Saturday, September 28, 2013

The importance of Recovery Time

I am sitting here a exactly a week after my first triathlon and I am utterly exhausted - STILL!  Part of it was because the week I had following my Saturday race.  It goes like this:

Saturday afternoon:

I took the kids to the beach while mom took a nap.  I laid there on a blanket and didn't move for about two hours.  I think people wondered if I was dead or possibly needed to be rolled back into the water.


NC Aquarium!  These are my actual children, Wil & Zaine.  After this, I was wadded up in the front seat of a car for 3.5 hours.  I was stiff when we got home.  I had to do laundry and pack Sunday night.

"Since it's so damn early, we probably haven't had THAT much to drink!" said my Delta pilots.
At 3:30am Monday morning, I got up for my 6am flight to Florida where I was teaching a one-day balloon seminar. 
This is how many balloons needed to be inflated for my pre-class prep on Monday.
This was this problem: I had gripped my handlebars SO tightly that my hands did not work.  I couldn't tie balloons so I had to enlist the help of the sales rep.  This resulted in slower work effort, meaning I was on my feet from 11am to 5pm.  Back at the hotel, my hands were too weak to open the plastic on the soap.  It was very sad (and dirty) indeed.

Here's one of the things we made in class - it's an 8ft Awareness Ribbon.
I got up at 5:30am and got back to the hotel at 7pm - on my feet all day!


Back home!  Up at 5am for a 7:45 flight.
Straight from the airport to carpool pick up for the kids. Then dinner, homework & bed.


Up at 6am to get the kids ready for school.  Carpool in between periods of vegetation.

Ok, this was actually fun, but I was freaking exhausted by Friday night.
I did sleep in until 8:30am this morning, which is a huge feat!  Today was supposed to be for carting the kids around with friends, but it looks like that has been put off until tomorrow.  A week later, I can honestly look back and say I am proud and exited to have completed the triathlon.  In fact, I feel a little like this:
Hopefully tomorrow I will have enough energy to pick up my own pug and do this exact same thing.

In an effort to provide real information, I did do some reading online about recovery times.  I found this article, which I thought was helpful:  Most info says 6-10 days before you're feeling like your old self, so I have a few more days I can milk this and sit around.  I do plan to go back to the gym on Monday.  I will be looking at training plans for the Raleigh Ironman 70.3 so I am better prepared, but before then, I have a half marathon in November.  I was going to do one in mid-October, but I don't know if I will.  I was racing for time to get bumped up in corrals on the WDW full marathon (deadline for submitting times is in October) but I just don't know if I have the speed to do it.  I will re-evaluate after next week.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Race Report - Outer Banks Olympic Triathlon

My first triathlon!

September 21, 2013

Swim - 1500 meters
Bike - 24.5 miles
Run - 6.2 miles

Outer Banks Olympic Triathlon
Manteo, NC

I have to admit that I was SCARED going into this big event.  I questioned everything - my training, my dedication, my ability to finish.  Yikes.  It was the longest and fastest week at the same time.  Finally (suddenly!), Friday came around and I packed Mom and the kids in the car and off we went for our 3.5 hour drive to Manteo.  The informational meeting was at 5pm and we arrived at about 4pm and went to packet pick-up. 
Swag!  It's a solidly confirmed fact that I will do just about anything for a free t-shirt.
I had received info with two bib numbers via email on Thursday - one said I was Athena (so despite the fact no one responded to my call and email, I guess they made the changes?) and one said I was Age Group.  When I checked in, I showed them both numbers and the Athena bib had some guy's name on it, so the lady looked up the AG and it said Lisa.  I asked again about switching and was told that I *could* but I shouldn't because the Athenas were a faster group.  What?  The chubby girls are faster than the super-fit early 40s ladies?  DOES NOT COMPUTE.  But the official said since this was my first triathlon, I should stick with Age Group.  Who am I to argue?  I know nothing about this, right?  The meeting went quickly and we headed to the hotel on the beach at Kill Devil Hills (about 15 miles away).  I slept poorly and woke up dizzy and nauseated.  I ate some popcorn (which is what I eat for breakfast every morning.  Is that weird?) and felt a bit better.  I briefly considered that I might not make it to the start line feeling this way, but I think I willed my body to cooperate by sheer force.
Transition set up was from 5:45 - 6:45am, with the Olympic start time being 7:45am (the Half peeps started at 7am).  We got there and I picked up my timing anklet and got marked up with my number: 537. 

Setting up transition was something I had read lots about, so I felt good about it.  I put out a little towel and had my running shoes out with socks in them.  I have not yet committed to cycling shoes so I planned on wearing my running shoes for the bike and the run.  I had two bags - one with a red shirt to put on for the bike and some snacks to eat in between the swim and bike, and another bag with my run stuff: my red Sparkle Skirt and more nutrition for the run.

I started off in a red/black/white TYR trisuit and had a wardrobe change for each leg.  Why? Because I'm FABULOUS!  Ok, not really.  I wanted the shirt for the bike because I didn't want to worry about looking fat in my trisuit on the bike, but I did add the Sparkle Skirt for the run to be fabu.  I felt like I needed something fun to finish this thing out.

But let's start at the beginning, with the...
Here's our wave swimming out to the Olympic buoy - the yellow one.  See how far it looks?  Yeah, it was further than that.
From the shore to the yellow buoy was 1/3 of the way.  We then swam across to another yellow buoy 500 meters away
then back to the shore.  It was FAR.
I made some friends at the start line who were also doing their first triathlon.  We were all extremely nervous and decided to be last in the water so we didn't get swum over.  Since we were the last wave, we were THE VERY LAST into the water.  We all good-naturedly argued who would be last out of the water at the end.  I ended up winning this argument when it took me 1:17 to make the .9 mile swim.  This pretty much was my pace in the pool, so I was not surprised or disappointed.

The Good:  I made it.  And Lordy, it was hard. 

The Bad: I was exhausted when I got out of the water, unlike anything I've experienced at the pool.

The Ugly:  I was last out of the water by like 10 minutes.  I hated being last.

What I Learned: So much!  I needed more swimming practice and especially more open water practice.   And maybe a wetsuit.

The AWESOME: My family was at the shore screaming and clapping like I was the FIRST one out of the water.  I always love them at my races and this time was especially wonderful.

I had a private escort as they patiently watched me swim.  The lifeguard on the board was awesome and so encouraging.

Finally out and smiling (probably just grateful that I didn't drown)
Transition went well except I messed up my Garmin and it locked up.  So I had to go into the bike segment totally blind on time/pace/mileage.  I think my transition time was between 3-4 minutes.

Obligatory butt pic.  Here's me leaving for the bike leg.
I got on my bike and headed out feeling pretty proud I'd finished the swim.  It was more challenging than I thought and I just kept thinking, "If I can get out of this water, I can SIT on the bike and rest!" HAHA!  Wrong!  The course was extremely flat which meant NO COASTING and constant peddling.  There was a cool 3 mile bridge between the island and the mainland, but they didn't close any of the roads so there was not a lot of room to move over as cars sped by.  There was one pretty big hill on the bridge, but it was doable.  It was very windy and wind was blowing directly into my face.  I just kept thinking it would be at my back on the return so if I could just make it to the turn-around, the trip back would be easier.  It was somehow worse!  I felt like I was in a pool of water trying to peddle.  It was like I wasn't even moving forward sometimes.  The wind was THAT bad! 
Four days after the accident.  This was one of several bad
bruises all over my body.
Finished with bike leg and giving an exhausted smile.
Because of the wind, a few things happened.  One, I was gripping too tightly on the handlebars and had some lasting problems from that (which I will cover in my Recovery post later on).  I was not relaxed and this was not a good way to ride the bike.  Two, it was getting harder to keep the bike steered straight and maintain control.  I was getting tired and it was work to keep on course.  Then "Three" happened at about mile 14 of 24.5.  A car swooshed by pretty close to me as I was changing gears.  I pulled kinda hard to the right and went off the side of the road, down, down, down, and tangled up in my bike on the ground.  I don't remember it being scary or painful at all.  I popped right back up and rechained my bike.  I was looking it over when the bike tech pulled up to help.  I had knocked my handlebars out of whack and broke my front breaks.  He suggested I go to medical and I told him I was fine.  The he pointed to my right leg which was gushing blood.  I told him I had a band-aid, so I'd be ok.  He literally laughed in my face because that was the most ridiculous thing I could have said in light of the situation.  He went to his truck and got a huge stack of Taco Bell napkins and a bottle of water for me to clean up my leg.  It would not stop bleeding!  He finally stopped suggesting I go to the medical tent when it became obvious that I was unreasonable (LOL) and I went on my way.  I did have to stop and rest a few times.  Between the accident and my few rests, the bike segment took 2.5 hours.  It did not seem like that long at all.  It was slower than my training pace, but the wind and the accident really threw a loop in my overall time.  I know I gave it everything I had, so I can't be hatin' on my effort here.

The Good:  This was the farthest I'd gone on my real bike!

The Bad: The fall.  Yikes.

The Ugly:  The wind.  Why is this worse than the fall?  Because I fought it the whole time and it was miserable.  The fall was over quickly and I was so pumped with adrenaline that it barely registered as a blip.  But the wind was taking my breath away with its force and it was so hard to peddle against.

What I Learned: I need to spend more time on my real bike.  PERIOD.  The gym is nothing like outdoor training on a bike.

The AWESOME:  Most everyone that passed me said something nice and encouraging.  I was so impressed with my fellow triathletes and their support.

Transition between bike and run.  I was putting on my skirt here.  I can't believe I sat down and then actually got back up!

Leaving transition - total time 6 minutes.
or more accurately...
Yeah, walk.  My Garmin was key-locked and not working so I had no interval alerts and honestly, I was so damn tired.  I tried to keep a brisk pace, and I did run a few times, but I really didn't have a lot more to give and I wanted to finish in the upright position.  At this point, I knew I was going to make it, so I think mentally, I decided to take it easy and just FINISH.  As proud as I am of my swim and bike (because I gave it my all), I am not proud of this last leg at all.  And that's really an ongoing issue with the half marathons I've done.  I just do not leave it all out on the course and this bothers me tremendously.  I don't know how to get around it.  My time was my worse 10k time ever - 1:44.

The Good:  I got A LOT of compliments on my Sparkle Skirt!

The Bad: Walking.  Ugh.

The Ugly:  The fact that I didn't finish strong. 

What I Learned: I've got to work on giving my all during a run. 

The AWESOME:  I actually finished this thing!

Getting my medal.  I did not ugly face cry, but I did get a little teary-eyed.


So, I did it.  WOW.  I honestly can't believe I finished.  I was not happy with my time, but it was about what I'd estimated (5 hours) plus the wreck, and transition, adding another 44 minutes.  I was not dead last and there were people who DNF, so I was ok with it.  My plan for next year is to take two hours off that time for a totally doable and reasonable goal of 3:44.  I'm going to go ahead and sign up for 2014 this week!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Being an Athena Triathlete

Athena sounds like a skinny girl.  I think they
should have called it the Roman equivalent -
Minerva.  You just KNOW Minerva is
stuffing her face with oreos somewhere.
When I registered for the Outer Banks Triathlon months and months ago, I weighted 168.  The new 2013 Athena Division rules bumped up the minimum weight from 150 to 165.  Since I was so close, I figured FOR SURE I would lose at least 10 lbs in the training process before the race and would only qualify for being an Age Grouper.  But, nope.  I didn't lose a single ounce!  This has been frustrating, but I'm trying to focus on the training and not the scale.  My guess is that I was not eating enough (as counter intuitive as that sounds) and I really just decided about two weeks ago to stop worrying about weight loss until after the tri.

Today I called the race director to see if I could switch divisions to be an Athena.  I have really mixed emotions about this!  On one hand, it makes sense to be with ladies more my size, I guess.  And it might mean the difference between being dead last in the Age Group vs. at least out-waddling one or two gals in the Athena division.  On the other hand... I don't wanna be big enough to be an Athena - even by 3 lbs.  And it's disheartening to struggle with weight issues and have to accept being more suited to the bigger girls' group.

I really just have to get over it and give myself a reality check.  For one, it's my FIRST triathlon and who I start with will make no difference in my finishing time.  That's my personal battle.  Second, I consider myself a huge lard ass but I would NEVER consider other ladies in this group as anything other than amazing athletes working hard to achieve their goals.  Why am I so hard on me then?  Issues, much?

Athena was the goddess of  wisdom, courage, inspiration, among other things.  Maybe I need to focus on what's amazing about being an Athena and not the junk in my trunk.

Related, is this survey from the USA Triathlon about the Athena and Clydesdale divisions.  It has some interesting questions and might lead to more events focusing on these athletes.  Check it out!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dear Future Me...

As documented in my last post, I am a nervous wreck about my first triathlon coming up in FIVE VERY SHORT DAYS.  So, I remembered something fun I had to look forward to (and something I do for all my races or big events) and that is: I write a letter to my future self as soon as I register for an event.

 This site: is awesome!  It lets you write a private (or public, for you exhibitionists) letter to be delivered anytime in the future you specify FOR FREE.  Sometimes I write emails for the day before a race that says:

Nothing says perseverance like a determined toddler.

 And sometimes, I write an email for the day after the event that says:

Actual race photo of me in action!
The greatest part is that I have such a short attention span, that by the time I get the letter, I forgot I sent it so... EXCITEMENT - I get happy mail!  And honestly, I get pretty jazzed about getting mail.

Maybe not as jazzed as Steve here, but you know... pretty excited.  I work on saying nice things to myself instead of the negative thoughts that sometimes rattle around, so these letters are a chance to really lay it on thick.  "You are amazing!" and "No one will be looking at your jiggly ass!" frequently appear in my affirmations to myself.

I highly recommend you try it!  And if you don't have a race coming up, just pick a random day and write yourself a letter that will send yourself some sunshine one day in the future.  It's easier than writing a letter with your feet!

Dear Future Me, spend more on pedicures.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

One week from today!

In 7 short days, I will be competing in my first triathlon!  Competing is a misnomer since all I am trying to do is finish, but I guess in a way I will be competing against one of my biggest foes:  FEAR!  I am flipping terrified. 

Of this:

Fat girls make tasty snack!  YUM! 
Or this:
Should have started swimming earlier than 2 weeks before the tri.  WTG, fish food!
 Or this:
Nice work with all of 5 hours of practice on an actual bike!  But congrats on not falling off the stationary bike at the Y!
Or this: 
Legs too tired to move.  Caught in stampede.  Night night.

(This is what everyone will be thinking.  Well, the ones not thinking about sharks.)

So, as you can see, I'm not mentally in my happy place.  I have a week to try to tame my fears and actually attempt to enjoy this experience.  I give that idea about a 15% chance of working.  I do feel like I've trained semi-well (although I wish I had 4 more weeks), and I do think I can finish just because I am not generally a quitter.  In fact, I believe that if I can make it through the swim (.9 miles), I can take it pretty easy on the bike (24.5 miles) and slog through the run (6.2 miles).  Right?  You agree that I probably can do it, despite being fat, tasty, clumsy, and tired?  Well, good, at least I have you on my side!

All I know is that if I finish, I am going to UGLY FACE CRY when they put that medal around my neck.  This is the first race where I feel like I will have accomplished something HUGE.  My half marathons were fun, but I never thought I couldn't do it.  This race is so different.  And if I can pull this off, I will have really felt like I did something amazing.

I finished!  Gimme my medal before I snot all over you!
(And damn, is this a creepy gif, or what?!?)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

No sprint tri for you!

I went to register for the Sprint Tri this weekend and it was sold out.  I was bummed, but I always try to look for the positive (ie - things happen the way they are meant to, and who knows?  I could have gotten into a car accident on the way there if I had gotten in).  Soooooooo, no practice tri for me before the main event.

I have TWO WEEKS from today!  Let's recap my progress: 
I am swimming every day and getting better.  This is good. 
I am slow as molasses.  This is bad. 
I have a great & fast bike to ride.  This is good.
I don't ride it regularly.  This is bad.
I run almost every day.  This is good.
Again, slow.  So very slow.  This is bad.

I have 4.5 hours to complete this Olympic Tri.  My estimates of time are:
Swim - 1.5 hours
Bike - 2 hours
Run - 1.5 hours

This is 5 hours. :(

I don't know how to make myself faster in two weeks.  And all that BS about "race day adrenaline" has NEVER applied to me.  I race like I train.  No faster, no slower.

I am overwhelmed with how much I need to improve, but I don't feel doomed.  As my mom said, "What's the WORST thing that will happen?"  Well, the worst thing is that I get a DNF.  And I can live with that, really.  In comparison to something being wrong with the kids or not being able to work towards my current educational goals (I'm going back to college), a DNF is not the end of the world and would probably be a great learning opportunity.  One I DO NOT want and will fight like Hell not to have happen, but really... it's worth trying and giving my all because at least I know I put my heart into it and went down fighting. 

I hope it doesn't sound like I expect that to happen.  I am almost absurdly optimistic that I can finish, despite what reality seeps in.  I guess we will find out in two weeks!  I am great under pressure and I feel like I have the mental part down, so I just have to drag my body behind my mind and make it work!