Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flipped the Switch

I'm ready.

I'm officially in taper now--sitting here all sweaty after my long run but have to get this down before I forget.

Yesterday I had a long ride--Coach Emily wanted 50-60 miles. I was dreading it, to say the least. I tried calling everyone I could think of who lived near me to ride with me, but they were either doing Ironman Kentucky (Go Martha and Iron Johnny, GO!), coaching cross country (that's my awesome buddy Laura, who was JUST awarded TEACHER OF THE YEAR in my district--very deserved!) or in New Orleans for a bachelor party (Lapo, my buddy from a few weeks ago). All good excuses, but nonetheless, I was bummed.

I decided that since this would be the last Saturday for a while to relax and make pancakes, I wanted to do that. So I did. We all ate and it was delicious.

I finally got to push off around 1:45pm. Not really ideal on paper--it wasn't early, and I was alone. But you know what? It would be good mental practice, I thought. Riding in groups goes fast. This was a pretty structured workout with some time at goal half ironman wattage. I have to do this alone in 2 weeks, so why not practice now?

I did give myself permission to quit at 2 hours if I needed to. The kids were napping so I wouldn't miss too much time with them, but naps have been shorter lately so I felt like I should get home before dinner for sure.

I started off, a little bitter that I was alone and it was a beautiful day and I could have been at the beach or pool (wahhh wahh wahhh.), and headed west to Lorain. And I was flying. I was convinced there was a tailwind, but from what the flags showed, if there was one, it was minimal at best. I was just clipping along, and doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well.

I represent Queens, she was raised out in Brooklyn.

Got to Lorain and headed back. And was STILL flying. I was hitting the wattage I needed to and felt really good about it.

Made it back to the center of my town and refueled at the pool. I took a Gu Roctane (AMAZING stuff. I have been converted.) and made some more nuun. Vowed to take my family to the pool when I got home, and decided to keep on going.

Because I was kicking so much ass.

Yeah, I said it. KICKING ASS.

Headed east some more into Lakewood, and turned around. Decided I wouldn't go the full 3 hours, but I would hit a nice even 50 miles and call that a compromise. Passed my street and went back west into Avon Lake.

Still kicked ass.

Made it home in 2:41 for an average of 18.7 mph EASILY. Watts were at 135 including my pushes and recovery. And that, folks, was the best ride I've had since Steelhead.

All alone.

I am so ready for this. At the very least, I should have a decent ride.

Today, I had my last long run. I told Coach E that in my dream world, a perfect race day pace would be somewhere around 9 minute miles. So, I was to do this:

30 minute warmup
20 minutes at 9:00
5 minutes easy
10 minutes a little faster than 9:00
15 minutes easy

Nailed it. Finished with a little over 8.5 miles.

I wasn't sure if I should do this race, and truth be told, I didn't even sign up until about 2 weeks ago. I know now that I can do it, and do it well. I don't know if it will be enough for a PR, or if it's really realistic to even think of a PR right now, as I'm still up about 8 pounds (but 52 down! yay!). But I know now that I will show up--body and mind. I've successfully made the transition from dreading this to looking forward to it. I still don't think I'd recommend this to myself version December 2009, but what's done is done. And I'm going to make the best of it. And kick some ass.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Six Month Maternity Leave"

I'm ending what I refer to as my "six month maternity leave" tomorrow. It's bittersweet...on one hand, I already miss my kids dearly. But on the other hand, I am excited to get back into the classroom and start off my 12th year of teaching.


Seriously. Sometimes I still feel about 12. So bizarre. I know I was a baby when I started doing this and all,

Last night was a challenging night. Bug was being almost-three again, and by that I mean arguing about everything and throwing fits every 2.5 minutes. I finally got Bean down and Matt went out to do a workout, so I tried to get Bug down. He threw fits repeatedly, and intentionally woke Bean up. Then I had two screaming kids. It was rough. I have to admit I cried a bit. How was I going to get everyone out of the house by 7:05am every morning--teeth brushed, acceptable clothing, lunches packed?

Matt came in to help out. I put Bean back to bed, and he worked his "other parent magic" (you know--whatever parent is not there during a meltdown magically becomes the one that the 2 1/2 year old wants, and then is totally happy) and I heard him singing "Five Little Monkeys" within 3 minutes. Then Matt came in while I held Bean and said to come into Bug's room.

Matt asked Bug, "Why did you wake your sister up?"

Bug replied, "Because I love Emery and want to give her hugs and kisses. That's what you do when you love someone."

That is a direct quote. I heard it with my own two ears.

And then I promptly cried.


I've been working quite a bit on my head game the past 2 weeks. It's no secret that I had second thoughts about the sanity of doing this half ironman 6 months postpartum. I've laid that out here.

What I have decided is that I need to work on my insane worry issues. I flat out worry too much, and that's really dumb and wastes time and energy. Life is too short. I have had some issues with anxiety that have seriously affected my sleeping from time to time, as long as I can remember. I remember being maybe 11 or 12 and my mom telling me to "turn my clock around" so I couldn't see what time it was, since I would worry that it was so late. Seriously. This goes back quite a way.

(I still turn my clock around every night, too)

So I've decided I'm going to really, seriously work on mindfulness. I have been doing some reading on the subject and some practices. Lots of journaling. It's been good--I've been sleeping better and I have been feeling more relaxed. We'll see how the first week of school goes--it's notoriously an insane week where I sleep very little. I'm going to really try to simplify things in my mind and cut out lots of unnecessary stuff. Here's what I'm working on:

--really enjoying breakfast and lunch. Usually, I wolf it down standing up while checking facebook and making bottles and picking up trucks and listening to NPR. The past three days, I have forced myself to sit in silence, not read anything, and think about my meal. Do you know how hard that is?!?! Seriously. I could barely do it the first day. But I'm getting better at it. I am notorious for working through lunch and grading while I eat. While I accept that I might still need to do that from time to time, I'm going to try and eat outside and/or take a short, 10 minute walk while it's nice out during my lunch break.

--going off the grid. No more facebook. No worthless news sites that are all full of spin anyway. No gossip sites or E! shows. At first, I went through a little withdrawal. I'm used to checking facebook all freaking day. But after 2 days? Wonderful. Hearing everyone's banter can be actually quite tiring and mentally cluttering. I will still keep my account so people can get ahold of me, but I'm going to cut the cord of checking updates all the time, and I'm going to only update with pictures or big stuff for my family and friends to see. I am going to focus on my own updates.

--I decided to keep writing here, though. This has always been a bit of an outlet for me. I enjoy writing. I may check blogs less for a bit or narrow them down while I'm working on clearing out my internal clutter, but it will be nice to have this space to write.

--Focus on being home at home, and at work at work. That will be hard to do. Teaching is the kind of job you often bring home by nature--DBQs don't grade themselves. But I'm going to really try hard to use my time at work more productively, and leave work at work.

--Enjoying my workouts, and thinking of them as a celebration and not a chore. I'm getting better at this. Instead of rushing through a workout so I can do what's next on whatever insane list I've made, I'm going to really focus on each workout and let it remind me that I'm lucky to be able to do this. This, as anyone with very young kids knows, will be easier said than done.

I've still got my eye on the Cleveland Marathon next May. I was thinking that I would do the Fall Classic Half Marathon in November and try to get my time down as close to 1:40 as I can get, but I'm going to see how the first few weeks of school go and make my decision from there. I have a very busy few weekends--mostly fun stuff--bachelorette party out of town next weekend for my awesome buddy Jacks, Bug's 3rd birthday party (agh!) and then I'm in two weddings (both out of town, and back to back weekends!) for two of my best friends--Jacks and the uber-awesome TriShannon. So, we'll see how things go here.

I'm getting more excited to race in 2 weeks. I think I've turned my head around a bit. I'm thinking about all the friends that will be there--first on my team (can't wait to see them!) and in the Cleveland area. As Coach Emily says, "it might not be your personal best, or it might be...but just have fun." So that's what I'm going to do.

I'm trying to remember that my best marathon came on my lowest mileage. I might not have been able to swim or run as many yards or miles as I would have liked to, but my body is continuing to show me that I'm capable of pulling things off.

And honestly? I'm looking forward to that finish line more than anything--possibly even more than my Ironman. This one will really mean a lot to me, and I can have my two kids with me and Matt will be there too. Because, to quote my almost-three-year-old, I love them and I want to give them hugs and kisses at the finish line.

Because that's what you do when you love someone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What tha....?

In classic style, my body is laughing it's butt off at me right now.

Saturday, I did a 3 hour solo ride--about 1 hour inside since it was so early and I'm a chicken when it's dark, and 2 hours on my own. Managed an easy 18.4 mph while keeping the watts at a nice and easy 127. Then did a 15 minute run, which, due to some poor nutrition on the bike (not enough calories!) SUCKED, but lesson learned, and I got it done. Then in the afternoon, did a 45 minute strength session and killed it.

Yesterday, had the day off. Spent it with my family and then relived a bit of my flannel-wearing grunge days by heading to the Stone Temple Pilots concert with Matt (which was really good!). Realized two things: 1) we were the youngest people there...huh? and 2) I really wanted to throw a sandwich at Scott Weiland (and hey! he's a fellow Clevelander, too!), but didn't out of fear that he'd just waste it by smoking and/or snorting it. I'm pretty sure I couldn't fit into that guys jeans.

Fast forward to today, and I just did my first run longer than 6 miles or so. The plan was 1:15-1:25 at a nice easy pace, and I did 1:14, only because HOLY CRAP my easy pace was fast today. And...drum roll...PAIN FREE! 8 miles, suckas. 8 miles with the last two at 9:04 and 9:02.

So even though my head hasn't been in the game, the body is. I'm working really hard on getting the head caught up, and I've made some progress there.

One foot in front of the other, and one day at a time. That's how I'm gonna get through this race and the next 20 somewhat insane days, as what I like to call my 6-month maternity leave comes to a close on Friday.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I've done too much.

I sort of knew it when I was getting into it, and I wish I could say this was the first time I've done it, but it's not. It's most definitely not.

I got in over my head. Doing this 70.3 six months after having my second baby, and both of them under 3, was too much. But it's almost done now. Last time I tried a half marathon at about 7 1/2 months afterward, and I enjoyed it a lot. But this time I've felt frazzled, overextended, and like my heart isn't really into it and that I'm letting people down. Some of that's just all in my head, and I know it.

I'm trying to refocus my frustration with myself into some positive energy. That, I think, will be the most important thing I can do from here until race day. My body keeps showing me I'm capable of much more than I think.

Today was my last day to take Bug to the pool, so I did. And I just had so much fun watching him play and playing with him, instead of swimming laps like I probably should have. But I just couldn't do that today.

Got home, put everyone to bed, and hit the treadmill for a little tempo run. Did 15 minutes descending from 8:34 down to 7:47 pace. I felt much better after that.

I think a day at the pool followed by a good, hard (pain-free!) run was some gatorade for the soul.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and, most importantly, learning from my mistakes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And not a second too soon...

I think my running mojo's back.

Had three great runs this week, and did 6.5 miles today almost pain-free. Last half mile was at an 8:20/pace. Boo-yah!

Rest day tomorrow. I definitely need it!

Starting to think I might have a November half marathon in me after all.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What is it worth?

I've been thinking a lot about how my racing will be shifting soon, and I'll be saying goodbye to long course triathlon for a while. I am completely, 100% ready to do this. This is all supposed to be fun, and quite frankly, it hasn't been as fun as I had hoped. However, I'm fully ready to admit that this could be because I had a baby 5 1/2 months ago, and am still attempting to get used to the chaos that is our new normal with two kids under three years old, not to mention still try to get into racing shape. I'm happy to report that I am officially, as of yesterday, 50 pounds down even. 10 more to go until I'm where I started, and then hopefully another five by next May.

Every time I ride, run, or swim, I try to think about what it's worth to me. Sometimes it is a hard swim set or a set of intervals on my trainer that get me thinking. Yesterday it was 4.7 (almost pain-free!) miles on the trainer and today it was just shy of 60 miles with two good friends, my IMW training pal from '06, IronJohnny and my friend Martha who amazes me. She amazes me because she is going to do Ironman Kentucky in 2 weeks (and kill it, in my opinion) with twin daughters who are 2 years old.

Absolutley. Amazing.

Because I did Ironman with no kids at home, and that was hard enough for me. But twin two-year-olds? Unbelievable. As I am learning, training with a two year old is quite challenging. It involves getting up really, really, really early to squeeze in as much as you can before he gets up, then rushing home, and then before you can have any food or even change out of your nastiness and perhaps shower, kicking the soccer ball around for a while and then playing cars (while trying to sneak in some semblance of a recovery drink or food). Gone are the days where I could come home to an empty house and soak in an ice bath while drinking a recovery drink, and then lounge on the couch and let my legs relax. I'm lucky to be able to sit much at all before about 9pm at this point, and I love it. But it is quite tiring, and very different than me version 2006.

Which leads me to my next point: my husband is a saint. So is my Mom, who watches Jackson while I swim laps at the pool. Without them, I'd never ever ever make it to the start line of this race.

I'm looking at less than a month until Rev3, and I'm kind of up and down about it. On one hand, I am super excited to see my teammates and my CLE tri peeps. On the other hand, I'm trying to figure out how to both push myself a bit but be realistic. I'm on this see-saw daily (and it seems to switch back and forth every day) between deciding to kill this race and go out with a bang--leave it all on the course and try to PR. But then other days I am so exhausted and burned out and feeling guilty about training so much while Matt and my Mom watch my two monkeys. And I just want to get it over with.

That's no way to prepare yourself for a race.

I'm trying really hard to switch my mindset away from guilt and burnout to motivation and desire. I want to make this worth it. Worth all the early mornings, worth all the time that Matt and my Mom spent so I could train. Worth the time away from Bug and Bean.

It needs to be worth it.

I felt so good on my run yesterday and on the last third of my ride today. It was the me that wants this. I like that me better, anyway.

I know I'm done with 70.3s for a while after this race. I'm tired. I don't like 3.5 hour rides anymore. I need to balance what I'm juggling here, and to do things the way I want I need to back away and focus a little more. Some people can train and work full time and raise little ones and absolutely inspire and blow me away with it all, but right now I know in my heart I just can't do long course the way I want to do it.

My best.

My body is as ready as it is going to be. I know in my heart I am strong and I have made some really good progress since Emery was born in February. Now, I need to work on my head. I'm going to focus on positive thinking from here on out--no more of this, "I'm tired, I'm burned out, blah blah blah." Because I've done all the training. I've put in the time. It's (almost) over, and my body is ready.

I need to make this worth it. I need to say goodbye to this distance on a good note. I really believe in my heart that I can. My body has tried to show me repeatedly this summer that it is much stronger than I know.

So whatever happens on September 12th, know that I will leave everything out there. I have to, or I wouldn't feel right leaving the distance behind for a while. Because, as Pre said, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Whatever happens, it will be worth it. All of it.

It has to be.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A triathlon race report? Why, yes.

I know, I know!

We haven't had one of these up here since last April!

Hey, it ain't all my fault. I got preggers and stuff. What can you do?

But how about the first of hopefully a long line of race reports to come....

The 2010 Greater Cleveland Triathlon

So, in case you haven't heard, I've been nursing a little teensy injury lately. Not enough to call a stress fracture (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU), but one that has really slowed down my running--not to mention my mileage. I basically took the last two weeks and just did run/walks with a little bit of straight running, but nothing more than 40 minutes. I had to bag the Huntington Triathlon (sniff, sniff). I originally signed up for this race back in December when I was all huge and pregnant because, hey! it sounds like a great idea!, and talked my buddy JenC into signing up for it, too. You can pretty much talk an 8 month pregnant chick into anything "next August." Wanna go skydiving in August? Bullfights on acid? Skinny skiing? OF COURSE! PLEASE! I'll do anything--JUST REMIND ME I WON'T BE IN THIS HUGE STATE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

(for those who aren't Caddyshack fans, those last two activities are nods to my husband...the biggest Caddyshack fan on earth)

So once I got the X-rays and the all clear that this wasn't a stress fracture, I first jumped for joy and screamed five times. Then, decided the smart thing to do would probably downgrade to the sprint triathlon. Even though I hate sprints, right? They're too short, right? They hurt a lot, right?

The thing is? I don't hate them. Methink I am falling in LURVE.

To tell you the truth, I am burning out big time on this long course stuff. I've been doing triathlons for nine years now next week (happy nine-year anniversary, self!) and have spent the last 6 seasons doing long course (minus the one season I was preggers with Bug). Rev3 will be my 5th half ironman, and to tell you the good honest truth, I think I'm just about over it. At this point in my life, the training is becoming a bit of a chore. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm sort of dreading it. And that's not good.

But a good ol' fashioned hammer fest? Pain in the lungs? Quads screaming that they can't possibly fire any harder--and then you tell them to HTFU and just DO IT or else? Now that is kind of fun. And I think I want more of that.

So I headed out to this race, full of negativity and a head full of doubts. The things in my head when I was standing on the beach went something like this:

You are worthless at this distance.
You can't do this.
You aren't fast.
You stink.

Seriously, I almost didn't recognize myself. I mean, I get nervous before races, but I don't think I had ever felt this negative before a race ever. Part of it was that I felt like I had backed out on my original commitment, and I felt guilty. Like I was cheating. But I knew that a 10K wasn't smart, so this was my only option.


Okay, first of all, I am an idiot. I was totally "that guy" at this race--the one that didn't check the course at all. In my head, I just ASSumed that it would be about a 400-500 yard swim. Because that's what most of the sprints I have done usually are. And you don't wear a wetsuit (if you're me) for a 400 yard swim, because that is just cheating. You suck it up and swim your 400 yards and don't waste extra time taking off the stupid wetsuit.

Except that everyone around me had a wetsuit on.

" long is this swim?" I asked some hard core guy.

"A half mile."


A half mile is still doable without a wetsuit, of course. But it was a little wavy--not choppy, just some rolling waves. But when your competition is wearing wetsuits, and you underestimate the swim distance by, oh, 50 PERCENT...that's just dumb.

Needless to say, not my best swim. Not awful--I came out in a close pack of my AG in the middle. My watch said 14:50 when I hit the beach, and the splits by the time I got to the top at T1 had me at 15:56. Boo. I should be swimming a half mile comfortably in 12-13 minutes or so.


Hopped on the bike and hoped for the best. Because, I am not a front-pack cyclist. I know I'm not the back of the pack like I was for the first 5-6 seasons or so I raced, but I accepted my role as slightly-better-than-mediocre cyclist and figured that was what today would be.

Except it wasn't.

I flew. Flew flew FLEW. Passed tons of people. Some in my age group, some not...lots of dudes, too. I tried to push hard, because sprints were supposed to hurt, right? In retrospect, I probably pushed TOO hard, but I was having too much fun and figured a little pain on the run would be worth it.

This was my first race on my Specialized Transition, and was amazing. A. MAZE. ING.

The numbers, according to the gospel that is Joule:

Ride Time: 37:43
Total miles: 12.85
Average mph: 20.4
Watts: 181
Average cadence: 101

I just checked the results. Here's what is blowing my mind:

I was the 3rd overall female cyclist (out of 45), behind only the top two females overall (finishing), and only by just over a minute


I was the 17th out of 133 cyclists total, including DUDES.


No seriously, WHAT?! Was that really me?

I think that I have to admit something.

I might be a halfway decent cyclist. I know, I know. I never thought I'd utter those words, either.


And now it hurts. I knew coming off the ride that I was most likely the 1st female in my age group. I had passed a few and knew that I passed two near the end, and they were most likely not too far behind me.

What is this....this feeling of being first off the bike? I know many of you do this all the time, but this is new to me. This feeling of being a hunted animal was totally new.

Or in my case, a wounded animal. I was hurting. But I was so freaking elated after that ride, I thought maybe, just maybe I could hold on. I knew that running no more than 4 consecutive miles the past 2 weeks (and honestly, barely running ANY miles total in those weeks--like maybe 7 or 8?!) was going to hurt. And if these two girls got me, I'd have NO answer.

It took about to the first mile marker for the first girl to get me. Awwwww pisser. I tried to hang, but I couldn't. Then I hit the turnaround, and saw second girl not too far behind me. I thought, hey, maybe I can hold her off.

HELLZ no. She must have been holding back, because she blew by me like I was standing STILL around 1.75. I kept her in my sights but knew I just didn't have enough in me. I managed to eek out a 25:20 5K, which, all things considered, is not too bad. But it wasn't good enough to win my age group.

Final time: 1:21.32
3rd AG/9 total (the other two ahead were within 1:15 of me. BOO my tired running. sigh)

The third overall female posted a 1:18, so to even be remotely close to that is a HUGE victory for me.

I saw 2nd place chick afterward, and told her congrats and that she had a great kick there in the middle. She said, "Well, I kept trying to catch you on the bike, but I just couldn't--you had a really strong ride!"

I thought, I did, huh?

I did.
I never get to say that.

I had a ton of fun hanging with all my triathlon buddies--SO many of them were volunteering and racing, and it was so good to see them all again! It's been a lonely, quite isolated summer training-wise and it was so fun to see everyone in one spot.

So after Rev3, I believe I am done with long tris. As in, stick a fork in me, I am DONE. Donedonedone for a while. I had so much more fun doing this, and I am just sick of long slow stuff, for sure. Not to mention, I have no idea how on earth I'd be able to work full time, raise two kids under 3, AND train for long distance. And not lose my mind. This is supposed to be fun, and...damn, I had fun yesterday.

So here's to some more hurt-fests in the future...and to next time, not letting 'em chase me down.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Question Mark Race.


That's how I feel about my race this weekend.


This will be my first triathlon post-baby #2, and I really don't know what to expect. I originally signed up for the olympic distance, and was supposed to do the sprint at Huntington with my girls 2 weeks ago. However, my shin decided to be a party pooper. It's feeling much better now, but I'm still thinking I'd better downgrade to the sprint. Better to be safe than sorry...the big race is a few weeks away and I don't want to screw that up. But I do need to practice just being out there, too. Nothing substitutes getting ready better than doing a trial race.

Really not sure how I'm going to do in this race. First of all, it's a sprint, and I hate sprints. I always feel like the swim isn't long enough to give me much of an advantage, and you have to run really really fast. But, I'm going to suck it up and go for it anyway...even if I'm not that fast, it will still be fun! I'm more excited just to see all my tri friends that I haven't seen for, oh, say about a year and two months and about 50 pounds or so. :)

I've been feeling really strong in the pool lately, so I'd be happy to have a strong swim. Cycling has been okay, and who knows what I'll be able to pull on the run. But I surprised myself before in the 5K, so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised this Sunday!

This weekend is also going to be fun because we get to celebrate six years of super awesomeness...

Thanks to the best husband in the universe...without him, I never would have made it to the starting line (let alone the finish line) of Ironman. Without him, I'd never be able to make it to any starting line, for that matter. Here's to a million more years of happiness. :)