Keeping Up with Triathlon Training

My boss had a shirt on his bags this week that was very timely, I thought. It said:

“Triathlete: A Person who Doesn’t Understand that One Sport is Hard Enough”.

I totally have embraced this. I’m going to talk a little about all 3 part of triathlon today!

Swimming is HARD. It’s crazy hard. I do not understand why it’s so crazy hard. Finally, finally after about 5 months of swimming, I don’t dread going to the pool every time. I have had a couple of swims that were bad enough I wonder what the heck I’m doing, but it’s so much better than it was. Coach Nick told me “consistency is key” and I believe that with swimming, this is most definitely the case. Had I slacked off or missed swim workouts, I would still be struggling. It’s by no means easy, but I feel like I can swim 200-300 yards and not desperately need a break. PROGRESS is the name of the game here!

Biking. I took my bike out around my neighborhood this week with the clip-in pedals and I only fell over once. I literally fell over.  Of course it was when my husband had stopped as he was pulling into the neighborhood…ah well. I can definitely feel a difference in the way I put power to the bike with the clip in shoes vs regular shoes. Interesting to see how transition goes with these though. Also, I rode 12 miles (on the trainer) in my tri shorts! Finally getting all the parts used to being on the bike for over an hour at a time. Also, I went a mile further on my time trial than I did last week. Progress again!!

Running. I  never knew how much running could feel like “home”. I almost look forward to even the hard running workouts because at least I know I can do it. I know that I’m getting faster and that I’m going to be able to shave some time off hopefully both my 5k time this year and my half marathon time. Still trying to find that elusive sub 2 hr half! I’m signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery this year. I have not ran a full marathon yet, but I would love for this one to be my first. We will see what the odds say! i have a trail half marathon in 2 weeks and I’m really looking forward to it. Barring any crazy Indiana weather, it should be a super fun time outside and a break from the treadmill. Also hoping to get in my long run outside this weekend.

I think the hardest part of trying to find my new triathlon normal is trying to truly make time in my day to finish every single workout. I’m doing double WODs at least 3 days a week, and for someone who HATES mornings, this can make life challenging now that the kids have so many activities and Jeremy is working over an hour away. Thankfully, there is a gym with a nice pool across the parking lot from my work, and my days are flexible enough to be able to get there.

I hope to race at least 3 sprint triathlons this year, with the last one (my A race) being an open water swim!

 

Indy Mini Marathon 2016 Race Recap

This year’s Mini Marathon was much different than the last 2 I’ve registered for.

In 2014, I was injured literally weeks before, and gave my registration away. Last year, 2015, I had had a really great training cycle and ran 2:07:12, which was almost a 20 min PR. This year, I literally decided a couple weeks before the race I was going to run . . .mostly for fun. Finish Time: 2:09:26.

One huge downside (other than the fact that registration was exorbitant) was that I started in the O as in Oscar corral. Yup. . O. I was TOTALLY frustrated about this. . .before the race and for about the first 2-3 miles of the race. My running buddy Adam ran with me. . he runs a lot of my training runs with me, and I shamelessly convinced him to run as well. Here we are before the race:

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That’s the Borg Warner Trophy in the background (the medal was a Baby Borg!)

I was wearing my TS2 running singlet, my Nuun ambassador hat, my sunglasses (and contacts as I was worried it might rain and I’d need to take  off my sunglasses). Weather was really great, mid 60s and sunny to start, then overcast with a light mist off and on. Could not have been better!

Course wise, it isn’t a bad course, but not my favorite half I’ve participated in either.  This race runs around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track, which while really awesome, I personally think it’s the hardest part of the race, especially when the sun is out and beating down on you. Some of the neighborhoods are less than safe if you are not running with 30k of your closest friends, and have SIGNIFICANT pothole damage. Other than that, the start and finish which are downtown are very well manned and put together.

What went well:

  • Pacing. I pretty much nailed the pace I wanted to be at. I was not feeling as trained up as I would have liked, and for that, only being 2 min off my time last year was huge. I maintained a very steady pace, and never felt completely drained.
  • Fueling. Stopped for water at most of the water stops, don’t like the lemon-lime Gatorade so skipped those. Took 3 GUs, only used one. . probably could have used 2 but was still feeling good so I skipped it. All in all, no trouble here.

What could have been better:

  • Starting corral!! Starting in O was awful. So many walkers. So many people to dodge. SO much waiting!! I get race anxiety anyway, and this made it way worse. Adam was very frustrated at my dodging people for the first 3 miles, I just wanted to get to a point where I could run in a somewhat straight line!! This was a learning for sure. I will be absolutely certain in my goal race that this does NOT happen.
  • Blister and toenails. Still not quite sure whats going on here. Both 2nd toes are going to lose toenails after this race. Shoes fit well and don’t give me any trouble other than racing. Blisters are the same deal. I even made sure to lube up my feet and STILL got half dollar size blisters right below my big toe as well as on TOP of my big toe.

What was SUPER AWESOME. . . .

I finished the race with Meb Keflezighi!! No really. . see?? received_10153616412437634

So Meb was the celebrity personality for the race. He actually started dead last (and I thought my corral was bad!!).

He and his crew (see in the green shirts above) caught me about mile 12.5 and asked if I wanted to finish with them. Of course I said yes! How could you say no to Meb!!!?? They were keeping about an 8:30 pace, and I totally picked it up and make it to the finish at their pace. We crossed the finish line holding hands with our hands up! All the race pictures came out with people standing in front of me, but a friend caught this one right after the line. He was so very kind and didn’t even look winded!

Life lesson in this one. I was struggling the whole time to figure out what it meant to “race for fun”. I enjoyed the people, the bands, the aid stations, seeing friends and family along the course (a friend brought Adeline down and they got to see us twice on the course before it started to rain), and just taking in the moment. It was so awesome to have Adam running with me. He always makes me laugh and pushes me more than I thought possible.

Before the race, I asked Coach Nick what pace to run/how to run this race. He looked at me and said “I know you know how to pace a half marathon. Just get out there and do it.” That was totally intimidating!! I really like having set directives, and it’s hard for me to pull it from within. Knowing that I paced it well and knew my body, how things felt and that I could finish in a respectable time was really awesome and a testament to his coaching skills and my training over the last few months!

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Running Gear I Love

I wanted to say “Running Things I can’t Live Without”. .but that’s a little dramatic and I seem to make do when I make it out of the house without fill-in-the-blank thing. Except a sports bra. That’s a deal breaker.

Disclaimer: I bought all these with my own money and am not getting any compensation from any company for this information. This is my own honest and unbiased review.

The piece of running “gear” that I feel has made the biggest impact on my training is my Garmin GPS running watch. I have the Forerunner 220 with the hard HR strap. It is an excellent middle of the road watch. It will do all the normal GPS watch functions along with the ability to create workouts in GarminConnect and download them, as well as the HR monitoring which is crucial for HR training. One of the other things I like about my 220 is the ability to set a LOT of different screen options. Some screens can have up to 3 metrics showing at a time, it’s great for data junkies (and to keep yourself distracted!).

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Garmin Forerunner 220 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!

Next up is my FlipBelt. It is SO much better than a arm-band. SO MUCH BETTER!! It doesn’t bounce or jiggle and stays put. I keep my phone, a couple GUs and a chapstick (and sometimes my keys) and have never had a problem with it. Definitely a must if you carry your phone with you on each run!

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FlipBelt is in the middle of the #FlatRunner!

Thirdly is my RoadID. Working as a RN for many years in both Level I Trauma Center ER and ICU, I know how important it is for first responders to be able to have accurate and easily accessible information on a patient who is unconscious. RoadID has many different kinds of hardware (bracelets, shoe fobs, etc) and they have 2 different kinds of actual IDs. The first has an online database with an 800 number to call for all information, and the 2nd is whatever you put on the band itsself (stand alone). I love the online database as it’s easy to update, thorough and easy to access. On my band, I have my name, husband’s name and phone number as well as my birthday then the 800 number/website for first responders to access my info. Each band is given a unique serial # and PIN (located on the back of the band) which the first responders have to put in to the website or give over the phone, so your personal medical info is secure and not just available to anyone.

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Left to right: Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin 220, RoadID, Silicon wedding band. Can you guess what my favorite color is?

Lastly, a hat or a visor, sunglasses and compression socks! My go-to compression socks are from ProCompression(you can see the pink with stars in the above #FlatRunner picture). Fun, bright colors and just the right amount of squeeze. Great for racing, training and recovery.

Hats/visors. . whatever your preference. I never thought I’d like wearing one to run, but they work very well at keeping the sweat out of my face. I also never knew how great it was to have RX sunglasses until about a year ago. Worth every penny of the investment. Keeps my eyes from watering and feeling so tired, even on days when it’s not super bright out!

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Nuun trucker hat (one of my favorites!) and my Oakley RX sunglasses. Also note the short ProCompression socks!

These are a few of my favorite running gear items. What are your “cannot run without” items?

A Year of TS2 Coaching.

TS2 CoachingThis time last year, I was just starting to run again after a severe high ankle sprain that required  a long amount of downtime. I was down from April-August. No impact. And I still wasn’t convinced I’d ever be able to build back up my endurance to run any sort of distance again. (Side note: this is hilarious coming from the girl who hated, I mean HATED anything longer than a 200m in high school. Never would I thought I’d be running half marathons in my 30’s but I digress.)

I’ve known Nick for quite a while. Over 5 years. I knew him as the brother of our babysitter that I was SO lucky to find when I started working 5 days a week. He approached me and said “You really should consider letting me train you so you don’t hurt yourself going back into running.” Well, okay. Seemed like a good idea for a short-term plan to not injure myself. A year later, I’m still training!

It’s been a year of crazy. A year of family chaos, loss, stress, anxiety, change, and grief. I have used running as a coping mechanism a LOT. I’ve ran when I was sad, angry, frustrated, happy, anxious, nervous, scared, and excited. I’ve ran when it was stupid cold, stupid hot, raining, snowing, sunny, humid. and everything in between. I’ve just RAN. Running has become the new normal. More so than anything, I have ran to keep something in my life consistent.

I consider myself part of the TS2 team and family, even if we don’t all run together, or do the same sports (they also coach triathletes). I love having accountability. It’s much harder for me to move stuff around or not do a workout when I know Nick is watching for it to pop up on Garmin.  I enjoy following my teammates’ successes and know the time, effort and work they have put in to get those results. It’s also great to know there are others doing the same kind of workouts that you are, and it’s encouraging to see how far they have come and think that you are part of a really awesome group of athletes.

It’s been more than coaching. It’s been mentoring, partnership, friendship, and love/hate. Nick pushes me farther than I’d ever think I could. Hundred-mile-plus months. Forty plus mile weeks. Sub 9 min miles. Hill workouts. A 25 min PR. These are all things I have accomplished in the last year with the help and support of TS2, and Nick. Some days it’s super hard to make time to get the workout done. Some days my legs are angry. Some days I want to run FAST, to de-stress and just RUN and not think about heart rate intervals, how far I have to go, how long it’s going to take.  But I know there is a reason behind the plan, and I know the successes I’ve had are because I follow the plan. I put in the work, and I see the results.

It’s all been worth it.

I’m humbled by the fact that six years ago after my son was born, it took me over 40 min to run 2.5 miles. I can run 3 miles now easily under 30 min.  I’m faster than I’ve ever been. And that is because I have ran the plan. Trusted what was given me. Believed in myself and given something that I truly love to do into someone else’s hands to tell me how to execute. I have learned so much about myself and what is really important, and I have learned that when you get to a place where you can give up some control, awesome things can happen.

My One Little Word for 2015 has been Believe.

Believe you can. Believe you will. Believe that you did. Trust yourself. Trust others. Don’t give up. Believe.

I can’t wait to see what the next year holds. Thanks so much, Nick, for believing in me, pushing me, listening to me and being a great coach, mentor, friend, confidant, and cheerleader. I’m so lucky to be a part of TS2 Coaching.

Ragnar Great River 2015!!

What is Ragnar you ask? Ragnar Relay is  an overnight running relay event. You have a team of either 12 or 6 (if you are super extra crazy) people who split up into 2 vans (for the 12 person teams) and run 200ish miles from Point A to Point B over approximately 24-36 hours. Fun right?!

So last year, I found an AWESOME team from Chicago who had a spot for 1 runner on their Ragnar team. I was so excited! And then injury struck. Ah well.

This year, I put myself as “available” on the Ragnar site. I figured why not! Bryan reached out to me about 2 months before the race. .. I was thrilled! Perfect timing, as I didn’t have anything to look forward to after the Mini Marathon. We corresponded via email a few times and text message closer to the race, but other than that, I didn’t know anyone on the team with me.

Fast forward to race weekend. I took Thursday and Friday off work, as we had to drive up on Thursday, and our start time was 5AM Friday (NOT me, thank goodness). I met Bryan and most of the rest of the team at his house on the northeast side of Indy, and got in a van with 8 people I had never met before to drive 8 hrs and run 200 miles. As I’ve told this story, some people look at me with their eyes bugging out. . but really it was great. Now that I look back on it; it could have been really bad. . what if there was someone in there that I just couldn’t STAND to be stuck with for 36 hours?! The good news: It’s only 36 hours and I would have never had to see them again. The REALLY good new is that totally didn’t happen and I got to meet some really awesome people. Also . .6 dudes, 2 girls. Andrea and I got along great and I was very glad to have another girl along for the ride!

If you don’t want to read my (pretty long!) race recap, you can watch this awesome YouTube video put together by my teammate Mitch.

Winona MN is 491.5 miles from Indianapolis. That’s about 7.5 hours. . and we had to stop in Chicago and pick up another runner at Midway. We left Indy at 11AM, and arrived in Winona at right around 7:50pm. (We had an hour in our favor when going from IN to IL with time zones too). We literally made it right at the end of the safety briefing time. Also. . we may have run out of gas, and had to push the Yukon XL about a half mile to a gas station.  Team building, right?

Night before the race! We all look so eager!!
Night before the race! We all look so eager!!

The way the race works is that you split up into 2 vans, and switch off (if you have 12ish people). If you are an Ultra team, then you have one van/SUV that runs the whole time. THIS I think would be crazy. Rest time when you are cramming so many miles into a short amount of time was much needed (at least for me).

Van 1 started at 5AM on Friday. We asked for an early start time, as our average pace was going to be around 11 min/miles so we wanted to be sure to finish in enough time to enjoy the post-race party. My van had a late start, so we had time to get breakfast at the hotel, and make it to the first major exchange with time to decorate our Yukon!

At a equipment dealership and basic general store in the middle of nowhere!
At a equipment dealership and basic general store in the middle of nowhere!
Team Name: Run4Fun. All kinds of good stuff.
Team Name: Run4Fun. All kinds of good stuff.

The first van came into the exchange, handed off the 80’s era day glo orange slap bracelet and Andrea was on her way!

By the time it was FINALLY my turn to run my leg, I was SO ready to go. My first leg was my longest, and hardest. It also happened that it was 98ish degrees with a heat index of 100+. It was 8 miles, and it took me FOREVER. I had taken gels and water, and there were 3 water stops on the route, but it was just SO hot. I walked a lot. . even more than my walk/run intervals. I couldn’t get my HR down at all. Even walking was putting me over my range.  At the 2nd water stop, the girl was like “take some ice and put it in your bra”. I thought “duh, why didn’t I think of this!” As a nurse, we put ice packs on people’s groin/neck/armpits to cool them off, and what I needed was to get my core temp down. After the ice in the bra, taking off my shirt and throwing it to another van (for real . .I told them my team # and REALLY hoped I’d get it back as it was my very fave running shirt), I negative split the last 4 miles. Also, I drank 50ish ounces of water. I filled my bottle up twice, and it was full when I went out. And I still didn’t have to pee when I got done.

Obviously I had no idea how difficult this run was going to be!
Obviously I had no idea how difficult this run was going to be!

We ran our legs, and finished up around 630pm. We had reserved a hotel for the middle of the race to share between the 2 vans, about halfway between the 2 major exchanges that were happening at night/early AM. Best. Thing. Ever. Shower, an actual bed to sleep for a couple hours, and peaceful downtime. I didn’t realize how really great this was until I saw lots of people asleep at the early AM exchange on the tennis courts, football field, grass (chiggers, people, CHIGGERS!!) at the local high school. This was probably the best extra $ spent all weekend, I would highly recommend this!

My 2nd leg was in the middle of the night. It was a nice 5 miles of city running. It was still VERY humid, but much cooler. My pace was almost 2 min faster per mile. Some of my teammates had  great country road running which somehow I missed out on. HOWEVER they also had climbs of 500+ feet vertical gain, so I’m not sad I missed that(see #1 below).  The night runs required headlamp, reflective vest and blinky tail light. Lots of blinking lights to follow, so that made it easier to make sure we were going the right way!

My 3rd leg was almost all downhill, and crossed and followed the Mississippi River. GREAT views. As I was coming up on the river, a bald eagle came from the left, crossed over in front of me and went down towards the water. Beautiful.

Note I don't look quite as eager as I did for Leg 1.
Note I don’t look quite as eager as I did for Leg 1.
Crossing over the river for the final time in Minneapolis.
Crossing over the river for the final time in Minneapolis.

Coming in for the handoff!!

 

When you come in to the finish, the team all gets to join your runner and cross together!! Super fun.  Also, one free beer, and it was Sierra Nevada. I chose the Oktoberfest, and it was excellent.

This team was really awesome to run with! An adventure for sure.
This team was really awesome to run with! An adventure for sure.
And then we had beer :)
And then we had beer 🙂

Ragnar is quite the experience. Once again, I have learned that I’m much more capable than I believed myself to be in the beginning. I ended up running almost 20 miles over the course of the 36 hours! It made me realize that a full marathon isn’t that far out of reach (did I just say that OUT LOUD?!). I would totally do this again. It was fun to do with people I’d never met before, and I can guarantee it would be a BLAST if you did it with people you knew (just make sure you are fine with being in VERY close quarters with them for 36+hrs!!).  I was the navigator for most of the time (sort of default when you’re the one who needs to sit in the front or be carsick) and I LOVED it. My Dad would be proud of my map and direction abilities!

Some things we didn’t anticipate:

  1. Lots of hills (and a couple of named mountains!! I had no idea that MN/WI was SO HILLY.
  2. Small town=not as many places to stop and get ice/snacks as you’d think. It was better the 2nd half of the race (and I LOVED running thru the country!!) but we had a moment where we were worried we’d run out of water before we could fill up the cooler.
  3. The heat. Wisconsin had 3 days of 90+ degree weather so far for 2015. 2 of those days, we were running in. Heat indexes were over 100 most of the mid-day running hours.
    Really really hot. And humid. Weee midwest weather!
    Really really hot. And humid. Weee midwest weather!

    Otherwise the whole experience was awesome. Would you do a relay race with people you’d never met before?