Monday, May 27, 2013

Now if I were only allowed to SWIM...

Ugh.  This 10-14 days of no swimming is KEEEEEELING me.

I am finally done with these ridiculous painkillers and the complete fog of passed-out-ness they put me in.  It's the last week of classes and I have about 1,356,894 projects coming in, so I need to be able to function!

Aside from Jumper's explanation of "the dickens" (Thanks, Jumper! :) and Kathy's suggestion of my elbow issue (thanks, too!) it was awfully quiet on that last post.  I'd like to pretend it's because I'm just that awesome and there's nothing to say, but I think it may be more that no one had time to read or comment.  And hey, I feel you!  But luckily for me, Coach Emily DID have time to tell me what I need to work on, and in case you don't know, she's kind of a big deal.  Like, swam at the University of Michigan big deal. (This is where Matt would say, "Go Blue!" and I would reply, "Go Bucks!") Or Olympic-Trials big deal.  And of course, pro-triathlete big deal.  So I take her comments VERY seriously.

Here's what I already knew:  I am only finishing half my stroke--especially at race pace.  I get tired/lazy and just figure "eh, halfway's good enough" and take my arm out without pulling all the way back.  I've been practicing following through the entire stroke and already can tell a BIG difference in my efficiency.

On top of that, Emily told me that I am entering the water at 12:00 and really that should be 11:00 and 1:00.  Because if you notice on my video, once in the water my hands move there anyway.  Wasted movement = inefficient stroke.  The other thing is that my elbow does, in fact, suck.  She pointed me to this video which does a pretty awesome job of explaining my problem:
And then these two that are of some *kind of* good swimmers showing what I'm really going for.  Oh, and my kick stinks, too, but I knew that.  These guys show how to keep that kid where it should be. Sigh.  What I really want to do is go back in time to 1983 and tell the people teaching me how to swim that THE STUPID "S" STROKE IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY TO DO IT so please STOP TELLING THE SIX YEAR OLD TO DO THAT.  Totally not efficient at all.  Do you see Phelps or Thorpe making an S?  No?  But I am, right?  So clearly I am setting the right model...NOT.

Anyway, this is all fabulous stuff.  I really want to get in the pool and try it!  I've been trying it a lot in my kitchen but all that really does is get me really weird looks from Matt and the dog.

I told Emily that it's funny--I've been swimming almost as long as I've been walking, but I feel like I have the most to learn here!  It's truly a technique-driven sport.  I'm excited to at least get back in the pool and tinker with my stroke a bit.

Friday, May 24, 2013

I Be Strokin'

So currently I'm a) on a Z-pac for bronchitis, b) sitting here with a head (kinda) full of bright blue stitches and crunchy neosporin hair c) all of the above.

If you picked C, you're the WINNER!  Of my most anti-climatic post-race letdown week in HISTORY!

Okay, that's a *bit* dramatic.  But seriously...had a little surgery on the head today that involved removing two non-threatening-but-very-annoying cysts that were in my scalp.  Had this done 4 years ago for 5 of the lumps.  It's a nuisance and it hurts like the dickens.


(Did I just say "like the dickens?" What does that even mean?  And, am I 80?)

Anyway, since I am not allowed to swim for (gulp) at least 10 days AND can't do any physical activity until TUESDAY (let that sink in for a moment...and think about how NOT fun to be around I'm going to be), I figured I might as well ask the interwebz for some swimming advice.

My teammie RobbyB had this badass underwater camera thingy in Chattanooga and got all kinds of cool shots while we were running (in the rain, too!) and swimming. I asked him to send me some so I could send them to Coach Emily.  He did more than that--he made me the star of my very own "Mediocre-Triathlete-Swimmer" video!  Yippeeeeee!

Seriously, though--so "real" swimmers, I know my stroke could probably use some tweaking. I already asked a few of my "real swimmer" students and they gave me some advice. I won't say it yet because I want to see if you out there give me the same advice, too!  I will say that I am aware that I don't completely follow through in my stroke and push all the way down towards my legs--I kinda cut it off halfway.

And that butterfly?  There are no words.  I actually feel WAY worse than it looks--it doesn't look nearly as bad as I thought it would, but I do have a weird little hesitation in there and I'm not sure what's up with that.

If you ever have the chance to have your stroke taped like this, DO IT DO IT DO IT.  There's so many little things you can catch with a camera that you just don't really know you're doing.  I've already been practicing pushing my stroke all the way through and notice a huge difference.

So I'm throwing it out there to you, internet!  Give me some more advice.  What else should I tweak in my stroke?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A "Pace" Report: Cleveland Half Marathon, 2013

On Sunday, I paced the sub-2 hour group for the half marathon in Cleveland!  It was as much fun as you can possibly have with 20,000 or so of your closest friends while being a sweaty, hot mess.  I loved every second of it, and hope to do it again sometime!

The short version: I made it in right on time at 1:59.49, and so did a lot of my crew!

The long version:  here you go!

I wanted to pace Cleveland for a few reasons.  A while back, I paced the 4:45 marathon group and LOVED it.  It was a lot of first-time 'thoners, and even though I only did the first half I really enjoyed helping them reach their goal.  In my quest to not be so stupid set realistic goals in the spring when life is really really crazy, I knew I wanted to have a race-day and that atmosphere minus the injury that has plagued me the past two Mays.  My good buddy Sarah wanted to break 2 hours in the half marathon while raising money for our friend Stacy's charity to fight pediatric cancer, and I thought it was a perfect fit for me!  I emailed Coach Kara (who is in charge of the pace teams every year) and she thought it was a great idea since so many people have that goal and the "4 Hour" Marathon pace team is so huge and full of half marathoners.  She even had a special sign made for me to carry, which I did the entire race:  "1:59.59."

The thing about carrying said sign?  Um, you'd better do it.  Because LOTS of people are counting on you.  And nothing is worse than putting your faith in a pacer who blows it, right?

This is why I was a little nervous on Saturday morning.  My allergies were HORRID last week, but I still thought everything was "just allergies."  I had no voice when I woke up Thursday or Friday, but Saturday was exceptionally bad.  My energy level was fine and I felt fine otherwise, so I knew it had something to do with these massive amounts of green pollen-filled nastiness that are falling from our trees and literally need to be shoveled/leaf-blown away daily.  I diligently took my Claritin and hoped for the best.

Race morning: still no voice.  WHAT?!  Who paces a Pace Team with no voice?!  I drank a ton of water and a bit of coffee and hit the car at 4:55am, hoping for the best.  I figured in an hour or two, I'd have my nice loud obnoxious voice (you know, kinda my trademark) back, just in time for the Pace Team.
Me and super awesome buddy, LJ!

Me with Debra, in from Chicago and trying a sub-2! Former BHS Rockets :)  
The 2013 Pace Team
I met all the Pacers and Coach Kara (who no longer is in town--sniff, sniff) and made some new friends, too, including 4 hour pacers Michele and Angel and another half-pacer Denine.  I sported my ridiculous sparkly skirt and carried my sign to the start line!
Carrying my sign
Heading to the start with Angel, who smiled the whole race!

And then we were off!
Right away, I knew it was HOT.  It was hot at 5am when I first got in my car, and all I could think about was, "Man, am I really glad I'm not running this full--or pushing this half too hard."  Of course, I didn't say that to my pace team, because they WERE pushing hard.  So I did focus on reminding them to DRINK LOTS.  I sort of yelled at them to drink like every 5-10 minutes.  They probably got a little annoyed at me, but it was HOT and I know what heat and humidity can do!  I also told them to keep those arms low and "don't run like a T-Rex!"  I figured the more reminders I could give them to stay hydrated and relaxed, the better.

Around mile 6 or so, it started getting pretty tough.  My group was getting smaller; the sun was shining, and it was hot hot HOT.  I kept telling them that it was going to start getting hard now, and to remember to trust their training and stay in the moment.  That they could do this.  The crowd support was great this year, and the crew in Tremont was nice and loud.  I did my best efforts to keep the crowds yelling for our "Sub-2 Crew!"
Me and the sub-2 crew, hamming it up
At mile 10, I told them there was "just a 5K left!" and that if they felt good, to take off and leave me.  No one took me up on it yet, even though there were a few who I thought looked really strong and wanted them to go ahead.  I said if you're NOT feeling good, just hang on, count your steps, and zone out--I'd get them there.  At this point, I could feel the crunchy nastiness of my sweat all over my face and even my arms.  The humidity was what was really killer; it was arguably our hottest day to date in Cleveland.  Even though I was running one of my slowest half-marathons to date, it felt really tough.  I knew for my pace team who was attempting a PR, this was a very difficult day to do it.  I tried to keep them as positive as I could and remind them that at this point, it was all up to their mind.  Around mile 11-12 I said, "Okay, who's gonna win today: the body or the mind?" One guy who had looked strong all day finally took me up on my suggestion to take off and leave me, and he looked great!  That was good to see.  We ran on, and finally it was time to head to E. 9th street.  We passed Jacobs Field okay fine whatever Progressive Field, home of my first-place Cleveland Indians (#RollTribe) and the crowds here were fantastic!  I knew on my watch we were cutting it close, but that was my job: to get as close to 1:59.59 as I could.

And as we turned the corner to the finish, I picked it up just to be extra safe:  1:59.49!
FINISHED! And hot.
I turned around and gave a BIG holla to all the crew that was still with me!  They looked exhausted but had that happy look in their eyes--the one where you're too tired to say anything and are panting like a dog, but KNOW you just did it.  And you're so happy.

Sarah had finished about 30 seconds ahead of the pace team, so I was super happy for her!  She went on to fulfill the Cross-Fit part of her fundraising: for every $5 she raised over her asking donation of $13.10, she did a burpee.  She went and finished 168 burpees, and Stacy and I cheered her on!  Overall, she raised over $1,400 for Roc4NB which goes directly to families in the area who have children fighting neuroblastoma.  I am so proud of Sarah--she worked so hard!
Sarah and her hubby, Rob, who both had great days!
True to her word: doing her burpees
Afterwards, I headed home to attempt to recover--as well as you can with a 3 and 5 year old.  So I turned on the sprinkler and headed to the park and got some ice-cream, and called it "recovery."

Spiderman Sprinkler
Super proud of Sarah, my neighbor Krystal who finished her very first half in 2:30 and is HOOKED (yay!), my other buddy Joanne who ran a 1:38 in that heat and set a massive PR, and my new running friend Katie who ran a 3:38 in her VERY FIRST marathon EVER.  How anyone can do that in that heat is beyond me.  Every single finisher earned that finish big time!

All in all, I got that finish line magic feeling without getting myself injured, which is a win-win in my book.

I do, however, have bronchitis.  Oops.  I guess my allergies morphed into bronchitis, and I finally did something about it yesterday.  So I guess I ran a half marathon with bronchitis...?  Who does that?  Oopsies.  Oh well!

Can't wait to shift into tri-gear for summer and continue to build upon my running fitness to hit Columbus ready for a 3:39!  Happy running, everyone!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Almost Pacing Time!

I am so so SO excited to be a Pace Team Leader for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon this Sunday!

I figured I keep getting myself injured with early season races (I'm looking at you, past two years) so I needed to mix it up. Pacing is not only a super awesome way to give back to the running community, but it allows me to enjoy the race without setting a ridiculous goal that gets me injured while attempting to get my students to the AP test and raise my kids and actually see Matt and not lose my marbles.  When it comes down to it, April and May are just not the times for me to attempt A races.

(this only took me 11 years to really accept)

Plus, my buddy Sarah is attempting a sub-2 hour half and I get to be her Pace Bunny!  I am so excited for her.  She has raised lots of money for my other buddy Stacy's charity that she started in honor of her daughter who is a strong, healthy survivor of pediatric cancer.  You can learn more about it here.  It's a fabulous cause and Sarah even threw in a CrossFit twist--for every $5 she gets over her $13.10 asking donation, she will do a burpee at the finish line!  She's up to, like, 100 burpees!

And I will cheer her on! And NOT do burpees!

Because CrossFit scares me.

But seriously, she is awesome.  So I'm excited to help her out and get her there in 1:59.59.

I'll bring my phone with me to tweet updates and crazy pictures!  Oh, I think I'm somewhat figuring out twitter, so if you are a twitter person, feel free to follow along @trisaratops2198 or follow me for realz this Sunday if you want to break 2 hours!  I'll be wearing my pacer shirt, a ridiculous yellow sparkly skirt, and holding a sign that says "1:59" for the entire race.  Yippeeeeeeeeeee!

Best of luck to all the racers in Cleveland this weekend and at IM TX, too!

Monday, May 13, 2013

On the Playlist

Awesome 5 miles tonight.  I headed out cranky, tired, and generally unpleasant.  I came home still tired, but not cranky.  Very smiley and ready to tackle the laundry/dishwasher/papergrading/chasegigglingkidsaroundintheirbigplastictruck/bathtime/bedtime/march to when I finally get to rest.  Which is, like now.  But before I go, here's a Cleveland boy who has definitely gotten a lot of rotation on my playlist lately.  Definitely diggin' this song.

Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) Ft. Ester Dean // "Invincible" (Dir. Isaac Rentz) from More Media on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A New Spark

Oh, hey!

It's been (almost) two months.  My lack of posting has never gotten quite this bad, but I am really hoping to update here more frequently if at all possible.  For that, I'm going to have to make some new rules:

1.  Quick posts are better than no posts
2.  Lack of proper formatting is now okay
3.  Keep it real, yo

I have been occasionally throwing up stuff on twitter and facebook, but I think this ol' blog is still good for something.

I have some exciting new goals and news and I think it will be more important to just get stuff down and worry about the "pretty" stuff later.  So here goes unfiltered TST!  Hold onto your hats, kids!

First off: Mother's Day is pretty much awesome.  Woke up to breakfast in bed with my two kiddies and their awesome daddy that involved many different combinations of chocolate chip pancakes and lots of coffee.  I'm off to a Mother's Day spin class at Psycle (my fave indoor studio) soon.

What have I been doing lately?  In no particular order:

1. Being Mommy and Wife as best as I can
2. Being friend as much as possible
3.  Teaching my butt off

The APUSH test is Wednesday.  I will be very, very happy when it's over.  Possibly even happier than them.  They don't believe me, but I swear I worry about it more than they do!

What else have I been doing?  Here is a sample:
Mr. "Doc" Unger, a WWII-Veteran and former P.O.W., speaks to my students about his experiences

We heart play-doh

Bug and his little buddy Norah race for the ball


Mom's Day

Easter Morning

Bean on her balance bike

Sunny girl

My homies in the 'Noog

Lots of fun training at CAMP this year!
 We are also in two weddings coming up soon:  my brother and my brother-in-law in June and July and Ohio and Mexico, respectably.  It will be ridiculously fun!

So things have been busy, but mostly good busy.  A few challenges thrown in for good measure, of course.  I've made a few decisions on racing that are still of course subject to change based on the way the wind blows, but right now, here's what I'm looking at.

Next weekend, I'll be leading the Pace Team for the sub-2 Half-Marathon group at the Cleveland Marathon!  I am super excited about this.  I love pacing and it's been a few years since I've done it.

I also am in the process of getting my Evotri Mommy Tris Too group going again.  I'm in the recruitment process right now so stay tuned on that!

Finally, I know I mentioned I lost a pretty big chunk of weight.  With that has come faster running times with the same effort.  I've been looking back through my log and its pretty remarkable and exciting, too.  Who knew, right?  This old dog might have a few new tricks up her sleeve.  So aside from racing a few local tris and attempting not to embarrass myself at Nationals this summer, I have officially changed my mind on Rev3.  I just, quite simply, do not have the money to race a 70.3 this year.  It is absolutely not possible.  So what's cheaper than a 70.3 but still a challenge within reach?

Here is is: you heard it here first, folks:  I will be racing the Columbus Marathon in October.  And I bet you can guess what my goal is.

I'm feeling really confident on my run lately and have been shocking the heck out of myself.  For example, last Tuesday, after Bug's soccer practice, I did a tempo run and beat a 5-mile PR I set at Malachi probably 7 years ago.  On a Tuesday night.  After dinner.  And soccer practice.

My long runs shock me almost weekly.  Yesterday I ran 12 miles with 4 of them at sub-8.

So the fire has been lit again for one more go at it.  The time is the same for me now that I'm in the 35-year range--back at 3:40--kind of wishing it was 3:45 like it used to be, but whatever.  Bring it.

It's good to be back, and I hope some of you want to come along for the ride.  Giddyup!