Monday, July 28, 2008

A Letter To My Pregnant Self, July 28, 2007

Dear Hormonally-Challenged One Who Freaks Out A Lot Eats Lots of Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Is Really Scared,

Let me save you some trouble.

He'll be born October 2nd--a week early, and you'll be induced, because he's so big and healthy and your doctor is afraid he might be 6 feet tall and drive you home if you wait much longer. His name will be Jackson, and from the second you lay your eyes upon him he'll be the most important thing in the world to you. He'll change your world more than anyone could verbalize to you. He'll be 9 pounds, 4 ounces, and yes, it will hurt like hell, but you'll do it. He'll be the most painful thing you'll ever experience, but the second you see him you'll forget all that pretty much forever and be stricken with baby-sighting pain amnesia. I hear it's quite common, actually.

Right now, you're afraid of many, many things, and most of which are out of your control. You like to be in control of everything, so this has been a crash-course in a little class called "Your Body Is Hella Smarter Than You Are." You won't get on the scale at all--you stopped at the beginning of this month--because it was messing with your head. In fact, your doctor has a big note on your chart that says to the nurse, "DO NOT TELL WEIGHT" because you are such a headcase.

Let me save you some more trouble.

The 55, yes, that is, the I CAN'T DRIVE 55 POUNDS that you will gain will all come off pretty quickly. Like in the first 4-5 months. Your Mom and your friends who have been here before are trying to knock that into your two mile thick skull, but you're not listening. You won't listen to me, either, but at least I tried. And a few more pounds will fall off when you're training for Steelhead. Ten months to the date of Jackson's arrival, you'll be leaner and fitter than you ever have been. But you still won't believe me. You think you're a beached whale and you're all angry about how slow you are. This is also quite stupid, but at least you sort of know how dumb you're being.

You worry. You worry that you'll never run or swim or ride the paces you did before. You fear being slow forever and ever, and you think it's the end of the world.

Let me save you some more trouble.

You won't run, ride, or swim those paces again. Because you'll be faster. And stronger.

You fear that it's selfish to admit that you don't want to give up a part of your life--the independent part, where you get to do whatever you want to do at any time with any one. But the crazy thing is, you really won't. What you will want to do will adapt to fit this new chapter of your life, but you'll find that you can still do the things you want to do--like run, swim, see your friends, make s'mores, go for a hike, play Rock Band, read a book, have a party, travel, race, and teach.
You'll wonder how you ever made it thirty years without him.

You'll be amazed at how much you love his Daddy.

One year from today, you'll be staring a half ironman in the face. And you'll be calmly ready to go, because you know now that this race is different. This race will be justifying all the hours you spent away from him--all the times you got up early so you would get your workouts in before he was up, so you could be the one to see him smile at you with his sleepy eyes. So you could be the one who gets to feed him his oatmeal. You will remember all the boring, lonely 3 hour rides and hour and a half runs you did by yourself, because you had to squeeze it in from home at an unpredictable time, and this time, you want to make it worth something.

This race needs to justify every second away.

You long for runs with your best running buddy followed by 2 hours of coffee and conversation, but you know that she has moved to the other side of the country and has a new baby of her own and those days are on hold. And this bums you out for a moment, but you know that those times will come again. For now, it was all about efficiency, and making it count. So you could be there when it really mattered. So you could be his mother.

And I know it's hard to imagine now, but you'll be ready. Your definition of success will shift a bit, and as a result, you will succeed even more.

And you'll feel like the luckiest girl on the face of the earth, because you've been blessed with the opportunity to pretty much do it all, with a lot of love and a lot of help.

So put up with the cankles. Try not to freak about the scale. Listen to your Sis, because she knows what she's talking about. Everything will fall into place, and there will be changes but you'll roll with it. And your training and your life will ebb and flow along, and there will be times of solitude and gratitude and sleeplessness and more love than you can ever imagine.


TST '08

What It's All About

I got this a few days after the race, and just had to share part of it. This was such a wonderful experience for me, and I am so happy to have been able to share the day with these kids. I can't wait to do more next year.

This is what it's really all about. And yeah, I cried when I read this. Cuz I'm a sap like that.

Dear Mrs. Ziemnik,

I just want to say thank you for all the help you have given me in training for the triathlon. I am so proud of myself for finishing, and I really don’t think I could have done it without the help and inspiration you provided. At the first brick, I was very unsure of myself and became discouraged because I couldn't keep up with everyone. But as I kept training with you, your motivation gave me the strength to continue, and I gradually saw myself improve a little more each week. Your kindness stayed with me right up to race day, when I was nervous about the water. Talking to you allowed me to calm down a bit and gave me the courage to run out into those waves and do what I came there to do. Also, when I came back from the bike, I was very tired and got a little confused. But your running that first hill with me allowed me to get everything back in order and refocus my goal to make it to the end. When I crossed that finish line, I didn’t know whether to smile or cry, so I just grinned and knew in my heart that there was nothing I couldn’t do. There’s a million more things I could say, but I’ll keep it as short as possible and end with this. The night before the triathlon, I read the note you gave us before we took the AP test. While reading Roosevelt’s quote, I realized how much it applied to the race. I sure didn’t come in first, but I still finished. And that’s a lot more than “those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat” can say....


"I just grinned and knew in my heart that there was nothing I couldn't do."

And that, my friends, is why I love what I do. Even when it's hard. And challenging.

I love every. single. second.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Million Dollar Question

I'm sitting here, enjoying my coffee after a nice 1:45 ride and :20 run this morning along the calm, blue lake and cloudless skies, and wondering.... it possible to literally snot your brains out while riding on a bike? Because if it is, I am pretty sure I might just do that.


If you'll be at Steelhead next week (!), and want to say hello, just look for the girl in the EvoTri jersey on the red BMC TTO2, snotting her brains out.

Cuz that'll be me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 7

I posted this on the Bug's blog the day I watched him try to walk for the first time. I thought I'd share it here.


Today I watched him learn to walk.

I have never been a witness to such an amazing moment.

I literally, watched someone learn to walk.

He pulled himself up, and then stood. He took his hands off my knees for a few seconds, and realized he could do it. He wobbled a bit, but looked at me with this realization followed by a huge drooly grin. It was amazing. He started to walk around the sectional couch, all the while looking at me in disbelief.

Really? This is how you do this?

He was so excited he just couldn't stop. He wanted to walk and walk and walk all night. He would have, I'm sure, if I would have let him.

Every day this summer I am overwhelmed by this sense of amazement and gratitude that I am here to watch this. That I helped to make this person, who is a part of me. That my heart is now walking around outside my body permanently. I have never felt so vulnerable and loving and loved before. So I put him in his sleepsack, took him upstairs, turned on his U2 lullabies, and rocked him to sleep. He usually tosses and turns a bit, but didn't fight it tonight. He had a long day of swimming, and giggling, and now walking. I think he knew, as did I, that this is a whole new world now. He needed his rest, so he could do it all again tomorrow.

So he could go even farther.

I hope he never stops feeling that amazement--when your body surprises you, when you realize you had it in you all along, and when you feel like you really, truly can do anything. Too many people lose that wonder.

He gazed at me, heavy-eyed, as he always does when I rock him to sleep. I nuzzled him, felt his breath on my cheek, and watched his eyes look at mine just before he dozed off, just to be sure I was there, and it was okay to let go to the heavy feeling of slumber. And I stared at him, so hard as if I was taking a picture in my eyes, because I know that I'm going to blink and he'll be five, eight, twenty years old. And nights like these will be just a memory, like his breath on my cheek and the sigh he let go as I lay him to sleep.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Yesterday morning, a few awesome girls became triathletes.

I am so proud of them!

At the beginning of the summer, we had a good sized crew. But then, school was out. And vacations came. And work came. And, inevitably, a few emails came from kids who decided to back out. I was kind of bummed, but I tried to remember that this often happens to us adults, too. But I have this big project at work...but I have to do this or that....sound familiar? So, instead of being bummed about losing a few kids, I decided that, you know what? I'm going to make this as fun as I can for the kids I do have, and they will have a great time, and I'll be able to start earlier next year. My mind is already churning with the ideas I have for next summer--a mini-camp, a pre-race pasta dinner, adding 3 more schools that I have solid contacts to, getting all the legal mumbo-jumbo and photo release waivers out of the way earlier, etc. etc.

So I threw my efforts into making these girls feel like triathlon queens in training. Because, we all know, once you have a race day, you're hooked.

On the docket over the past six weeks, we've had two open-water swims, four spin and core classes, 6 brick workouts, a weekly email with training tips, and a transition and race day talk. And I really couldn't have pulled this off without my Iron Bro, TriEric, who was gracious enough to not only lead the brick I couldn't make, but come to our open water swim and give tips in our transition talk, AND cheer like crazy after kicking some major butt in his own race yesterday. Thanks, buddy!

It was so much fun for me to see these girls progress over the past few weeks. The first brick, a few could barely hang on for the ride and then had to run/walk a mile. One girl was taking a few swimming lessons because she didn't really know how to swim. I only know this because I saw her working so hard one morning when I was doing my laps. And I had her in class the past two years, and this didn't surprise me. She's one of the hardest-working kids you'll ever who just doesn't give up and rarely complains, but throws her effort into it and just tries to make it better no matter what, because she knows deep down in there, she can do it.

You know, the kind of kid that grows up to be an Ironman.

And all five of these girls possess these qualities in different measures and ways. It was really, really fun to see. I can't wait to see where they go now.

So yesterday was the race. I met them down in transition at 6:45. Well, Ashley beat me there, actually, with a perfect spot chosen on the edge of a rack near the bike exit, just like I told them. "The early bird gets the worm!" she chirped. Yep, there's a triathlete for ya, huh?

They laid out their transition towels like we practiced, applied sunscreen, got their water bottles ready, and went over to get their body markings.

And then, it was time to head to the beach. But not before I could snap a picture of them with their numbers on their arms, like tri-rock stars.

They walked down to the beach and discussed the beginning of the swim.

I saw a few girls getting a little nervous about the swim. Two were pretty solid in the water, but the other two weren't strong swimmers and I could sense the fear of the open water rising, despite a nice calm day. I said a silent prayer thanking for this calm day, as I didn't think I could even get one of them to start the race if it was crazy wavy. Whew.

They waded in, got their caps on, and waited for their waves to start. And then they were off. I watched as they made their way to the first buoy. I wasn't worried about two of them, but my other two I was a little worried for. If they can just make it through the swim, they'll be fine, I thought. Basically, the same thought process in my head during Ironman. Please, just let me get through this bike. If I can get through this ride, I can do this...

I ran out to the breakwall about halfway through the course to look for them. I found them both--one was resting on a kayak for a minute, so I cheered her on. I told them before it was totally okay to take a rest, or do some backstroke or doggy paddle or WHATEVER you need to do. She kept going. Good job! I thought. I saw the other one on her back doing a few backstroke kicks. "Good job, Erin! Keep going!" I yelled. She saw me, and gave me the thumbs up sign.

Okay. We're okay. They're gonna be fine.

They all made it out of the water, and I was there to cheer them on with their parents. It was so exciting to me to see all their families come out to cheer them on. That is another goal I hope to have with this thing--to get families together, and maybe even doing the race together.

On the bike course, I just waited for them in transition. Jenna came in first, with some blazing speed, especially for a mountain bike! I had already told the girls NOT to freak about getting passed on the mountain bikes they were riding upon...that there was NOTHING they could do about that, so just run your OWN race. Jenna is a fierce competitor and a captain of the cross country team who is not used to getting passed, so I hoped she remembered my words. She seemed to look great, and I knew she was in her element now. She took off, and passed a few people right out of the gate!

Next came Ashley, another runner and swimmer, too. She swam THREE MILES last weekend for a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. THREE. MILES. I have no doubt this girl will be back for more triathlons, and I can see her going the distance some day! She moved quickly through T2, then realized she forgot her hat so she came back...and then she was off.

Jenna came in first, looking strong, and with a look of determination on her face combined with the desire not to hurl. (Her mom and her had been joking how she often leaves it all on the cross country races.) She crossed the line and smiled as she tried to catch her breath. What a tough cookie!

Then, I saw Jackie and then Erin round the corner. Erin grabbed some Nuun I bought for her in transition and Jackie took a few swigs of Gatorade. Jenna cheered on Erin and told her just a few more short miles and she'd be done...which is what tri buddies always say to each other, right? Jackie was a runner, but I knew this would be Erin's longest run ever. I cheered them on as loudly as I could, and ran with Erin down and up the first hill just to get her going and keep her spirits up.

Ashley came in looking really strong with a nice kick! She crossed the line all smiles and hugged her Mom and Aunt who came to cheer her on.

I was getting a little worried and hoping the girls were feeling okay. It was really, really humid, and the longer they were out there, the harder it would be. TriEric's wife Aimee helped me spot the girls as they crossed the street and made it to the last turn. I saw their parents and uncles, too, as they crossed and we all cheered them on.

They got that magical energy we all get when we see that finish line, sprinted like they were in the Olympics, and crossed the mat.


And they were in!

Four new triathletes. And one more who will be on August 2nd in downtown Cleveland.

I gave big sweaty hugs all around, and we all celebrated. I told them how proud I was of them, and they all seemed genuinely proud of themselves. I especially congratulated Erin, who isn't on the swim team or cross country team. She just thought this sounded like a great way to challenge herself, and she worked SO hard. She made it.

They all did.

They swapped stories about the course and hugged their families. I remembered my first sprint triathlon and the memories I still have from that day seven years ago. It gave me pride to know that this morning would be a part of these girls memories forever, and hopefully they'd had so much fun today that they would remember this feeling of accomplishment and how they can do anything--anything--if they try hard enough.

So congratulations to the newest members of the triathlon family! I am so proud of all of you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

MiltonMan '08

Okay, I'm gonna try and bang out a race report here. Which is hard, only because I'm having too much fun to blog. Thursday was Bug's first Tribe game (he helped break their 10 game losing streak--thanks, buddy!), Friday was our Caddyshack picnic, Saturday was a Luau Murder Mystery Party, and today we took Bug to the Zoo for the first time. So I've been enjoying that, and am slacking on the bloggin'.

Here's a few of us from the Tribe Game:

And here's me showing the Bug there were lions in our midst...

Going into this race, I didn't really know what to expect. To say I was rusty was an understatement. Coach Emily said, "Let's do a race before Steelhead, you know, to work out the kinks." I figured that was a good idea, as the last time I had a T1 or T2 was in Madison. I haven't really pushed myself in a triathlon in a loooooooong time. There were none last year, and the year before was all about LSD. (not the drug, of course. The SLOOOOOOOOWWWWW stuff.) The Olympic Tri I did that year had a 2:59 finish time, and my overall PR in an Oly was 2:54 from a year before that.

So the plan was for Matt, Bug and I to go to the party which was halfway between my house and the race, and then me stay at my buddy's house and they head home.

Why do I think that's a good idea? Ugh.

I don't sleep well away from my guys. WIBA was reaaaaaaalllllllllyyyyyyyy hard for me to sleep. I just felt restless. So I didn't sleep more than 2 1/2 hours the night before the race. Excellent. Also, my buddy has a cat and I am hella allergic, so I think I OD'd on my Nasonex. Needless to say, it was not the greatest pre-race night's sleep, but my buddy was so awesome to let me stay there and break up the (what turned out to be an) HOUR and a HALF drive. Yikes!

The alarm went off at 4:30am, and I immediately thought, what the hell am I doing? I'm not tapered at all. I'm tired. I miss my boys. I don't want to do this race. I feel like poo. I am a sniffly mess. I had a mojito and a bunch of mozzerella sticks last night. I'm 40 minutes from home...I can just drive home...

But then I snapped myself out of it. If I'm going to spend a night away from my boys, there BETTER be a good reason. I thought of Wil's alarm clock going off then, too, and I knew she wasn't going to miss her bus, so I'd better not miss mine. No excuses.

So I drove there, got all set, got my transition spot ready, laid out my towel, and realized I didn't have Yanks for my shoes. Damn. I meant to get those last week....oops. So I had a nice new wetsuit, a sweet new bike, and I was going to have to tie my shoes in transition. I guess that's why I was working the kinks out, alright!

We headed to the water. I remembered what a swim start was like, as the last time I bobbed in the water waiting for the gun was at Ironman Wisconsin. Why am I doing this, I thought again?

To see what I'm made of.

To see how far I've come.

Let's go.

The two loops in the lake were uneventful. I went at a pace I felt good at, and one that I could go all day at. I tried to really focus on good form and gliding in the water. I saw two girls toward the end and I thought I might be able to catch them, so I did. I got out of the water with no watch, and no clue what time I swam in. I would find out later that I swam in 27 and change, which would be a PR by just over a minute. 1:50/100 meters on the dot. I felt great out of the water, and know I definitely could have gone faster. But that's not what this race was about.

Had a decent T1 in 2:11, surprisingly, as I am rusty on transitions! And then I was off. Coach Emily said to keep my watts around 160-180. I tried to do this but found myself lollygagging a bit. At one point, I even muttered, "park it or drive it, granny!" and "this is a RACE, dude!" It's funny--I haven't raced in so long, and I think I forgot what it was like. But I'm happy to say I didn't get passed by ONE WOMAN at all on the bike course, and I passed a few chicks. It was a while before the fast guys passed me, too. That was pretty cool. I'm used to coming out of the water and getting MAD passed like crazy, so this was a nice treat. When all was said and done, my PowerTap said I had gone a little over 25 miles for 19.4mph, but the official race time is 19.1 mph for 24.7. I go by what races say, so that's the story. Still, a massive PR for me as my previous best on an Oly bike leg was 18.3, and the last Oly I did was 17.7.

The best part--or actually the worst I guess you could say--is I only averaged 151 watts. Which means, in fact, that was kind of granny-ish riding by me. Proof positive that I could have gone faster. And that's actually kinda sweet.

T2, despite me having to stop and tie my shoes, went pretty quickly in 1:06. And then I was off for a run. It was pretty good until about mile 2....and then the heavans opened up. What is it with me, races, and rain? Every. Single. Race. I have done since and including Ironman has rained. Good thing I do well in the rain, I guess! It was kinda annoying to have my shoes slosh around, but other than that, not bad. I did the first loop and felt fantastic, so I figured I'd pick it up a bit on the second loop. My Garmin kept going in and out of satellite range so it said the course was a little short, but the time at least was the same...51:29, for the fastest 10K I've ever ran, in an 8:18/mile pace.

I got to the end, saw the clock said 2:40.16, started laughing, and asked the 2 girls working the tent behind it if that clock was right...did it really start with the first wave? I just had to be sure. They then asked me how old I was, I told them, and they handed me a trophy. "You just came in first place!" My age group was really really small, though, so instead after they posted the results I looked to see I was the 5th overall female out of 14--and just a minute behind the 4th female, Alison in my tri club, who rocked the swim as usual and came out the water first.

Cool. But I was most excited about first, shaving 14 minutes off my best time, untapered, tired, and without racing in a year and a half. I raced a smart, and even conservative race, I felt great at the end, and I negative split my run. I surprised myself, yet again.

And THAT'S why I do this.
I told him I didn't know what I was supposed to do with it, either. And, clearly, he is NOT amused.

So I've got some numbers in my head for Steelhead. They are aggressive. I'll lay them out later, but it's safe to say I'm going to go hard, leave it all on the line, race my first 70.3 and not just do it, and see what I'm made of.

It's gonna be fun.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


PR on swim.

PR on bike.

BIG OL' PR on run.

= 14 minute PR for an Olympic Distance Triathlon. And 1st in my (very small!) age group, to boot!


I was in such disbelief that I MIGHT have said a bad word pretty loud, prefaced by "Holy," as I approached the clock. Cuz I didn't roll with a watch, so I only knew my run split. And I was dumbfounded, again.

It's soooooooo good to be back. :) More to come, but for now I need to take my boys for a walk!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

This Whole Power Thing

So, I just got my feedback from my test with Robbie Ventura at Vision Quest. I thought I'd share my thoughts on this whole thing, since I am a total newbie at power training.

First off, I don't think it's any secret that I HATE HEART RATE TRAINING. Hatehatehatehate it. Pretty much always have. I feel like with heart rate training, I am forced to go at a pace that is annoyingly and frustratingly slow, and that I got slower as a result. This could mean any number of things: I don't have my actual max heart rate, my allergy medicines affect my heart rate, the weather affects my heart rate, etc. etc. You get the drift. But it has NEVER worked for me, and probably because I was guessing at most of it. Clearly, my ability to hold an average heart rate of 181 in the Cleveland Marathon is a bit unorthodox. But I felt great, even the next day. No problems at all. So I sort of gave up on heart rate training and literally wrote it off in favor of RPE.

Heart rate is a reaction. Power is the source. For this reason, I am already a HUGE fan of training with power. It is what it is: it doesn't fluctuate. It is not affected by headwinds, humidity, stress, allergy meds, blah blah blah. In fact, it takes all that into account and allows you to still push yourself exactly how you should IN SPITE OF THESE THINGS. It's sort of why I like swimming, too: because the numbers don't lie. There's no umpire but the clock, and clocks are brutally honest, you know? Power training takes out the subjective and makes it very objective and easy to follow. I like that.

When I went to VQ to be tested by Robbie, I learned that I would have my finger pricked. O. M. G. I HATE HATE HATE needles. I know, I just gave birth not too long ago and was begging for a needle the size of Montana to be stuck in my back, but I didn't have to LOOK at that one, you know? Well, turns out I didn't have to look at this one either, and they were right--it just felt like a bug bite. That I can handle. :)

Essentially, what we did was we took a small teensy little blood sample every 30 watts. 30 watts was enough that I could tell the resistance was harder, but not too much. Kind of like you went up a gear, except I didn't, and I was told to maintain a steady cadence of about 85 rpms. Then this funky machine thing would measure the lactate in my blood and would tell us how many watts I could push before I bonked. It's really useful information, and it would help Coach Emily set my training zones. Essentially, I would know how many watts to hold when doing a sprint, oly, half or full triathlon. Not speed....watts. Unaffected by hills, heart rate, or wind.

Sign me up!

So sure enough, when I got to a certain point, my breathing sounded like a wheezing hyena and I felt like I just couldn't pedal any more. The machine did its wonder, and we were done.

Here's what I just got in the mail from VQ and Robbie--his words in italics, mine in bold:

Sara comes to VQ with one of her big events for the season closing in at the Steelhead Tri (gulp), where she is hoping to break the 6 hour mark. Other big goals are the Columbus Marathon and an Olympic Race in Cleveland. The test showed Sara has great fitness and also some areas where she can improve her skills to generate some better race results.

The performance test went quite well and Sara's lactate threshold was determined to be 189 watts, which is among the best in amateur women. (Really?! Is that a joke or something?) Her aerobic fitness was also strong as she endured 4 stages of the test with no appreciable increase in blood lactate values. Especially since she considered the bike to be the weakest of her three disciplines, this is good power. (Yay! I have good power! Or is it just the pregnancy blood-doping again?) With continued consistent training and aerobic foundation that will be built upon in subsequent seasons, she will probably see her threshold power continue to increase. (Allllllllllright! Now hit me with the bad news.)

One thing that could be holding Sara back on the bike is her cadence. (Yeah, I can be a real masher. Boo.) Overall, her pedaling mechanics were solid, although including some single-legged pedaling drills in her warmup or cooldown routines would probably help to refine the stroke further. The main goal regarding pedaling will be increasing her cadence slightly...Along with this training, Sara could also benefit from including more work targeting her functional strength and core stability. (Uh...yeah. WHAT functional strength or core stability? Sara = Total Softie) Some basic exercises are included here to help her address weakness common to endurance athletes. (Awesome--no more mushy me!)

So all in all, I learned a great deal about myself. It was really cool to read those words--kind of the equivalent of Coach Kara handing me the 1:45 pace band before my half marathon. Proof positive that it's in there, alright. Now I have no excuse not to hammer that out. I just need to put the time in, that's all.

I got a chart of my zones, their power ranges, and my heart rate ranges, too. So, power training doesn't totally disregard heart rate training, but it makes your heart rate training effective, accurate, and smart. I dig that. It also gave me RPE, too. Here's what it looks like:

Zone 1: Recovery
Power: less than 105 watts, aka Why am I even on this thing?
HR: less than 110
RPE: 1-4

Zone 2: Endurance
Power: 105-140 watts aka DUDE, I could do this all day
HR: 100-140
RPE: 4-6

Zone 3: Tempo
Power: 140-170 watts aka Okay, I'm movin' at a pretty good clip
HR: 140-160
RPE: 6-7

Zone 4: Threshold
Power: 170-200 watts aka Holy CRAP this is hard
HR 160-175
RPE: 7-8

Zone 5: VO2 Power
Power: 200-225 watts, aka OMG I AM DYINGGGGGGGGGGGGG
HR: 175-180
RPE: 8-9

Zone 6: Anaerobic Capacity
HR: over 180
RPE: 10

So that's the scoop. Consider me, the person who swore off heart rate training and all numbers a....convert. I'm sold. It covers all the bases, takes everything into account, and makes it pretty freakin' easy.

Now let's see what it does for my racing this weekend!

Best Birthday Present Ever....

...equals a picnic and day of hiking with my boys.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Race Week...Wait, did I really just say that?


I've got a race this Sunday!


(can you tell I'm a little excited?)

Now, let's be honest: this is just a tune-up for Steelhead. My coach wants me to have a race before Steelhead because I haven't had a race since September of 2006.

(Yeah. It was that race.)

So for the first time in over a year and a half, I'm going to suit up here and give it a go. I'm not gonna lie,'s going to be hard to NOT drop the hammer (relatively speaking, of course)! But I'm going to try and focus more on smooth transitions, keeping my watts where they need to be, and being smart. It's pretty far away, but my good buddy is having a Murder Mystery Luau Party the night before and she lives about halfway there, so I'm going to crash at her pad and drive up at the crack of dawn in the morning!

I've been having some great training sessions lately--Friday before the festivities began, I rode 2:30 and then ran 15 off the bike. Watts were where they needed to be, pace was spot-on for my goal for Steelhead, and the run was better than I thought it would be. Saturday's run was a little sluggish, but I'm thinking that staying up really late wacked me out a bit.

So I'm feeling pretty good...except for the 48 hour bender of birthday ice cream, cookout food, and Mexican food I've been on (my favorite...every year!). But that's done tomorrow. Hey, you gotta let loose a bit on your birthday, right?

Speaking of which, I had the most fun weekend EVER with my buddies Friday night, family and friends Saturday night, hiking with my boys today (pics to come tomorrow--wait until you see The Bug's sweet backpack) and family this evening. Sharing a birthday weekend with America works out pretty well.


Race day, here I come!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

WIBA Training Fun

I know everyone's already said this, but the best part about WIBA is the friendships you make. Plain and simple. It was so good to see my old Iron Friends and to meet some new ones.

Saturday we went for a swim...I got to test out my new wetsuit and it was so tight that I felt a bit like a Polish Sausage as I headed to the pier. As soon as I dove in, though, it was ALL good. I felt great and like I could really hold a good stroke. This was my second time in open water and I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. Hopefully I won't have dawdling swims like I did in '06, and will actually turn on the jets a bit in my two upcoming races. I was disappointed with both of my '06 swims and Coach Emily has had me doing a lot more intense stuff in the pool than I've ever done in tri training. Hopefully it will pay off!

The best part of the swim was seeing WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too much of Steve in his shorts. If you haven't seen it yet (seriously, have you been hiding under a rock?) go here. You have been warned.


Afterwards, we all got ready for our ride. I am still a little laughing in my head at my lack of preparation. First of all: zero hills. None. Zilch. Nada. But for some reason, I just didn't feel as worried...more just a calm acceptance that this was going to be hard, so let's get it on. Second, I have ONE water bottle cage on my bike. That has since changed, but I just didn't get a chance to get it before I left. So that worried me a bit, but not too much. I figured I'd just figure something out as I went.

Who is this girl and what has she done with OCD TriSaraTops circa 2006?!?!?!?!?

Anyway, I felt surprisingly chill. I was just excited to ride with Jacks and my buds Pharmie and Wil again. Despite butt-biting mosquitoes (don't ask), a flat, and some lost keys that caused me to leave a cloud of obscenities still hanging over a Wisconsin farm, it worked. We just rolled with it, had a great time, dodged a storm, and got in 60 miles despite a few setbacks. The miles always go faster with friends. :)

Bonus: my watts were right where they needed to be and we had a killer negative split. Hello, sexy tailwind!

It did feel a little like the high school cafeteria scenario, and instead of being a petrified freshman I was more like the junior who still had a long way to go but knew a lot more and had grown up a bit.

Dinner was super fun! I loved hanging with my team members, finally meeting awesome Cara--yay!--and Jonah, swapping stories, and catching up. Can I just say that Rural Girl is my hero? Aside from being hilarious, she is sooooooo talented and yet so humble. This chick is going to ROCK Steelhead and IMW. :)

The run the next morning came too early as my body wanted about 4 more hours of sleep. But once I saw everyone the fatigue vanished, and we had a great run. It was very deja-vu-ish to be on that course again, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did running in the pouring rain. I'm not being sarcastic, actually. I had NEVER been so excited to run in the pouring rain as I was in '06, because it meant I was off my bike and I was going to make it, and I ran with a big stupid grin pretty much the whole marathon. I remembered that, and I smiled again. My buddy Al and I talked about how we ran into each other during that epic race, and then after about an hour, Al grabbed a copy of the ONION and was reading it to us WHILE HE RAN. Gotta love it!!!

My Garmin had no juice, so I just ran by feel and we felt great. I loved every second of it.

Then I was homeward bound, and couldn't wait to kiss my baby boy. It was so good to be home and see all three of my guys.

Thanks to all my WIBA friends, old and new. That's really what triathlon is all about. I can't wait to see some buddies again at Steelhead, and cheer on my other buddies in Racine (XT4 and Al) and at Ironman Wisconsin! Here's a few of my original WIBA buddies, with a pic stolen blatently from Steve :)