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Monday, November 3, 2014

No Off-Season

The tri-season is done, but I'm not really interested in taking a full break.  I'm sure my body would love it, but the truth is, I'd eat everything in sight, be lazy, and have a really hard time getting back into a season when it comes around.

Instead, I chose to sign up for several half marathons.  Me....half marathons in the the winter.  In Ohio. Why?  I keep asking myself.

I'm not a cold-weather runner.  I used to stay indoors on my treadmill if the temperature got below about 40 degrees F.  There's just something about hacking up a lung as I try to suck in air to keep running....

Anyway, I decided that this year I would learn to love it.  I have purposely signed up for the Churchill's half on November 8th and the Cedar Point Santa Hustle on December 14th.  CP is known for being windy and cold in the winter.  To prepare for these, I've been running my long runs on the weekend and I've been making plans with my running friends so I HAVE to go.

Last weekend, our run was interrupted by wild turkeys.   Only in Ohio....  Only in Ohio....



This weekend I chose to meet a tri-friend at a poplar park where I usually run the blacktop trail.  She decided we would run the trails.  It was 24 degrees when we started.  I was freezing, the frost on the leaves was slippery, and she was running a full mph faster than I can usually go.   I kept up with her for about 1/2 of the run and then I slowly started slipping behind.


The leaves were beautiful and the trail was nice and all, but I honestly don't remember it much because I was blacking out from pushing too hard....  

Not really, but, I was struggling to keep up and focused on not dying.  She really tested my limits and pushed me.... or pulled me, whatever way you want to look at it.

I guess what I am saying is that I think I am finally getting used to this cold weather running and I might actually like it.  Might.

I don't know about the trails in the snow, but at least for now I can shuffle through the leaves.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

REV3 Cedar Point 70.3 Race Re-Cap. My FRIST 70.3!

It’s now been almost 4 weeks and I really can’t believe I haven’t been able to write this race re-cap until now.  I just can’t wrap my head around that it’s “OVER” and my season is somewhat over.  I think I lived life as before 70.3 and after 70.3 for so long that I really can’t believe I’m in the actual after stage.  Every time someone suggested something I would consider it based on if it would happen before or after my race.  Now that I sit down to write, I’m not even sure where I want to start.  This could get long, so grab a beer (or water if you are still training!) and pull up a chair…

Thursday I had everything set out and ready to go for Friday afternoon.  Friday I went into work and the day flew by.  As soon as I got all the kids home from school I set about packing the van tight with everything.  I really can’t believe I got it all in there.  Our sitter and friend was coming along to help my hubby with the kids.  With her, the kids, my hubby, and me, the van included 6 people, our bags, a bike and everything tri-related. 

We were on our way by 6:15pm and we made it to Cedar Point just before the storms broke out.  We got into our room and threw everything in before the rain came and headed to the restaurant (TGI Friday’s) in the hotel.  The service was less than stellar and everyone there acted like they hated their jobs.  We ate over-priced food that took forever, but it was food.  We were sat by the window and we watched the lightning storm over the lake as the rain poured down. 

That night we got to bed decently early and woke the next morning to windy but beautiful day.  I went out for the practice swim to get used to the waves and felt a little sea-sick as I would be on top of a wave and then suddenly I would fall without anything underneath me.  After the swim I gathered all of my stuff for check in and headed out while my family and our sitter went into Cedar Point for the day. 


Check-in was a breeze.  The only time I waited in line was when I bought some gear at the expo tent.  I racked my bike over my personalized name plate (which was ravaged by the storm!) and then went back to the hotel to shower off and head into Cedar Point to find my family. 

While most people would not recommend it, I rode rides and chased my kiddos all over Cedar Point.  We didn’t leave until just after 10pm that night.  My legs and feet hurt.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t doing a race the next day….. Oh Wait…..







I got things laid out and headed to bed just after 11:30pm.  Yep, a little later than planned, but it is what it is. 

The next morning I slept in until 6:45am and I woke up feeling rested.  I hurried to transition to make sure all of my stuff was set up and ready to go.  I rushed back to our hotel room to put on my wetsuit and woke the family up.  I headed down to do a warm-up swim.  The family met me just before the start.

The waves were a crashing.  Yes, they were.  The lifeguards were busy pulling people out of the water from the full and it seemed a bit daunting.

I really thought I would be a bit more nervous than I was, but I guess I was just mentally prepared that it wasn’t about my time, but about enjoying the day.  There was no rush, no concern for trying to get a certain time, I just wanted to finish.   I had written out  a good, better, best time estimate for my family in hopes that it would help them track me a bit better, but I had no idea if I was anywhere close to what would actually happen. 


I was in the second to last wave and once we were announced, we waded out to the 1st buoy and waited for the starting horn.  The horn sounded and we were off-with the waves crashing around us.  It was rough, but for once in my life I was calm and just enjoying the swim. 


I made it to the next buoy and I saw several people clung to it with hands raised waiting for the lifeguards to come get them.

I followed the lines as best I could, but it was incredibly hard to sight since the waves were so big.  I finally made it across the lateral portion and I was looking for the orange buoys and though I saw one.  I swam for awhile until I realized it was a lifeguard wearing an orange shirt.  I veered to the right to get back on track and the waves pushed me in the last 750 yards.  It was a great feeling to get out of the water though.


Estimated time: 40-45 minutes
Actual time: 44 minutes

I thought my time was pretty good considering the rough water. 


The minute I got out of the water I saw my family waving and clapping from the run up shoot.  I high-fived my kids and got the to strippers and headed into transition.  I tried to dry myself off the best I could and got into my cycling shoes.  I headed out for the bike portion.  I’m sure by most standards I took too long in transition, but I was in no hurry. 

The bike course was deemed to be “pancake flat” but being from Northwest Ohio… I beg to differ.  Apparently those who claim that have never ridden on the pancake roads I ride.  I wouldn’t claim that the hills were horrible, but there were hills.  The rolling hills were in the middle of the course.  There was one steep climb, but the rest were just small, but often around a sharp corner. 

I remember enjoying the bike ride scenery and letting my mind wander.  I saw lots of wollybears and a snake.  Only a few miles into the bike my lower back was seizing up and I couldn’t figure out why.  I haven’t ever had that issue before.  It was only until I was out on the run that I suddenly figured it out. 

The first half of the bike was great.  I was pedaling and kicking butt.  The second half was windy and we were fighting that and then the rough road going back into Cedar Point.  I know my mph was much lower for the second half. 

Expected time: 3:44
Actual time: 3:36

As I pulled into the CP parking lot I saw my kids on the side of the parking lot with the clappers cheering.  They almost missed me.  In fact, I think my husband missed me because he didn’t get the camera until after I was past. 


My feet were almost numb when I got off the bike and into transition.  I had to pee so bad that I went into the port-o-potty with my bike shoes on.  I finally made it out onto the run after putting on sunscreen and getting my legs stretched. 

As I was jogging out onto the run course I saw my family on the side and I stopped to chat.  I reminded them that I would do my best, but that I was tired and it was ok for me to take a break to talk! 

The run course is through the city of Sandusky and is just lots of out and backs.  I spent the whole time smiling and cheering for everyone on each side of the road.  I enjoyed the run the most because everyone was so supportive.  Even the guy who ended up in second for the FULL ran past me and nudged me and told me good job.  It’s so awesome to have so many people be cheering. 

My back was having spasms and I stretched it several times.   I kept wondering why I was having back problems now…. Then I realized that I probably strained those muscles while swimming when I was trying to sight the course.  We really had to pull up and out of the water to find the buoys.   Note to self…. Strengthen back muscles so I don’t have that issue again. 

During both the bike and the run I found several Swim-Bike-Mom Army members and I was able to chat or cheer for them.  I also cheered on or high-fived some Team Toledo members too.  It was great to know people out on the course.  I was very surprised to see how many people walked the run portion.  There were very fit men and women walking the whole thing and there were people larger than me running super fast.  I feel like the longer tris are great equalizers.  I really tried to run for a couple minutes and only walk for a bit.  I don’t have any clue what my intervals were, but my average pace was just over 12 minute miles….something like 12:13.  Not too bad for walking some of it. 

Once I had only a few hundred yards left I found my family and grabbed my son (who of course wanted me to carry him!) and my daughters ran along with me to the finish line.  Crossing that line was one of the greatest feelings ever.  I am so proud of finishing and knowing that I enjoyed the day. 


Expected run time: 3:00
Actual time: 3:07

I was extremely surprised that I did such a great job predicting my times for my family.  I can’t tell my husband thank you enough for the patience he had during training and on race day.  I know keeping 3 young kids busy for over 7 hours isn’t an easy task.  I’m so glad they were all there though.


Finish time: 7:42 something.

My first goal was to just finish.  My hopeful goal was to be under 8 hours.  I’m so glad I had a great day.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was ready to sign up for another one.  In fact, watching friends online the next weekend made me so jealous because I wanted to be doing another one that soon.  (NOT that my body would have,  but my mind said I could!)  I can’t thank the volunteers and Rev3 staff enough for such a great event.  Rev3 events are so inspiring.  I feel like they know how to related to the athletes.  In fact- because the swim was SO rough they shared that over 60 people were voluntarily pulled from the water during the race.  Because Rev3 is so cool, they let those people choose to finish the race if they wanted to.  They got their medal and hats.  They got the bike and run experience.   To be fair, those people were marked with DQ’s so that their times would not count in the AGAs, but how cool is it to allow athletes to continued on? 


As soon as I finished I picked up my bike and my family helped me to take it back to the car.  I stopped to get my food- walking tacos and then I changed into clean clothes.  I climbed into the car and we headed home.  I wish I could have stayed longer to enjoy my finish, but our kids and sitter were tired and I don’t blame them.  We got home by 9pm and I was at work on time the next morning like nothing ever happened.  It’s so surreal. 







 Here are just a few shots of my Race Tattoos and my tattoos that I made of my kids and mottos for the day to encourage me to keep moving!  Every time I got discouraged, I looked down at them and I smiled and I knew I could keep going.




















I can’t wait to sign up for another!  My goal for next year is to do 2 or 3.  I’m not sure yet how many I can afford or how many I can fit in, but I know one thing- I love the 70.3 distance.  The whole day was enjoyable and so inspiring. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What If I Hadn't Started Running?

Three years ago I was 190 pounds and I was unhappy with myself.  I watched a friend lose her daughter to leukemia at the age of 9, another friend lost her husband to a car accident (they had two young daughters the same age as mine.)  I finally realized that life was precious and I was wasting time and regretting it.  I decided that I wanted to start running.  I didn't know anything about running and I couldn't run any further than about two mailboxes on my road.  That's how I measured distance.... mailboxes.  I'd run two mailboxes, walk for two mailboxes.  I repeated that until I couldn't breathe or my shins hurt too much to continue.

The funniest thing happened.  It became easier and I could run father.  I saw an add for a program that allowed me to raise money for a charity and in turn run half marathon with their support.  I never imagined that I could run that far, but my new motto was, "Live Life with No Regrets."  I signed up and never looked back.



I didn't lose much weight during that training, but I gained a lot of confidence.  I took some time off after the 1/2, but eventually I got back to it and I added a decent diet as well.  I started reading about other runners turned triathletes and thought about my own swimming and biking experience and decided I had the ability to do all three sports, so why not?

So, a triathlete was born.  

It's amazing to me as I tell this story how easily everything just seemed to flow and fit together.  Life changes and all you have to do is take one step.  I decided it was time for change and I went for it.  I can't imagine my life without running, swimming, and biking.  I would be so bored!  Since starting I've lost 40 pounds.  I feel great and I enjoy life.  

The thing is.... I'm still looking for my place.  I need to know where I fit in.  Yes, as an adult, I need acceptance.  My running friends don't understand why I would want to be a triathlete and so while they support me, they don't always want to train with me.   My triathlete friends are limited because I'm still "slow" and I'm not elite enough to fit in with the fast members of the team I am a member of. I'm still looking for my place to belong.  I go to races alone and I support myself.  I'm slowly meeting new people and I will find my place, but it's like starting all over in life.  

Someone once told me I'm having my mid-life crisis.  Perhaps I am!  But it's a damn good mid-life crisis if you ask me.  If I can redesign myself and start over with the best me I can be, I'm happy, even if it means meeting a whole new set of friends.  

I'm pretty happy with the journey though!



Monday, August 25, 2014

The Last Sprint

Last weekend was my final sprint tri of the season- the HFP Linwood Park Vermilion triathlon.  I always sign up for this race because my sister lives in the beautiful little town of Vermilion.  This means $0 hotel bills!

Friday night, my oldest daughter and I packed up and left for my sister's house.  My daughter was doing the kidz race on Saturday morning.  She was nervous because unlike the pervious races, this race had numerous girls in her age group doing the duathlon.  I told her I wasn't worried about what place she came in.  To help her get past that, we looked at pervious times and set a time goal instead.  Her last two races were both around 32 minutes.  I told her to try to beat 30 minutes.


She went out slow on the run to pace herself and encouraged her to pedal faster on her bike.



My sister and I ran from spot to spot to see her race.  We watched her bike past and jogged to the finish area thinking we had time.  She had a 1/2 mile run at the end.  Her 1/4 run at the beginning took her 2:12, so I figured around 4 minutes.  In past races, she's been so tired, her time is usually 6 minutes for the run.  My sister and I stood at the finish line watching other kids run in.  I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw...


WE MISSED HER!  Her 1/2 mile time was 2:57.  Holy cow!  She said she ran as fast as she could and felt great.   Her time for the whole race: 26 minutes!!!  She did finish 6th in her age group, but I really could care less.  I was SO proud of her!

After her race we cleaned up and went geocaching around town, had lunch, and rested a bit.  I went out on my bike with my brother-in-law to scope out the bike course and decided that the hill was still a hill and still big!  

That night I went to bed knowing that a storm was moving in. UGH!

The next morning my alarm went off and I heard the sound of rain coming down.  The whole race would be in the pouring rain.  I got to transition and racked my bike and waited out the time for the start.  At least it wasn't cold!  


Sorry....I have very few pictures because I didn't want to ruin my phone and my sister didn't bring her camera for the very same reason!  My sister WAS a trooper...she brought her 14 year old son and may daughter out to watch me in the pouring rain.  


The race started and the waves were a bit unnerving.  I consider myself a strong swimmer, so I KNOW others were freaking out.  My sister said they saw the lifeguards bringing a lot of people in out of the water.  They delayed the start of each wave because the lifeguards were too busy helping people to help watch the next wave.  I, thankfully, settled into a groove after about 150 yards.  It wasn't my fastest swim, but I was glad to get it over with.  

Transition was a MESS!  Transition was in a grassy area and the rain just made it a mud pit.  These are NOT my feet, but here is what transition looked like as we were heading out.


I went out on the bike wondering to myself how fast I could go....I have NEVER ridden my bike in the rain.  I probably should have done some rain riding before.  There is always a first for everything. I'd just rather it not be in a race!!!

I would have like to have gone a bit faster, but I have to say that once I gained some confidence, I did pick it up a bit.  I was "comfortable" with my speed and the ride.  The rain picked up just as I hit the large down hill and then the 90 degree right turn into the large up hill.   SIGH....

I managed to make it back to transition within 4 minutes of my goal time and without crashing.  I didn't see any crashes, but I did see a few people with flats on one of the roads that needs resurfacing (badly!)  

Out for my run and I felt just ok.  At least I wasn't hot right?  

I finished with a slower time than I wanted, but given the conditions, I felt ok with my race.  Had I gotten the same time I had there last year, I would have ended up 3rd in my AG.  Oh well.  

While my time wasn't great, I'm really glad I did this race for several reasons... I need more practice in water with waves.  Cedar Point is likely to have waves and chop and I certainly don't want to freak out there.  I need to be prepared.  I also needed to gain more confidence on my bike.  I didn't ride as fast as I would like, but I got some rain riding in.  It was worth the time there because I wouldn't have ever chosen to go out in the rain!

All in all, it was a great weekend.   And besides...who can deny spending time with a child who WANTS to do what I do?!?!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

What it Means to be on a Team


At my last triathlon, The Sylvania Women's Tri, I knew that I would be seeing multiple "newbies" and that excited me.  Why?  Because it means I had a chance at meeting people who shared the same passion as me, and who wanted to learn, and love my sport!

Several women from my town were doing their very first tri.  I was excited FOR them.  I barely knew them, but I promised them I would be there to cheer for them no matter where I was in my race.  I had a decent race, with an average for me swim, a good bike, and an average run.  I finished with a typical time.  It was a nice morning.  I collected my "bling" and checked the results and stashed my bike in my van.  I checked out the food and chatted with some women that were also done.


I had heard that there was still someone still out on the course when I was just about to leave.  In fact, I was told that she had just began the run.  I decided the this person, whoever she was, was going to finish and wasn't going to finish alone.  I went out to find her.  When I did, I was surprised to find that it was a particularly inspiring woman from my hometown.  I walked and ran with her for the rest of her 5K and helped her until it was her moment to finish.  She was so incredibly determined.  I was so happy to see her finish what she started.  She never gave up.

I also noticed that one team stayed until the very end to cheer her on.  I was so happy to talk with the group that was there from Brighton, Michigan.  The group was called the Killer Fitness Triathlon Club and is made up of people who want to enjoy the sport.  What I thought was interesting about this club was that it wasn't made up of the uber-intimidating, elite, super fit athletes that made me feel like I didn't fit in.  The club was made up of every day people who enjoyed the sport and wanted to share their journey with others.  Their coach was super sweet and cried with me as I shared with her my story about supporting the underdogs and frustration of wanting everyone to feel welcome to our sport.  She encouraged me to start a club here in our area.  





Monday, July 14, 2014

Supporting the Underdog

When I began my last post I had something on my heart that I wanted to write about and I didn't end up putting it out there.  I stopped myself.  I did post it on a FB group I'm in and I got some conflicting responses.  It festered inside me for a few weeks.  I decided last night that I needed to share.

The last race I was in was set up locally to be "newbie friendly" and was a "mini sprint" at a venue that is a pretty awesome place for a triathlon.  Our local triathlon club was there in full-force because it was a great tune-up race for some up-coming races and it was on a weeknight, so we didn't have other races.  The race was well attended by serious athletes and I could also tell that there were lots of newbies there.  I was happy that they were out there.  It was a crappy weather day- seriously- read my race report!!  

I finished about mid-pack for once ONLY because there were so many newbies.  I wanted to shout, "THANK YOU for making me look like I know what I am doing for once."  I finished, got my medal, checked the results (HOLY crap, I actually placed!), got a burger, and then realized that every one was sitting around talking and totally ignoring the fact that there were still people out there on the course.

Since this was a small race, there was not much crowd support.  It had rained buckets only hours before so it's not like mom and dad wanted to stand out in the puddles cheering for us.  The venue had a band playing and the finish line was outside the terrace.  So really, once you crossed the finish line, you left the general area of the race and migrated into another area to socialize.


This is what it looks like empty


The finish line was outside of this and you couldn't see anything going on from in there!

So as soon as I realized that many of the final finishers would be finishing alone, I decided to take off my finisher medal and my AG place medal (because NO ONE still on the course likes to see your medal clinking around your neck- it's like bragging right in their face!!!!) and I went back out on the course to cheer, encourage, and help anyone and needed someone to run, jog, or walk with them.  I ran 3 or 4 four people in to the finish at the end.  I did this while secretly crying.  I hid my tears by wiping them away as sweat- thankfully it was hot enough to assume that.

When I was on the run portion, I could see many people struggling.  Let's be honest here.  It was a late June evening, it had stormed, it was hot, and we live in Ohio.  This all means that after the storm it became VERY MUGGY.  For anyone that doesn't know that that means, I'm sorry.   The humidity was at 100%.  It was so hard to run.

I was PISSED.  Why?  Because so few others seemed to even care that these people were still out on the course.  All of those athletes in there were eating and chatting with their friends.  They were teammates.  They forgot about those that COULD eventually be their teammates.

This is something I really struggle with.  I'm on a team.  But no one really knows me.  It's hard being the newbie.  It's hard being the one just starting out.  It's hard being the back-of-the-packer.   It's hard being the slow, fat, not knowledgable one.  We need to change the way TEAMS work.  I want a team that BUILDS up the newbies.  A team that molds and shapes the spirit of the triathlon sport and facilitates the need for more people to join us.  How else will our sport grow?  Let's make the newbies the important ones- teach them, help them, encourage them.  

Maybe I'm hopeful only because in some races I am "them" or maybe I'm hopeful because someday I don't want to be almost a newbie, but I don't want them to have to feel the way I have felt.  Why have a team if we can't help each other?

 









Monday, June 30, 2014

Finally, a Good Race!

Last Wednesday there was a local tri offered at the last minute.  I'm not really sure when they decided to put it together, but I finally heard about it at our Tri team's open water swim a few weeks ago and despite the expensive price tag ($75) for a"mini" I decide to do it since it was close to home, on a week-night, and a good practice run of another tri I have coming up at the same venue.  

They deemed the tri a mini because the swim was only 400m and the bike was only 11 miles, but the run was still to be a 5K.  I felt ready to have a decent race but assumed that I'd end up at the back of my age group because I knew that there were a lot of local ladies much faster than me!

On Wednesday the sky was overcast as I left work with all of my tri gear.  As I headed toward the race the rain came pouring down.  It wasn't just raining, it was literally flooding the streets.  The rain was coming down so heavy and so fast that it wasn't running off fast enough and cars were having a tough time getting through the water.  I got to the triathlon site and checked in with all of the other soggy athletes.  I racked my bike, all the while thinking that I should just go home.  I had never ridden my bike in rain and I wasn't great at riding when it was dry.  I really wasn't interested in crashing today!

I waited for the start and watched as 250 wet athletes set up and prepared in the rain.  We all lined up for the swim by seeding ourselves by self-proclaimed swimming abilities.  About 5 minutes before the start, the sun came out, the rain stopped and it warmed up.  I felt much better about continuing.  

Though we were going off one by one in the swim, people did not have a good judgement of their own swimming abilities and eventually there was some congestion in the swim.  I ran into a few people and eventually got around them.  I felt good coming out of the swim and got up the stairs quickly.  



I got my shoes on and got out on the bike.  I immediately felt good on the bike.  I was surprised but my bike computer said I was going 18-20mph for a decent part of the first half of the bike.  I did have to slow down and bit for some turns and the traffic was horrible.  Cars were not slowing down and it made it very hard to pass in some places.

I made it through the bike with a 17.9mph average, which is a VERY good average for me.  


I got out on to my run but forgot that I had packed my shoes without locklaces.  It took a few extra seconds to tie them.  My legs were tired, but I got into my groove after a bit and realized that the storms that had passed through made everything muggy.  BLAH!  I tried to keep my pace up as much as I could.  



I finished with a total time of 1:21:38.  It wasn't record setting or perfect, but it was darn good for me and I was happy with my pace and my time for the night.  I didn't even begin to think that I placed any where in my age group, but I wanted to see my pace, so I went up to the boards after I got my medal and food.

There, on the list, my name was listed in 2nd place. WHAT?  How could that be???  Now, I will admit, that had I been in any other age group that night, my time was not good enough to place.  But, for some reason, my age group was "slower" than the rest and I ended up placing 2nd.  Even if I had been in the women's 50-55 age group I wouldn't have placed with my 1:21!  Kind of crazy, but I'll take my 2nd place and go home!  



I drove home excited and tired.  The next day, I had something even more crazy happen to me...

This appeared in my email inbox:


While that's cool and all, I somehow don't think I'll be going...  I really don't think I'm up to par with those folks!  I'd love to go someday, but I think I better train a bit more before I register!  Pretty cool to get that in my inbox though.

I'm so glad I didn't turn my car around when it was pouring buckets and go home.  I'm glad I decided to get over my fears and just go with it, as it turned out to be a great race.