Monday, July 30, 2012

First Triathlon Recap: Wet Dog Triathlon

Remember that triathlon I was getting ready for?  Wonder what happened? Oh yeah, I killed it. (Of course "killing it" is in relative terms to my own self.)

The epic less-than-24-hour whirlwind time-span leading up to, actual, and post event was, well, epic. It started Friday night with my bike racked for it's first trip out of Nashville (and first time using the bike rack for a long car ride) and a pre-getting on the road stop at Mirko for some carb loading.

Amazing pre-race support from office mate.

Whole wheat penne with meat sauce and meat yummy.

We arrived in Decatur around 8:30 pm and we checked into the Best Western of Decatur. High class accomodations in Decatur going on! After messing with what we thought was a broken AC, I finally settled into bed and fell asleep around 10:30 or 11.

Alarm was set for 4:45 am for a 5:15 depart time. I got up and did my normal pre-race routine - coffee made, getting dressed, teeth brushed, peanut butter and bagel prepared, and gear gathered. It felt weird leaving for a race not with my running shoes on, but with flip flops. Loved that feeling actually.

Got to the race site right around 5:35 or 5:40 and I went directly to pick up my race packet. There were no lines and it was in and out. They handed me 2 bibs and my timing chip. It felt so official. I had no idea what the 2nd bib was for. So I asked. I thought the volunteer said "one goes on your front, and one goes on your back" but clearly the 2nd race number went on my BIKE, which thankfully I figured out in the transition area before embarrassing myself. :)

Pit Crew Member KG and I got my transition area set up. At this race the transition area was first come, first served so I choose the 2nd rack on the side closest to the bike exit. After racking my bike and laying everything out we found our way over the the body marking area.

Arriving to the race site.

Before shot with the bike.

Body marking fun

Transition all set up (that's my green and pink flamingo towel, naturally).

The thing I found about this race was even though it was tagged as a "beginner" race there was limited signage/direction so figuring things out was generally just taking your best guess or following the groups of people. Luckily, I had been researching triathlons for months leading up to my race and had volunteered at a race back in May so I was familiar with the general layout of a triathlon and tasks to take care of before the race start.

Around 6:15 I headed down to the beach area to check out the water. They hadn't gotten the buoys out yet so they weren't quite ready to let people in the water to warm up yet, but I hung around the water and chatted with some other racers. The water seemed calm to me and eventually they got the buoys out to let us in to warm up.

I wasn't really nervous before the start of the race until I visually saw how far out the buoys went. The swim course was an out and back 400 meter swim. I quickly squashed the fears down and tried to focus on just getting out there to warm up. I swam half way out and waded around a little, but that's pretty much it.

The finally called for racers to line up according to their race number (lower numbers were the first starters and fastest swimmers). At this point they were running late, but I'm not sure how late it was since I didn't have a watch on. I lined up in my general number range and started chatting with a fellow first-time racer, Sheila (hey there!). She was doing this race in preparation for a triathlon she's doing with her cousin next month in Erie, PA. Go Sheila!

Proud of my body markings.

Meet Conehead Emily

In the swim line waiting to start.

After a short wait, which I have no idea how long it was, into the water I went. The. swim. was. awesome. I felt really strong and since I overestimated my swim time by 7 minutes or so, I passed a lot of people that seemed to just be out there doggy paddling it (not hating - way to get it done!) I had to do my normal self talk of not rushing out of the gate too fast, but by time I got to the turn-around I was actually surprised in how short it felt.

Coming out of the water you had to run from the beach through the park entrance to the transition area. This probably added about a minute to my swim time, which was 11:19.

Off to the swim

That's me in the swim (middle, closest yellow cap in picture)

Coming out of the swim.

In transition number 1, I attempted to dry off a little, rinsed the sand off my feet and dry them to put on my socks and shoes, pulled on some athletic shorts and threw my helmet on. I assure you although it is quick to read about all the steps I took, I was sloooooooooooow in T1. It took me 4:03.

The first mile and a half on the bike was a little rough. In hindsight, I should have warmed up my legs up. It was a hard start, and I felt like I was really working to not go at a very fast pace. Early on I decided to save my legs for the run and just do the bike at a leisurely pace. So all those people I passed on the swim? They got right back on me during the bike. Another issue I had during the bike was the fact I didn't think through my hydration system. I had frozen some water and Gatorade bottles, but I didn't think how I would unscrew them while on the bike. Also, since I don't have a double bottle rack I borrowed KG's bottle holder that straps onto the handle bars. But it took two hands basically to get the bottle in and out. After the turn around I dropped my still half full bottle of water. Ooops #1.

The bike did go quicker than I though, but it was a very flat course. KG later informed me on my way back into transition, I didn't dismount at the right point, essentially entering transition ON my bike. Oops #2. Because this wasn't a USAT sanctioned race, they didn't do anything about it, but it's definitely something to keep in mind for future races. My bike time was 42:52. Actually a little faster than I estimated for myself.


Bike start

Bike finish

Transition number 2 was kind of weird. Since I bike and run in my running shoes I didn't have any clothing changes so I just racked my bike, took off my helmet and downed some water and stood there for a second. I definitely could have done it faster, but it ended up taking me 1:24.

Despite drinking in transition and the water stop outside of transition at the beginning of the run, I felt THIRSTY starting the run. I had set my Garmin to 3/1 minute run/walk intervals and I knew I was going out fast, but I was able to keep to my 3/1s. The run was along the river and on a gravel trail with well marked roots. It was also primarily flat. The nice part was that there were about 4 water stations during the 3.1 mile course. This was really nice for me, who felt really underhydrated. I plowed along, but it really didn't feel that bad. Mostly, it was mentally difficult because the course twisted and turned so just when you thought it was time to turn around, you were really just going around a corner. There was a lot of fellow racer support during the run, which I appreciated. Since I had no idea what time I started, I had no idea how long the race had taken me at that point.

Starting the run.

Although I certainly wasn't last, I was in the back of the pack, but there were still a few people cheering runners in at the finish. Including Pit Crew Member KG. I was all smiles as I crossed that finishline. I was a triathlete.

Still smiling as I round the finish.

Crossing the finish line.

So excited to be a triathlete!

During races where I am particularly pushing myself to earn a new accolade (a PR, first time finish, etc.) I always think int he middle of the race I may cry at the finish line because I am so grateful to be at this point in my life that I can do exercise for 1, 2, or even 3 hours at a time and ENJOY it. However, the finishes always seem anticlimactic for some reason. Either way, I was glad to be done and to still have a smile on my face!

Of course, every race finish deserves an epic post race meal. And this one deserved a happy shopping trip to H&M in Huntsville.

Po Boy Factory - Crawfish Po Boy, Jambalaya, Fries (two kinds), and Fried Pickles.

So, I'm officially a triathlete. Yes! Where to from here? Of course in the days immediately following completing the race I begin to have thoughts of...well maybe I could do that race in September? What about doing an International (Olympic) distance next year? Could I do a half-Ironman in 2014? Will I ever be crazy enough to do an Ironman?

Slow. Your. Roll. Emily.

Honestly, in the first 7 months of this year I've completed 3 half-marathons and a triathlon. I could do that sprint tri in September, but I think I honestly need a break from endurance racing. I'm not signed up for any long distance events until December, and I think I am content in keeping it that way. My bank account and body need a break from the cardio fest it's been having. I want to learn how to focus on strength training. Also, I think if I back off of a strenuous training schedule maybe I can focus on losing these last 45 pounds I want to get rid of from my body. These two things can only make me stronger when I DO return to racing this winter and triathlons next season.

But honestly, I couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement of friends and family. This wasn't a solo journey in the least. Friend Jenne went on my first swim with me and taught me how to breathe in the pool (yes, really I had to learn to breathe), plus accompanied me on a-many-more swims. Of course KG took time out of her weekend last week to go to Decatur with me, help carry equipment and took all the pictures in the post (she took a total of 92 pictures!) not to mention spotting me on my first OWS before race day. And my long-distance coach, Heather, who I got to ask crazy triathlon related questions to and she always happily answered and gave me advice. I can't even begin to list everyone that gave me encouragement, good luck wishes, congratulations wishes, etc. You all SERIOUSLY rock.

In the end, it was an amazing experience and I am hooked. If you have ever thought about doing a triathlon I highly recommend you to find a beginner race you are comfortable with and start training today. (I'm no doctor though, so make sure everything is A-OK before beginning any exercise program.)

Triathlon, I'll see you next year!

After shot with the bike.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekly Weigh-in

Last Week's Weight - 248.2

This Week's Weight - 241.0

 8.2 pounds LOST

89.2 pounds lost since June 2010

Thankfully, I'm back (plus down 0.2) to my "OMG I am going to eat everything in sight because I'm running a triathlon" weight.

Oh about that triathlon, yes I'm still planning on recapping it. This week was just a bear between work, the gym, and social things.

The good news is I've been tracking for about 2 weeks without skipping any days. The bad news? I have not been hitting my calorie goal at all.

My goal for this week is to be back in the 230s. With an overnight work trip to New Jersey and a busy work week otherwise, it will be difficult, but it's doable.

Look for that recap sometime this week....seriously....I promise.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weigh in - Post race edition

Last Week's Weight - 241.2

This Week's Weight - 248.2

7 pounds GAINED

81 pounds lost since June 2010

FAIL!  I always use long races as an excuse to eat everything in front of me for two days - the day before and day of. I've already made out a meal plan for the week and grocery list so I'm just moving on like this didn't happen.

I also think tired and sore muscles after a race hold fluid. I'm not trying to make excuses (even though it IS an excuse), because CLEARLY if you follow me on Twitter you saw the epic table of fried food at lunch after the race yesterday. And last night I probably didn't need 2 plates of food, plus ice cream and pie at the sushi buffet I visited with friends. C'est la vie!

Just moving forward and still tracking what I put in my pie hole. The goal this week is to get through a busy week at work, a happy hour, and another social event without nose diving.

Race recap should be up no later than tomorrow morning - onward!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ready, Set, Go!

Triathlon in less than 48 hours. I'm a ball of nerves and excitement. And I'm packed and ready to go.

The List

The gear bucket.
Off to Decatur after work tomorrow. I'll eat pasta and sleep hard before my 5 AM wake-up call. (!!!!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another brick...with an epic open water swim!

Although I have done one mini open water swim on my vacation over 4th of July, I wanted to get a serious open water swim (OWS) in before the triathlon this weekend (5 days...OMGZZZ). So, I enlisted good friend, KG in spotting me out at Percy Priest lake on Sunday.

So we headed to a nearby recreational swimming area at the lake at 8:30 Sunday morning after drinking a pitcher of margaritas the night before. Haha, we know how to train, y'all.

There were already a few people out in the water when we got there (and a couple cars in the parking lot with "swim, bike, run" stickers...I felt like I was crashing a cool kid's party). One intense woman was running out of the water when we approached the beach area and when she came running back she said a friendly, "hello!" I had no idea what 400 yards looks like (the distance of the race), so KG asked professional triathlete lady about it. She gave great guidance I was confident with.

After figuring out what approximately 400 yards would be (or so I thought) I set out into the water.

It's a bit blurry, but it's also an AWESOME photo of me, haha!
I have this issue in the water where I go out way too fast. Well, actually I do that in every sport. So, I swam from the beach to buoy #1 to buoy #2 back to #1 and back to the beach for what I thought at the time was approximately 400 yards. I was huffing and puffing when I got out of the water because I rushed it and my breathing rhythm was off. The swim felt labored and KG reported it took around 6 or 7 minutes or so. Hmmm...that seems awfully fast for me on a 400 yard swim. My average time in the pool for that distance is about 9 1/2 minutes. What happened?

Well, my morning brain THOUGHT I had estimated 400 yards, but really it was 200. Ooops....back to the water.

This time, I started down at the end of the beach to swim out to buoy #4 then back. Easy peasey. I made myself slow down and just swim rhythmically. I typically alternate what side I breathe on every 3 strokes. I'm still learning how to sight in open water, but I practiced that too. It was a lot better than the first run. So much better that I passed buoy #4, got a little past buoy #5 and realized I was way farther than I intended to swim out. Ooops #2

But no worries, I got back to land safely.

Swimming in
Back on 2 feet!
Out of the water

I feel confident in the open water, but I am still expecting the worst on Saturday because swimming in a calm lake is nothing like swimming in river with potential current AND with 600 other people flailing around in the water.

After the swim, KG joined me for a 2 mile run. Can I tell you how much I hate putting socks on damp feet? Ugh. I struggled with the run and walked a lot more of than I hoped for. It was hot by that time (9:45) and I was under hydrated. 2 miles got done though and back to the car we went.

All in all it was actually a lot of fun (well, except for the run part) and I'm really looking forward to Saturday (in an excited/scared sh*tless kind of way). And I think I found a great new place to get some swimming in without having to be a member of the Y!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weigh in - wouldn't you believe it, I lost this week

Weight on 7/1/12 - 245.8

This Week's Weight - 241.2

4.6 pounds LOST

88 pounds lost since June 2010

It's been two weeks since I've weighed in because I was out of town last weekend. To be honest this loss all happened in the last 4 days. When I came back from vacation on Wednesday, I weighed in at 249.6.

That number scared the sh*t out of me.

The thought of being back in the 250s motivated the hell out of me because I know I don't ever want to go back there. If I hit the 250s again, it would truly be a 15 pound gain. Sure, I've gained and lost about 10 pounds this summer, but in my mind since I was gaining and losing like a roller coaster it was ok and not REALLY a gain. Of course that's MALARKEY, but it's how my messed up mind works.

I feel like I am starting over. Back to basics so to say. I tracked Wed-Sat this week and I have worked out every day, with two long workouts this weekend.

And although I have said it before, I plan to continue it. I feel more in control. I'm going to continue to commit to my workouts and healthy eating plan to get these last 40ish pounds off.

I know how to do it. I just have to have the dedication to do it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A very wet BRICK workout...without a swim!

Well today was fun. Just a week out from my first triathlon next Saturday, I wanted to get a bike ride and short run in this morning. The weather had other plans for me.

Before I even racked my bike up, it was raining. By time I got to the Greenway it was pouring. Not much I could do but get on the bike and bite the bullet to get soaked to do it anyway. Because really there's a chance these could be the real weather conditions on race day. At least it wasn't 107 degrees!

The rain when I arrived at the Greenway
I road approximately 9 miles in 55 minutes. It's a hilly route, so I'm hoping the primarily flat race course means I can knock a few minutes off that time next weekend. After the ride, I racked it up, put on my Garmin and took off running.

I actually felt pretty good on the run portion. I did 5 min run/1 min walk intervals for 2 miles. My left calf started to cramp towards the end, but I was still able to keep pace. The 2 miles took me a little under 27 minutes to do.

When I got done with the run, it started to pour again. I took off my shoes and stretched in the rain.

The rain when I got home.

Dripping wet

The back of my shirt - dirt from the bike wheels spraying me!
All in all it was a great workout. Despite serious lack of training, I feel ready for the race next Saturday. I'm approaching it as just another long workout.

I will do one more brick tomorrow - an open water swim and then a run afterward. Then this week I plan to do short workouts in all 3 sports leaving Thursday and Friday to rest.

Ready or not let's swim, bike, run!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Open Water Swim

No weigh in this week - I'm still away from home, but I just got back from spending 4 glorious days at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. My family owns a house there that my grandfather built 25 years ago. I have been swimming in this water for 25 years.

It is my happy place.

So of course I wanted to take the opportunity of having a scary, murky lake 50 steps from where I was sleeping to do an open water swim. And of course I put it off until the last day.

So yesterday before packing up, while we were swimming off the dock, I decided to throw on the goggles and do a real swim.

It was short, it was hard, but it gave me a great idea what I'm up against in 12 days.

I swam diagonally from the dock to a "No Wake" buoy. Then, straight from that buoy to the next one and then diagonally again from that point back to the dock. I have no idea how far it was. I'm estimating a few yards less than 200?

It wasn't timed, but my unofficial spotter (my mom) said it probably took less than 10 minutes. I stopped to catch my breath during it. I didn't freestyle the whole time. I may have doggy paddled. I definitely breast stroked. But I did it.

And now I know what I'm up against....and I need to get some really good quality workouts in the next 12 days or this race may be a disaster.

Monday, July 2, 2012

First BRICK & Triathlon Training Update

Saturday I did my first "brick". A brick is triathlon speak for when you do a workout that combines two disciplines of triathlon. Most commonly people do bike/run bricks because from what I've read that is the hardest transition - going from jello bike legs to strong run legs. I'd also like to try a swim/bike brick.

I originally wanted to try out an open water swim on Saturday, but I'm still sorting out logistically how to tackle that. Admittedly, I haven't stuck to the training schedule much in the month of June because of three back-to-back trips. So the thought of exercising in the extreme heat we are having was even more UNMOTIVATING so I took the workout indoors with a 45 minute spin class and treadmill run. Not ideal 3 weeks before race day, but better than doing nothing.

I started out 15 minutes early to spin class so I just started riding after I got my bike set up. The instructor took us through several "climbs" (where you increase the gear slightly at an interval) and some "sprints" pedaling as fast as you can at an interval. I am really starting to love spin class (a far cry from my first class) and I could see myself doing it a few times a week even after triathlon season is over. The instructor commented that her computer showed over 12 miles for her ride, but I was on the bike a good 15-20 minutes than her so I'd say my ride was about 13-14 by a conservative estimate.

After the class, I refilled my water bottle and hit the treadmill. I started out at a 4.5 pace for 5 minutes, then walked 1 minute at 3.6 pace. I repeated this twice and did 1.25 miles in 17:25. I felt like I could have done the whole 5K, but since it was my first brick and I hadn't been training very well lately, I didn't want to overdo it.

Today, I got back in the pool (2nd swim for the week). My swim on Wednesday was rough due to the weird back pain I've been having, a crowded pool, and just generally not swimming for over a week.

Today's swim though was great.

After a 100 meter warm-up, I did a timed 400 meter (the length of my race swim) in 9 minutes and 30 seconds. After a 90 second rest, I did another timed 400 meters in 9 minutes and 45 seconds. These times surprised me since I put my race swim estimate at 18:00. But, expect to swim slower in open water, so maybe it will take me that long? Who knows. I feel strong in the water. I've always been a "water baby" and I swam on the neighborhood team for a few seasons during my childhood. So, I'm pretty confident in the water. Today it occurred to me that maybe I'm too confident about the water. Maybe I'm too confident about this whole race?

19 days...holy crap!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Is there any point to this anymore?

Weight on 6/17/12 - 239.6

This Week's Weight - 245.8

6.2 pounds GAINED

83.4 pounds lost since June 2010

Remember when I said I was back to regularly scheduled weigh-ins? believed me didn't you? Okay, well a week in Seattle got in the way. And as embarassing as it is, I wanted to post a weigh in today to stay honest with my self.

The honest truth is, I've gained about 10 lbs this summer. All I have are excuses and it is what it is. I have one more out-of-town trip planned next week to visit my family for July 4th. Then, life will semi be back to normal and there will be less excuses I can use.

In other news, I did my first BRICK workout - bike and run - for triathlon training yesterday. I think it went well, but it was also indoors since most of the country is as hot as H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS these days. I know I have to face the weather sooner or later. Yesterday, though, I wanted it to be later.

Getting a massage today in hopes it will help the mystery mid-back pain I've been having.

And like I said, leaving town again tomorrow after work.

I need to find "no fun, weight loss focused" Emily again. Maybe next week...