More Red Than Green

The last month my Training Peaks calendar has really suffered.  There are so many missed workouts, it’s embarrassing.   From work being less than ideal at the moment, to Nick and I being sick on and off, to shear lack of motivation; my calendar is a sore sight.

Training Peaks Calendar

The weather is finally nice enough to exercise outside and all I want to do is stay inside on the couch.  I’m not exactly sure how to get out of this funk.  I have TWO major races coming up – Door County 70.3 is a few weeks away and Chattanooga will be here before I know it.  I NEED to get motivated.  I know I’m on the verge of being completely underprepared for both races if I don’t get moving soon.

How do you find motivation?

2017 Elkhart Lake Race Report

Elkhart Lake is where triathlon began for us last year.  Nick and I returned this year because it is a great race – the course is nice, and we did not have travel too far from home.

I had a couple of goals for the race:  Don’t freak out on the swim and beat last year’s time.  I accomplished both!

The Swim
With my last two races resulting in a DNF due to the swim, I was a little nervous getting in the open water again.  I hadn’t swam outside of the pool since Austin 70.3 in November.

Race day, I was unusually relaxed.  Nick and I were in the last swim wave, so we hung out all morning.  I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to be the last sprint athlete our of the water.   I knew I could finish the swim, even if I had to doggie paddle my way through it.

We lined up and waited for our wave to start.  The gun went off and we were chatting with people in our age group.  We saw the first of the athletes complete the swim, and not too much longer it was our turn.

Elkhart does a rolling swim start, so you line up by wave, give your bib number and are off.  The next athlete is about three seconds behind you. It was my turn to enter the water.  I ran into the water.  As I was about to dive, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nick pass me.  (So much for beating him on the swim).

The water was cold.  I knew I had to keep my breathing under control, and remain calm.  Halfway to the first turn buoy I recognized where I had my little panic attack last year.  I kept swimming.  I was in a rhythm, breathing every other stroke (every third stroke was just too much).  Although, I was sighting very often, I didn’t stop swimming.

Before long I was at the first turn buoy.  Last year, I held on to a kayak hear to catch my breath.  I kept going, no need for a kayak this year.  My head was out of the water a little more than I wanted, but that’s what was keeping me comfortable, so that’s what I continued to do.  I was sighting nearly every stroke.

I got to the second turn buoy in no time.  I saw a girl struggling a little on the swim.  I asked if she was okay, and she said yes, so I kept going.  I was almost there.  I got to the point where I could touch and swam some more.  The water was getting cloudy/sandy, so I stood up.  As I ran the rest of the way, I saw Nick exiting the water.  I wasn’t too far behind him.

Swim Time – 9:05.1 (2:16/100m)

T1
The transition this year was a little longer in that you had to run along the back of the transition areas to enter transition from the swim.  I ran/walked to transition.   Once at my bike, I hung my wetsuit, put on socks, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, grabbed my bike and was out.

T1 Time – 3:59.9

The Bike
The bike course changed slightly the day before the race due to road construction.  Instead of three left turns to turn around, you made a left turn then right turn, and then a u-turn and back down.  No big deal.  It was essentially the same course.

When setting up my bike that morning, I poured my Tailwind in my aerobottle without mixing it.  I figured the jostling of the bike would stir it enough as I rode.  Boy was I wrong.  I drank all of the powder in the first few sips, and was left with slightly flavored water the remainder of the ride.

2016ElkhartLakeEmilyBikeI started the bike off strong.  My heart was beating fast.  The good thing about starting in the last swim wave is that there are a ton of people before you to pass on the bike.

About mile 2 I got stuck behind a Tahoe who was stuck behind two athletes who were much slower than my pace.  Without any way to pass, I had to stay behind the vehicle, until the course turned off and I was able to make my pass.

Next up were the two hairpin turns.  I remember these scaring me last year, but I was ready for them.  I slowed down, made the turn, then picked up speed again.  I was passing people on hills, something I couldn’t seem to do in my first race.

I rode by the place where I stopped last year to help out the guy with the flat tire. No one was on the side of the road this year, thank goodness.

I was trying to keep steady uphills and let the downhills work for me.   I was on the lookout for Nick, knowing he was ahead of me.  About mile 6, I crossed Nick on the bike.  He had already made it to the turnaround and was headed to transition.

I made it to the turnaround, careful not to fall, and continued on my way.  I was still passing people, and only had a few people pass me the whole ride.  Before long, I was nearing transition.

Bike Time – 47:15.2 (15.7 mph)

T2
I dismounted my bike and began running in to T2.  I very quickly regretted not leaving my shoes on the bike and running barefoot.  But the pathway leading to transition was single file, so I had to run in my bike shoes.

I racked my bike, changed shoes, changed hats, put on my bib, and was out.

T2 Time – 2:54.0

The Run
I still hadn’t calmed myself down.  My heart was still pounding.  I knew this was going to be a difficult run.  My pacing was off, I was running too fast.  Before the 1 mile mark, I had to take a walk break.  I needed to steady myself, run leisurely; but that wasn’t happening.  When I was running, it was fast.  This 5k was going to be bad.

Nick was ahead of me, but I wasn’t sure by how much.  When I passed where the course loops back on itself and didn’t see Nick, I knew he was less than 20 minutes ahead of me.  I continued my run/walk regimen, a little disappointed in myself for not being able to pace properly.

I made it to the water station and knew the big hill was up next.  I made it up the hill, but no without walking.  I wasn’t passing anyone, and really no one was passing me either.  There were people out on the course, but I felt like I was running it alone.  Finally, I was at the downhill, and let me legs just keep moving.  I told myself I had to run it in, and I did.

Run Time – 33:12.9 (10:42 min/mile)

2016ElkhartLakeFinish

Total Race Time – 1:36:27.3

This year versus last year:
I was definitely more prepared for the race this year, both mentally and physically.  A few days before the race I sent my coach my race predictions.    I thought it might be fun to compare my times.  Below are my 2015 Results, 2016 Predictions, and 2016 Results.

2015 Results 2016 Prediction 2016 Results
400m Swim 12:26.3 10:00.0 9:05.1
T1 4:30.5 3:00.0 3:59.9
20k Bike 52:47.6 46:00.0 47:15.2
T2 3:16.5 3:00.0 2:54.0
5k Run 34:35.8 32:00.0 33:12.0
Total 1:47:36.7 1:34:00.0 1:36:27.3

A total of 11 minutes 9.4 seconds improvement from last year!

2016 ElkhartLakeFlagEmily

Barrier to Entry

We were a week from Nick racing in Galveston 70.3, and  I was putting together a list things to bring as an official race spectator (and volunteer and sherpa).  All was well, until the coach sent me a text that Monday saying, “Btw, Emily…bring your wetsuit.”  WHAT?!  I’m not racing!  I, cleverly responded, “Wetsuit won’t fit in my bag.”  This is true.  I am not planning on checking a bag for the trip, so it’s necessary to pack light.  I was prepared to bring running shoes, but not a wetsuit.  Within seconds Nick offered, “I can fit it in my bike bag!”  Of course you can.  What a way to save the day.  Thanks, hubby!

I was nervous about my next OWS.  I didn’t want to swim, I wanted to spectate and volunteer and sherpa and just enjoy our mini vacation.

While attending the athlete briefing with Nick and his brother, we were told there would be no swimming allowed in the bay.  (I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed to hear this).  Any athlete found swimming would be immediately disqualified from the race.  (No objection from me).  Then the Race Director offered those who were wanting to get in the water could go a few miles up the road and swim there.  (Ugh, I thought he was on my side).  We left the briefing and went to lunch.

As luck would have it, we ate across the street from where the Race Director told us swimming was allowed.  I looked out the window the entire lunch watching the waves crash into the shore.  There was no way.  No way I could do this, not in these conditions.  I was going to tell my coach the tides were too rough for me to swim.  As I stared at the waves, I realized no one else was swimming.  There was not a single person in the water or on the beach.  It hadn’t been my brain exaggerating the scenery, it truly was rough waters outside.  Relief swept over me.

Galveston Beach

 

On the way home, I felt like I had dodged a bullet.  I got out of my OWS.  Then reality set in… Even though I escaped the swim last weekend, I still have to get in the open water at some point.  I can’t continue to hope for rough tides.  Soon there will be no more excuses.

Swimming is my barrier to entry.  It’s what caused my DNF at both Steelhead and Austin last year.  It’s a complete mind game for me.  I have no problems swimming in the pool.  Nick and I were discussing my swim anxiety the other day.  He said, “After Steelhead, I thought you would have no problems swimming in open water.”  The waves were really rough that day, and I finished the swim.  When I see the open water, I have flashbacks of that swim.  I remember struggling the second half, telling myself to keep going; while the next swim wave caught up to me and trampled over me.  A few minutes later, another swim wave was on it’s way; and I was still there – like a target floating in the water, just waiting to be trampled.  I recall getting sick so close to the finish, and how I knew regardless of whether or not I continued, I had already lost – I didn’t make the cutoff time.

I swam countless hours in the pool.  I hired a swim coach.  I’ve done drill after drill after drill.  I’ve improved my form.  I’ve gotten faster.  I’ve become more confident in the water.  Without a doubt, I can make the cutoff time.  Earlier this week, I had a gentleman tell me, “I enjoy watching you swim.  You seem to glide through the water.”  This was a huge compliment for me.  When I started swimming, I was flailing around in the water, trying to stay afloat and make it to the other end of the pool.

So, I’ll just keep swimming.  I’ll keep doing drills.  I’ll continue to get faster and stronger and more confident in the water.  And next race, I’ll get in and prove to myself it’s not that hard.  I have nothing to worry about.  It’s just a simple swim…in the open water.

Q1 2016 Totals

Since I’ve been a slacker in posting our monthly totals, I figured I might as well just post the quarterly total, and we can from there.  Here are our distance totals thus far in 2016.

Health Club Dues:
January $1.74/visit
February $3.88/visit
March $2.43/visit

2016
Emily Jan Feb Mar
Swim (miles) 5.8 3.6 7.2
Bike (miles) 254.8 169.2 183.7
Run (miles) 31.9 21.7 33.7
Strength (min) 146 30 49
Nick Jan Feb Mar
Swim (miles) 5.8 6.5 11.6
Bike (miles) 210.3 165.5 321.6
Run (miles) 43.3 30.3 47.3
Strength (min) 72 n/a n/a

Ironman Texas 70.3 Race Report

Hi Everyone!

Galveston went very well.

Galveston Finisher's Medal

Thursday morning, we left from Chicago and headed towards San Antonio.  But on the ground we went through lots of fun delays.  First, was something about paperwork.  Then, out of nowhere it started snowing and the pilot let us know that we would need to wait 15 to 20 minutes for the airport to come and de-ice the plane.  We waited for at least that long and the sun came out.  That must have been their cue to let us go, because we pushed back and went on our way.

The flight down was uneventful, I watched the Force Awakens and it was just as good the fourth time as it was the first.

Once in San Antonio, my sister in law picked us up and we went to the house.  My mom was there and we did some chatting before I decided to put my bike together.  It is a little more difficult to do without a stand, but it was relatively easy to accomplish.

Friday, we took a trip to a local bike shop for some quick last-minute needs.  I got a bike pump and flat repair kit (just in case).  The pump served us well over the weekend and it was something that Emily and I decided we would do at any race we traveled for going forward.  In this case, we left it with my brother, but our intention is to just pass it around and let whoever lands with it at the end keep it.

That afternoon we drove to Pearland and spent the night there.  It was a longish drive and we loaded in to the rooms and then got dinner.  Nothing special, but a nice night to sit with family and talk about the weekend to come.

Saturday morning, my brother, Emily and I took off for Galveston around 8:00 so that we could get down to check in and get that done.  It was an easy enough drive and we were able to check in relatively quickly (with the exception that I stood in a line for 10 minutes that I didn’t have to – READ THE SIGNS).  With check in out of the way we proceeded to grab my brother’s bike and take it to a mechanic.  He had noticed a ticking when he rode the day before and as it turns out . . . his wheel was out of true.  Quick fix and we were on our way.  But, bike check in couldn’t be done until later in the day, so we took the bikes with us.

Our Support Crew

Our Support Crew

We met up with the rest of the family for lunch at Saltgrass.  Emily’s friend from Houston met us there as well and spent the rest of the day with us.  While they hung out at the hotel and chatted, my brother (Andy) and I went to drop off the bikes and run the final errand (water).

Bikes were dropped off quickly and we stopped by Walmart for a couple of gallons of water, then it was back to the hotel.  I took a nap and assume Andy did as well before waking up and figuring out what was for dinner.  We landed on Mcalister’s for sandwiches and potatoes.  The problem, they were out of potatoes.  Too many athletes in town and they ran out of them. I settled for a Ceasar Chicken Wrap.

After dinner, Andy and I walked through his race bag, I checked mine and I was off to bed.  It still took me a couple hours to fall asleep because I was so excited.

RACE MORNING – SUNDAY

Andy, Emily and I were out the door at 4:35.  Emily was volunteering and I am a nervous race morning person, so it worked out.  In transition, I hung out with Andy while he got stuff together and he asked questions.  He was really well composed for his first race.  With all of his stuff coming together, I walked over to my bike and got my spot figured out.  While Andy was lucky enough to be at the end of a rack and have people around him not show up, I was next to the toilets and had a clear marker for where I was going to be.  With all my bottles filled and my bike and run gear all laid out, I was off to the bathroom.  I was far less nervous this time around and more excited.

I talked to Emily for a minute while she marked people coming in to transition and then went back to Andy to talk for a few minutes.  Around 6:30, Andy and I left transition and headed over to the swim start!

In the past this is where I start to fall apart a little.  In Austin I was able to gain my composure, but this time I was ok.  Excited.  All I really wanted to do was start.  With about 15 minutes before my wave started, I ditched my morning clothes, put on my wetsuit, said bye to my brother and headed down to get in line.

Galveston is an interesting race.  We lined up by our cap color, walked out onto the pier and then jumped in the water.  It was in this line that I met a couple of really nice guys who were first timers.  They were very nervous but both seemed quite ready for the challenge.

Nick Galveston SwimJumping in the water was a shock.  The water was colder than I expected.  They called out the minute warning.  When they signaled the start, my wave was off.  I had a relatively straight start and I was pretty happy with my performance into the first turn.  Just after the first turn is when my left goggle lens started to fill with water.  It was annoying and I tried to fix it, but to no avail.  I left it alone and just dealt with it the best I could.  My swim became a bit zig zaggy until the next turn.  During this time, I took on a lot of salt water and gagged pretty frequently.  After the last turn, I cooked into the swim out paying close attention to continue swimming until the exit since they told me to due to the oyster beds.

My swim was great, and from Austin to Galveston I was 4M37S faster for a final swim time of 47:53.

T1 was a bitch.  I tried to pull on my arm coolers, but it wasn’t happening.  I put on my shoes and walked out of transition.  Mistake one was not trying to get the sleeves on during training while I was wet.  Mistake two was putting shoes on and walking out of transition.  I should have had them on the bike and put them on in the first couple hundred yards.  Lesson learned.  T1 time was 5:25

On to the bike.  This is such a great course.  It’s quick and painless.  Just a few turns and you are out onto the seawall and headed straight.  There was so much great support out there.  Police holding cars back and volunteers did an excellent job.  I held to my power number the best that I could and I had a great time.  For the first half of the bike, I felt like I was passing all kinds of people.  This was a totally different experience from Austin.

In Austin, I can remember people passing me and not having anyone around for minutes at a time.  This time I was always in a group of some sort.

Nick Galveston BikeAlso, unlike Austin, the roads were awesome.  The only place where roads were slightly worse than perfect was getting on and off San Luis pass.  It was there that I witnessed the great bike bottle massacre of 2016.  They were everywhere and it was as if no one had ever cared for them.

As I closed out the bike course I was still feeling great (thanks coach for making me stick to the plan).  With about 1/10 of a mile to go, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and road on top of them until the dismount line.  I had finished 3 bottles of tailwind, 1 bottle of water and 3 Clif gels.  I was in good shape.  Final time on the bike was 3:13:49.

Into T2, I was feeling good.  I ran in so fast that I completely passed my rack and had to throw myself into reverse.  I took a few steps back and found my spot, racked my bike, tossed my helmet and tied my running shoes as quickly as I could.  I tossed on my visor and off I went, stopping only for sunscreen on the way out (I should Nick Galveston Runhave stopped longer).  Final time in T2 was 2:23.

During the first mile of the run, I felt OK and I was running.  I was running close to a 10 minute mile and kept telling myself to slow down or I was going to burn out.  And there it was.  Around the one mile mark, I started to fade quickly.  I walked a little and ran a little.

Since the course is a bunch of out and backs, I was constantly seeing the same people.  Since I was walking, I was able to hang with all of the other walkers.  I tried to keep my pace below 13 minutes and I was able to do that until the second lap.  On the second lap, I started walking full miles.  I stopped at an aid station and ate a banana and felt mildly better, so I continued to eat bananas at every station.

By the last lap of the course, I was worn out.  I ran when I could and finished the last two miles at a 13 minute pace.  I saw Emily, my mom and my brother’s family with just over 2/10 of a mile remaining and from there ran in as hard as I could.  It felt good to finish my second race and I feel like my time was a great achievement.  My run time was 2:54:11 (not great).

My overall time for this race was 7:03:41.  This accounts for a 1H10M reduction in my time between Austin and Galveston.  I know that the argument can be made that they are 2 totally different courses, but I am proud to have cut this kind of time off of my race.

Final Thoughts

1. I truly appreciate the support of Emily, my mom, and my brother’s family (as well as my brother).  It is amazing to have people there to cheer you on.  I believe it makes a huge difference in morale.

2. Sunscreen and more sunscreen.  I put some on before the bike and had the volunteer cover my arms when I started the run.  This wasn’t enough.  I should have really doused myself before I went for the run.  The only place I wasn’t totally burned is the exact spot where the volunteer first hit me with the sunscreen.  My head, arms and shoulders are completely burned.Tanlines

3. This is a great course and a well organized race.  The only problem I had was that when I finished, there wasn’t any pizza available. I was hangry and didn’t want to wait.

4. This was my brother’s first race and I was super excited to see him cross the finish line.  It is a huge accomplishment to start racing this distance and he really did a great job.

Nick & Andy Galveston

5. Grease your pits for the swim.  I had some serious chaffing under my arms.  Next time I will be using some Vaseline.

Easter Olympic

I had a mock olympic tri on the schedule this weekend; which means that I have a rest day on Easter.  HOORAY!!!!

Easter Olympic SwimNick and I started the morning at the pool.  We initially had to share a lane, the pool was busy for an early Saturday morning.  At some point during the swim, Nick moved into another lane.  He had a swim with drills, while I had a continuous 1500 yd swim.

The swim was good.  My coach entered a completion time estimating 2:30/100 yds.  When I saw the time, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain the speed, but tried to keep a consistent pace.  I can hit the pace in drills, but hadn’t done it on my longer swims.  I missed the time by 1 minute, which gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment.

Nick and I finished the swim around the same time and drove home.

Swim Time 38:34

Once home, we changed into bike gear for a ride the bike on the trainers.  I had a 90 minute bike session, focusing on power.  Nick had a 3 1/2 hour trainer ride.  The ride was fun and boring.  We listened to music, and had a few jam sessions.  At this point in the “winter” I’m ready to be able to ride outside.  With snow on the ground, an outside ride is out of the question right now.  Soon, very soon – or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Bike Time 1:30:02

I hurried off the bike and headed upstairs for another wardrobe change.  I had a 10k run.  I chose a difficult route, both physically and mentally.  It’s an out and back, that is mostly downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back.  Once out of my neighborhood, I can see the turnaround point the entire way out.  (Look closely in the picture on the left, in the middle in the distance, you can see the clock tower above the trees).  Easter Olympic Run

I decided to run this route because I needed a victory.  Last time I ran it, I cut my run short at 4 1/2 miles.  I knew it would be a challenge.  I trusted my training, and the mental toughness I’ve been working towards, and completed the run.  I even made it up a pretty rough climb that began just after I hit mile 5.  The last mile was my biggest elevation gain, by over double the rest of the miles, and also my fastest!

Run Time:  1:09:43