Friday, December 16, 2011

CATCH UP TIME: Strength Season, Race Report and Triathlete Gift List

Alright folks, I know that I've been slacking. It's been pointed out to me on several occasions, in fact.

The thing is, after that last race of the season (an excellent half-marathon, photos from which pepper this post), I decided to take the off-season seriously for a little while. Or at least I tried to. I have not been in the pool or on my bike since early November. I took a little over a week off from running after the half marathon to give my legs a bit of a break. And I also thought that if I didn't feel like writing a blog post for a while, that was OK too.

That isn't to say, however, that I've been sitting on my off-season-sized tushy. Erin and I took up rock climbing a few months ago, and I've been going 1-2 times/week since then. I've also been heavily invested in my weekly yoga classes and have begun to do at-home crossfit workouts that my friend Matt turned me on to. This is all part of a gradual plan to turn the "off-season" into "strength season". For the rest of this month, until Erin and I leave with my family for 10 days in the tropics for the holidays (I know, we're pretty damn lucky), climbing, yoga and crossfit, with a bit of running on the side, is the plan. I've been taking 1 or 2 scenic trail runs every week, just for 3 or so miles, and then on Sundays I run with my friend Matt who's trying to jump back on the running wagon. Once January rolls around and we're settled back in, I will be continuing to climb and go to yoga, but will also get into some more serious lifting for a bit. For the four weeks before I start my first training block (undecided when that begins, but probably late February?) I will be following Matt Fitzgerald's "Quick Start" program to gain base fitness and lose the off-season weight. And then I will begin the training program, hopefully stronger, leaner and meaner than last year.

Looking ahead to the season, though, I need to start considering what races I am planning on attempting. I know that I am doing Eagleman 70.3 for sure (race entry is already in!) but I am still struggling with the decision to attempt a full ironman. I have to weigh several factors including the fact that this may be the last season I have time to do the training justice, but also the disaster that was my last half-ironman and the fact that I'll likely have to pay to enter the race before I will get to test my training at Eagleman. Oh and did I mention the race fee? yeah. NO IDEA how I will afford that.

I also need to see if I can somehow make coaching happen. I can't afford it, but I really think I will need it.

Speaking of my blown-up half last September, I went to the cardiologist this week. The good news is he doesn't think I should stop training and triathlons. There wasn't really much bad news, unless I continue to have problems when I ramp my training up in the Spring.

Backing up to my last race this season, which was a half marathon in Annapolis MD, I set a new PR on the innaugural course. My best friend from childhood and her roommate came down to race as well. The short version of the story is that because of traffic and poor planning on both our part and that of the race organizers, we ended up starting the race 45 minutes after the gun went off. Thank goodness for timing chips! We had the course nearly to ourselves for large parts of the race. Unfortunately I caught up with the slower pace groups just as I hit a very narrow bike path section of the course and had to dodge considerable, two-way traffic. Again, it was this race's first year and there were some improvements needed. There were not enough water stations, there were no mile markers and the parking situation left a lot to be desired. However, the two-way heavy traffic of 2,000 runners on a narrow bike path in the woods was definitely the worst-planned element. Still, we had a great time and there was free beer after the race (even if they did run out of post-race water...).

NOW for the Triathlete Gift List!! I was going to just type up my wish list (and for those of you who are curious about my triathlon needs, arm warmers, knee warmers, bike shoe booties, a bike headlight, a new running case for my iphone, and a winter riding jersey are all good bets!) but has an awesome list of adorable goodies for those who still need presents for their favorite triathletes. Check it out here:

Triathlete Magazine Gift Ideas

Now I will leave you with my jock xmas picture of the year. Here is our "Christmas Tree." There is no room in our apartment for a real one...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last Race Week of the Year (and a bonus video clip!)

Ahhh and we're back with another taper week! My last race of the season, a half marathon with my best friend from home, is on Saturday. My week consists of a handful of 2 mile runs, a few gradual progressions and some tempo intervals thrown in for good measure. Other then that, I have to make due with stretching and yoga. And as always, it's enough to make me a lil' crazy.

Oh and I am of course grungry. That's the taper week curse, I think.

But I am finished complaining now! This is the inaugural running of this race, so when I went to a local running shop to pick up my packet, I got a sweet windbreaker instead of a normal, boring race t-shirt! I'm really excited to run and to see my bestie and her roommate (both are staying with me for race weekend! partay!) I've been planning out a meal plan for the weekend! hehe. Nevermind the study that says women don't really benefit from carbo-loading. I have a whole pasta meal planned. Although if we decide we want to believe the science, I have probably three backup plans, haha.

Anyway, REALLY excited for this weekend!

P.S. Here's a (very brief) lil' movie of my sprint finish at the SheROX Bermuda Triathlon, courtesy of my father (whose face you get to see as he tries to turn the camera on at the beginning)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Trouble shooting

Apparently quite a few people are having trouble seeing my blog now. I am hoping this post will somehow magically fix it? Seems unlikely but worth a try. Hopefully I can get it worked out soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wind-swept Thunder Puppy: SheROX Bermuda Race Report

This past weekend I was lucky enough to travel to Bermuda with my parents for what was supposed to be a fun and sunny relay sprint triathlon with my mother as my "swim specialist." What ensued was quite different from the original plan, and only one of the expected factors held true: It was certainly fun! Highly entertaining, in fact! Here is how it went down in the Bermuda Triangle:

Actually, my tale begins in Pennsylvania. I traveled up to my parents' house on Friday evening so that we could hop on a plane Saturday morning. I had packed up shorts, tshirts, bathingsuits and my race gear in a little carry-on bag. I was ready for a weekend of sunshine and blue skies and clear water to float in post-race.

I went to my awesome bike shop during the week and had them break down and box up my bike in a rental case, which was a huge, hard-sided plastic thing with wheels. I was pretty nervous about my baby getting broken down and rebuilt in Bermuda, to be honest. I wasn't sure who was supposed to be doing the building when we got there, but up until this past weekend I had yet to allow anyone to touch my bike besides my shop-mates and I wasn't too pleased with the prospect of a newly ill-fitting bike for the race. But this race was all about having fun with my mom. After all, she is the swimmer who likes to float on her back and sing to the clouds at the first sign of any possible stress or strain during race situations. We were going to have a great time, but we weren't exactly going to be Team Speed.

So anyway, my large, cumbersome bike box, my little carry-on of vacation clothes and I made our way up to PA. Once we arrived, my father, who was obsessively checking the wind and weather forecasts because he was planning to kite board (his extreme sport of choice) while we were in Bermuda, informs me that there is a storm system with gale force winds, cool fronts, rain, and general mayhem quickly approaching the island. Maybe not bikini weather, afterall?

My father spent the rest of the evening checking and rechecking the forecast, debating back and forth whether or not he should bring his kiteboarding gear. My mother spent the evening wondering what the swim would be like. I spent the evening in complete denial. I didn't want to think about the bike course (rumored to be quite hilly) with gale force crosswinds and my little sail of a bike. In my mind, the thing was gonna blow over. Right?


We arrived at the Philly airport with enough luggage for those around us to think we were moving permanently. We each had our clothes in carry-on bags, but my father had two large bags of kiteboarding gear, and I had a bike box with me large enough to house a small tiger. In fact, when I took the box to the special X-Ray line for oversized baggage, the man running the machine took one look at it and said with fear and dread in his voice "That's an animal, isn't it?" What did he think I was doing, smuggling a very large exotic pet? Don't worry sir, my predatory wild cat is very sweet when he's drugged. I assured him it was only a bicycle. It was then my turn to feel the fear and dread as I watched them open up my bike box and poke around at by bubble-wrapped baby. I don't know what I thought they were going to do to it, but I was sure it was going to be bad. But after wiping her down with drug rags, they locked the box back up and sent her down the conveyor belt. I did watch her the entire way down though, just to be sure.

Our flight to Bermuda was a pretty good indicator of what we were to expect. It was more than a little turbulent, and the landing was downright scary. The sky was an ominous gray from the moment we stepped out of the plane and we were whipped across the face with huge gusts of wind. I just sort of pretended like it wasn't happening.
We stayed at the hotel from which the SheROX triathlon was hosted. This meant that packet pick-up, all the pre-race and post-race meetings, as well as a few included meals were all conveniently located in our lobby. The hotel was huge and gorgeous, although extremely pricey. I had forgotten to bring water bottles and had to purchase a bottle of Dasani for $2.25, for example. Anyway, we went to packet pickup and I took my bike in to be assembled in a meeting room on the “Mezzanine Level”. When I first dropped it off in the hands of a teenage kid, I started freaking out internally. I rushed my parents through their check-in process so I could go back and make sure my bike wasn’t being dismembered or worse. Turns out the kid was an assistant to a local bike shop manager. Not only was the manager an excellent mechanic who did a bang-up job rebuilding my bike, the kid was pretty darn knowledgeable too. They told me to take a spin on my bike and check it all out, and it rode like new. I was so freaking pleased.
Let it be known that SheROX gives great swag. We got a little over the shoulder bag thingy with our packet pick up, as well as a great technical tee and a Luna Bar! YUMMY!
Next stop was the pre-race meeting (although we had a lot of trouble finding food beforehand and my mother and I were both very grungry), from which we attempted to head out and find transition. This proved to be much more difficult that it should have been. We wandered the island looking for the swim start and the bike racks for quite some time, all the while witnessing the increasing speed and ferocity of the wind and occasional whipping rain. Eventually a shuttle driver took pity on us and showed us where to go. Finally on the correct beach, we came across the following sign:
I was suddenly very happy to not be doing the entire race myself, although I did feel bad putting my mother out as Man-O-War bait. In different circumstances the swim course itself might have been described as “nestled in a protected cove,” but in the current conditions the craggy rocks on either side of the narrow cove were being beaten by waves. It honestly looked like a death trap in there. We all speculated that the swim might get cancelled, but at the pre-race meeting they had said they only planned on shortening the course if the weather wasn’t cooperating in the morning.
Once we ate, I think we all felt better.
Back at the hotel, we set up our race gear. My father then informed me that he had brought with him his Go Pro video camera. We decided to stick a fastener to the top of my helmet so that I could record the bike course. As you can see, we had to spend a bit of time getting the right angle for maximum entertainment:
Early to bed. Except for the increasingly loud wind, thunder, lightening, and the chorus of snoring from my parents. My sister says sharing a hotel room with my parents is like sleeping with walruses. She isn’t kidding. There really wasn’t much sleeping done that first night, and we were up at 4:30 for race morning. Call me perverse, but I love the excitement of getting up and getting ready for a race before the sun is up.
We rose to the continued sound of howling wind, grabbed a little pre-race breakfast and headed down to the start. I ate a little more than I usually do before a race because as the cyclist/runner I didn’t think I would be doing anything for a little while. The swim start was supposed to be at 7 am. On our way down the (treacherous and dark) hill to the transition area, we peaked out over the water to see some serious waves still crashing against the rocks and no swim buoys. A woman walking with us (and then the loud, over-talkative male announcer) confirmed our suspicions; the swim had been cancelled. In an unusual choice, the race directors had decided that rather than convert to a traditional duathlon format (run, bike, run), that we would instead time-trial start from the bike. Yikes. This was something completely new for me, but I was not the only one in that boat. The sad part was that suddenly my mother and I were no longer on a team together. Instead, I was now a lone thunderpuppy, off to take on my age group rather than the relay teams. *cue the music* Aaaalll byyy myy see-e-eeellff…
My mom’s attitude about her sudden removal from the race seemed to oscillate between relieved and kinda peeved. She hadn’t exactly traveled all the way to Bermuda (or taken me and my father all the way there) to sit and watch me race. Once she got over the initial shock, however, she had a great time cheering and commiserating with her fellow “swim specialists” who were also out a job that morning.
The race began with a time-trial style bike start. We lined up in order of our numbers, and since I was originally on a relay team, I had a very large number and started quite late in the race. By the time I started, however, I still had a huge lump of that big breakfast sitting in my stomach. Still, I turned on my GoPro helmet camera (a big hit among the ladies in transition) and made my way across the timing mat and up a very steep hill! Some way to start out on your bike! Several competitors just opted to run their bikes up the first hill before even hopping on. Because I was in the large, later numbers I quickly began a never-ending series of passes that were (here’s the kicker!) on the RIGHT! Yes, in Bermuda, a former British colony whose current political status is fuzzy to me, one drives ones car and or bike on the left side of the road. When watching the video from my GoPro cam (I’ll get it up here soon) you hear a near constant commentary, mostly made up of the words “On your right!”, “Thank you!” and “What a view!” with a few “Wow it is seriously windy!”s thrown in for good measure. And by god was it windy. The gusts of 50 mph in combination with some serious hills (Bermuda is one hilly island!) made for some very slow moments, as well as some very swift descents. The course was beautiful and challenging in a good way, however. I was only nearly blown off the road once, and only had one vehicular close encounter. For the most part the bike course was completely closed off to traffic. The volunteers and spectators were equally awesome along the course, and the SheROX competitors sure are a friendly bunch. Loved the bike ride.
Probably a bit too much, actually, because by the time I got into transition I was nearly spent. It had been a very tough course and I had gone pretty hard, but I also knew I had set myself up pretty well in the standings so I was gonna have to try to hold onto a good run split. The first hill out of transition was a doozy though and I tottered up to the first aid station at the top thinking “oh shit…” But soon after my legs found themselves and I got a nice clip going. The hills were still tough, and my run splits were nothing like the 5k I ran a few weeks prior. Still, the course was beautiful (if blustery) and I enjoyed every second of it (ok except for that first hill). I got to the end and put in my usual kick for a sprint to the line. It was nice to end my tri season with a race that didn’t involve immediately collapsing post medal reception. I asked the lady for a second medal for my teammate and she obliged. I gave my mother her finishers medal (Her best swim split ever! Instantaneous! It was over before she even started!) and my father snapped our picture. Victorious!
Post race I checked the results and figured out that I had placed third in my age-group. It turns out to have been a good thing that I no longer qualified as a relay team, because one of the teams had some serious ringers and finished the course in under an hour. I also received the best post-race massage I’ve had in my life. Seriously, I asked the guy if I could just take him home with me to have around after every race. I’m going to need him after my half marathon in a week!
That evening, SheROX and our hotel through an elaborate awards ceremony complete with food, a bar, and a DJ. It was the most glamorous awards ceremony I have ever seen in triathlon. They gave the winners little gift sets with the makings for “dark and stormies”, the signature Bermuda rum drink. I got a sweet medal for my third place effort:
We spent the rest of our short time on the island exploring on motor scooters. As a side note, there was an international rugby tournament on the island during the same weekend. The tournament games were cancelled for days because of the wind and weather (which our race director reveled in pointing out: We women triathletes were tough enough to race in the storm that halted the rugby men in their quivering cleats!) You have to imagine the craziness of our hotel. Fit little women with bicycles riding and rolling all over the lobby and elevators, contrasted with HUGE, burly, frequently drunk and grass-stained packs of rugby men from Whales, New Zealand and Argentina. It was quite a sight. A few of the rugby players (all very gregarious and tipsy) even crashed our awards banquet. Why not? There was booze! And fit women!
At the end of the weekend, a wonderful time was had by all. And my parents, myself and my bike (or baby tiger, if you prefer) all arrived stateside in one piece.
Thanks Mom and Dad!
The Thunderpuppies will rise again! The team name will be resurrected (hopefully with a little more meteorological success) next year in Aurora, CO where my mother and I will be joined by my younger sister for an epic family relay team! My sister may not have started running yet, but she bought a book about it!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thunder Puppies Update: The "Mature Point of View"

I received an email from my Mother, asking to be posted in my blog. So my guest writer of the week, my mother, would like to share these thoughts:

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

And by the way, I too am struggling with training motivation so why don’t we just enjoy ourselves and not get all performance based obsessive. We are going to Bermuda, where you have never been, and I know I can swim the distance (but not always on my stomach I do great things in the elementary back stroke). We are going to have a GREAT time (just not in great times). I am scoping out restaurant reservations, and we can probably start getting the long range forecast.

Focus on sun screen or something.

Call your grandmother post total hip. She's bored.

Love the alpha bitch thunder puppy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thunder Puppy Popsicle

I just had to spend 15 minutes defrosting under hot water.

Why, you may ask? Well mostly because I was not as ready for cold weather as I had thought I might be. I always romanticize cold weather and the fall, but when it comes down to it, a chilly evening ride at the end of October (when very suddenly the air temp has plummeted. I swear last week was in the 70s) is just that: chilly. I probably should have gotten out earlier in the day, but I have been chasing around Halloween costume accessories all day and got home just in time to freeze my butt off before dark.

This, by the way, is all in the name of a certain sprint relay in which I am participating with my mother next weekend. My lovely mother lured me into doing two legs of the relay (bike and run, the ones where you actually sweat) by advertising the gorgeous location of this race: Bermuda.

I am of course very excited to go. But ever since my last race in early September I have been very focused on running the upcoming Annapolis half-marathon (end of November) and honestly I've been slacking on the riding. My run is great, I PRed in a 5k earlier this month and my training has gone really well. I even did some altitude training this week while I was out visiting my sister in Denver. But my bike? Well I have been riding, just not nearly as much as I normally would. For some reason after a half-ironman, getting worked up over 15 miles in a sprint relay seems...well...apparently difficult.

So today I realized that I probably only had 2 bike rides left before the race (I have to pack the bike up in a box on Wednesday and I have lots of running planned this weekend, which leaves only today and Monday to ride) and that I had better get my butt outside and try out some hills...haven't seen those in a while. Hills went better than expected, really. I have been riding a few times a week on my indoor trainer because of rainy weather. But the cold? That I was not prepared for. And it's only October.

I guess I better toughen up before I start training hard in January...

Oh yeah. The team name my mother chose for this relay? The Thunder Puppies.

Honestly, mother.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kona obsession and a 5K PR

First of all, I have to get my Kona excitement out of the way! Kona was absolutely incredible this year!!! Holy cow! I spent the whole day with my computer hooked up to our TV, watching the event unfold. We went to a friend's house that night and I was worried about missing the finish, but luckily some of the other guests were as excited as I was and we got a computer hooked up in time to see Chrissie and Mirinda come across the line. It was so unbelievable. Crowie breaking the course record was great, but even more amazing was watching Chrissie Wellington come back form her less than stellar swim. It was a whole new side of her. Not only can she dominate from start to finish, but now we know she can come from behind and fight all the way till the end!

Ok, so now that that's over with, back to my training! Since my last race, I have been totally revamping my training. First I am training for this half marathon, but I am also working on my speed on the bike and run for the sprint relay in Bermuda with my mom. I'm having a lot of trouble getting back into the right kind of cycling shape. When I cut down on the amount of cycling I was doing, I lost a lot of the fitness I had. I'm trying to build back to short distance speed, but it's really tough.

I thought I was having a similar problem with my run training, however, and it turns out that my self assessment wasn't entirely accurate. This past weekend I ran the Great Pumpkin 5K and I got a new PR. 23:34! That's 7:35 min miles! For me, that's freakin' nuts. It was a perfect day on a rolling course, and my friend Jackie came to run too. She's been dealing with a leg injury and we didn't run together, but I was so excited she was there with me.

Speaking of injuries (ah the constant theme), I am still having issues with my right hip, as well as some lower leg pain on my left. The lower leg pain seems a bit similar to shin splints, but it's lower than normal and feels a little more muscular. I think I am going to tape it for my run today to see how that works out.

I've been out of the pool since my half-iron distance race. I just haven't felt like swimming since then and I am not training to swim for a while so I decided if my mind needed a break, it was time to give it one. I've been going to yoga and rock climbing with my wife instead for cross-training. Time to get ripped!! :)

Did anyone make my Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe yet? I am going to make it again today and I am really excited? Love love love it!

Alright, time to cook, have lunch, go to the doctor, and then get my run in!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Recipe: Moroccan Chicken Stew with Lentils and Spinach

I adapted this recipe from a cookbook called Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass. This stew is made in a pressure cooker, but could also be made in a crockpot or slow cooker. The cooking times will of course be very different. It is a high protein recipe, flavorful and low calorie. Before I even finished this I knew it would be fantastic, and I was right. To add some carbs to your meal, you could serve this stew with your favorite rice or other grain like quinoa. The recipe is pretty large, so since there are only two of us in my house we got to put the leftovers in the fridge for Erin to eat later this week when I'm out of town.

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Lentils and Spinach
Special tools: Pressure Cooker

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds (I substituted a mix of whole allspice seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned and trimmed of fat (any skinned chicken will work, dark meat stays more moist)
3 1/2 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used 1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin because I used whole allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup of raisins (I used dried currants and they were fantastic)
2 or 3 large carrots, whole peeled
1 large bag of spinach
1 tablespoon of finely minced ginger
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in the cooker and saute the onion until lightly browned. Add in the whole seeds and saute for 10-30 seconds. Lower the heat to give yourself some time and add in the water, lentils, chicken, allspice, cinnamon and raisins. Stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and then set the carrots on top.
Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 9 minutes. Reduce the pressure with a quick-release method. Remove the lid, making sure to tilt it away from you so the steam can escape safely.
Cut up the carrots with a knife, and stir in the spinach and ginger. If you stir the spinach in while the stew is still hot, it should cook as you stir. If not, bring the stew back to a simmer to finish the cooking process. Add salt to taste.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coming Soon!

As I may have mentioned in the past, my mother is part of a few different relay teams. She tackles SheROX series races as the swimmer in various team configurations of her friends, families and friends' friends. This summer, she and her friends have been calling me up, calling me coach, and asking me various triathlon questions. Some of these questions are very reasonable, some of these questions are interesting, and some of them are downright hilarious. Her current team "Grannies in Training" has been by far the most amusing. They are racing today, so I can't wait to hear how they did. Once the results are in, I will likely be writing a post (or perhaps a book) about my experiences "coaching" the "Grannies in Training."

In the meantime, Competitor Magazine is running a cool series of online videos that I think I will be following. Here is the second episode:

And my training? going pretty well. Today is my first long run of this training block. Yesterday I did a really nice 4 mile trail run. I am also still cycling because I too have been assimilated into a relay team with my mother, set to race in November. She named us the "Thunderpuppies." I do not understand...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back to Running

Well hello there friends. It's been over a week since my half ironman and my crazy/interesting hospital adventure. The aftermath included significant soreness, as well as making sure I recovered adequately. I think the cramping I had gotten during and after the race contributed to the soreness, so for two days I hobbled around, napped, and ate. And spent a great deal of time talking on the phone to friends who couldn't be at the race but wanted to know all of the details. By Wednesday the soreness was much better, and it was completely gone by Thursday.

I did not work out again until Thursday afternoon, and by then I was about crawling out of my skin. The soreness made it easy for me to rest the first few days, but when you've been working out this much and suddenly you stop, your whole world feels out of whack. So on Thursday, after watching my mom and her friend Starr swim and giving them some technique and workout tips, I went on a nice, easy, 10 mile ride with Starr. (Side note: Mom and Starr are both racing this coming weekend in Massachusetts. It is a sprint and this will be Starr's first triathlon. My mother is on a relay team as the swimmer. Goodluck Ladies!) The ride felt great, my body was so happy to be in motion again, and the pace gave me a chance to actually look around and enjoy the ride and scenery.

Friday's cross-training? Rock climbing! Very nice, although managed to bring back some upper-body soreness.

By Saturday I was again getting restless. Erin was coaching a hockey tournament up north of here, and it involved one morning game and one evening game. After the morning game she drove me to a park nearby. I had her park at the top of the first trail-head we saw, changed clothes in the car, and jumped out for an adventure. I didn't have my iPod, or any way to track my mileage. All I had were the little white hashmarks on the trees indicating which path I should follow back when I decided to turn around and a deadline from Erin ("If I don't see you by 3:45, I am going to start worrying!") My run was, in a word, fantastic. The weather was a bit cool and overcast in that way that makes the green of the trees sort of glow. The trail was singletrack, and just technical enough to be really fun without being too challenging to run. Over streams, past waterfalls, under half-fallen trees, and over a few large logs I went. I got lucky in that there weren't any huge climbs to really take the wind out of me. I have no idea how far or fast I went, but after 20 minutes or so I turned around and followed the trail back. Every second was fun and free and it was exactly what I needed.

Yesterday I played around on a mountain bike and took another short trail run (although this one ended up being too technical to really run all that much). The break from the roads, especially after this race and blow-up, was welcome.

I have signed up for a few more races. I am doing a 5k in a few weeks and a half-marathon in November with my best friend from home and her roommate. I am the cyclist and runner for a relay team with my mother scheduled to sprint in Bermuda in November as well.

I have also signed up for a half-ironman next summer. My ironman plans are a little less concrete at this point. I wanted to sign up for Chesapeakeman, and I likely still will. I just wish the registration didn't close up so quickly, because I would really like to have another, more successful half-iron distance race under my belt before I paid that entry fee. I am excited to be doing more running this fall, and I think I may invest in a pair of real trail running shoes so that I can spend more time on the singletrack. I would just keep using my old running shoes, but I managed to rub a hole in them between the hiking and trail running I have been subjecting them to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Delaware Diamondman Race Report: Swim, Bike, Run, Ambulance

Usually I would wait to write out the full race report until after I got the pictures, but I guess these count as special circumstances. I do have a few pictures from family iPhones, but you'll have to wait for the pro pics.

Anyway, the first thing that I can say is that I finished my first half-ironman. My family isn't sure how they feel about my glorification of this fact, considering the circumstances in which it happened. I understand that I must do a better job of listening to my body and being reasonable and realistic with myself. But I am still proud. I worked damn hard for that stinkin' finisher's medal. Much harder than the sheer distance of the event.

That being said, every time I retell this story it becomes more clear to me how insane it sounds and how crazy I may be.

Also, because of how this day went and the mistakes I know I must have made, I am going to explain my nutrition and health etc. very thoroughly (AKA THIS IS A VERY LONG POST). I am hoping for insight here from my fellow triathlete followers into whether not my assessment of my hydration and nutritional mistakes is correct. Looking back on the day, I believe that there were some things going wrong with my body and electrolyte levels before I started, and then during the race I had too much caffiene and too few electrolytes. We'll see what you all think.

So here it goes:

SATURDAY: Erin and I drove up to Delaware for the weekend to see our families and prep for the race. We stayed with her parents Friday night, and then Saturday took care of last minute errands. My friend Mary was also doing the race, and it was her first triathlon. I met her at packet pick-up on Saturday and we took a quick little spin on our bikes to check out the area a bit and get our legs moving. After she left I ran for a few minutes, threw in some strides and felt pretty good. My taper week had been mentally tough and I had been having trouble sleeping. On top of that, (here's your first warning sign), my heart had been bothering me a little bit. Let me qualify that statement with a back story: In 2001 I had a catheter ablation for AV nodal tachycardia. In other words, my heart sometimes beats too fast and I had a surgery to fix the little electrical short circuit that was causing it. I haven't had any major issues since then, but every once and a while I get a strange feeling in my chest that is a preliminary symptom of my cardiac episodes. The week leading up to the race I was just getting that strange feeling more frequently, but it would go away. And the day before my race I felt all right.

Saturday I was fueling up on easily digestible foods all day. We went to my parent's for the evening (after I went on a wild goose chase for a run/number belt that could hold my inhaler since I had left my belt at home. I had to explain to Erin that a fanny pack simply wouldn't work, made a huge stink about it, and then ended up getting a running pack that even I had trouble denying was basically a fanny pack. graaarrr. No Erin, it's a sleek, running waist pack!). Anyway, for dinner I had a small amount of pasta (cause I didn't love it) and then a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and a G2 lowcal gatorade. Before bed I got hungry again so I had a small PB sandwich. After switching rooms and fussing for a while to get comfortable (the first room was too hot, the second had too many allergens...what a flipping princess!) we went to bed and warning number 2 occurred. Around 2 am I got cramps in my foot, the muscle along the shin and calf of my left leg. I had to stomp around on the bed and stretch them out before I could go back to sleep.

RACE DAY: Up at 4:15 am and into my race gear. For breakfast I had oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, coffee and a banana. Had another banana in the car on the way to the race and some water. Once I got down the race site, about an hour drive from my parents', I had a Stinger Waffle while I set up in transition. I was stoked about my spot in transition because my bike was literally right in front of the Swim In/Bike In so I knew I wouldn't get lost running down rows of bicycles. Props to myself, I set up my transition area really well. I felt great and was chatting up my fellow racers. I was also SUPER excited that the swim wasn't cancelled. My friend Mary was only a few people down from me, so we were able to get ready together. Very fun.

Before the race started I had a bag of the Limeade Stinger Chews (caffeinated) and a G2 low cal gatorade. My parents and Mary's mom were at the swim start, which was awesome. We were in the second wave with an in-water start, and the water was about chest-neck height at the start buoy. The water was really pleasant at 77 degrees, although it's a large pond so it's quite murky. My swimming felt strong and Mary and I were armpit to armpit for almost the entire time in the water. I stayed on course (as did she since she was literally right next to me the whole time) and was super happy until I rounded the second turn bouy on the U-shaped course. My left foot and toes started to cramp. So I swam with one flexed foot and one pointed foot for a while. It would go away and I could swim again...but then it would come back. After the last bouy and about 400 meters from the swim exit, the cramp crept up to my calf and shin. I tried to see if I could touch the ground, but I couldn't yet, so I made up a strange turtle kick and mostly pulled hard with my arms (thank you paddles for my arm/back muscles!). Just as I got close enough to shore to touch the ground, both my legs cramped up entirely. I waddled for a few strides in the deep water to work the cramps out and then combo swam/walked to the exit. Obviously I lost Mary by then, and added a few minutes to my time, but I still was probably out of the water at 35 or 36 minutes (for 1.2 miles). We had a quarter of a mile to run before the timing mat at transition, however (I ran it barefoot, some athletes put shoes on at the swim exit) so my official swim time was 39:27.

When I came out of the water I was fighting back tears (my legs HURT!) and yelled to my parents that I had charlie horses in both of my legs. Erin was camped out on a chair right in front of the Swim In/Bike In so I passed her on my way into transition. Mary was still there when I got in but left before I did. T1 was really pretty good. I got my wetsuit off quickly, the cramps were basically gone, and I got my bike gear on with ease. 1:29. Not amazing, but much better than my previous attempts.

Got out on the bike course and let it rip. My first goal was to catch Mary and see how my legs felt. I caught her relatively quickly and I had no cramping. I knew going into the race that bike might now be my new strongest leg and I suddenly felt pretty darn great. The Zipp rentals were faassstt and the course was mostly flat. I had my first Gu (Roctane Vanilla Orange with double caffiene), drank some water, and flew. I went a little off course once relatively early on because the guys ahead of me did. I make it a point on the bike course to thank every single police officer and volunteer that I see. I guess karma paid off, because as I thanked the officer at the turn my fellow competitors took incorrectly he said "Oh triathletes go that way!" and pointed me in the right direction. I made a quick turn around, thanked him again, and got back on course. Shortly after, Mary caught up with me and I decided it was time to kick it into high gear and make up for lost time, so I started to hammer. I didn't see her again till I was coming back from the turn-around, but found out later she got a flat. Over the 56 miles I had a total of 2 Gus (both with double caffeine) and 2 packages of Honey Stinger Chews (one with caffeine, one without). Honestly I hadn't even thought about the fact that almost all of my nutrition products had caffeine in them. They're the ones I use in training, but I'm never consuming this many at a time I guess. I also had a full water bottle and took a bottle at the exchange. I only drank about 2/3 of my low cal gatorade, however.

The bike course was mostly flat, although we went over a HUGE bridge which constituted one substantial climb. I felt awesome and came in from the bike totally amongst the men. My bike split put me at the 10th female overall, and second in my age group (the girl who won my age group came in 6th OVERALL, first woman). I averaged 19.4 mph over 56 miles for a 2:53:56 bike. At T2 I was half an hour ahead of where I thought I would be. My cycling has seriously improved this year.

T2 was great for me at 1:10. Again, not incredible, but for me, great. I still had almost all of the water from the bottle exchange, so I drank some as I ran out of transition and poured some on me. Going into the run, I started to realize that I was feeling pretty drained. Of course that is to be expected after 57.2 miles. I also knew that my run was under-trained because I had been struggling with injury so much. I was so happy with my swim and my bike, I was content to shuffle 9 or 10 minute miles and finish with a smile. So that was how I started. But very quickly, things started to go terribly wrong. My heart felt funny. I had the fluttery, pressure in my chest that I associate with my tachycardia episodes. I started trying to take my pulse probably around mile 2, but it was impossible to tell if i was tachy or just had an elevated heart rate cause Hey, I was working out! I got water and gatorade at every aid station. It was at this point when, around when I took my first Gu on the run (Roctate Vanilla Orange, double caffeine) that I realized that all of my nutrition was caffeinated and that probably wasn't helping my heart rate. duh. I started picking up hammer gels at the aid stations because they weren't caffeinated.

As the run progressed, I felt worse and worse. Not just tired, but really icky. My hands were going numb and when I would straighten my arms, numbness and pain shot down them to my thumbs. I was lightheaded and I felt like my heart was in my throat. Between miles 5 and 6 I convinced myself that I just needed to pee and I would feel better. I tried that. Didn't fix it. At the turn around I let myself do something I have never done before. I walked.

By then I was furious at myself. I couldn't believe that I was going to let myself walk. But as soon as I did, I knew I might be in real trouble. I thought I was going to pass out. My hands were numb, and it felt like gravity got extra strong and I was shrinking. I was covered in goosebumps and I had poured so much water on myself that I couldn't be sure, but I thought maybe I had stopped sweating. At this point I thought about flagging down the truck I could see further up on the course bringing water to the aid stations. I thought it would be better to get his attention before I hit the ground, cause I thought I was going down. Then I thought maybe I was just being dramatic.

That was when I made the (possibly very stupid) decision to finish. I just thought about getting carried back to the finish line in a truck, and somehow, short of two broken legs and a heart attack, I just couldn't fathom it. There was just no way. I tried to reason with myself. I was saying "hey, pros DNF all the time when something goes wrong!" but I am not a pro. I am a stupid age-grouper who glorifies the finish above all else cause it's not like I'll ever redeem myself by winning the whole damn thing one day. In my deranged state, finishing HAD to happen.

At the mile 7 aid station I stopped completely and talked to the guy there. I told him I was dehydrated and needed help, but that I wanted to finish. He gave me several gatorades and a hammer gel. I started using all the techniques I had been taught 10 years ago when my heart problem was more active to lower my heart rate. After a few minutes I began to run again. I started to Galloway Method (run 4 telephone poles, walk one) and during every walk I practiced heart-rate lowering techniques. Over the course of the run I had 2.5 double caffeinated Gus and 3 non caffeinated hammer gels. After I mile 7 I drank as much gatorade and water as I could without puking at every aid station, and poured it all over me. It was the longest 13.1 miles of my life. Parts of it I don't remember too well. At around mile 9 my legs began to cramp again. I would run until they cramped, then walk until they stopped. Several runners, including Mary, ran and walked with me before moving on. I was going pretty darn slow. At around mile 11 I told Mary to go on and tell everyone I was coming. I remember seeing her stop to walk up a hill ahead of me and yelling at her to keep going, she was killing it. With 1 mile left I saw my dad out on the course and picked up my pace to the last aid station, poured 2 cups of water on me, and then ran the last mile with a nice lady named Anne. 100 yards from the finish we turned a corner around some trees, saw the finish line, and suddenly there were many people yelling my name. I couldn't really focus on who had shown up at that point, but I was so happy they were there. I turned to Anne and said "Ready to sprint?" and she said yes. I sprinted to the finish line (for all I know I my idea of a sprint at that point was a crawl), turned to high-five Anne, and stopped for the volunteer to take of my timing chip.

I am sure that my parents' or Erin's account of what happened next would be more accurate than mine. I mostly remember reaching for a finishers medal, falling on Erin, shade, the ground, my parents, and then the glorious ice and cold water being poured on me. There were people all around me but I couldn't lift my head or arms or upper body and my body kept trying to lie down without my telling it to. There were a lot of voices telling me and other people what to do, but I'm pretty sure all I did was sit there. I remember telling my mom about my heart bothering me the entire run and telling Erin not to lose that (damn) medal. The EMTs arrived and took info and my vitals. After a while I started to feel a bit better and began to understand where I was and who was there. I was very very embarrassed and kept apologizing, I couldn't believe what a dramatic display I had made. I was plopped down right in the middle of a local team's tent (THANK YOU TRIDAWGS FOR YOUR HOSPITALITY!!!!) and someone was giving me gatorade and swedish fish and fritos. I kept saying that I hadn't had fritos in years.

Slowly I felt better and started talking to people. When I started to feel more human, I tried to stand up, but both my legs started cramping. The pain was crazy. I had decided not to go to the hospital, but when the cramping wouldn't go away, the decision was revoked and onto a stretcher I went to get IV fluids and balance my electrolytes.

So one ambulance ride and 2 liters of fluids later, I was sitting in the hospital chatting with my parents and Erin and feeling very tired although much more normal. Dad brought me a chocolate milkshake (another treat I haven't had in years) and turkey burger sliders, which I housed. I think I also had some of an apple and a banana. Eventually it was clear I was fine and I could walk without my legs cramping. IV fluids are incredible. But I hate the flipping IV. By the time the doctors got to me (they were slammed that day) my heart was behaving correctly so there was no point in an EKG. Erin brought me my finisher's medal and said "I hope this was worth it..."

Post-hospital I had a chocolate milk, 2 gatorades, a bag of veggie chips, a turkey hoagie, a bit of dark chocolate, and a bag of peanut butter pretzels, spread out over the rest of the evening. I was stiff, sore, and exhausted, but worlds better.

My time was 6:08:53. I finished 8 minutes off of my goal time. After T2 I was half an hour ahead of schedule, which made up for my 2:32:50 run.

Mary, btw, finished 5 minutes ahead of me for a stunning triathlon debut at the half-iron distance, and that included a flat tire! She's a natural talent.

So now of course it's time for the"next steps" and "lessons learned" section. It's time to start mining my resources to figure out what really happened to me. My mother has put me in contact with a triathlete friend of hers who is also in the medical field, and he and I should be chatting soon about nutrition and prep. I honestly don't think that my training itself was an issue. I had plenty of training to finish, and although I needed more run training to go fast, the distance shouldn't have been an issue. I believe that there were a few specific things that went wrong: 1. I think something was not right before I even started the race because of my heart symptoms and leg cramping. 2. I think I consumed too much caffeine during the race 3. I think I did not have enough electrolytes on the bike. Trying to make them up with gatorade on the run after I was already in trouble was just way too late.

So my next steps? First a full cardiac work up. Then I think I need to talk to a sports nutritionist or someone of that nature. I also think that for my next half ironman (my family thinks I should do two more before I attempt a full iron distance race) I should get some real coaching instead of doing it myself. In addition, I need to redo my race nutrition strategy entirely with better supplements. And I am likely going to start trying to cut significant amounts of caffeine out of my diet.

The issue with most of these endeavors will honestly be monetary. The good people for this stuff will likely not be cheap. I don't have $100 a month to spend on coaching. But I will figure out the best way to make it all happen, because unless the cardiologist says "Keep it up and you'll die" I do not plan on quitting. I love triathlon.

That being said, I also understand that I need to listen to my body. I know I can finish a half-iron distance race now, so if next time things go this far south, I promise to my family and friends that I will not do what I just did again. No more dramatic finish-line collapses. It's not worth dying over. And I truly am sorry.

My veterinarian mother says that if I were a horse and had blown up like this, she would make me go another season at prelim before I could move up a level. In triathlon speak that means
two more perfect half-irons before a full. :) Hopefully in one season though. I'm ready to do better, because I know that I can. Thank you everyone for all of your love and help and not telling me I have to quit or you'll all disown me. Mom, Dad and Erin: You're the greatest.

Everyone else: thanks for reading this short novel. Event pics soon, I hope.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ready to ROLL (and roll, and roll, and rolllll)

First of all: It's thunderstorming here and these storms are predicted to last until the middle of next week. They're also predicted for DE, which is where my race is being held this weekend. I don't really care if it rains, but I am not interested in having the swim cancelled because of thunder. Don't like duathlons.

Second: I had a really positive day at the Y today. I talked to three different, very nice people. One guy has helped me with my stroke before and today told me that I "swim beautifully" (before giving me more advice). Another girl told me where to get a really cute suit like the one she had. Another guy told me I am "built like a swimmer" and I found out his kid just started at the same graduate program as I am in (which is more interesting than it sounds because the grad program is in DE, not where we live down here). And my swim and run workouts both went really well, AND my hip wasn't too bad!

Third: This afternoon I went over to my friend Dave's and he installed a set of Zipp 404 rental wheels on my bike from my (now former) shop. I am gonna try them out on a ride tomorrow (Dear rain: STOP NOW PLEASE THANK YOU! Love, Jo) and I am super duper stoked. How SICK does my bike look???

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

whoa there, inner monologue!

I talked to my mother on the phone this morning, and was greeted with a: "Oh so now that you're tapering you're not gonna write about training anymore?" Geez! My mom is on my case for infrequent blog postings!

Tapering always scares me. I've said it before, I know I need to trust in my training, but I think it's pretty natural to be worried. Especially since this is my first half-iron distance and the idea of working out for 6-7 hours straight is sort of daunting. And a growing reality.

Also, I am worrying because I pushed myself too hard hiking this past weekend and I have a new pain in my hip. I am hoping that it's just soreness that will fade before this coming weekend, but it's definitely there and in a different location than before. Great job Jo. Anyone else would have seen this coming... That being said, the camping and hiking for labor day weekend in the Shenandoah National Park was awesome! (minus one crazy rainstorm that drove us out of the park late Sunday night rather than Monday morning as planned. seriously crazy.) My body is still trying to figure out how to get over my diet from the weekend, which included way more sugar than I've had in months. You can't camp without eating s'mores though! Erin and I have both been complaining about our tummies since we got home, however (since I am the cook and she eats as healthily or not as I do, she's been basically following my training diet all summer). After this weekend though, I do think that hiking will become a regular cross-training activity for us both. We've also been looking ahead towards my "off-season" and thinking about trying Crossfit together. More on that as it unfolds.

So back to my taper. Today's workout consists of a short bike ride, likely on the trainer considering the amount of rain we're currently getting, with two tempo efforts. I have to find something new to watch on TV since I've gone through two seasons of my favorite trashy sports drama show (Make It or Break It) and there are no more episodes left to watch. I also think some serious stretching is in order because climbing Old Rag Mountain on Sunday really did a number on my body. Sore and in GI distress less than a week from my first half-ironman. Good planning.

Self trash talk isn't really the best way to mentally prepare. I should work on that. Maybe I'll do mental exercises as well today. Do they burn calories? If I work on my positive self talk for 15 minutes today, does that balance out eating all of the groceries I bought yesterday in one sitting? Because my appetite hasn't gotten the taper memo. It's still at peak performance.

That's what a taper is about Jo. Eating, recovering, and mentally preparing. So shut up your inner monologue and get to it! And maybe work on your dissertation some while you're at it.

AAAAAGHHHHHH I'm freaking out!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Peak Training and the Attack of Irene

This past week was my last week of peak training before the start of my "half-taper" week and then "full-taper" week. I am very excited, but at the same time I'm a bit nervous. This is really all the hardest training I am doing? I mean my longest ride was last week, not this week. I did a swim time trial and do feel ready for that. My longest run of my training program was today and it was only 9 miles. I mean I know I need to trust my training and know that everything will be ok, but it can be hard to do. Looking back, I think I could have handled the more intense training program, but you know what they say about hindsight...

Anyway, like I said I did a swim time trial yesterday, as well as a pretty solid brick workout. The TT went pretty well. It was slower than I would have liked (pretty sure I am always saying that) but I felt really good the whole time and I know that I will swim faster in the race because I always do. My long ride this week was only 40 miles, and last week it was 50. I'm not sure about the logic behind this, but I hope it will be ok. This morning I did a long run with my cousin Anne and it went well. My right calf is still bothering me some, but even when it hurts it's not so much that I feel like I have to stop or slow down. It's sort of just achy. I know this doesn't mean that I shouldn't be careful, but it does mean that hopefully even if it hurts during the race I will be able to finish.

My legs and feet are starting to feel the way they do when I need a new pair of shoes. The problem with that is that these shoes only have about 130 miles on them, which shouldn't be enough to warrant a new pair yet...

Yesterday's brick was in the late afternoon. I got off my bike, loaded it into my car, began to run, and the rain started. It was the very beginnings of Irene making its way up the coastline. We had a break last night and this morning, but the rain started again this afternoon and the rain and wind have been picking up steadily. Still, it's not really as bad as I thought it would be. We're hunkered down in out apartment, all ready with non-perishables, water and flashlights, just in case! Hope everyone is staying safe!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Top 10 "Training Aids" and My Fav Nutrition

Like any sport, triathlon is not something we can do just using our bodies. There is a fair amount of equipment involved (often more than the average non-triathlete thinks about). It is not as equipment-heavy as say, ice hockey (ahem ahem), but there is the bike (and accessories), the running shoes (and accessories), and the swim cap and goggles (and accessories).

Every athlete, endurance or not, relies a great deal on their bodies and minds. We just ask our bodies and minds to do what they do for a lot longer than the average athlete. And in order to do that we often rely on training aids besides those basics (bike, shoes, goggles, wetsuit) listed above. So I wanted to make a list of the training aids I use on a daily basis; those that, in my triathlete life, I cannot live without. As I began to make this list, however, I found that it was rather long. Turns out that I am not as self-sufficient as an athlete as I had imagined. Also interesting was how many items are nutrition...see earlier post about always being hungry...

I will now list the top ten training/living aids (besides the basics) that I think are most important to triathlon survival (in no particular order). I've decided to break the nutrition out of "training aids" list and give it its own section:

Foam Roller - The first thing I do when I get home from a tough workout is hit that foam roller. So far I believe that it has single handedly kept my hip problems (IT band syndrome) in check. It hurts bike a b*tch but in a good way...I guess...
HooHa Ride Glide - I am ashamed to admit that this is a relative newcomer to my training aid repertoire. What the heck was I doing riding without it? I don't know but life is definitely better now. And as a bonus, I smell like menthol for my entire ride and sometimes for a few hours after, even post-shower...
Bandanas - These, in contrast, are not a newcomer. I have been a slave to the bandana for many many years. Keeping the hair and sweat in check while running or while riding, the bandana can be tied as a headband, cover the entire hair under a helmet, or just used as a sweat rag. I have, however, stopped using it as an everyday hair control item, which is what I did for several years when my hair was very short. You're welcome family.
RoadID - Luckily I have not actually needed this item yet (knock on wood), but I still think it's super important to have. I almost never have much on me in the way of identification when I run or ride, so this has all my important contact info and alerts any potential rescuer to my asthma. I even wear it in open water swims!
Chill Bottles - Better than regular water bottles, these have a liner that keeps your water/electrolite mix/gatorade/whatever colder for much longer. Add ice cubes and even on the most sweltering days you can still have a cool drink 2/3 of the way through your ride. Excellent.
LogYourRun App (and iPhone) - This app (there are many like it) has been truly awesome for me. I use it to monitor how far I have gone when I run and to save my running and riding routes. It's not always 100% perfectly accurate, depending on signal strength, but it's darn close. The GPS system saves my routes and I can upload them online and into my training log on the LogYourRun website. The website also allows me to map out routes before I go out. Only trouble is that sometimes my bike computer disagrees with the mileage my logyourrun app gives me. Who to believe?
Compression calf sleeves - Sure, the jury is still out about whether or not compression really works for recovery or performance, but the anecdotal/circumstantial evidence is in its favor. And I like it. I have an interestingly sore/possible pulled muscle in my calf and I love the compression sleeves. They also helped deal with my shin splints last year while half marathon training. I want full tights, but darn those things are expensive!
CO2 cartridges - Hands down beats having to pump up a flat in the middle of a group ride when the testosterone fueled peloton waits for no man (and definitely not the silly chick who is supposed to be a "shop leader" and who ran over a piece of glass trying like a maniac to keep up...)
Honda Fit - It fits in my Fit! With the back seats down, that includes two bikes and ALL of my basics and training aids. Transition bag? check. Pump? Check. Bags of clothes for race day cause I can't be sure what the weather will do? Wetsuit? The kitchen sink? CHECK! All that, and my athletic supporter (aka my wife, who should rightfully hold the number one spot on this list)!!
Indoor Trainer - Also a relative newcomer in my life, it has made this training season much less stressful. If it's 115 outside, or thundering and pouring, or what have you, I can always set it up and train in my living room. I add it in on days when I am time-crunched as well. Plus, I think that I actually work harder on it than I do outside because there is no coasting. Ever. I think added in with plenty of real rides with real hills, indoor training has made me stronger.

Honorable mentions: Body Glide, Swimmer's Ear Solution, Coppertone Sport Sunscreen, Old Navy Running shorts (I swear they are the most comfy!), new Uback sports bra from Nike (it is cute AND has clasps! Sooo easy to get on! Super support!), Netflicks streaming on the Wii (for those days on the trainer...)

Training Nutrition Staples:
Coffee - Ok so I don't drink this during my workouts, but most of them wouldn't get started without it. I basically can't get started without it. And I am not the only triathlete who says so, so I will not be ashamed.
Stinger Waffles - LOVE LOVE LOVE. These are my favorite before I start a hard training session or ride. I can eat them as close to the ride etc as I want without any discomfort or GI issues and they're delicious.
Luna Protein Bars - Quick way to get in protein post-ride if I can't get a meal in right away, and they're the best tasting protein bar. Plus they're fewer than 200 calories, which you don't often find in protein bars. This means I can get most of my post-workout refuel from REAL foods a little later without going overboard on the calories.
G2 - The low-calorie Gatorade. All the electrolites without all of the calories. I like to get my calories from Gus and Chews rather than liquids when I am working out.
Bananas - This is no revelation. Natures perfect pre-workout fuel. Every race morning, and most other mornings too. Gotta get that potassium! They even fit in your jersey pockets when you're riding.
Gu (Jet Blackberry or Vanilla Orange Roctane) - I only take the ones with caffeine, so jet blackberry and Roctane are my fav. The vanilla orange tastes like a creamsicle. They're super quick, so they're easy to deal with during a workout and don't upset my stomach.
Stinger Chews - MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE! Seriously, these are so tasty. I cut the top off of a pouch and put it in my bento box. I can eat one or two when I get to stoplights or pop one in my mouth almost whenever on a ride. They are delicious and organic and I like the consistency better than the clif shot blocks which stick in my teeth.

Alright, now you know all my training secrets!! (Ok there are still a few). Now it's time for me to get to the Y and jump in the pool! Everyone be good and have fun training!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thank yous, sleep and endurance rides

Well my friends, I am happy to announce today that I completed my very first 50 mile ride. Many thanks to my friend Dave who has been doing my endurance rides with me. Without him I would probably be lost out there somewhere, right now. Still. My sense of direction is impressively lacking, as my friends and family can all attest to. Anyway, this time I did the first hour of my ride by myself, and then met up with Dave for the last two hours. I felt pretty good the whole ride, pushed it on some hills and finished feeling very accomplished. Yay!!

My training has been going really well this week, although I have been very tired a lot recently. Sometimes I am pretty groggy for my morning workouts, which can mean I sort of swim in a fog for the first half of my pool time. I've been trying to get myself to bed earlier and get more sleep (as well as feed the beast enough to stave off the grungry, as discussed in my earlier post), but it can be very hard with the rest of life getting in the way.

Another interesting turn of events is that I seem to have counted the weeks incorrectly in my training calendar. I don't know if I repeated a week somehow or what, but yesterday when I tried to sort it out, it had my race landing one week later than it actually is. SO I've had to rearrange things, and the long and the short of it is that I am skipping what would be a recovery week and moving on with the next build week instead. I know this isn't the best thing to do, but I didn't really have many other options. There are only 2 more build weeks left, and then I begin my half and full taper, so I think that it will all work out OK. Just gotta be diligent with the stretching, the ice and the sleep.

So with that I am going to bed. One more thank you to send out tonight though: Thank you to my wife Erin. Yesterday was our 1st Anniversary. She is an essential part of me being able to follow this dream and without her, I would be lost literally and figuratively :)

I am sure there will be many more thank yous to come, however. This race is not far away and it's a big deal for me. I have gotten a lot of support from my friends and family, so I'll be thanking them all shortly. :D Thank you in advance for putting up with me until then!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


How satisfying is it to check out your training log at the end of a good training week and see how packed full it is? Personally, I find it super duper satisfying. This is not to say that every single one of my workouts was stellar, but I got through them all! My running is still pretty slow, unfortunately, but I haven't been doing any speed work to speak of, because I really don't want to aggravate my hip if I can avoid it. This also means that I have to try to avoid running downhill (which then means I don't really spend much time running up hill since up and down usually come in pairs...). Basically the running hasn't been the best it could be, but darned if I am not doing the full times allotted in my training plan! Without my legs falling off!! YAY!!

Quick, knock on wood for me.

Anyway, I have reached that level in my training at which my hunger has reached new heights. Don't get me wrong, as my family and close friends will tell you, I have always been hungry. By always I mean constantly, since forever. One of my friends coined a term to describe me when it's been more than an hour or so since my last meal: "grungry." Yes, that is a hybrid of the words "grumpy" and "hungry." But all of these phenomona have grown as I have amped up my training. I have tried not to be constantly grungry, but it's really tough. I have also tried very hard not to overcompensate in my caloric intake. I know I am burning a lot, but with the way I want to eat you would think I was putting in 40 hrs of training a week. I'm not.

"With all that training, you must be able to eat anything you want!"

Oh how I wish that were true, family and friends. But it is not. I am much more vigilant with what I will put into my body now than I ever was before all this working out.

Which reminds me. My friend Jackie was visiting the other day and we were talking about training etc (she is an avid runner, has done triathlons with me, and currently is riding Mitchell, my old bike), and she said to me "Hey Jo, remember when you didn't run?" haha. yeah. I reminded her of how we both used to be terrified to ride our bikes and about the yard sale I had riding to the graduate student office a few years ago, crashing my bike in the middle of the road for absolutely no reason whatsoever other than I couldn't balance. haha...

Anyway, my wife and I just remodeled our office and I need to build my new storage rack (so that I can get some of my tri gear put away and out of the main living area...), then I have to hit the pool (yay for a brick AND a swim today!)

Later kids!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Phone Calls

So first I would like to talk about the fact that a few hours after I posted that last blog, my mother called me and the first thing that came out of her mouth was "Suck it up!" Man do I know her!

The next story I have is a funny one, but unfortunately it is at someone else's expense. I don't normally like to do that, but this situation was too perfect to pass up. Luckily, I have no idea who this person was since she never gave me her name, so I couldn't reveal her identity if i wanted to (which I don't). Here goes:

The other day I was working at my bike shop, minding my business, getting stuff done when the phone rings, which I answer. The following conversation:

Me: Thank you for calling (name of bike shop), this is Jo. How can I help you?
Lady on Phone: Hi. Do you carry any Kryptonite Locks?
Me: Oh, I'm not sure if we have that brand, let me go check!
(I know we don't but I run back to the lock section anyway)
Me: Are you looking for a U lock?
Lady on Phone: I am looking for a lock made of Kryptonite.
(At this I pause. She sounds so sincere and sure of herself, that I actually have to question my first instinct. Wait, does Kryptonite exist? Am I crazy for thinking it's not real? Should I tell her that I don't think there is such a thing? I don't want to tell her it's a fictional element and be wrong!)
Me: (suppressing surprised/confused/amused noises) Well Ma'am, we carry OnGuard locks and they're made of stainless steal
Lady on Phone: Oh I've heard of that brand, it's not good enough. I want one made of Kryptonite. Thanks.

And she hangs up. I hang up. I sit there for a second. Then I bust out laughing realizing how ridiculous that entire conversation was. Later as I retell this story to my co-workers and then even later to my friends, they have several suggestions for what I could have said when she asked for a lock made of Kryptonite, including:

"Oh, has Superman been stealing bikes in your neighborhood too?"


"I'm sorry, we don't carry any, but you should give Lex Luther a call. I think they stock them."


"Oh, production on the planet Krypton has been extremely backed up recently, we won't have any in stock for several weeks."

or even

"I think that Kryptonite brand locks are made of stainless steel, ma'am."

Every time I remember the conversation I laugh so hard I get tears in my eyes. That poor woman. I am so sorry that I am laughing at your expense. I hope that you were just having an off day or hadn't had enough coffee. Or that maybe you were playing a trick on me, in which case you should take up acting because you were extremely convincing....oh man...

ANYWAY! This is supposed to be a training blog, isn't it. Training, right. This week has gone pretty well. I have pain in my hip sometimes after work outs and every once and a while when I am walking around, but so far (knock on wood) nothing that has stopped me from completing a run. If this level of pain is as bad as it gets and I am not doing myself further harm (which the docs say I am not) than I can totally take this. I am just worried that the other shoe will drop.

I've done well in my two-a-days and some of my workouts this week felt really darn good. My running is still slow, but I am keeping my pace down on purpose, with striders or intervals to get a little speed work in without hurting myself. I am even substitute aquajogging for one of my easy runs each week. Yay for the dorky pool belt!

Had an endurance swim and a long run today, back to back. Long bike ride tomorrow with one of my co-workers from the bike shop. I'm excited because he knows more routes than I do, and I feel more comfortable knowing i have someone with me if I have a problem and we need to get back. If I ride 40+ miles by myself, I don't know what I would do if I had a mechanical issue or more flats than I had tubes for... Do have my RoadID though, always!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spandex, Yankz and a Chain Mark

Nothing says "Brick Workout" quite like the site of those three things on the athlete running down the side of the road in the park. And that's exactly what I had yesterday morning after stuffing my bike quickly into the boot of my Honda Fit, swapping my shoes and donning a cap in lieu of my helmet. This has been a recovery week, so my brick wasn't particularly long or arduous, but I was still happy with how good it felt.

Of course my hip is now acting up again. I was at the doctor a few days ago and made the decision not to get it injected. He told me that I would have to go easy on the workouts for a week (ack!) or risk long weakening my soft/connective tissue around the area (double ack!). I know me and I know that once I got the injection, I would have a lot of trouble NOT taking the risk of working out. I mean c'mon, a whole week? Right in the middle of my training? Except now my hip hurts more, and I am debating a change of heart. It's a tough choice. On the one hand, it would be better to take that week off now rather than closer to the race. On the other, I could get it right before a recovery week and just go easy on it. But how do I know that the recovery workouts won't still be more than I should be doing? And on some hand (lost track), what if it doesn't even fix the problem? Then I am risking weakened tissues on top of continuing to have this pain...

I am sure that my mother is reading this now and telling me to suck it up. Only she still hasn't figured out how to comment, so she's just saying it to herself and the dog lying at her feet. Nah-nah-nee boo boo!

Anyway, this is the decision I face. Do the best I can and hope the pain stays reasonable till after the race, or get the injection and take a week "off". ORRR wait and see if I can manage the pain and then decide whether or not to get an injection, while hoping that by then it isn't too late...

This post isn't really about Spandex, Yankz and a chain mark, is it?

In other news, the rain came this afternoon and I have hope that the unbelievable heat wave we have been experiencing has broken at least enough to make it less dangerous to train outdoors. 80 degrees at 5 am was not pretty, lemme tell you. Neither was leading a group ride of testosterone fueled crazies who wanted to hammer up the hills and race eachother when it was 105 with some astronomical heat index.

So things are looking up!

Friday, July 22, 2011


Warning: This post may contain TMI. Read at your own discretion. We triathletes are chronic over-sharers in my experience, so I'm not really worried that you won't read on.

Something new happened to me this week. I have frequently heard or read about people struggling in or dropping out of races with "GI distress", but I never really understood exactly what kind of distress they had run into or how it had happened. It had never happened to me, and I guess I am always relatively smart about how/when I eat in relationship to my workouts. Well I should say "have always been relatively smart". And after the experience I had the other evening, I plan to be very smart in the future. On Wednesday I came home and needed to go for my second workout, which was a run. It was very very hot outside and the AC at my work hasn't really been working well recently, so I wasn't looking forward to the heat. This factor, combined with the fact that the two people currently living in my house (who depend on me for dinner preparation) were whining about being hungry, influenced my decision to push back my run to later in the evening and start on dinner. I cooked my chicken with tomatoes and capers (see recipe from a few months ago) and it was delicious. So I ate it.

Now, I knew this was a bad idea. I just thought that I could wait a little while before I ran and I would be fine. Oh how naive I was. I started my run (in the still oppressive heat, I might add) feeling alright and not over-full. I got through my warm up and about half of my interval training when...BOOM BANG YUCK GAG!!! My stomach was suddenly angrier at me than I can remember it being in a very long time. I thought I would puke. Then I thought maybe I needed to run home to use the bathroom. Then I simply couldn't run any longer. I was literally bent over in pain. Once I could get vertical again, I had to power-walk the rest of the way home and lock myself in the bathroom when I finally got there.

Never again I tell you. Next time I will make the dinner, put my portion on the fridge, have a banana, and run. Chicken=post run meal. NOT pre-run. Duh Jo.

Also, it is 105 today with humidity off the charts. Heat? Fine. Humidity like this? Insane. Today I am supposed to run, but I honestly haven't decided how I will accomplish this...

If I run at 5 am tomorrow, it will be 80 degrees. That is the LOW for the entire evening. Dang.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Ocean

This past weekend, my wife and I went down to the beach. This is a bit of a hike for us, especially for just a weekend, but we always have an awesome time and we stay at my family beach house. This of course makes for excellent training opportunities. First there is the very long, flat stretch of highway with excellent bike lanes. But second there is, of course, the OCEAN! Yay! I didn't take my bike to the beach this weekend, cause I rode right before we left and had a ride planned for Monday after. BUT I did bring my wetsuit.

I love love love swimming in the ocean. And in my wetsuit. I feel very fast, and it's just a great confidence builder. This time my wife and our friend Becky walked along the beach as I swam, which ended up being extremely helpful for me. I used them to gauge how far from the shore I was every time I took a breath to the shore side. Using the houses/buildings is never a good way to tell because they are all different heights, but as long as my two walkers were approximately the same height as the last time I checked, I knew I hadn't swum out to sea. Highly recommend this technique if you have any willing helpers.

I got in my longest run since the last tri, and my hip held out through it, but it was sore after and is still sore today. I broke down and made another Drs appt to get it looked at again.

Another thing I broke down and did? Bought a trainer for my bike. I know, I know, it's summer, not winter, so it seems like the wrong season, but honestly with the heat waves we have been getting, it kind of necessary. Some days, especially if I have a double and don't want to be totally wiped for my second workout, training indoors is necessary. I just sat down and put it together tonight, so I am gonna use it for my ride tomorrow morning! I'm pretty excited!

Speaking of rides (wow this is a stream of consciousness post), yesterday I went out for a ride with two of my fellow bike shop grunts. It was really fun and awesome, and for them (they are serious cyclists) probably relaxing. I got a good workout though! It was very hot and humid, but we made the best of it. Thanks Dave and Amanda!!

I realize that I haven't posted a recipe in a while. I have a few good ones left, but I have definitely been in a bit of a cooking rut recently. I better get back into making some new dinners so I can give you some recipes! This is my new mission. More soon.