Monday, April 29, 2013

Moraga Tri Race Report a/k/a I Did It!!!

Two days later and I still can't wipe the smile off my face.  I had such a great time.  It was so well organized and a great setting.  So let's get down to the nitty girtty details.

I got there just after 6:00 am when transition opened and quickly found my race buddy Meredith.  I was so glad to have a friend there for my first triathlon.  She lives in this area and is the one who told me about the race.

Meredith had already picked up her packet and claimed her spot in transition, so she walked to my car with me and helped me lug all of my gear. I picked the same spot in transition as Meredith but one rack over.  I wanted an end spot and this worked out well as I felt I had more room.

Meredith all set up and trying to stay warm.
Am I really about to jump in a pool?  It's so cold this morning!

All set up and ready to go.
After getting organized we made our way over to the pool.  It was a self-seeded race where you gave them your estimated swim time when you signed up. Your bib number was the order in which you were to get in the pool.  I was number 203, so I had a lot of time to stand around and watch everyone else start, but it was good.  We had to swim down one lane, under the lane ropes, and then back up the next lane for a total of 400 m.  I got to see everyone's strategy for going under the ropes and turning around (not many flip turns!) and I got to watch people's passing strategy.

By the time I got in the pool I wasn't even nervous. I had only one goal for the swim, and that was to do the entire thing without stopping.  If I had to resort to breast stroke, I was fine with that.  But I did not want to have to hang on the wall and rest.  As it turns out, the swim was my favorite part of the day.  I passed a few people; got passed by a few; saw a guy hanging on the ropes in the middle of the lane to rest; saw a woman doing the backstroke; saw a girl have a full-on panic attack and had the lifeguards attending to her.  But I did not have to stop and rest so it was a success!

It was a pretty long run to transition but I was so happy about my swim that I figured the hardest part was over. Boy was I wrong!

The bike started out pretty flat.  Just a few miles in I rode by my friend Stephanie and her dog Gil cheering on the racers.  I was so glad I noticed her there and that gave me a little boost.  Shortly after passing that point things started to get tough. I expected some rollers, but a few of these hills were more than I expected.  At one point I got to the top of the hill and was happy to see the downside, until I realized I'd have to come back up it on the return.  I realized I was going to have to really concentrate on getting in enough nutrition on this ride so I wouldn't bonk and I'd have something left for the run.  I decided that whenever I got to the bottom of a hill I'd eat a shot block and drink something.  This seemed to work well for me because I never ran out of energy and made it up all of the hills - and there were many.

The miles seemed to go by slowly, and I was never so happy to see the end of the course.  By the time I got off my bike, I swore I didn't want to ever ride again.  OK, it wasn't that bad but it was harder than I had expected.  This is probably a good thing because I wasn't able to worry about the bike course ahead of time.

On to the run course, or should I say up to the walk course.  The 5k started out with a little flat part, then up a steep hill.  Since my legs weren't too happy about running after that ride, I figured this would be a good time to walk and take in a Gu.  I was about a third of the way up the hill when my legs finally decided they could handle some running, but boy was this hill steep.  So I started playing a game with myself.  I would pick a spot in the distance - usually a parked car - and run to that point.  Then I would walk for a few seconds and pick another point to run to.  This worked well for me and I was up the first hill without too much suffering.  At the top was a turnaround so I figured this would be a good time to run downhill and try to make up some time before tackling the next uphill.

For the second hill, I followed the same strategy.  Run to a spot, then walk for a bit to recover.  I got to the top and ran all the way down back again.  I love the downhill!  The finish was up another hill (of course!) to get to the track of the high school, then around the track to the finish line.

Trying to sprint to the finish.  Not much left in the tank!

Crossing the finish line.  I am a triathlete!

It was such a fun event.  I think I was smiling the entire day - even on those bike hills.  This was such big deal for me.  This time last year I could not even swim one length of the pool, and to go out there and swim 400 meters, and then follow it up with a bike and a run - it was such a great feeling.

We really did it!
Thanks to Meredith for some of these photos, but especially for all of the encouragement!  I can't wait to get out there and do it again.

Official time:  2:15:16

Monday, April 22, 2013

Taper Randomness

OK...let's just start with one thing.  Holy crap, I can't believe I am tapering this week for my first triathlon on Saturday!  That really came up fast.

I've been busy with training and just life in general, but here are a few random tidbits since I've got a little extra time this week.
  • I had a minor swimming breakthrough on Friday night that has given me some much needed confidence heading into my triathlon on Saturday.  I credit it to the Mermaid swim clinic that I attended a few weeks ago that felt like such a disaster at the time.  What it boils down to is this.  If I need to breathe, then just breathe!  Don't worry about breathing on every third or fourth or whatever arbitrary stroke I've decided on.  Air is important!
  • Swimming is doing wonders for my golf game.  Seriously!  I guess I am actually building up some upper body strength with all of this swimming.  I haven't played golf much recently but on Saturday I was smacking the snot out of the ball.  Like OMG did I really just drive the ball 180 yards?!?!  Awesome.  This alone is reason enough for me to continue swimming.
  • I have a brand new pair of running shoes that I will be wearing for my tri on Saturday.  I know this is a big no-no.  Don't try anything new on race day.  But these are the same style of shoes that I've been wearing since I started running, and I've got one short run scheduled for tomorrow to make sure there are no issues. 
The new kicks - reflective!

  • I wore my tri-suit on my bike ride yesterday just to make sure it would be good for racing in.  ^^See "Don't try anything new on race day" rule from above.  Loved it!  I swear it was the most comfortable thing I've ever worn in my life.  Crazy, right?  I'll wear it again tomorrow on my run, too, just to see if there are any spots that might chafe while running.
  • I haven't even completed my first triathlon and I've already signed up for another one in October.  Hey, I had a discount code and I'm a sucker for a bargain.  And if Saturday turns out to be a disaster - and I'm sure it won't! - then I've still got over five months to work things out.
Other than that, so far I'm feeling calm about the entire thing.  I hope I can carry this relaxed attitude with me throughout the rest of the week.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston

The events at the end of the Boston Marathon finish line are too shocking and awful for me to put into words.  I feel like I need to say something, but I don't know what to say.

I think back to last May when I did a half marathon with a group of over twenty women.  How we met up before hand.  How those that were faster cheered on the rest of us as we crossed the finish line.  And it horrifies me to think that that could have been us.

This feels so personal to me.  I will never be a fast runner.  I'll never place in my age group.  But I'm out there.  I've done countless races with friends, and a handful of races alone.  But I never felt alone because the running and racing community has some of the nicest, most supportive people I've ever met.  You are never alone at the starting line.  There is always someone to chat with about the course, about your nerves while waiting for the start.  And so it feels like someone did this to my friends.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.  I will carry them with me in my thoughts when I run.




Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thanks. I needed that!

Training is a funny thing.  Some days you think you could win the race, and then lo and behold, you are suddenly humbled by a not so great workout.  That's exactly what happened to me on Saturday.

I signed up for another open water swim clinic with the Mermaids for Saturday morning.  The last time I did this I had never been in a wet suit, had never swam in open water, and was getting over a cold so I had a cough like a harbor seal.  I figured I survived that time - this time is going to be so much easier.  Boy was I wrong!

As I was on my way to the clinic, driving across the bay I got my first indication of how the day might go.  I don't remember looking at the water on my way over last time, but I definitely noticed the choppy water on Saturday.  So when I got there instead of bright sunshine, warmish weather, and smooth as glass water I was greeted with heavy fog/mist, cold, and choppy water.

Let's just say that I really struggled with the swim.  I started out way too fast and was gassed within a few yards.  I couldn't get my breathing back to normal and I felt like a cork bobbing around out there in the chop.  I was the second to last person to finish, and it really shook my confidence.  My plan was to see how this swim went, finish my first tri at the end of the month, and then probably sign up for the Mermaid tri in June.  Instead I left thinking maybe I'll do the duathlon instead.

But like any disastrous race or workout, on the drive home I started thinking, "That wasn't so bad.  At least I finished it.  I just need to swim more often and I have two months until the race."  I'm not saying I'm ready to sign up - just that I haven't completely ruled it out.

And so that brings me to exactly what I needed.  Because of the crazy busy weekend I had, I decided to push my long run from Sunday to Monday.  Little did I know that I would be treated to steady winds of over 20 mph and gusts up to 35 mph all day on Monday.  I had a choice - go to the gym and run for an hour on the treadmill, or suck it up and deal with the wind.  Neither seemed like a great option, but in the end I figured if I ran outside from home I'd be done faster than if I went to the gym.  Wind beats treadmill any day!

Sucking it up.  I haven't blown away yet!
Surprisingly I had a great run - even though it was into a headwind on the way back.  It wasn't cold.  I was dressed perfectly for the conditions. (I love arm warmers!)  And with the exception of a few post-work dog walkers and a few random bike commuters, I had the trail to myself.  My legs felt great and even though my pace was not my fastest, I just felt like I had a really good run.


The path home.  Love the colors!
And just like that, the triathlon training forces gave me a do-over.  And I'm back in the game!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Birthday Post

No, not my birthday...it's my husband Dan's birthday today.  I won't tell you how old he is, but he's a few months younger than me - and he never lets me forget it!

You are a die-hard Sharks fan.



You thought it was an excellent idea to get married on a beach on the 4th of July.


You are the most fun uncle ever!


You clean up pretty well, too.


You are Emma's entire world.  Well, you and blankets.



You are my best friend who never blinks an eye when I tell you about my crazy plans to learn to play golf or do a triathlon.  I'm so happy and lucky to have you as my husband.  Happy birthday, Dan!  

(And since I dedicated an entire blog post to you, does that mean I'm off the hook for a gift?)