Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earning a 5

Just got back from another Tuesday Night APUSH (aka Advanced Placement United States History) review session at the local coffee shop. It's hard to get moving to go to these, since it means I have to leave Bug and Matt. But once I'm there, it's actually kinda fun. Working with kids who really care and WANT to do well is nice, you know?

The thing is, they are all flipping out on me right now. Either that, or completely shutting down. It's interesting how they deal with stress. Total. Opposite. Extremes. The national test is next Friday, so now my job literally becomes Zen Master who Knows Many Facts and DBQ Strategies But Says Them In a Calming and Non-Threatening Manner. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It's also time to start practicing what I preach. I was just telling them tonight how if they've done everything they are supposed to so all along, they will be fine. But, it's also normal to feel like you could have done more. The key is to recognize that at this stage in the game, what's done is done. If you know you slacked off on a few units, you have to accept that and move on. Cramming and staying up all night these next 10 days will not do anything but make you tired, cranky, and hate everything and everyone. Either you did it, or you didn't. And you'll know on Friday which category you fall in, although you probably know right now.

This morning I ran 7.5 miles in 1:05. It was a MUCH better run that Sunday. I warmed up easy, and then did two 15-minute pushes. I was supposed to do these 5-10 seconds below race pace. I was freaked about that, and kind of thought about it all night. Then in the morning, I rolled begrudgingly out of bed, and I did the first push at 7:53 and the second around 7:40. It was hard, but doable.

These guys are laying all on the line next Friday. They are worried, they are frustrated, they wonder why they did this to themselves. They don't feel ready but if they really think about it, they know they are. It's an $86 gamble: will they score high enough to get the college credit? Or will they simply have to accept that this time wasn't the time?

Eerily similar, no?

(Except my race fee was a bit less than $86.)

I don't know if I have any business laying it all on the line for what (for me) is such an aggressive goal. But whatever. I'm going to do it, and I'll find out when I get to the finish. I could have done more, for sure. But I'm going to have to just trust that I've got it in me somehow...that I've done the reading and know the facts and somehow, just somehow... I'll get this five.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things I thought on my long run today, in list format.

1. Who needs a fancy iPod holder when you wear a sportsbra? This is genius!

2. Oops. It fell out. Maybe that's not such a good idea.

3. It's too hot for me. I'm such a temperature wuss.

4. How wrong is it that I have both Huey Lewis and Pantera on my iPod? Not that wrong, right?

5. This pace feels so easy, but it is faster than my marathon pace. That's nice.

6. "It's too damn hot for penguins to just be runnin' around."

7. I kinda wish the pool was open today. Or Lake Erie was more than 45 degrees.

8. Sure looks good enough to jump in, though. Wonder how long I could last.

9. Vicinity of Obscenity by System of a Down might be the most random song ever. Banana terra cotta pie? Really?

10. 7 miles done. Now I'm supposed to run 5 or so at race pace. This is going to hurt.

11. Ow.

12. I want to die.

13. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

14. THANK YOU FOR THE RED STOPLIGHT. 30 SECONDS OF BREATHING....Oh, crap. Go again.

15. Owowowoowowowiwannastop.

16. STOP LIGHT! I love you.

17. I don't think I can do this for 5 miles.

18. I think 4 is good. Or I might seriously puke. Why did I eat all that for breakfast?!

19. Note to self: now you know what NOT to eat for breakfast.

20. OKAY MILE FOUR and I am still alive. Oops. That was a little faster than race pace. Still....how am I going to hold close to that on race day?!

21. Stop worrying. You'll be tapered and it will be 90 minutes earlier so if it's hot that will help.

22. Still. That makes me worried.

23. Okay...I'm gonna have to just trust myself.

24. Two mile cooldown done...13 miles over.

25. My poor toenails. My feet are so bunknasty. And now it's flip flop season. Arg.

26. Trust yourself. Stop worrying. You can do this.

Monday, April 20, 2009

That is what we call BEING RESOURCEFUL.

I got all my stuff ready last night: lunch, Bug's lunch, bag for swimming, school bag, outfit, purse. I seriously look like a bag lady every time I leave for school. Was quite proud of myself--yummy healthy lunch packed, cute outfit, swimsuit, cap, goggles...I really felt like I had it all together.

For a while.

Because I quick changed at school with my cat-like reflexes, and apparently was so catlike that I LEFT MY TOWEL IN THE TEACHERS LOUNGE BATHROOM.

And I didn't realize it until I was at the gym. And had dropped Bug off at Kids' Cove.

(translation: my babysitting timer was ticking)

Crap. I'll just get in the pool and figure something out.

So I jumped in and started swimming. I felt like...well, I felt like I hadn't been in the water since New Orleans. Which is true.

What about my backup tank top? Hmmmm. I have a backup tank top in there. It's super flimsy and cheap, but maybe I could at least dry off enough to put my clothes back on?

Arg.

I finished 2500 yards and hopped out, because, time was ticking and I had to take a quick shower before I got Bug from the Kids' Cove. Pulled out my little flimsy white Target tank top and thought, this is no good. This is no good indeed.

And then it hit me.

I had a backup diaper in there.

Buried in the bottom of my bag was an unused, random Pampers diaper. I keep it in there in case we have a Level Five Poop Explosion. You know, because if I DON'T have it in there, I'm guaranteed a poop explosion.

(not me personally. you know what I mean)

I thought of a great hero to all, Vince the Sham Wow Guy.

W.W.V.D?

Vince would TOTALLY DO IT.

So I did. I dried off with a Pampers diaper. AND IT FREAKING WORKED, PEOPLE.

Dem things ABSORBANT!

So, the next time you're in a bit of a towel-less pickle, just reach for the nearest Pampers. You'll be a complete freak, but you will get (sorta) dry.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Under Construction

As you may have noticed, I've changed my blog layout a bit...wanted it to reflect me circa 2009 a bit more. Still working on a few things, but HEEE-YOOOGE thanks to Sister Wil for helping me with my masthead picture! Thanks, Wil! :)

More to come, but I'm off to Columbus to visit a few buddies and drink some wine...girls night in! Kind of a last-minute trip here and just a quick one. The weather has been gorgeous lately and I just got back from a 9 mile run--the first 4.5 just with me, and the last 4.5 with Matt and Bug. Negative split big time, and ended up with an average pace of 8:54 and felt very slow. This got me wondering: what the sam hill has gotten into me? Since when does sub-9 feel like a nice easy long run pace?

So that has led me to pull the trigger on the Cleveland Half Marathon. I'm in there like swimwear, baby. And I've got an aggressive goal, but I am feeling good. Why not, huh? Might as well take advantage of a little early season fitness.

So here it is: I'm going to go for a 1:45 and either hit it or blow up spectacularly trying. Giddyup!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thanks to my cheering section!

I wanted to say a HUGE thanks to my girl CERVEZA. She is one of my Nutter girls and spent her spring break this year down in New Orleans to help rebuild some of the leftover Katrina damage. That is awesome enough. But then she got up early the day after driving four thousand hours to New Orleans to cheer me on!

Seriously. Could I be a bigger tool?

And then she was there at the finish line!

And then she was with us on Bourbon Street that night!

We're fast approaching our 10 year anniversary from Miami, and I'm so lucky to have such a great group of girls to call friends. I just wish we all lived in the same house again. Or, maybe not...something tells me we'd be really likely to skip work in favor of drinking on the front porch on a sunny day and then staying out until 5:37 in the morning. And then we'd all get fired.

Finish Line Fun


I'm not NEARLY savvy enough to know how to get my brightroom pics on here, but I'll try to do that this week. In the meantime, here's a pic Wil snapped of me at the finish line. Despite all the pain and dry heaves (BTW, anyone heard the song "Dry Heaves" by DRI? Every time my hubby plays it I laugh) I felt in the last 5 miles of this race, that last mile was still what a last mile should be...full of music, people, pain, and big smiles.

Finish line magic. Someone needs to figure out how to bottle that stuff.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Are you KEEEEEDING me

I just got back from a lovely Easter run, and it was totally the run I was supposed to have last week in New Orleans. And didn't. Because here it's 43 degrees and sunny (perfect for me) and there it was not.

10 miles at an average pace of 8:39, with the last mile 8:14.

Sigh.

At least I know I have it in me. It was just covered in sweaty salty dehydrated mush last weekend. DOH!

MUST. DRINK. MORE. ON. BIKE. SOMEHOW.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I wonder where he gets it from

Little Bug was such an early walker that I guess I just figured he'd be early at everything. Calculus! British literature! Advanced ceramics! But he's been a little hesitant to talk--he understands everything, but just doesn't see the need to elaborate and discuss ad nauseum. Kind of like his father.

But without a doubt, he now sees the need to say a word with great meaning. This, my friends, is his new favorite word, aside from "mama" and "dada" of course:

GO!

As in,

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLETMERUNALLOVERTHEPLACELIFEISABIGSTARTINGLINE!

I got it on our little camera, so here's the video.

I suppose this shouldn't surprise anyone who's been reading this blog for a while.

He may look just like his daddy, but here's proof positive that this kid's got some of Mommy's GO in him:


video

Style 101

I have an confession to make.

If I'm wearing my nice black dress boots, like to church or work or something, you can bet that I'm most likely wearing ridiculous cycling socks underneath.

It started because I could never find any black socks in my drawer. Now it's just because they are super comfy.

I never said you should look to me for fashion tips.

Friday, April 10, 2009

And this is what I call IRONIC.

Thanks for the great feedback! I wanted to be sure I made something clear: I don't think totally abandoning time goals is the way to go. I definitely think that's a great way to measure progress; what I do think is that is not the ONLY way to measure progress. Especially in these really large races with tough competition. It's one piece, but I have started to understand it's not the ONLY piece. The SATs are important and stuff, but so are your grades, you know? So are your "other leadership activities."

Okay, sorry. I can't help but get into teacher mode. Especially when all my kids are getting into colleges and stuff. :)

So you know what?

I believe my strength has become my weakness and my weakness has become my strength.

Exhibit A:

First 70.3, 2005, Deer Creek Pineman

Swim somewhere in the realm of 33 (probably a little short though--who knows. It's no longer on their website)
Bike avg 16.5 mph (went even SLOWER the following year at Musselman! 15.7!)

Exhibit B:

4th 70.3, New Orleans

Swim 40.17 (some say a little long though--again, who freakin' knows)
Bike avg 18.9 (Steelhead was 20.4! But was about a mile-ish short there)

Why? Simple answer:

I do not have a 25 yard pool in my basement. It requires a lot of coordinating schedules to get to the pool during the school year.

This is kind of funny. For years I thought I would just be an awful cyclist forever. Turns out that with time, that gets better and stuff. This from the girl who has been swimming since she was 2...you'd think I'd get it, right?

Somehow I'm now to the point where if I do NOT average at LEAST 19 miles/hour on a half iron distance, I get all pissy.

Who is this girl?!

Now if I can just find a way to NOT let the swimming slide...I'm comfortable enough that I can get away with "winging it" in the water, but that shouldn't be an excuse. Just a little more consistency would help. Three times a week instead of one or two.

I think I have a good solution.

And it's that little rule I learned last week:

THOU SHALT NOT EVER DO AN EARLY 70.3 AGAIN.

;)

Or, if I do, just understand that this is the way it will have to be. Go for the more aggressive goal in July or August when I can spend a lot of time on everything, and have NO weakness.

Since we're on the subject of time, here is where I feel I am NOW, after four years of racing these 70.3 thingys (and I still have a LOT to learn). Here is my "perfect day:"

Swim: 34 minutes
Bike: avg 20+ mph
Run: 1:53

With transitions, I know I am capable of, on an absolutely perfect day, somewhere around a 5:17.

I was NOT ready for that at New Orleans since I hadn't prepared quite as thoroughly as I do by August. Time wise, if everything went very well, I was hoping to hit around 5:35-5:40. Everything did NOT go very well, as previously explained, so ending up with a 6:00 at first glance could have left me pretty disappointed. But I'm not, because when I remember that everyone had the same conditions I did, it helped me see I still made some significant progress.

So that's the scoop. Still a lot to learn about this distance, but I'm definitely headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

IM NOLA 70.3

To me, my favorite thing about the half Ironman distance is that it's like walking a dangerous tightrope. You're constantly balancing pushing yourself harder with holding your reserves back, as a sea of bonking swirls beneath you but what you know you can do is just on the other side. The more I think about it, the more fun I had out there. You learn a lot about yourself at this distance; that's for sure.

I mean, when I was actually ON the run course, I was thinking "THIS IS SOOOO NOT FUN RIGHT NOW."

But when I remembered that ALL of us had to deal with the weather, it made it a little easier to swallow.

One thing I remember when I went to Vision Quest last June and got tested by Robbie Ventura and met my AWESOME Coach Emily, was that when they asked me what my goals are I instinctively said a time goal: "Sub-6." Almost instantly, Robbie said that focusing on a time goal isn't the best way to go about things. Lots can happen: wind, weather, etc. and if you set an age group goal, it's a better way to gauge your progress. Top half, top third, etc. Ever since then, I've really focused more on age group goals.

My first two 70.3s, I was undoubtedly in the BACK of the pack. LAST 20% for sure. And I was fine with that. But now I feel like I could push a little more--lean just a little toward the side that says gogogogogoGO and hope I've learned enough not to go tumbling down into Bonkville.

Steelhead was a great race for me. Had there been a swim, I was ready for it. I knew I could go about 36 that day. I felt very, very confident. But there wasn't, and that's the way it is. So focusing on a time goal had me confused. What would my "real" time be? If my swim was 36-37, that would have me finishing at 5:27. Which is great and all, but still doesn't feel "right." I went 5:10 there, and I know I would have most likely gone 5:30 if it was a tri, but we'll just never know, you know? So by looking at my age group placement, I finished 45/111. Top half--40% to be accurate. That was HUGE progress for me. Whereas I am able to hit the top 10% in a running race (Cleveland Half Marathon 2008), that hasn't happened yet in a long distance triathlon. Not even CLOSE.

In my heart, I knew I wasn't quite as trained as I am by August. AP tests are in a month, so school has been killer, and I'm LUCKY if I get in 6,000 yards a week at the pool. I hadn't biked more than 2 hours at a time. My running was strong, but for the most part it was either on a treadmill or in the cold weather. So, if this was August, I would have set my sights on top 25%. But, realistically, I decided a good day for me would be to crack the top 1/3.

So that's what I set out to do.

Got to New Orleans and had an absolute BLAST with my team and buddies Steve and Sarah. I can't say enough about how amazingly awesome Team Evotri is. These people are not only crazy talented and dedicated, but just genuinely awesome people who tirelessly give back to this sport. They put up with me and my bizarre antics, too, and for that I'm eternally grateful. :) I didn't even bring a freakin' camera down with me, because with Steve around, you just don't need one. For some great tales of the days leading up to the race, as well as pictures of all our shenanigans, check out Steve's post here. He says and illustrates it much better than I do! Thanks, Steve!

Race morning I got up, had my teensy bit of coffee and pre-race bagel with peanut butter, and head out the door. The second I stepped outside I said, "Oh s#$%t." Why would I utter such a phrase? Well, see, it's because at O'Dark Thirty it was ALREADY 73 DEGREES AND SUPER HUMID. Which was hotter and more humid than it has been in Cleveland since about September.

Crap.

Me and the heat? We don't usually get along.

I sighed. There's nothing in the world you can do about the weather, as I learned back at Ironman Wisconsin. You simply adjust. No amount of bitching and moaning will change it. I made sure to grab my electrolyte tabs (I had 17 of them) and started drinking fluids.

We got to the start, and after some grumbling we had to walk the mile to the start line. It seems they didn't have enough shuttles. There were a few things that they seemed to underestimate, and you could definitely tell this was the first time around for this race, but overall it was well-organized. Hopefully next year they will have more shuttles, more fluids, and more volunteers as they DEFINITELY could have used more of all of those things.

The swim was the swim. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty; swimming once or twice a week wasn't going to win me any PRs or speed records. But I was pretty confident I could come out of the water in around 37-38 without being too tired. Still not my best, but doable. I didn't even have a watch, but all I know is that the swim seemed to NEVER end. I caught up to a few people in the wave ahead of me, and a few of the fast people from the last wave caught me in the end, and I came out. Easy peasy. End of story. I didn't even know my time until after the race, and when I saw it was just a smidge over 40, I was pretty disappointed. Many people are saying the swim was a little long, as even the pros were coming out later than usual, but whatevs. I got what I deserved, and my plan was to earn it back on the run.

(That wasn't gonna happen, though. :) Not today, unfortunately)

Anyway, I totally could NOT find my bike in transition. I probably lost a minute or 90 seconds staring at the racks and not comprehending where freaking 1359 was. There were no volunteers to be found--I even tried to find one because I was so out of it and confused! Oh well. Sprayed on my 45 sunblock (I refuse to be sunburned in the name of saving a few seconds--pasty is beautiful, people), and hopped on my bike.

Now, I swear I drank everything I could get my hands on. I was really counting on picking up gatorade at the second stop, but they were OUT ALREADY. And I was in the middle wave! Inexcusable, folks. I paid $225.00 for this race. I expect fluids where you tell me they will be. Oh well...luckily I had a few Nuun tabs and salt pills for electrolytes, but I needed calories. I took little bits of Clif Bar and Fig Newtons every 15 minutes, and salt tabs every 30.

Apparently, it still wasn't enough.

Cause, did I mention it was hot?

The ride was going well--I even started to love my BMC TT02 bike so much that I wanted to make out with it. But then the wind picked up, and it just sucked the life out of me. I tried to tuck in and spin, but it was pretty relentless for a while. I watched my average drop and drop...and I started to feel it. And I got pretty mad.

When I got back to T2, I was disappointed with my time. I wanted to go 2:50; I went 2:58. Which, now that I look back on it, is PRETTY darn GOOD for a chick who didn't ride more than 2 hours EVER in her training. But at the time, I felt like I blew it big time.

But the real problem is that I got off the bike and felt like I had been HIT BY A TRUCK. Clearly, I did not drink enough, even though I swear I drank enough to fill Lake Ponchartrain. I have GOT to figure something out to remedy this. I immediately thought, "There is NO WAY I WILL BE ABLE TO RUN A HALF MARATHON RIGHT NOW." No. Way. I could barely stumble to put my sunscreen on. At Steelhead, I couldn't WAIT to run, and I took off. This time, I honestly didn't think I had it in me. My heartrate was through the roof. I tried to snap out of it, and grabbed my visor. I couldn't let my team down.

The first two miles were sub-9, just like I had planned on. My original goal was to run somewhere around a 1:53 for this race, but I knew in T2 that this was not going to be that day. So I adjusted, and thought, I just need to get through this, period. I actually found my buddy Rob from Cleveland and ran with him from miles 2-7 or so. We joked around as much as we could and he kept me going. It was so good to have a friend to get my mind off the pain. At 7, I told him to leave me as I was really hurting and needed to slow down a bit.

I dry heaved twice on the course and slowed waaaaay down. The lack of fluids was hurting, despite what I thought was a good intake of fluids up to that point. I just wasn't acclimated to the weather, plain and simple. I ended up dropping a few salt tabs at one aid station, and I PICKED THEM OFF THE GROUND. Yeah. I was that desperate. At Steelhead, there were sponges and ice at every stop. Here--no sponges, and I literally had to BEG for ice cubes. Come on, guys. It's Louisiana and it's 85 degrees. I know you all are used to it, but lots of us aren't...throw us a fricken bone here, K? ;)

Anyway, I got to the finish and I was definitely disappointed. I hoped to break 6 at least for my pride. The last mile was awesome and packed with a cheering crowd and music--that definitely helped me focus on something besides the pain. I had a big smile on my face at the end and soaked up as much of the finish line magic as I could, despite the fact that I saw the clock and realized I had missed breaking 6 hours by a measly 42 seconds. Poop sandwich!

Anyway, I really hammed it up for most of my brightroom pictures. I knew I was crashing and burning, so I decided to smile and make it look like I was having fun, because then maybe my body would get the message, right? So here are the pictures--put on your sunglasses so you don't get blinded my my pasty white skin. Remember: pasty is beautiful. ;) Sister Wil got some amazing pics at the finish line, so as soon as I get those from her I'll post them!

You know what's funny though? I forgot that it was a hard day for everyone. That time is, just like Robbie said, NOT always the best indicator of your effort. I saw that I came out of the water in 48th place AG, off the bike in 43, and at the finish in 40. 40/117. Which, is top 34%. Which, my friends, is what we are calling CLOSE ENOUGH. :)

When I look at it that way, knowing what I know: that I have a baby at home who needs me lots, that I probably care way too much about my job and put in more hours than I need to, and that I know I didn't get as many hours in the pool or on the road that I usually get in before these things...well, when I think about that, and see that this 70.3 is my highest age group placement ever...it makes me really proud. And I smile like I'm smiling in those pictures.

So we'll take that 6:00.42. And I'll take the memories and laughs I had with my team and my friends with me back home to the snowy land o' Cleve.

70.3 number 4 is officially in the books.

I love this stuff.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Technically we have to call that a PR

...although I still maintain Steelhead is my "real" PR. But if we're going by 70.3s involving actual swimming, this performance was still 29 minutes better than the last one I did swimming.

(but I still don't think I'm going to call it my PR)

;)

Anyways, just got back. Had an aaaaaamazing time in New Orleans! This week is going to be nuts so I'll do a full report as soon as I can, but it might not be until I'm on El Spring Breako on Friday.

The bottom line? Good friends RULE.

New Orleans is an AWESOME town.

And I learned a very important rule.

THOU SHALT NOT LIVE IN CLEVELAND AND DO AN EARLY APRIL RACE IN THE DEEP SOUTH.

All kidding aside, that was definitely the most challenging half I've done due to the conditions. I knew when it was 72 degrees and humid like the Amazon at 5:17am, I was in big, BIG trouble. So that being said, I'm pretty happy with the results. Obviously, the time wasn't what I was going for, but you have to adjust to what the day gives you, and my placement was just about where I know I deserved to be. So that's a good thing.

And beignets are TASTEEEEEEEEEEE.

And fig newtons are moister than ever.

And apparently I have a really sick sense of humor.

I came home to find a dusting of snow, the kitchen cabinets redone, and a big bouquet of tulips along with some chocolate covered oreos and some Blue Moon. Which is why Matt = AWESOME.

Okay, time to try to get stuff ready to teach tomorrow...yikes!

More to come!