80; 16.24 mph
- 27.1 mph max
- CC trail to Platte and back
- crashed mid-ride
- We can't work out on birthdays anymore. After the turnaround, we collided and I went down hard and hurt my elbow. Hoping it'll be okay ...
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About a mile into the ride ... everything was still fine ...
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Ouchy elbow. :(

Saturday, August 17: Off: injured
- Went to urgent care ... arm is not broken, but badly, badly bruised. I'm in a splint now. Hopefully this doesn't derail me too badly ...

Sunday, August 18: Off: injured
- Stupid arm. I hate this.

Monday, August 19: Off: injured
- I can function, but not well. Plus I think I'm getting sick, to add insult to injury. UGH.

Tuesday, August 20: Off: injured
- Mobility is coming back, but definitely not as quickly as I'd like ...

Wednesday, August 21: Off: injured
- The amount of mobility I've gotten back proves I'm definitely not broken. Can't twist it though ...

Thursday, August 22: Off: injured
- Going to take one more day. Going crazy - going to try SOMETHING tomorrow ...

Friday, August 23: Bike: 4.95 mi in 20:02; avg cad 88; 14.8 mph
- 18.3 mph max
- easy spinning
- Yay it's something! Iced my elbow while riding - multi-tasking.

Saturday, August 24: Run: 3.14 mi in 35:33 - 11:19/mi
- park trail
- attempting to get back out there
- Lungs hurt a lot on this one - I couldn't get a proper arm swing, but I got out there. Plus - legs didn't feel half bad.

Sunday, August 25: Off: injured
- Arm hurt a bit this morning - more than I feel it should. Gotta ease into this ...

As you can see, off due to injury. I'm going to try to get on the trainer more this week and attempt to run a bit more - nothing too crazy; probably long and slow rather than anything short and fast - and see how it goes. Swimming, however, is starting to concern me. Depending on how it goes, I'm going to try and get back in the water on Thursday. My 2.4 mile open water swim that I was hoping to do on Saturday is probably not going to happen now, unfortunately, but ultimately, I'd rather get healed properly than try to push it too much and screw myself even more.

Because, even though I still have a few months to Ironman, if I can't get in the water soon, IMAZ might be in jeopardy.

Weekly combined training times: 7:42:18
Weekly combined training mileage: 91.60 mi
Yearly training time: 157:52:13
Yearly training mileage: 1267.34 mi

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Race #6 of the Season: IM Boulder 70.3

So I crashed my bike Friday and screwed up my elbow ... typing this is going to be interesting ...

The story of this race really starts the week before. On July 28th, we went up to Boulder to pre-ride the new course - it went from two loops to one loop. It had been raining off and on all day but it looked like we had a hole in the radar so we went. Well, radar holes don't show the persistent crappy drizzly rain that's just annoying enough.

I was smart enough to bring my ear mitts (ear warmers that only go over the ear and aren't connected; they're awesome) and arm warmers that I decided upon on a whim which ended up being awesome. The rain was persistent and demoralizing. We got about 10 miles in and decided to turn off. Neither of us were really dressed for it and we didn't have dry clothes back at the car. Plus we didn't feel safe with the depth of the water in some places - hydroplaning on a tri bike isn't fun.

So, back to the car we went and just drove the course.

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Mmm, mud.

We thought we had a decent grasp of the course ...

Then on Wednesday (31st), we went for another ride. Before the ride, I noticed that my back tire was low. I pumped it up and out we went. With about three miles to go, I felt my back tire skidding out a little - checked it and sure enough, it was going flat. Must have had a slow leak. I limped on it for about another half mile before stopping to avoid risking damaging the rim. Brandon continued on home to get the car and pick me up.

He changed the tire that week and it held up fine on our pre-ride on Saturday (about 10 miles). We thought everything was good.

Saturday, we had our longest pre-race workout to date. We did two miles with our running store in the morning and then the aforementioned ten to the Tri for the Cure expo. SkirtSports had a store going there so I went to check out a few things and ended up getting a new race belt skirt (which you can see in the photo below). I also reintroduced myself to Skirt owner Nicole DeBoom and introduced her to Brandon.

In the afternoon, we went up to the expo for packet pick-up. We were hoping to get in a swim like usual, but lightning at the Reservoir put the kibosh on that. It was gloomy and cloudy and, as Brandon stated in his recap, unfriendly. It made him particularly anxious and since we couldn't swim, we just wanted to get in and get out.

We did learn, however, that we were going to have specific places in transition unlike previous Boulder Tri Series races, so that meant a slightly later wake-up call on Sunday morning. Instead of having to leave the house at 4am, we could leave at say, 4:15am.

We got to the Reservoir just after 5am - the normal transition time. However, the line in was RIDICULOUS; as we turned in, we realized why; the rain from the night before made the usual lots too muddy (or so we surmised) and they were shuttling us further back ... which I thought was really strange as we were driving on part of the run course. As a result, we got parked later and had a longer walk into transition and not as much time as usual.

In short, we were rushed. But so was everybody. Transition at that point in the morning is usually a lot more relaxed; not so that morning.

We got set up

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and then went to do our pre-race business. I also went to find our friend Scott from Run Colorado, our running store and talked to him for a few minutes. I also spotted Mike, another MX12 VIP member from Arizona who came up to do the race. We quickly chatted with him and then exited trans, hoping to still get a swim in.

We managed two loops of the swim area before calling it good. We ran into Mike again and talked some more with him before splitting off into our separate waves. Since I'm slow, I seeded myself in the last wave. My pool times said I should have seeded myself in a wave one or two from the end, but this was open water and we don't get along.

The Swim:

After all the other waves went off and the first few male pros came out of the water, it was my time to finally go out into the water. I was fighting the water a little bit until I told myself to just treat it like I would a pool swim. I know when I'm in open water my stroke and rotation changes a bit - probably to be able to breathe over the chop or something - so I thought if I focused on swimming like I normally do all the time, things might work out better for me.

And they did ... except for sighting. They did switch the swim course slightly so we weren't swimming directly into the sun which was nice, but every now and then, I still had problems with finding the buoys. I almost had to stop swimming to find the buoys which I know slows me down. Something to try and figure out for IMAZ for sure ...

In any case, the swim just trucked along. It was probably also the first race swim where I didn't question why the hell I stay in this sport - I just tried to keep focused on "pool swimming" and before I knew it, I was in the sand and getting out of the water.

Time: 52:02 (rate: 2:41/100m; 1486th overall; 547th gender; 112th division)

T1:

Being slow and being in the last wave means pretty much all the bikes are out of transition. Therefore, it's really easy to find my bike (okay, she'd be easy to find anyway due to the bar tape). In any case, off with my swim stuff, on with my bike stuff and I'm pretty sure I quickly sunscreened. I also tossed on my arm coolers just on my wrists, figuring I'd get them the rest of the way up on the bike.

Time: 3:20

The Bike:

Soon on the bike I realized I probably should have just taken the extra time to put on the arm coolers as attempting to pull those up while riding? Yeahhh, not easy. But, since I try to take 51st out of the Res and the Jay easy, keeping my cadence super high, it wasn't so bad and I managed to get them most of the way on.

The Jay seemed to take no time this race, which is nice. 36 took forever, but you're also on 36 for quite a while. My main issue was - and I feel kind of embarrassed writing this - that my ladybits must have gotten frozen or something in the swim as it felt like they were numb and didn't thaw out for a good 15, 20 miles. Something I've never run into before and, quite frankly, never want to run into again.

Strangely enough, I never did get truly comfortable on the bike. I felt some rubbing on the inside of my left leg (seam of my tri shorts ended up chafing a bit) and the ... adductor? whatever the muscle is on the inside of your leg was sore most of the ride. I told myself that I could handle the soreness and I would unless it felt like the muscle was pulling; if it ever felt like that, I said that I would pull out and live to fight another day and not risk injuring myself badly. Luckily, it never got to that point.

For the first 10, 15 miles, I passed some people and got passed by others ... but I would wager that I ended up passing about 60% of the people that passed me within the subsequent 10-15 miles.

I ate my first waffle slowly and timed it so I'd be finished with it by the time I hit the first aid station (dispose of my trash properly!). The honey-flavored waffles and the lemon-lime Skratch made me feel like I was eating graham crackers and lemonade on the bike as opposed to race nutrition.

After the aid station was the downhill portion ... or so we thought. The Ute Highway was pretty fast, but the grooved pavement felt a little weird. Hindsight being what it was, I think I know why it felt kind of weird ... I also felt slightly bad for the ginormous line of cars that was being held up due to all of us triathletes turning on to 75th.

Once we turned on to 75th, it was twisty-turny farmland, a lot of false flats and a few horrible climbs. Nothing too long, but since my legs already kind of hurt, it was enough to make me kind of hate my life. I finished my aero bottle and put in my back-up bottle around mile 25, so about halfway through. In general, though, I felt like I should have been going faster for good chunks of the farmland sections. I also didn't like how many turns there were on the course. While the one loop was nice, I think two loops with very few turns may have been nicer, ultimately.

The little bitch hills did get to me at some point. I mentally gave up at one point - I was so sick of climbing and dropping into my smallest gear just to attempt to pedal up one more stupid little hill. I also stopped at one point to try and adjust my tri shorts and stretch some since I was not comfortable. I ate most of waffle #2 in the farmland (dropped some) and got a few bites into waffle #3 when it made me super queasy. I immediately stopped taking in both Skratch and nutrition since I knew something wasn't agreeing with me.

Once out of the farmland and crossing back over the Ute Highway/66, I started feeling better. As I neared mile 40, though, I felt myself slide a bit on a turn and thought, "Crap." I immediately stopped and felt the back tire - yep, going flat. I got back on and thought, "I have 16 miles to go. Maybe I can manage," ... and then realized that it wasn't going to happen. Luckily, I saw the third (and final) aid station around a bend in the road and knew I could limp it in.

I got into the aid station and braked to a stop. One of the volunteers stopped handing out water to see if I needed help - I said no, just need to change a flat ... and then noticed one of the cars parked nearby. And then took another look at the volunteer - "Hey, I know you!" "You do?" "Yeah, you go to Run CO, don't you?" "Yes ..." "I'm Theresa! One of the Geists!" "Oh hey, I didn't recognize you with the helmet!" I couldn't remember her name at the time, but it was Kristin, one of the regulars at my running store. It was awesome having her there while I had issues changing my flat.

Of COURSE the flat was the back tire. After the standard struggle of getting the stupid back tire off and getting that first rim of the tire off, I got the old tube out and changed the tire pretty quickly. But then I tried inflating it. I had a new CO2 inflator that I didn't quite know how to work - Kristin figured that out easily enough - but I could only inflate the tire to a certain point before it went POOF and died. I killed both my CO2 cartridges trying to get the tire inflated but it JUST WOULDN'T INFLATE. Kristin called over a fellow volunteer to help who notified me that bike tech support was actually at the other end of the aid station. So, I gathered all my crap together and clomped on over.

The support guy was helping someone else out so I had to wait until he was done. I was doing my best to not watch all the people pass by - lots of people I had already passed - and not get discouraged in the process. Eventually, he got to me - we learned that my spare tube was faulty, which is why it wasn't inflating properly. I also checked the tire ... and found a goathead (common pokey thing around here) that I probably picked up in the rain the previous Sunday and that Brandon neglected to check for when he changed my tire the first time. We got that out of there, got another tube in and then I was back on my way. I wasn't sure how much time I had lost, but I knew it had to be quite a bit.

Once back on my proverbial feet, I tried to bust ass a bit back to transition, but it was still 16 miles away and the lack of distance training was starting to catch up to me. I pushed it as best as I could and just tried to survive. Eventually, I was rolling back into the Res and back into transition.

Time: 3:42:44 (rate: 15.09 mph; 1538th overall; 565th gender; 115th division)

T2:

Hindsight being what it is, I definitely should have taken more time to sunscreen here. I'm also liking the TriSlide on the feet as opposed to the BodyGlide. Spray is so much quicker.

Time: 3:22

The Run:

I took it easy coming out of transition, grabbing some water, Perform and a sponge right away. I also saw Mike as we were leaving the aid station; he was starting loop two. We filled each other in on our races thus far; I mentioned the flat; he said he had blown up on the run. As we left the Res and turned onto the county roads, I left him and went on to run my race (later on, he told Brandon that I was looking good; I appreciated it as I didn't feel totally awesome).

To start off, I decided I'd run descents and in general, when I could and walk up hills. The problem is, there are some nasty hills in the first few miles that just go on forever. I knew I was slow, but tried my best to plod on. I kept the sponge soaked in the back of my tri jersey, just at the nape of my neck - grabbed water at every aid station to drench that as well as my arm coolers. I was also grabbing ice/icy cold Perform at every station as well.

The first half can be best described as a slow plod; I didn't want to push it too much so I could save something for the second loop. Really, the only other notable thing was I stopped at a porta-potty at around mile 5.5 (what would be just past mile 1 if we were running in the opposite direction. Unlike 2011, my tri shorts cooperated in being pulled up and stayed in place the whole race. We also saw a few clouds come out to cover up the sun, but they were much too brief.

Time: 1:23:43

I got a bit more sunscreen on my shoulders at the start of loop two - I chose to veer off to the sunscreeners to hopefully avoid major burning (failed) and mostly to cover my damaged skin from last year's bike crash.

As the loop got started, there were obviously fewer and fewer people. One girl (I think in my age group) had her boyfriend/significant other walking with her; she did not seem in good shape at all. I started having overheating foot issues like usual - If you know of any way to stop feet from overheating in a race/on a run, PLEASE let me know. Always happens - doesn't matter the sock and it's happened in every running shoe I've owned - but I tried not to let that slow me down TOO much.

The main problem I had was I started getting lightheaded. It was probably due to lack of nutrition - I hadn't eaten anything since about mile 30, 35 on the bike (when the waffles started making me nauseous) and had only consumed an ass-ton of Perform. I cracked open one of my chocolate Hammer gels, but I got maybe a third of the way through it before I decided I couldn't take it anymore. So, when I descended upon the aid station, I decided to stop and try to squish under the food tent to eat something. I decided on a pretzel (meh) and some potato chips (tasty). I figured the salt would do me good as well as the calories. I must have not looked that good as one of the volunteers asked me if I wanted to sit; I declined, saying that if I did, I probably wouldn't get up again. So, I took some chips and moved on.

Running between aid stations 1 and 2 was a little iffy; I stopped and got more Perform at station #2 and just walked and sipped with it until right before station #3. At that point, the lightheadedness had gone away. However, I felt like I needed a run buddy - I'm really starting to like those - so I asked a guy I'd been going back and forth with if I could walk/run with him; said I needed the company.

He was from Texas and struggling a bit in the altitude, feeling like he couldn't get a full breath. I told him I understood, given my sports asthma. His walk pace was slower than mine and I could barely keep at his run pace, but it was nice having the companionship, so I stuck at the slower pace for about 3/4 of a mile. When we hit a small descent, I wished him good luck and said I was going to try my hand at running (we had about a 5K to go at this point). I ran down the hill and tried to keep running.

With so little to go, I was getting sick of being out on the course and just tired of dealing with the heat and everything, so I kind of said "Screw it" and decided to push it out of my comfort zone. I definitely ran more than I walked in the last three miles and ended up passing most of the people who had passed me earlier on that loop. I'm not sure I walked much at all in that last mile and Brandon ended up getting a picture of me looking quite strong for being 70.2 miles into the race.
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I managed my usual sprint to the finish and then about died. I was completely spent at the end of the race.

Time: 2:58:41 (rate: 13:38/mi; 1487th overall; 547th gender; 110th division)

I found Brandon and went over to the food tent, but really didn't eat anything as nothing sounded appealing at all to me. We did meet up with Mike again and get an MX12 VIP team photo, though:
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Overall Stats:
Time: 7:40:09
110/118 division (F30-34)
?/627 females (I'm gonna guess somewhere in the 550s)
1487/1674 overall

And since I like doing it, let's play the comparison game to 2011, shall we?

This year:
Swim: 52:02; 2:41/100m
T1: 3:20
Bike: 3:42:44; 15.09 mph
T2: 3:22
Run: 2:58:41; 13:38/mi
Overall Time: 7:40:09

2011:
Swim: 59:28; 3:05/100m
T1: 3:44
Bike: 3:29:13; 16.1 mph
T2: 3:28
Run: 3:18:16; 15:07/mi
Overall Time: 7:54:09

The swim was 7:26 quicker, which is a HUGE improvement. It was also :04/100m quicker than my pace at Peak, which is an even better sign for me. Again, I am validated in the fact that all of my hard work in the pool is starting to pay off slowly.

T1 was :24 quicker. That's actually fairly significant ... especially if you consider I tossed on arm coolers, too.

The bike was 13:31 slower. HOWEVER: I had a flat. If you take the reading off my cyclometer, my bike was 3:14:57, not 3:42:44 - this means that I had about a 30 minute delay (well, 28ish, if you include me stopping to stretch) for the flat. I essentially lost two whole miles per hour, as my average speed registered on my cyclometer was 17.1 mph. So in theory, my bike was actually 14:16 faster than in 2011.

However, we also go by the clock in these cases, and the clock don't lie. Stupid flats.

T2 was :06 quicker. Shoulda made it :06 longer and put on some more damn sunscreen.

The run was 19:35 faster than 2011 and I believe had I not spent so much time at that Texan dude's pace, I may have been able to chop another three or so minutes off ... but that's probably not enough to matter.

This all adds up to a 14:00 (on the nuts!) race PR. Even with the flat.

It also means that, in theory, I could have had a 7:11:22, which would have been AWESOME. Still, a PR for a race that I didn't feel prepared for going in and that I ended up flatting in is still ultimately a good day so I can't help but be happy.

(on a side note, in my final comments in my 2011 race report, I said, "That was unbelievably difficult ... and yet I still totally want to do a full. IMAZ 2013. Fo' sho'." and what race might i be doing in november? i've been talking about doing this stupid race for TWO YEARS. it will happen.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Week Thirty-Two: 8/5-8/11

Also week #6 of IM training ... and post-race recovery, apparently.

Monday, August 5: Off: planned
- I raced yesterday. I'm fried to a crisp and I can barely walk. I waddled around work today. I think I'm entitled to this.

Tuesday, August 6: Off: dead
- I have barely eaten, barely slept, can still barely move and my sunburn makes it tricky to do anything except find a comfortable spot on the couch. I think I beat myself up more than I was expecting to Sunday ...

Wednesday, August 7: Off: recovery
- Starting to feel somewhat normal again, we decided that it was possible to maybe try and get something in today, but thought that one more full day of recovery was probably wisest. Plus I'm an aunt now! Woo!

Thursday, August 8: Run: 2.02 mi in 22:24 - 11:05/mi
- down a trail
- lungs feel trashed
- This was us trying to get back on the horse and kind of failing. Legs felt a bit better as the run went on, but still probably couldn't have done the hoped-for 3-4 mi.

Friday, August 9: Bike: 12.87 mi in 53:18; avg cad 72; 14.49 mph
- 27.7 mph max
- CC trail to Iliff and back
- brisk!
- Parts of my brain were really enjoying that ride. Other parts ... not so much. Still a bit sore - lungs definitely - but ultimately, really glad to have gotten back out there.

Saturday, August 10: Run: 4.21 mi in 42:24 - 10:04/mi
- Run CO Saturday run
- legs are coming back! Yay!
- Slowly but surely, my legs are coming back. Now, if my lungs can similarly cooperate, I'll be thrilled.

Sunday, August 11: Swim: 1700m in 39:54.14 - 2:21/100m
- 50m, 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m, 50m
- had moments where I felt good
- Kind of wanted to do more today, but held back - I'll have plenty of time for lots of pain coming up this week.

I think I pushed harder on race day than I thought/meant to ... which meant this was a straight-up recovery week. Oh well ...

Weekly training time: 2:38:00
Weekly training mileage: 20.20 mi
Yearly training time: 150:09:55
Yearly training mileage: 1175.74 mi

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Race Recap: Boulder 70.3

Welcome to my Boulder 70.3 recap.  This will be a longer blog post, so bear with me and enjoy. This race had a lot of good things, and a couple things I have to work on.  I'll go over those at the end.

This was our 3rd race of the season, and really, a test.  We were only in week 5 of IM training, so while our base was excellent (or at least pretty good) we hadn't sunk in any serious mileage yet. (Longest bike ride was only 35 miles and only one long run of 10).  Furthermore, while it wasn't our A race, we both wanted to do well in it.  You know the last time we did this we followed a plan just to finish, and let's just say we did that (7:29:50).  I wanted to improve on that and knew that I could.  (Swim was 44:56, bike was 3:16:47, and run was 3:18:56)

Pre-Race
On Saturday, day before the race,  we a brief 2 mile run with Run Colorado in the morning and a 10 mile ride to check out the Tri For the Cure expo, where we met Nicole DeBoom of Skirt Sports and former professional triathlete.  We also got T's cyclometer fixed.  

In the afternoon, we headed up to the race expo to check in and look at the expo.  Also hoping to get some open water time in, we brought our wetsuits.  

The expo this year seemed very sterile and unfriendly.  I don't take this sport too seriously, and I guess as such I hope everyone around me is having a good time too.  This didn't seem to be the case this year.  The athletes were walking around with focus, but not a pre-race focus.  It was just an unfriendly focus.  The sponsor tents were uninviting and lacking.  Even the volunteers at check in seemed worn out and uninterested.  It might have been the gloomy weather (cloudy and spitting rain) or maybe they were just worn out, but I said to T on the drive home that I was suddenly feeling anxious and lacking confidence in my race.  We talked it out and once I got home, I felt better.

Normally we go out for breakfast food the night before, but I decided we should stay home and make our own stuff.  We made Skratch Labs Feed Zone pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  We also watched the movie Secretariat, which we refer to simply as "Horsey Movie".  After that, with rain pouring outside, we packed up our stuff and headed for bed.  Tomorrow would be a long day, so whatever sleep we could get would be good.

Race Morning
We woke up, and while normally we grumble and ask ourselves why we are racing, this morning was different.  We both woke up exhausted and not even wanting to pull ourselves out of bed.  As such, we were a bit rushed leaving the house.  Thankfully, the weather seemed clear and the rain had moved out.

Driving up there, I couldn't seem to really wake up and focus.  I was, as we like to say, out of it.  We left the house 15 minutes later than normal due to the fact that bike spots were assigned in transition and we wouldn't have to worry about finding a spot on the rack.  However, this would bite us.  

When we pulled into the res, the line of cars was ridiculous.  Normally there is barely a line when we get there.  That day, not so much.  We puttered along and realized they were not parking people where they normally do.  They were instead moving people deep into the res and it'd be a decent hike to transition.  So our plan backfired.  Getting set up would have to be a quick process.

We parked, hustled, and wheeled our bikes into trans.  Once there, you could tell that others were a bit panicked and rushed.  The parking situation didn't just screw us over, it screwed over all the athletes.  I got my area set up pretty quick but didn't even take the obligatory transition shot.  It was crowded and I was more concerned about meeting up with our friend Scott from the running store and Mike, a teammate of ours from Phoenix who was racing as well.

Eventually, we got wetsuited up and headed down to the water for our pre-race swim.  Normally we do 3 laps.  Today we were only able to squeeze in 2.  T and I both agreed that it would have to do.

We chatted with Mike a bit before we lined up in our swim corrals.  The National Anthem played, I said goodbye to T, and hopped in the 42-44 minute swim wave.  The pros went off, then the waves in front of me did.  Eventually our wave got called up, and the race was off.  My 70.3 adventure was beginning.

The Swim
You all know by now I'm pretty confident in the water, and my training this year has reflected distance.  I've put in a lot of work already in the pool, including some long sessions, so I wasn't worried about swim endurance.  However, my open water swims have been a bit slow and I'm not thrilled about it.  Regardless, I knew I had to shut up, put my head down, and swim!

They brought us out to more of the left this year, so we weren't swimming directly into the sun.  That was nice, let me tell you.  Made sighting a lot easier for sure.  Early in the swim, I'd say 2-300 meters in I got hammerpunched in the side of the head.  First time that's ever happened to me in a tri.  It literally dazed me for a bit, and I had to regain focus.  That was fine though, and I kept going.  Aside from that, I pretty much had my open space.  There was one guy, and I have never seen this before either, who was literally zig-zagging his way.  It was bizarre, and actually made me mad in the water.  Really dude?

Anyway, I rounded the first buoy no problem and started settling in comfortably.  About halfway through, I could feel my swim caps sliding off my head.  I wear the race cap over my own swim cap for warmth and I don't like the feeling of the latex ones on my scalp.  I knew eventually both would come off and I wrestled with the decision of what to do.  Do I stop and put them back on? Or just keep going?  I decided to say screw it and kept going.  When they slid off my head, I attempted to grab at least my own silicone one, but was unable to, and decided to just press on.

When I rounded the 2nd buoy for home (shore), I was elated.  I was feeling good and strong, and just kept pulling.  It seemed to take forever for shore to come, but eventually, it did.  I hustled my way out of the water and lightly jogged into trans.  I looked down at my watch and saw I was out in 42 and change, which is exactly what I figured I'd do.

Swim time - 42:46

T1
Because I had bad sunburn in 2011 and rushed a bit setting up my trans area, T1 took a bit.  I took my time, making sure I had everything together I needed to.

T1 time - 4:30

The Bike
The course changed for this year.  Instead of doing two loops like we have in the past, this year it was a single loop course, taking you outside of Boulder up into the farms of Longmont and back.  It was nice to know I wouldn't be climbing the J twice and 36.  Really, I'm getting tired of those two roads.

Heading out of the res on my bike, I quickly took down some fluid.  I was thirsty, and had a game plan to hydrate before I hit the first aid station.  I also wanted to take in adequate food before I got there.  Just in case.

The ride up the J was surprisingly quick.  The elevation profile of this course was something like this: uphill for the first 11.6 miles, then downhill, flat, a couple "bitch hills" as we called them, but most of your climbing is in the first 11.6 miles.  So my theory was to get to Nelson Road, and the rest of the ride would be pretty easy after that.  And I was accurate, for the most part.

The first 11 miles past me by pretty quick.  I got my legs under me early and found a groove that worked.  I took in a few Cliff Shot Bloks and drank most of my Skratch.  I had no interest in throwing down really fast speeds on this ride because I wanted to have some leg strength for the run (I get the feeling in 2011 that I blew myself up on the bike).  

When I started the descent for the next 9 miles, I tried to hold myself back, but it was hard.  I was doing 23-24 mph and didn't even feel like I was going that hard.  I forced myself into a higher gear and told my legs to quit pushing.  It's a strange feeling to know you have more in you yet are holding back.  That's what I was doing.


Hi, me!

The next miles were uneventful, almost boring, even.  The climbs were real, I can tell you that much.  I also started feeling aches and pains that I knew were the result of just not having ridden this distance yet.  I took some Advil along with my salt tablets due to my back giving me some aches and pains from not having ridden the distance yet this year.

Around mile 40, I had happen what I feared would.  My quads starting giving out, my back was hurting, and I was getting tired.  I did something I never did before, and that was literally stretch myself on the bike.  I stood up out of the saddle and did some funky stretching that would have made any passerby wonder what the hell I was doing.  Whatever I was doing, it felt good and it worked.  I wouldn't say I was ready to go kick more ass, but I was ready to finish the ride.

I made it to the diagonal and just started spinning my legs out.  I knew at this point I wasn't going to crack 3 hours, but certainly was going to beat my previous time.  I decided at this point to keep it slower and spin.  Turning back into the res, I knew there was one more big hill to go, then I would be in transition.

I hopped off the bike and wheeled it into trans.  The longest part of the day was now completed, and it was time to go running.

Bike time - 3:04:05

T2
T2 was even slower than T1.  Again, I applied sunscreen and actually took a few seconds just to calm down.  I was in no rush at this point.  Sub 6:30 was still in play and I was ready to attack the run.

T2 time - 5:22

The Run
Those of you who follow me know running is my weakest discipline.  I knew this going into the race.  I had two things in the back of my mind though.  One was that I have improved a lot this year in one area: consistency.  I've worked hard to at least be consistent in my running training.  While I'm not gaining speed, I've worked at running in general and it's paid off.  Two was that it wasn't as hot as it was in 2011 and if I managed my heat and fuel properly, I might manage 2:30 in this race.

I grabbed some aid immediately, a cup of the orange-mango Perform and a couple orange slices.  The Perform was thick, sweet, and delicious.  I knew I had my drink of choice at the aid stations for the remainder of the race.  The oranges were also amazing.

The first mile is mostly downhill and I took full advantage of it.  I was planning on a simple strategy in this race of running more than I walked.  I also was going to hit nearly every aid station for hydration/ice.  

The first 1/2 of the race was definitely slow, but I didn't mind.  My pace was still looking fine.  6:30 was going to be a bit of a stretch and I would have to dig very very deep to get it, but I was going to try very hard.

On the 2nd half of the run, I made a friend.  Her name was Jackie, and she's from Wisconsin.  We quickly bonded over being from the Midwest together (I'm from Minnesota).  We both agreed that we enjoyed each others company and that we'd get through this together.  The heat was getting more burdensome (I think it got up to 87, a far cry from 98 a few years ago, but still hot) and my stomach was becoming quite unsettled.  I figured it was due to the Perform (I had probably drank 4-5 cups at this point), but I was thirsty.  I didn't just want to drink water because I knew salt and electrolytes would be more helpful, so I was in quite the bind.  Regardless, I was slowing down.

At around mile 10, we both smiled knowing we had 3.1 miles to go.  A simple neighborhood 5K.  I knew at this point 6:30 was done, and 6:40 would be in jeopardy.  But I knew I was going to beat my time from 2011.  Shatter it, in fact.  I was going to finish this race a winner.  Jackie felt stronger and pushed on, so I said goodbye to her and that I'd see her at the finish.

The final mile was incredibly difficult, and yet I kept going.  I saw my friend Scott wheeling his bike to the car, so I knew he had a great day.  He told me to finish strong.  There were a lot of people cheering and their excitement just made it that much sweeter.  I rounded the corner, heard the announcer say my name, and crossed the finish line.  I looked down at my watch and smiled.  I got a medal, a hat, and some water.

Run time - 2:45:31

Post-race
I ran into our friend Mike back into transition.  We chatted and congratulated each other.  He finished just before me, so our times were similar.  He told me T had a flat on the bike and was on the run right now, but she looked strong.  I felt relieved for that and threw on my track pants and my Embrace the Suck T-shirt.

Mike and I chatted and grabbed some food.  My stomach was still rattled and I really didn't feel like eating.  I called my mom who had been stalking me all day and filled her in.  I also called my friend Kris to fill her in on the day.  I talked to her about the stomach issue and she notified me that too much sugar will really upset your stomach, so I chalked it up to that.  I made the decision that I'd eat later and just waited for T at this point.

Eventually I saw her coming towards me.  I snapped a couple iPhone pictures of her and saw her finish.  We walked around together a bit post-race with Mike and his friend and sister.

  Our team post-race

Then we packed up our stuff and got ready to head out.  I saw Jackie in trans and thanked her for pulling me as far as she did.  She wished me luck in Ironman (she did Wisconsin in 2011) and said we'll do great.  We packed up the car and hustled over to our friends Mike and Nicole's place for a Run Colorado Barbecue.  Scott was already there, and we were quite fawned over, which I'm not used to.

Post-Race thoughts
- I slashed over 30 minutes from my 2011 time, and yet I'm hungry to get my run even better
- hydrating is good, but be careful about overhydrating
- arm coolers are amazing and might be the best investment of the season
- my swim isn't necessarily fast, but very consistent.
- this was a major confidence boost for Ironman Arizona.  I'm excited to see what I can do down there
- I have a long way to go

Friday, August 9, 2013

Week Thirty-One: 7/29-8/4

Also week #5 of IM training. Also race week.

Also, when did I start slacking on blogging so much? Oh, right, racing helps ...

Monday, July 29: Off: planned
- Last week was a hell of a week. I felt good at the end of it, but I think ultimately a day of rest was going to do me more good in the long run.

Tuesday, July 30: Swim: 800 yds in 14:48.16 - 1:51/100 yds
- 4x200 yds
- ows at Aurora
- having issues in open water this year; no idea why
- Trying to figure out my issues in open water this year. Hopefully I can get this sorted soon. So far, racing is fine; practicing sucks. Decided to forgo Pub Run this week. Well, went; just didn't run.

Wednesday, July 31: Bike: 18.16 mi in 1:11:16; avg cad 73; 15.29 mph
- 26.7 mph max
- CC trail ride
- cut short due to slow leak; back tire went flat during ride
- Last long ride before 70.3. Had maybe hoped for longer, but started a bit late. Tire was low before ride; pumped it up ... went flat again. Had to get rescued. Oh well; needed tubes anyway.

Thursday, August 1: Off: life
- Sometimes, your day at work is just that shitty. A run sounded good, but even endorphins wouldn't have saved/salvaged the day I had.

Friday, August 2: Off: planned
- With a race Sunday, we decided it would be nice to take a day off and rest. You know.

Saturday, August 3: Run: 2.05 mi in 21:29 - 10:28/mi
- Run CO Saturday run
- shake out the legs
Bike: 9.6 mi in 41:14; avg cad 67; 13.97 mph
- 28.3 mph max
- Bicycle Village and back on CC trail
- Hoped to get in a pre-race swim, too, but lightning at Boulder Reservoir put the kibosh on that. Still, solid pre-race warm-up.

Sunday, August 4: Triathlon - IM Boulder 70.3 - in 7:40:09
- 1.2 mi swim in 52:02 - 2:41/100m
- 56 mi bike in 3:42:44 - 15.09 mph; avg cad 82; 35.1 mph max
- 13.1 mi run in 2:58:41 - 13:38/mi
- T1 in 3:20; T2 in 3:22
- Flat on the bike cost me about 30 minutes, but I still got a 14 minute PR - chopped 7:20 off the swim alone. For feeling undertrained going into this and not technically being prepared for this, I'll take it.

I'll obviously go into more detail about Boulder 70.3 soon (Sunday, hopefully?), but for not being an A race and dealing with the crap I did, it wasn't a bad week. I wasn't entirely happy about not getting in a swim on Saturday, but that was the longest pre-race warm-up we've done the day before to date and it felt awesome.

We've been doing something right since we have this fantastic base; here's to keeping it going ...

Weekly training time: 10:02:14
Weekly training mileage: 86.26 mi
Yearly training time: 147:31:55
Yearly training mileage: 1155.54 mi

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

June and July Round-Ups

So, um, apparently I forgot to recap June. Not that it really matters, because you've all seen what I've been doing, but I'll just combine June and July into one and we'll call it good ...

Running: 104.15 mi
Swimming: 25774.52m (16.02 mi)
Cycling: 389.84 mi
Lifting: two sessions (both in June)
Other: a little bit of walking, not as much stretching as there should have been

For two months of work, I'll take it. It also explains why my 70.3 I just did went pretty well, even though I felt undertrained going into it. Sit down and I'll tell you why ...

Way back in 2011, I did my first 70.3. I felt trained for it and I did ... okay, not great. I finished, and that was my goal for it.

Here were my YEARLY totals for that year (not totals going into the race, just YEARLY):
Running: 250.94 mi
Swimming: 16.58 mi
Cycling: 635.78 mi

Yeah ... in TWO MONTHS, I ran 2/5ths of what I did in a year, swam a half mile short of what I did in a year and cycled about half of what I did.

I can safely say I think I'm finally doing what I should have done years ago and putting in the work. Just make sure I keep doing it, mmkay?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Week Thirty: 7/22-7/28

Holy crap I forgot about this. This was also week #4 of IM training.

Monday, July 22: Swim: 2400m in 56:33.95 - 2:21/100m
- MX12 - Elevators
- paddles are the devil
- I like swimming at night, but with these long sets, I may have to rethink. Felt a lot slower today than Friday, which makes sense - been a hard couple of days.

Tuesday, July 23: Run: 3.13 mi in 30:42 - 9:48/mi
- Run CO pub run
- felt like poo
- Walked a bit more than I would have liked in the last mile, but this is my easy/"off" day this week, so no worries, right? Napped before this - that, and too much sugar probably why I felt crappy.

Wednesday, July 24: Bike: 21.87 mi in 1:23:15; avg cad 84; 15.76 mph
- 26.2 mph max
- Spinervals 22.0 - TimeTrialPalooza
- sweaty disaster
- Had a swim planned too, but Apple store taking forever and a screwed up lunch kind of killed those plans, unfortunately. I'm going to ignore a lesson I've learned and try to get the swim in on Friday ...

Thursday, July 25: Run: 4.31 mi in 40:35 - 9:25/mi
- MX12 treadmill - beginner
- did not feel good
- third set was the indicator to cut it short
- Haven't done speedwork in much too long and it showed here - had to go back down to the beginner set. A bit frustrating, but now I know I need to work this in more frequently.

Friday, July 26: Swim: 3400m in 1:20:41 - 2:22/100m
- 2x(50m, 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m, 50m)
- ~1:40 total pool time with breaks and stuff
- this was a lot of swimming - mentally hard
Bike: 11.81 mi in 41:08; avg cad 90; 17.23 mph
- 30.6 mph max
- MX12 - over-unders
- legs screamed for about the first 10 minutes
- Score one for me - shifting Wednesday's swim to today worked out awesome! Almost didn't want to get on the trainer, but I told myself I could totally do 40 minutes and I did. Victory!

Saturday, July 27: Run: 10.4 mi in 1:48:52 - 10:28/mi
- Run CO Saturday run
- Scott is speedy; I should not run with him
- died in later miles
- This was hard. Ugh. Stupid 70.3 cramming. Also hoping as my feet get used to longer distances, they'll stop hurting/feeling hot.

Sunday, July 28: Bike: 23.51 mi in 1:25:41; avg cad 80; 16.46 mph
- 31.0 mph max
- RAINY
- aborted 70.3 course pre-ride
- Got about 10 mi in and turned off. Weren't properly attired or prepared. Got completely drenched; was kind of fun ... but a full 56 would have been awful.

Huge week; should have been bigger. Stupid rain.

Weekly training time: 8:47:28
Weekly training mileage: 78.63 mi
Yearly training time: 137:29:41
Yearly training mileage: 1069.28 mi