Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rejuvenating that Triathlon Spark by Meeting Andy Potts

Friday was a time to get all giddy school girl like when we found out D&Q bike shop was having a Q&A session before Philly Insurance Tri (part of the 5150 series) with Kestrel and Fuji pros Andy Potts, Matty Reed, Cameron Dye and Sarah Mclarty.  My husband is probably tired of me gushing but it was a pretty cool event.

That day started at 8am with some pretty hilarious facebooking as the girls from Team Triumph went as far as declaring themselves single to deciding who was going to be sitting on Andy Potts lap...I would describe this as pretty close to when friends of mine got front row seats to NKOTB in 1988....Humor aside, it was a great event and learned a lot from these guys and gal, especially these four takeaways!

Lesson 1 - Positive Self-Talk
This was my favorite lesson and hope that I can carry this to heart next time I am in a dark place on a race or a long workout.  The question in so many words was how to calm yourself in the swim when the excitement and anxiety of the situation gets the best of you.  Potts answered this question with what he does (yes, he says he has anxiety as well).  He said he is a big fan of positive self-talk; whereas I do 'what the fuck did I sign up for' self-talk.  Maybe this is the key?  Similar to ZenTri and his "I see you hill" podcast.  Not sure if you ever heard that one, but the Zentri says when a large hill is coming up just start repeating "I see you hill" and pretty soon the hill is over and you are on the other side. Back to Potts, he says he likes to time his breathing with his "I'm okay, I'm okay, etc."  He says after a while you will stop saying it because you are, in fact, "okay." 

Lesson 2 - Do NOT squirt down your Gu in one shot - your sphincter will close.  
We have all heard "don't take a Gu without water" but some of us think that means "shoot the gu in your mouth, follow by a swig of water."  When you swallow all that gel, it sits on the lower esophageal sphincter (okay nerdy Heather is back), the sphincter closes or clogs you can say and does not get into the stomach to be digested....ahhhhh this is where water comes in. 
I'm pushing up my glasses off my nose as I type...nerd...
 Potts was saying that he fills his flask with water and gel (yes I have heard this before but never did it) so that it is easily digested.  Funny thing is, this is very intuitive, and I was a little mad at myself for not having the common sense....

Lesson 3 - Practicing Race Simulations of Open Water Swims
This is a no-brainer, right?  We all try to get into some open water swims but how about race simulations.  Like maybe going with a few friends or more and all try swimming in the same lane...have each other swim over top of you, maybe not the kicking and punching but you get the point.  Also, Sarah (I'm on a first name basis with all these peeps) has a great site where she has some swim sets posted.  Check her out, she is a pretty standout swimmer.

Lesson 4 - A Race Should Be a Celebration of Your Training

Wow, this was a good one.  I never heard this before but it is true.  You work your ass off, literally, in training and when it comes to the race it shouldn't be "shit, I can't believe I HAVE to do this" or "I don't want to do this, it sucks."  Basically stop your freaking whining (okay he didn't say that) and come into the race as a celebration, this is your party!  You worked so hard and you have graduated, now show that race who's boss.  So he only said that the Race Should be a Celebration of Your Training, I just added my interpretation. 

All in all, as much as I am not a huge fan of the bike shop, they put on a really nice event.  I mean really nice.  I got a free water bottle or two, got some Gu and Chomps for 20% off and had a great time meeting some really awesome people and hanging with some friends.  Here are a few pics of the night!! 
TT Lisa Campisi with Matt Reed

Potts with the HGRC girls...
With all our free shit!
Christine showing off her delts while practicing swimming

Yasi getting new shades and showing just how tan she is from eating carrots
The five finger discount I accidentally got, I tried to pay for it and they said it was free!

Read closely bitches, it says "to Heather" yeah!
Happy Training and Racing to Everyone!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Recovery, and then what?

A couple first times....
1.  I did an early June HIM with no plans after....
2.  I didn't go straight to vacationing just to drink and eat myself into a coma for a week or two...
3.  I actually did recovery workouts and did walking around farmer's markets instead of a workout that considered walking in vineyards or walking to a bar in Sweden (all of which sounds awesome right?)

Last week consisted of:

Monday - Drive 7 hours home...
Tuesday - EASY spin for an hour while watching bad TV
Wednesday - OFF
Thursday - EASY 3 mile run and stretching
Friday - OFF
Saturday - 40 mile ride with Yasi
Sunday - Outdoor yoga at Lululemon

Things have been very stressful with our family and lots of trips to the hospital back and forth.  My coping mechanism with stress is to make sure everyone is okay and to make sure everyone is properly fed with good food.  I stocked up with some great farmer's market finds on Wednesday and Thursday.

Okay, okay, I did still indulge a couple times in my basement with Weyerbacher Heresy and Dogfish Head Burton Baton
in case you are wondering that is a kangaroos scrotum bottle opener...a present from a dear friend...

Oh yeah, I also did a bit of shopping....(you know by myself a present or more for my race)

Top Left: Nordstroms including Paige feather shorts; Top Right: Lululemon

Bottom Left:  VS;  Bottom Right: Saucony Mesh Bullets and Sanuk

I decided to do a second week with some yoga, cycling, swimming and light running before I start another training block.  I need to figure out what I want to focus on, my brain is very scattered (my undiagnosed ADD).

Yoga followed by Froyo

I know I want to focus on speed, getting faster, since I feel the endurance is already there.  I signed up for NJ State Olympic in July and am deciding on another sprint, century and possibly another half-iron type of race possibly in September...I am working another week on my training schedule to figure all that out.  I have my sights on Poconos 70.3 since it fits into the schedule and has a nice mix of rolling hills and it's not too far away.  Part of this is that my Mooseman didn't go as planned, but I also feel like I have built a great base this year and feel really refreshed.  I thought I would be burnt out like I usually am when I do a later race in Sept. It's definitely a different feeling doing a bigger race earlier in the season, almost like you are not ending it in a bang!

When asked what my goal was by a family member, I finally came to the realization that triathlons are really a lifestyle and I just enjoy training!  So whether I do another half-ironman in September or not, I will be still be training, and giving Yasi a training partner as she takes on Ironman NYC (er...NJ I mean...)!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mooseman 70.3 Race Report

I had huge hopes for this post with how good I felt going into it, all of the training that should have gave me a really good race time, what the weekend was SUPPOSED to look like weather-wise, planning the perfect family/friends long weekend.

So let's throw all that out the window and restart....

I got sick on Wednesday, I was in denial that it was allergies, but it was a cold.  I thought the best thing to do was REST, so I did, I slept and biked and got in a short run prior to the race.

My father-in-law Carle was experiencing some breathing issues Friday morning before we left, 7 hour drive just could not happen for him.  However, we were positive that he would be better with some rest and they would leave the next day.

I consolidated my bags, took my necessities, and hopped a ride with Yasi and her mom for the trek up Friday. 

My parents and sister were leaving a little later on. Later when we got into New Hampshire,Mike called to say Carle was being rushed to the hospital and admitted into ICU.  Part of me wanted to get right home and be with Mike and the family and part of me knew that I was doing this for Carle and this horrible disease.  I wrestled with this decision Saturday morning until I spoke to Mike.  Apparently, Carle was telling every nurse, doctor, tech about what I was doing, where he was supposed to be, and Mike even hung up a sign in the hospital room that said "Go Heather!  Finish #1!" that they were supposed to bring.  Okay, I thought, the decision is made...even with the torrential downpour, this thing was happening and I was going to do exactly what that sign said "FINISH."

Since it was pouring, we decided to use the hotel gym for some light "movement" - I was on the precur strutting and looking like an alien from that movie Signs (Mel Gibson) watching old Project Runway, while Betty (mom) power-walked and Yasi biked tweeted...

We had a great lunch and was able to meet up with Anabel, whom I met last year via twitter and at Vineman.  Anabel and her cycling phenomena fiance gave Yasi and I the ins and outs of the bike course.  We then went to the meeting where we heard that it isn't supposed to rain that much (as it was downpouring about 2 inches or so of rain) tomorrow and that they would be using sub-pumps to get out most of the water...great!

Dinner was pretty awesome, I found a place that has quinoa on the menu - you can't go wrong with that...

Went to bed after some "good luck" phone calls from the husband and family and ready for the next day.
Early morning tweeting
And then the nerves started, maybe it was seeing some rain, maybe it was because we were running late, but I couldn't stomach the 1/2 Ezekiel English muffin and almond butter.  My transition spot was in a huge puddle, I am talking large, and I had barely enough time to throw everything in a trash bag and run out to get my wetsuit on and hand off a bag to my mom.  The water looked cold, I don't know how that is possible but it did and there was no time for me to sit in there and waddle around.
looks cold huh...

I decided to run to my mom and see if there was an extra Gu - I was worried I didn't eat enough beforehand.  So I shoved it down, took a sip of water and it was GO!

Swim (49:46)
Women 39 and under were in the same wave which was the second wave and as expected it was COLD.  Not the 66 degrees that it was supposed to be.  I would estimate maybe 59/60.  Head was not going in and I have to say I didn't freak, I just moved slow and then eventually developed a groove for the first 800 meters.  I couldn't breathe ever 3 so I had to do every 2 which ends up being way slower for me, but I was calm and that was important.  Eventually I started swimming normal (as usual the last 800 meters) and then realized I couldn't feel my feet and had to start moving faster to prevent numbness.  I got out dizzy, very dizzy and kind of nauseous and that little cold I was in denial about made me feel like shit.

It was a long transition, after the wet suit strippers, I was numb, cold and shivering, I found the arm warmers got my stuff on, but it was a clusterf*%* of errors, arm warmers were backwards, I had to put them on again right, I dropped my socks in teh mud puddle, I got my bike and started running out and then realized this was not going to be good, I really didn't feel well, I remembered my white long sleeve in the trash bag, ran back, threw it on, dropped my helmet in some mud and got the hell out of there...

Bike (4:01 - I have an excuse...)
after my 8 min T1 time....ugh

The first part was nice as I expected, I tried some of the Perpetum but my stomach wasn't having it, so I tried a Peanut Butter Gu (can I say yum!) and then we started approaching the hills.  Initial thought, not so bad!  And then, my dreaded fear, a flat.  I hate flats, I suck at fixing them, I am slow and to add on the extra numb fingers and thumbs, I couldn't get the levers to take off the tire, it was bad.  Eventually, bike support came by fixed it and I was back on my way a good 30 minutes later.  The ride was great especially with the downhills and the flats.  The hills sucked at about mile 2 when I ran out of gears....that was hard.  I was so cold on the downhill, and was so far gone in time, I thought about quitting a few seven times.  I stopped at a water exchange and promptly puked a little, got some electrolyte drink, some chomps, and then went on my merry way.  I do have to get better at gearing so I don't waste time with chains popping off (another few minutes wasted) during the second climb.  If this was a nice day and I wasn't sick, I really would have loved the bike course.

During all this, remember that little thing called DOUBT?  well, he crept up, and during the first loop, I said I'm just going to quit when I see a bike support, I feel like shit.  Then I pushed into the second loop, during the major descend after the second climb, I said I was finishing at mile 56.  I was done, I was cold, I had snot hanging from my nose, I was coughing and almost puking and I just said.  "you know, I finished 2/3, people can't be upset.  I am really sick." and then my other part of my brain saw a vision of the sign in Carle's hospital room that said "Finish #1 Heather"...but then that little asshole  DOUBT came in and was like "how are you going to finish, you feel like shit.  You are REALLY going to run 13 miles"  And this went on over and over for 40 miles...I passed my family coming in and went into T2, completely ready to load the bike and call it a day and watch my friends come in.

Run (2:15)
And then this literally lie...exactly like the movie...I found myself putting on my sneakers "And in that particular moment I decided to go for a little run."

 And the first 8 miles felt great despite those damn hills....seriously 8 times??
This was the first 6 miles then you do it again...

That was crazy, but then I started cramping, made some more friends, and finished!!
Yasi and Anabel!  Yasi had her fastest 1/2 mar time and Anabel got 2nd in AG and a spot to Vegas for World Championships!
me and my mommy!
So even though I didn't have the bike I wanted, the best weather conditions, and wasn't 100%, in this odd weird way, it was a great race!  For the first time I was happy about the run and ran a respectable 1/2 marathon after that bike (for me), I don't have any more of the bike to run transition slowness and I didn't completely screw up the swim.

Even more importantly, I was able raise awareness and money for ALS and make Carle proud!
Tri-ing to Fight ALS

For all of this to happen:
I have the most amazing husband who supports me during these crazy things AND I had friends and family that supported me through this both virtually and there!
my sister and Tiffany made me a cool sign!
My awesome support crew!!  I love the Family!

Oh yeah, and I had an awesome training partner this season!  Check out Yasi's race report - so proud of her and her race!!

If you recall, I wanted to do one earlier in the season for two reasons:
1.  I was hurt last year and wanted to start training ASAP.
2.  I wanted to not worry about training every weekend in the summer.

BUT, the minute, I crossed the finish line and was all happy because there is something in your brain that instantly erases every awful thought you have (I will never do this again, I can't wait to not have anything to do on a Sat except drink beer and work on my tanlines so I don't look like a farmer, I am really happy to be done with this), every bad feeling you get during a race, is immediately replaced when someone puts this cool little medal on you...and the only thought you have is "I can't wait to do another one."

So here's to the thought that triathlons are not just a race it's a lifestyle and I enjoy every part - the ups and downs, the crying, laughing, all of the sweat and hard work and mental preparation makes me a stronger person and able to take on life's challenges.

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