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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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maumee Bay Olympic Tri

I decided that Maumee Bay would be my first Oly Tri because I was already familiar with the course and I knew it was flat and not very technical.   I'm still not great at riding my tri bike on hills and I am well aware that my handling skills need work.  I was pretty nervous to move up to the next distance because I wasn't sure how my body would respond and though I thought I had put in enough milage, I know nothing about quality training and since I can't afford coaching I have no idea if I'm training "right" for longer distances.  However, I wanted to enjoy the day and was looking forward to building my confidence.  

Saturday was the kids' races and my 7 year old worked hard to better herself on her duathlon and had a good race.  I'll spare you the proud mommy 10 paragraph write up and just post some pictures and say that she paced herself running, passed several people on the bike, and then was a little too tired to run as  fast as I would have liked her to on the last 1/2 mile, but she did sprint to the end after some encouragement.  

The start

Running back

Biking towards transition

Crossing the finish line!

And she won 1st place in her age group again!  We know that there were at least 2 girls in her age group.  One girl quit on the bike portion.  The other girl finished, but we wonder if she was in the wrong age group?  She was never called during the awards for the 8 year olds even though she had an 8 on her leg.

We hung around long enough to pick up my packet and then headed to lunch and home to rest.  I went alone the next morning because I knew it would be a long day for my hubby to keep 3 kids happy.  Happy Father's day to him!

I should mention at this time that I started getting sick on Friday.  I wasn't exactly sure if I had a cold or a sinus infection.  I slept with lot of vicks on and it helped break it up a little.  I did the same Saturday night, but Sunday morning I was still congested.  Thankfully my mom suggested a generic antihistamine that seemed to help me a bit with the pressure.  Nothing could stop the cough fits though.  

I arrived at 6:45am and got marked and picked up my timing chip.  I got my bike in transition.  I made several trips to my car because forgot things or didn't think about how to keep a car key dry while I was  tri-ing without someone there to keep it for me!  I managed to get it all figured out and got my wetsuit on in time to walk out into the water and cool off.  I talked to a few women doing the Oly so I could understand where exactly we were swimming to and from.

When it was time for our race to start I was relaxed and ready to go.  As much as I hate to admit it, I was a little happy that I was "sick" because I knew I could use that to convince myself to take it easy.  It was my "out" to go my own pace.  I hate to admit it, but I'm very competitive.  The bad part is- I'm not very good and I get depressed that I don't do well in my age group!  When really, I should just be happy that I finish!  

The swim was nice and easy except that I ran into the slower men about 1/4 of the way though and then the faster wave of the 70.3 caught up to me about 1/2 of the way though and so I was sort of turned around trying to navigate the washing machine effect when I started my second loop.  It was hard to turn the corner and swim with the masses and have the sun blinding you while you tried to sight.  I managed to get back into my groove and pick up the speed until the very end when I ran into another group and couldn't find a decent way around them.  I was the second in my age group out of the water and only missed being 1st by 10 seconds.  I was pretty happy with my swim.  I estimated 40 minutes and was out in 32 minutes.   I was extremely excited to look at my watch and see a 31 as I was running up the beach.  The timing mat put me at 32:00 when I crossed into T1.

Unfortunately for me, being sick meant that I was also struggling to breathe the entire swim and deep breathing after the swim meant I started coughing.  Once I started coughing, I couldn't stop.  I sat in transition longer than I wanted, but I knew I needed to get my breathing under control.  My T1 time was over 4 minutes, but I had to stop the coughing.  I kept telling myself- It's MY race and I wasn't racing anyone but myself.  

I went out on my bike and saw a new friend at the mount line.  I was so happy to see someone I knew. She hugged me and wished me luck and off I went.  The wind picked up on the bike and I think I passed only one person the whole time, but I felt like I kept up a decent pace for me.  I was passed by a LOT of people.  That's generally what happens when you are a good swimmer.... all of the people who are not good swimmers get out of the water and then bust a$$ on the bike to make up for it and pass those of us who swam well but suck on the bike!  My bike average pace was slow in comparison to everyone else, but a decent pace for me considering it was windy.  It's where I will continue to focus my work.  When I got off the bike my friend was there taking pictures and ready to hug me again!  It was such a welcome sight for me because everyone else had family there and my family couldn't be there.

Again, I was coughing and I spent more time in transition that what I should have, but I wanted to be sure I was ready to head out.  It was MY race.  I wasn't going to win and I wanted to enjoy it.  I calmed down and went out for my run.  

The run was hard.  My legs were tired.  I was tired.  It was HOT.  The sun was out and there were very few clouds in the sky.  The volunteers were sweet and trying to be helpful, but all I wanted was to pour water over my head!  I kept coughing and unfortunately when I coughing I couldn't stop.  I had to keep stoping to cough because when I got into a coughing fit and couldn't stop, I would end up throwing up anything I recently had to drink.  People were worried about me, thinking that it was that I was sick from all the "work" I was doing... nope, just coughing too much!  I would try to explain it to them between coughs, but they just looked confused.

Eventually, I'd get myself moving again and I kept repeating to myself, JUST. KEEP. MOVING. FORWARD.  I saw things along the way that motivated me too.  I saw a bird's feather that reminded me of my girls because they were picking them up the day before.  I saw a pretty bird that was singing sweetly and that reminded me of my friend Kim who love birds and would have loved to hear that bird.  I saw a guy watching for a runner that looked just like my dad and I could have sworn it was my dad until I saw the guy's face.  All of those things made me feel like God was watching over me and urging me forward for those that love me.

I made progress.  Sometimes I ran (slowly) for awhile and then I had to walk.  I spent a lot of time thinking.  I kept thinking back to when I decided to sign up for the Rev3 70.3 at Cedar Point.  I was scared when I made that decision.  I've been scared about that decision since the day I signed up, but during the race, I suddenly had peace about it.  I wasn't sure why.  I certainly felt like CRAP at that moment, WHY would I suddenly be ok with 70.3 miles???  It didn't make sense to me.

I did a lot of wondering and searching for the answer to that question and realized that the longer distance gave me confidence because I didn't feel the anxiety of a RACE.  Sprints make me feel like I have to race other people.  The longer distances are more about dealing with those struggles that come from within.  I knew I could finish the Oly on Sunday.  It wasn't about finishing FAST.  I gave myself the permission to not finish fast and so the only struggle I had to deal with was the mental battle I had to wager with myself.  At CP 70.3 I am VERY well aware that it will NOT be about going fast.  There is no chance that I will finish in the top 3.  I'm more concerned with finishing at all.  CP 70.3 is more about the metal struggle that I will endure.  I am more excited about that than I am "racing" anyone.  I don't enjoy racing.  I don't enjoy the spring races because I don't like losing because I can't control how good others are.  I can only control how good I am.  BUT, when it comes to endurance, I CAN control when I keep going and when I quit.  

I absolutely love longer distances than I do sprint races.  I am 100% sure that I would prefer to do an oly over a sprint race and I am 100% sure I will enjoy the 70.3 and want to do more....someday.

I mean....look at how happy I was just before the finish!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The First Triathlon of the Season- Deer Creek Tri

I signed up for several HFP race series races this season and the first was to be at Deer Creek Lake in Mt. Sterling, Ohio.  I knew that we were headed to somewhere near Columbus and we could visit some friends down around that area.

We left Friday night after work and got to the lodge at Deer Creek around 9:45pm.  It was a 3.5 hour drive for us.  The Lodge needs a lot of updating and our room was less than stellar, but it was a place to sleep.  The kids were tired and cranky, and frankly, so were the parents.  My husband was going to meet a friend to see a movie and I put the kids right to bed.  We were getting up early the next morning so the oldest could do her first ever Du.  She wasn't sure she could swim in a lake yet, so I've only signed her up for Duathlons this season!

In the morning I found out that to get to the site of the race we had to drive 15 minutes.  I was under the impression from the race website that the lodge was AT the same location....not very helpful.  I got the kid to the transition area and we picked up her packet, set up her bike, explained everything, and then went back and picked up everyone else.

I could tell she was really nervous and we tried to explain everything as best as we could.  She tried to keep her mind off of it while we waited for the bigger kids to get done. 

Every once in awhile I saw her tearing up and I told her she would be fine.  Eventually it was time for her race.  There were only 5 or 6 kids doing the Duathlon anyway.  Here are a few waiting for directions.  

Once they all lined up, they were off!!

The younger kids had to run 1/4 mile first, bike 3.1, then run 1/2 mile.

She was back before she knew she was gone!   

  And Finished!

And won First Place in her age group (8 year old girls)

This is the finisher's medal:

And here are both medals:

After the kids race we packed up and went back to the lodge to change and get something to eat.  After eating we spent the day walking around the Columbus Zoo.  It was a hot day and I was exhausted from being on my feet.  I knew that I wouldn't get good sleep that night either.  We took a tour of the bike course for my sprint tri and I got a little freaked out about the hills and rough roads.  I knew I was in for a hard sprint tri for my own race the next morning.

The next day we woke up super early and got to the race site.  The hubby wasn't very happy having to get 3 kids ready and down to the race site that early, but having to drive there was the only option.  I managed to get into my wetsuit and down to the water.  I was afraid it was going to be cold, but it actually wasn't too bad.

The start was almost on time.  I had a major freak out once we got started.  I'm not sure why...  I know how to swim well.  I think I probably should have practiced an open water swim, but with the cold winter, there are not many options right now!!  It took me a good 250yards to get my breathing under control by doing breast stroke and some floating.  I was so mad at myself.  I spent the rest of the time passing everyone who had gone past me.  At the 600yard mark I finally caught up to the guys from the previous wave and then had to pass them.  I managed to get out of the water was a crappy time and up on land feeling horrible.

My hubby was watching for me though....and took a picture.

You can tell I was pissed off!

I got on my bike after a crappy transition and promised myself that I wouldn't crash my bike and that I was going to finish no matter what.  Once on the bike I felt slow and tired.  My legs hurt and I felt like I was out for a slow roll.  I barely managed to hit 15mph.  The hills killed me and the chip and seal roads sucked my energy.  People were passing me.  I don't think I passed anyone.  I was frustrated.  I knew my bike time was going to suck.  I just wanted it to be done.  I got back into transition without crashing and went out for my "run" which was more like a fast walk.  My legs were stiff and sore.  Really?  I know I trained for this.  Why does it feel like I didn't?  Further more....where is my family?  I finally saw my husband's van when I was at the turn around of the 5K.  I told him to head back into the park but I saw him stop at a different parking lot and knew he wouldn't make it back in time.  I was angry about that too.  I finished.  My time was horrible.  My place was horrible.  It was my slowest tri ever.  EVER.  The only thing I can say about it was that I learned that I need to put in a lot more training and that I probably shouldn't expect to do any sightseeing the day before!  Lesson learned.  

I started this post off with a lot of cute pictures of my daughter's Duathlon because I consider that the highlight of my weekend.  My race was not my best race and certainly did not feel good.  I'm happy I finished and didn't give up.  I saw lots of inspiring people out there doing what they do.  I'm glad I CAN race.  I just want to work harder so that I can do as well as I think I should.

Less than 2 weeks until my next race- my first Olympic Tri.... eek!  I really hope I got some better training in! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Where Have I Been?!

Where have I been?  Let me tell you!

At the end of January I started having headaches and by headaches, I really mean I had one headache that just never went away.  My vision was fuzzy, I couldn't think straight and I would go to bed but not sleep because it hurt to let my head touch anything.  I would end up sitting up all night crying.  Finally, I was in so much pain that I felt like I couldn't even see.  I went to see my doctor twice.  Each time he tried to give me meds and nothing worked.  He finally gave me a shot of demerol and said to call the next day.  I asked how long it would take to feel better and I was promised 30 minutes tops...

The next day I barely remember.  I drove to work in blinding pain.  I had gotten absolutely no relief from the shot.  That morning the left side of my face felt numb and thick like I had just had a numbing shot wear off from the dentist.  I called my doctor's nurse and described to her that I was confused and disoriented.  She talked to my doctor who told me that I should go to the bigger city hospital ASAP.

I called my husband and he drove me to the hospital (1.25 hours away) and we spent most of the day in the ER...  I was sent for a MRI, blood tests, scans, and a multitude of other tests.  I saw so many doctors   and was pumped full of meds.  I was admitted around 9pm that night.  I sent my hubby home so I could get some sleep.  My head was pounding and it hurt to touch it to anything so I had nurses bringing me ice packs and meds the minute I was allowed to have more.  The MRI showed nothing significant so the next day they did a second MRI on my face.  I then had a lumbar puncture.  Nothing.   A roommate was moved elderly lady who was hard of hearing.  She had had a stroke (bless her heart) and she  was confused and because she was hard of hearing and confused, she SCREAM over and over.  I was so sick from my head hurting that I cried and threw-up around the clock.  Finally, the nurses felt bad for me and were able to have my insurance approve a single room for me.

(EDIT: I re-read this and it sounds so unemotional... I think it happened so long ago now that I've gotten over it so I can't seem to find the words to share it, but while it was happening, it was so surreal to me.  They thought I was having a stroke (face numbness, left side weakness was never explained and eventually went away).  I saw so many neurologist and had 3 different MRIs in a span of 2 days.  I went from running 25 miles a week to not being able to get out of bed by myself in a matter of days.  

This is where I stayed for 6 long days:

For a few days I could barely move without getting sick. I could only stare at the wall.  I couldn't stand to have the TV on or hear anything.  Light didn't bother me, only noise.  I begged to go home, but I couldn't even get up without getting dizzy.  

I saw multiple groups of doctors, all with their own thoughts, but they all came back to migraines.  They finally decided that my continued nauseousness was a result of the lumbar puncture and did a blood patch.  That helped to ease the dizziness right away.  I was also taken in for nerve block shots (yes, on my head.... if you want a painful procedure, there is something to try!)  That did NOT work!  The next few days were just trial and errors of mixing what they call "migraine cocktails" to attempt to stop the headache I still had.  Every vein in my arms and hands had been blown from the IVs and blood  draws.  

I was eventually sent home because I was "better" even though I can't say I was doing well.  My headache was about 70% better.  It took me a good 2 weeks after that to feel decent and get back to work. The doctor told me I had to wait 2 weeks and wrote my excuse note for that.... I tired to go back half days the second week.  I was exhausted.  It took another 2 months after that for my doctor to find the right combination of meds (pills) to keep the migraines at a minimum.  I have, at the most, 2-3 minor headaches a month now.  I consider that a great success.  They aren't as painful, don't last as long, and I don't get the same symptoms (numb face) as I did before.

I had NEVER in my life been a headache person.  I rarely had headaches.  No one in my family had migraines and this completely blindsided me. It was awful and for anyone who has ever experienced them, I'm so sorry that I wasn't a sympathetic person about headaches before.  

Once I was feeling better, I had just over 5 weeks to finish training for the half marathon I had trained for... I was under trained and I knew it was not a great choice to actually run it, but I did it because I know I could run slowly and walk it I had to walk.  
I didn't PR, but I did manage to keep a good pace and run the whole race.  I love the Glass City Marathon and it's where my PR from last year was (in the pouring rain!!) This year it was chilly at the start, but a perfect day for the run and once I was running, it was just right.   

My time was better than I thought it would be, so I finished happy and kept a good momentum going into my Tri training.  

I'm feeling better and with the right meds, I seem to be staying headache free!  Thank the good LORD above that whole ordeal is over.  I don't know why things like that happen to be, but sometimes I think it's a good reminder that I need to slow down and remember that there are more important things to life!