Never Say Never

09/29/2014

My performance at Ironman Los Cabos in March 2013 was very lackluster mostly due to my bum foot but also partially due to temperatures of one MILLION degrees (for the record, I do NOT do well in extreme heat)! I went in to the race the most prepared, the most fit and the most excited I had ever been for any of my Ironman races (well, maybe excluding the first), but also injured and hesitant as to how my foot would hold up. I did all I could to put my foot to the back of my mind on race day and told myself I would finish the race over hell or high water. After losing my timing chip while diving over waves to start the race, I had an eerie feeling the day was not going to go as planned. The “calm swim” in the Sea of Cortez I’d experienced the day prior ended up being oddly similar to swimming in the crashing waves of the ocean; the nice cool temps and awesome breeze that we had the 3-4 days leading up to the race picked up to all out gusts on race day; the “rolling bike course” (as advertised) ended up being what I can only classify is border-line mountainous climbing over 8,000 feet; and the “flat shaded” run (as advertised) was anything but flat and shaded. I guess that is the downfall of doing an inagural event. Lesson learned: the Mexican Triathlon Association is a bunch of false advertisers 🙂

I came back from Cabo with my tail between my legs and questioning if triathlon/running could continue to be a part of my life. I was depressed about my foot and my performance but proud of myself for not giving up. Most importantly, I promised myself at the finish line that I’d never put myself through walking/jogging a marathon in agony again. If that meant no more running, then so be it. Since then, I’ve been focused on having fun, staying fit, working on my overall strength and flexibility, and getting my foot healthy.

Well a year and a half after thinking I’d never be able to run pain free again, I registered for Ironman Chattanooga on September 27, 2015! I’m a bit shocked that I actually did it but super excited for what’s to come. I think my life will change a lot in the next few years and I want to do one more big race before any of that may happen. 🙂 I plan to tackle it the same way I did my first Ironman – have fun and complete the race with a smile on my face. No pressure, no time goals, no expectations. 🙂 I plan to continue to teach classes during training, continue with my strength workouts and working out with my sister and best friend, and will incorporate longer distance biking, running and swimming early next summer. I’m excited for the adventure ahead and look forward to training with a lot of the local athletes who also registered!

http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/chattanooga.aspx#axzz3EkeNEqcj


Langley Pond Olympic

09/02/2014

Race reports are a little fewer and further between this year but they exist and that’s the best part! I wanted to do at least one more race in 2014 before the end of the season but was having a hard time finding one that fit my schedule. I have heard good things about Langley Pond and liked the idea of doing a new course, so I registered about 2 weeks ago.

We left Charlotte Friday a bit later that we originally planned only to have to do an about-face on the highway at 8pm in Rock Hill because my car was shaking and my right tire was smoking. I called my sister to tell her the trouble we were having and she graciously offered to let us take her car down there. We headed up to her house and were back on the road at 9pm – for a 2 1/2 hour drive to Aiken. Being one who desperately needs my sleep, Derek so awesomely offered to drive and I was able to get a little much needed shut eye after a very long, stressful week at work.

The alarm sounded at 5:30, way later than I would have liked had we gotten more than 5 hours of sleep, but way earlier than I wanted to get up. We made it to the race site with sufficient time though to set up and get ready for the 7am start. The venue was nice and small and easy to maneuver.

The swim was changed to 2 loops of the sprint course that morning (still don’t know why) but it was fine overall. It was a beach start so when the gun sounded, we ran into the water and people started swimming. Being intimidated (and not capable) of lining up on the front line of the swim when men are involved, I situated myself second line back. I ended up running about 25 yards before being able to dive in which was ultimately fine with me because less time swimming is…awesome. 😉

The female age groupers started 3 minutes after the open wave and I thought I saw a girl swim past me about 1/2 way through the 2nd lap. Yup. Regardless the swim was generally uneventful, which for me, means is was a success. I never found myself way left (a little, but not way) or way off course and I never felt terrible. The first turn buoy got pushed out quite a bit on the 2nd lap so the Olympic course was a little long and I always tend to add a bonus 100 meters for myself by swimming like a drunk fish, but all in all, this “got the job done” for today at 30 min and 8th female.

The run to T1 was literally 0.32 miles (that is FOREVER) in bare feet on gravel roads. My feet suck in general and running on gravel / uneven surfaces for this long wasn’t that awesome. If I do this race again I will stash some shoes to put on out of the water. I think my transition was 2:30ish.

The bike course was a fun 2 loop 24-mile course. About 2-3 flat miles, about 3 miles of granny gear, about 3 miles of flat, and about 3 miles of screaming fast false downhill and descents. So fun! The weather was perfect, my power meter was actually working and my power was right on target. Overall, a great ride! Finished in 1:04 and change and 1st female.

The run course was also really nice- flat, some shade, and I love out and backs to see other athletes. I felt great for the first 2-3 miles but my endurance was really wavering for the last 3 miles. The volunteers told me I was the first female at the first aid station which was kinda cool, but means nothing that early on. After I made the turn around, it was quite a long while until I saw another girl so my motivation to keep trying to push SUPER hard faltered a little. And I was really starting to hurt. I hung on as best I could to some sort of pace, and by mile 5 and just wanted to be done. The very last mile literally comes right past the finishing shoot and then sends you back out about a 1/2 mile before you finish up. I didn’t love that or running again on the same uneven rocky surface we ran out of the swim on (twice) and my ankle was pissed but it was pretty short and over relatively quickly. All things considered, this was a decent run. Ended up 46:46 which was good for 2nd female today.

Overall finish time was 2:25 and 1st female. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement in my overall fitness and my race performance but I am just so happy to be where I am in my life right now with a good balance between training and having fun that I am at relative peace with it. I again realize there are lots of girls that could have / would have beat me, but its all about who shows up on that given day! 🙂 I’ll take 3*-3 this season (thanks C. Behme!).

photo

Not sure if there will be any more races this year but have had tons of fun doing the ones I have, that I may look for one more before the weather gets cold. Racing in the cold weather is NOT my thing! Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend and got to do some things that make you happy too!


A Time Trial and Strength Training

07/18/2014

Whoa – two posts in one week!? I must be getting wild!

I have been jealous every week I’ve seen the results and people talking about the time trial up at the speedway, which I’ve done quite a bit in the past, so I wanted to make it a point to get my butt out there and do at least one this year. After doing it, maybe “jealous” was a bit of a stretch.

I had to take my dogs to the vet on Wednesday 😦 so I took a half day at work which helped motivate me to do this particular one. Trying to leave work to get ready and get up to Concord at 5:30 is normally a huge buzz kill. It was nice to be a bit more relaxed about this one. We arrived with plenty of time to warm up a little before Derek’s start at 6:30. It was his first event and I was more nervous for him than myself!! I like when the pressure is off me. 🙂 He did great for his first time ever and I know he’s got more in him next time. Part of time trialing is just figuring out just how hard you are capable of going for that exact distance – no more and no less. He rode at his exact goal speed and had “fun” doing it!

After watching Derek finish his ride I started my own a little before 7:30. I hit it hard the first lap and tried to get settled into a good groove that I could sustain for the next 6. I didn’t actually watch my power this time because I didn’t want to be discouraged if it was significantly lower than I’m used to seeing in past time trials. Head games. 🙂 So I set a goal speed (26.5) and just watched it and my distance the whole time. And tried to not to puke.

I wish I could say I felt awesome but after about 2 laps, I did not. By the 6th lap, I saw 7.25 miles and was delirious about if this was my last lap or my 6th. I came around the 4th turn on what I had hoped was my 7th lap, but looked down and saw 8 miles and almost quit. I take full responsibility for this. I had a really small lunch that day since work was very busy (read: cup of soup) and nothing but two hard-boiled eggs before we left for the track. I was starving before the ride so I knew energy would be an issue but I came unprepared with any gels or food. By lap 7, I was seriously out of gas. I pressed on as hard as I could and kept telling myself, ok, pick it up at the 3rd turn. Then I’d try, and I wouldn’t go any faster, so I’d think, ok pick it up at the 4th turn, and the same. The finishing stretch was all about not falling off my bike, honestly.

I was shooting for 22:40 and I finished in 22:39- not too shabby a time prediction on my part! The craziest/best/funniest part is that this was actually the highest 20 minute power test I’ve ever done!? After I’d caught my breath and caught up with Derek, I checked out my average watts and lo and behold, my jaw hit the floor. Given my time was over a minute slower than my best there at the speedway, I figured my watts would correlate (since it wasn’t super windy)…but surprise!

I’ll get on a little soapbox now for just a brief moment. The past year and a half since my foot injury has taught me the importance and benefit of cross training and, more importantly, strength training. When I was knee-deep in swim bike run, I used yoga as my sole method of strength training – which is not a bad form I’ll say. These days however, I do TONS of burpees, short 100/200 meter sprints, tons of pushups, planks, squats (body weight, jump and weighted), lunges, side shuffling, and in general just a significant amount more strength training. I continue to be surprised to see some of my results this year not be too dramatically off where they used to be when I was solely focused on swim, bike, run training, which is definitely attributed to my overall increased strength. Now there are definitely workouts I could / should do that are swim, bike, run specific, that in conjunction with my strength training, would net great results, but I’m not into being all too focused right now – more just doing what feels good, having fun and staying fit. I will say though, less is more!

My time was good enough for 2nd female as I was edged out by another great rider Sarah by 4 seconds. Makes you look back and think “doh, shouldn’t have let up that time” but I did the best I could and she also had a great ride! Congrats Sarah!

If you are around uptown during the week and want to join our little group sessions during lunch, anyone is welcome! We work super hard but have tons of fun! I’m also happy to plan such workouts for anyone who might be interested!

Happy Friday all!


Having Fun!

02/23/2014

Hello blog readers! It’s been since Thanksgiving since I checked in here so I figured it was time to post a quick update.

This time last year I was in, what was likely, the best shape of my life. I was hitting paces I never thought possible, power numbers on my bike that I’d never seen before and actually feeling pretty good in the water. I went into Ironman Cabo in March excited, fit, ready…and in pain! Post Ironman was allllll about recovery. I had been training and racing on a bum foot for nearly 8 months and it was time to figure out a game plan. Post surgery in April, I still spent much of the spring and early summer thinking I’d be back to racing before long, holding on to all the fitness I’d built in 2012 and over the winter into 2013, and with a late season race schedule looming. However, when I was still in pain by August, I decided it was time to put thoughts of racing on the back burner and focus all of my attention at getting my foot back to normal.

Well it worked! So after November, I’ve been somewhat scott-free on the pain front and it’s been awesome. I definitely still have my occasional (and not unusual for me) “foot stuff” that randomly hurts here and there, but I think small amounts of periodic pain for people who run is pretty common. That said, I’ve been asked over and over…”so, what’s next?” “What are you training for?” “What’s your first race gonna be this year?”

The most honest answer I can come up with is “I have no idea”…because I truly don’t. I spent the last several years of my life training pretty darn hard, sacraficing things I may have otherwise wanted to do, and rearranging / coordinating my life around my training and racing. I’m thankful I have a family and friends who were (well, are) so incredibly understanding of the rearranging so I could fit in my training. And I loved it! I loved being in “tip top” shape and the competition of the sport! I loved racing. I loved the lifestyle it took to race hard and the good races are such fond memories, while the bad races are some of the best learning experiences in my life. I’ve built so many awesome memories racing and have traveled to so many places that I NEVER would have traveled otherwise without doing so to race. It was an awesome 5 years of my life.

But being injured and being forced to step back from that lifestyle for a while has taught me a lot about myself and put my life in a wonderful prospective. Yes, I will still race, I still love to workout and be fit, I still love some of the people I’ve met through triathlon and look forward to lifetime of friendships with them…but I also love my life outside of triathlon which has been a little on the “back burner” for a few years. I have always made it a point to participate and attend all functions and events with my friends / family even when I have been amidst intense training, but I have also realized this year that at times, I was maybe not truly “present” at those events because my next workout, my next race, my past workout, etc was always in the back of my mind. The energy it took to rearrange my life around my workout schedule or race calendar started to take some of the fun out of it. It’s just inevitable that when you’re racing and training hard (especially when you decide to do longer distance racing), you have to focus a lot (most all?) of your mental and physcial energy on it, or else you will not be able to achieve what you’re looking to do.

So the goal of 2014 is to have fun! Have fun doing whatever tickles my fancy at any given point in time. I’ve done so many new, different, challenging, truly FUN workouts this year outside of swim, bike and run that I feel so refreshed. I’ve incorporated a lot more strength into my routine and have enjoyed doing “what feels good” each day. Now this doesn’t mean I do a 20 min run and call it a day, but it also doesn’t mean if my body / mind are telling me to slow down on a day I planned to run tempo, I don’t. It has been nice to listen to my body and push when it tells me it’s ok, and back it down when it tells me I’m overcooked. I’d say I’m running 2-3 times a week, sometimes easy, and sometimes hard, sometimes far, sometimes not; I’m swimming 2-3 times a week with my sister and loving every swim set (for the first time ever!), I’m doing athletic conditioning when it feels right, yoga when things are tight, riding on the weekends and occasionally on my trainer, t-runs when they feel good or I have company, or taking random classes at the Y when I feel like it. I’ve spent a lot of time working out with my sister which has been great QT together. It has brought the fun back into being fit again and it is what is working for me right now. I plan to do a few random races here and there, probably shorter local races, and I am hoping I can toe the line with the same mentality as my 2014 mantra – HAVE FUN! I’m 100% certain there will be a time in my life again that I have the urge to do another sub-xyz marathon, sub xyz-hour Ironman or whatever other crazy endeavor that comes across my plate, but for right now, I’m enjoying my current fitness level, my life outside of swim, bike, run, rinse, repeat, my job, my friends, getting ready for my sisters wedding, and whatever else fun that pops up in between!

I hope to see many of you back out on the race course this year and look forward to being the girl who’s less focused on my run split and more focused on high-fiving the volunteers as I run by. It’s yet to be determined if I can actually participate in a race with that mentality, but that’s the goal for now 🙂

Happy Sunday ya’ll!


Thankful and a “race”!

11/30/2013

Each year around this time I think everyone (should) take a minute or two to sit back and reflect on what they are thankful for. This year is no different than any prior year – I am thankful for my mom and dad, my selfless sister, my extended family, my amazing friends, my happy dogs, my secure job, my overall health and all of the opportunities I have in life! I’m pretty sure I’ve written that exact sentence at some point before. But this year though I’m feeling even more thankful…to be out of pain!

The Turkey Trot, though not a “race” of any importance, has always served as a good measure of fitness for me since I started running. It was the very first organized run I ever did in 2002 when I moved to Charlotte and it inspired me to sign up for my first half marathon the following April and not long after, my first marathon. I was truly hooked on running from that day on. It has been cool to see myself get slightly faster every year, particularily since I started dedicated “training” in 2008. Last year though, I very clearly remember contemplating not starting the Turkey Trot because my heel was hurting so badly before the race. I had just come back from New Zealand / Australia and all of the walking we did down there really did a number on my foot.

About 2-3 months ago, I was convinced that I would never run without pain again, that I would deal with this forever, never get my fitness back and never run long distance again. It was pretty darn depressing! About a month ago though, it hit me one random day that my foot didn’t really hurt. And the next day, it didn’t hurt either. And then after a 3 mile run, it didn’t hurt then. And after athletic conditioning (i.e. jumping), it didn’t hurt again. And the next day, it didn’t either. After about 2-3 weeks of “waiting” for it to hurt, I started to realize that my foot might actually be getting better! I am still in somewhat disbelief and am waiting for the morning when I hobble out of bed or can hardly walk after a run, but so far, I seem to be in the clear!

I feel like I’ve been released from prison, literally.

Seeing that my foot has been feeling better and given the tradition of the Turkey Trot with my family, I decided ~2 weeks ago that I would give it a go. I was “excited” about an opportunity to test my “alternate” forms of fitness over the past 8 months and see how they may or may not translate into running fitness. Candidly though, I was also kinda nervous.

Who gets nervous for the Turkey Trot??!!

The reality that my fitness and weight aren’t really where they were a year ago (post Worlds and 4 months from Ironman Cabo) is obvious, but I truly wasn’t sure how bad it would be and I’ve been kinda scared / avoiding finding out. I have just been working out for enjoyment and avoiding anything to do with paces, test set, watts, etc. But there’s no avoiding the Turkey Trot and it was time to test my alternate forms of working out. 🙂

There is no need to provide a long drawn out race report for a ~5 mile run, but I’ll say I ran 35:05 (7:11 pace) this year vs. my 8k PR of 33:57 (6:48 pace). I am pleasantly surprised that I still have a little bit of running speed left (all relative), though I know how much work I’d have to do to get back to where I was. What I’m most happy about though, is that I haven’t lost my ability to suffer, which is really what running / triathlon is all about.

“It never gets easier, you just get faster”. Very, very true.

I wanted to slow down the entire time. I didn’t “need” to be running quite so hard – or hard at all – but I’m not wired that way and Thursday reminded me of that. I will admit that a small piece of my competative / train day in and day out / work work work / race race race spirit has died a little with my foot injury, but I now realize a big piece of that spirit is very much still alive. What that means going forward, I really don’t know. I am not allowing myself to think about any races through the end of 2013. 2014 is a new year, a new beginning, and hopefully a fresh start with a healthy foot. I’ll be slowly slowly ramping up running miles for the next 4-5 weeks to see how my foot does with it, but right now I’m continuing to enjoy alternate forms of workouts and a life outside of swim, bike run, rinse, repeat! It it feels good come January, I may have a race season to plan. 🙂

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones and has as much to be thankful for as I do!


Moving in the Right Direction…and a Quazi Race Report!

08/06/2013

Well things are finally looking up! As of my last update, my foot was still quite painful and I was still unable to run, but I’m very happy to report that things seem to be improving! I had a cortisone injection on both sides of my foot about 3 weeks ago and literally woke up pain free the next day for the first time in a year! It is the most wonderful feeling to not hobble out of bed in the morning or to have to take “breaks” when walking for any period of time to rest my hurting foot! I realize that cortisone is not a prolonged treatment method and that there are still underlying “issues” with my foot, but it’s been a huge relief just to be out of pain, even if it is may only be temporary.

That said, I’ve been “cleared” to run so long as it doesn’t hurt! I’ve been very smart (yes, me!) and haven’t run more than 4 miles at a time (once), with most runs of just 2-3 miles. I’ve done some longer walk / jogs but have generally just kept on with my normal “injured” workout schedule. As much as I’d like to get back to racing and full-on training, I’m hesitant to do too much too soon until I see how this cortisone will do in the longer term vs. just a few weeks. Some people get one injection and never deal with the issue again…others have pain return as soon as the cortisone wears off. I’m praying I’m a “one and done” and if so, I’ll be kicking myself for years to come that I didn’t get the injection before Cabo. :-/ What do they say…”hindsight is always 20/20”.

“Training” wise, I’ve been doing a few longer rides on the weekends for fun with good groups of people and it’s been nice to see my fitness on the bike returning much faster than I anticipated. It has been great to just ride and go along with whatever everyone else is doing. I hate being the selfish one who has intervals and such to do as I was in the time leading up to Cabo. During the week, I’ve been sticking with some time on the spin bike, elliptical, stepmill, a swim here and there (not nearly enough), Body Pump / strength workouts, and have recently been back to some more intense workouts like athletic conditioning. All in all, I feel content with my current level of fitness and it’s been a nice break to step away from hard core training, the ups and downs of racing, and the intensity of that lifestyle, and just enjoy an active life!

A few athletes that I coach decided to do Lake Logan Olympic in Canton, NC this past weekend. This is a beautiful, “friendly” course, so I thought it’d be a fun first Olympic distance race for some of my less-experienced clients…including my sister! I had planned all along to go and spectate the event, but had been teetering for a few weeks on whether I wanted to participate in some fashion. I felt very strong last weekend on a ~90 mile ride and decided on Monday that I may as well register for the “Aquabike” event. If I was going to drive up there, get up at 4:30am to be at the race site, and be standing around for ~3+ hours, I might as well get a good workout in and still be done in time to cheer everyone on during the run! Obviously you can make any triathlon into a swim / bike event by just turning in your chip post bike ride, but if you know me, you know that would be really hard for me to do. This was actually a designated Aquabike event so I couldn’t pass it up.

Swim: 26:50 – 28th
Yep, confirmed, still slow but this was actually one of my best Olympic distance swims. Given I’ve swam about 8 times since March, I’m pretty pleased that I felt as good as I did. The water was cold, but actually refreshing and I was even able to do some drafting. I do wish someone could explain to me why I pull left so badly in the open water, but all in all, I did a really good job today of swimming straighter and sighting…my Garmin file didn’t make me cross-eyed and I actually swam up on people AND passed them! 🙂

T1: 1:53 – 4th
It was a pretty long run to T1 – given my lack of run fitness right now, this was probably the hardest part of the race 🙂 I didn’t do anything fancy with shoes or attempt any flying mounts…I just put my shoes and helmet on and ran out. Pretty basic.

Bike: 1:05 – 3rd
I felt very good on my bike, despite panting like a dog the entire ride. My legs had some good snap to them and it was pretty fun to basically ride as hard as I could knowing I didn’t have to run after. Fueling is much less important when you’re only riding 25 miles and don’t have to run so I basically just put my head down and hammered. I may have had a little more in the tank if I was actually competing for something but it’s kinda hard to really bury yourself when there’s really nothing on the line. I started in the last swim wave, so it was fun to pass a lot of people on my bike. It reminded me of racing age group, which I miss from that prospective. Racing “Open” is much more lonely for us weaker swimmers.

And then…my race was over.

Anticlimactic? Yes, very.
Anxious to tear out of transition and run? Yes, very.
Glad to at least be able to swim and ride? Yes, very!

Total time: 1:33 – 1st Aquabike girl or boy 🙂 At least I got a very nice transition mat.

Regardless, it was awesome to be out there and a really fun weekend with friends / clients / family!

The CK Multisport gang!

The CK Multisport gang!


What’s Next?

03/28/2013

Well, the question of the hour seems to be “what’s next?”

At this point, my only priority is resting and healing my foot and staying active doing fun workouts that include as little swimming, biking or running as possible. It’s 12 days post race, I haven’t run since race day and my foot still hurts. I had an MRI today and should get the results to that very soon…the moment of truth!

Given I had a hard time running in Cabo for various reasons, my body recovered quickly post race. I took 5 full days off of nothing but laying around soaking up the sun and have spent the rest of the time since I’ve been back doing 30-45 min of elliptical, Stairmaster, athletic conditioning classes and a ton of glute/core/total body strength. I normally get most of my strength work from intense yoga ~2-3 times a week but that has been so limited because of my foot that I’ve turned into a big, blog of endurance. Perhaps this injury is a blessing in disguise to get back into the gym and tighten up! I am really enjoying the downtime, maybe the first downtime I’ve had in ~3 years, and doing different types of workouts. I plan to attend some classes at the Hilliard Studio, continue to practice yoga (so long as my foot will tolerate) and may even finally take some much needed time to focus on my swimming. We’ll see.

Race wise for 2013 is a complete question mark at this point. Much is contingent on my foot, but also contingent on my desire to race and some pretty exciting outside factors. The only thing I know for sure I will be doing is Blood, Sweat and Gears Century – a pretty “epic” (for lack of a better term) mountain ride in June – and racing my bike here and there. The only other race I have registered for is Raleigh 70.3, but again, that will be dependent on the diagnosis of my foot.

For now, you can find me at gym getting ripped. 🙂