Friday, April 18, 2014

St. Anthony's, fear of downhills, and a new show addiction

I didn't post my workouts last week just because I didn't get a chance in a busy week. They were pretty good, and I'll recap the last two weeks on Sunday of this week. I figure I'll share some non-workout-recap updates on this day I have off from work. There has been a lot going on!

Life lately has included a lot of training, but there has been some fun stuff thrown in as well. As I'm nearing the official start of Ironman training come May 1st, I'm starting to get more focused. The excuses are falling to the wayside, and I'm finding the drive to be back to where it was when I was training for Rev3 Florida 70.3. I'm excited to get to the official training plan! Only two more weeks and we're off!

San Antonio Long Ride
I've been doing more hill training lately. This summer is going to include enormous amounts of it, so I figured I'd start to mix it in. Beth and I went and rode the hills in San Antonio a few weeks ago. I mentioned that I'd write more about it, so here I am doing that. San Antonio is about 40 minute northeast of me, and it's the only place around that has a lot of hills. There are hundreds of routes planned out on Map My Ride, so Beth and I picked one and dove in head first. The problem was that we weren't exactly sure of where we were going, and we had to keep checking our phones to follow the route. We ended up getting into some sketchy areas as far as heavier traffic was concerned, and we found ourselves in really random situations.
 
Beth ran out of water, so we stopped at a Barbeque Restaurant to buy bottled waters. It was definitely a hilarious experience.  

We also climbed several very serious hills. There was one that I just didn't know if I was going to make it up, and between the height of the hill and the car that decided to honk at me, it got my nerves. When we made a turn and there was a really sharp downhill, I actually had to get off and walk my bike down the hill. I have a fear of downhills, I will admit. I don't know what it is, but I feel the most shaky and unsure when I get going that fast. It was my moment of panic, and about halfway down I got back on my bike and rode the rest of the way. I realized that it wasn't even the steepest descent of the day, but it was just the nerves of the new situation getting to me. How do you gain confidence on the hills?

We got in a lot of great hill work, and we were dead tired by the end of our ride. I'm not sure we'll go to some of the same hills we were at this time, just because of the traffic.

Clearwater Bridges
I've written about these bridges quite a lot on runs, but I'm continuing to plan long runs at the bridges so that I'm forced to run ascents and descents. It's nice too that they're a little closer than San Antonio, because I can go there to ride as well every once in a while. Just this morning we actually met early at the bridges to ride. Though they're no the San Antonio hills, they're better than nothing.
Upcoming Race!
I registered for St. Anthony's Triathlon Olympic distance a few weeks ago. It's next weekend, and I'm excited for another triathlon! Though I'm a little nervous about the bike course and how technical it looks, I'm excited to race again! It has been a long time since Rev3, which was the last triathlon I did, and I feel really strong on both the bike and the run right now. I'm still not focusing on the pool as much as I should, but I still feel like it won't cause me too much weakness since it's the sport I've been more familiar with for the longest amount of time.

I'm also excited to wear my new Rev3 Triathlon Team kit!
 
Pearl iZumi sponsors the Rev3 Team, and this kit is fantastic! I went for a test run in it this morning to make sure it's going to work for next weekend, and I love it! I was worried it was going to ride up because of how snug it is, but after about a mile and a chance to stretch out a little bit, it sat perfectly where it was supposed to. I am so pleased.  I have high hopes for a good race! It'll be my first time racing with my new bike too!

And just for the heck of it...Game of Thrones!
 
Last weekend I asked Tim to setup the Apple TV downstairs. I was excited to start watching shows on Netflix and HBO Go, so I went through and made a whole list of shows to watch. Then I started watching Game of Thrones. I've now watched 6 episodes in a week, one of which was on the trainer. It's addicting! I have a bit of a hard time with some of the vulgarity, but the plot is well done, and I like the complexity. I'm still working on remembering the names and who everyone is, but I get what all you people were raving about on twitter for the last three years! Now I just have to catch up before I hear any big spoilers...

This show will be perfect to watch on trainer rides. I just have to get it setup so that I don't have to turn my tv to an unreasonable level to hear the show.

Do you watch Game of Thrones? What races do you have coming up? How do I overcome fear of downhills?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hill week

I have a lot of blog catching up to do, and I have a lot of things that I really want to blog about. It's just finding the time to sit down and do it that is holding me back. Though I'll elaborate further in a separate post, one of the races I'm going to do this summer is Rev3 Morgantown in West Virginia. I'm going to do the 70.3 distance at the race, so I was checking out the course and elevation charts last weekend. They scared the life out of me, and I shared them with my coach and training partners. Tori is out of town in Paris (where she rocked her third marathon), and Beth immediately said, "San Antonio this weekend?"

San Antonio is a small town northeast of Tampa by about an hour, and it's really the only place with any kind of significant hills that are replicable over the course of a long training ride. We know we'll be spending a lot of time there this summer, but we decided to make a go of it this weekend to kick things off. Thus, this week was deemed 'hill week' in my head, because we also planned a bridge run.

The training in general this week was good, albeit not quite where it needs to be over the next few weeks. True Ironman training starts May 1st, so I need to start making doubles a more regular occurrence. Here's the breakdown:

Tuesday: 1:07 on the trainer at a moderate intensity. I didn't run because I walked around Epcot all day and was tired. I don't know how I forced myself onto the trainer.

Wednesday: 7 mile tempo run with 5 miles around 8:00/mile pace. I averaged 7:52 over the course of those 5 miles.

Thursday: 5 mile easy run. This easy run wasn't as bad as last week's.

Friday: Rode the trainer for an hour light/moderate then swam 1500 yards. I normally force myself to do 2000 yards at the least if I go to the pool, but I couldn't make myself to another lap, so I stopped.

Saturday: This was the day Beth and I went to San Antonio. We rode just under 50 miles and covered 1,856 feet of elevation gain, which is a TON to us. We were tired. I'm writing a separate post about this one. And to note, we're happy to report that this is more than half of the elevation gain in Ironman Chattanooga with less than half the distance.

Sunday: After 50 miles of biking hills the day before, we decided to run 10 miles of hills in Clearwater. We gained somewhere around 300 feet of elevation, which we realized is small, but it's more than the no gain that my normal routes consist of. Our pace was also 9:05, which was good with 4 bridges in there.

It's going to be a long summer with lots of hills, but hopefully as I keep riding and running them they will become less difficult and more normal to me. The run is already easier than it was when I started, because I've been running bridges quite a bit. It's the riding hills that I need to get better at.

Do you live in a hilly area? What would you say is "an average" amount of elevation gain? What, to you, is "a lot" of elevation gain? And if you answer that, where do you live? I'd love to compare.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Two Opposite Weeks

How different two weeks can be. For the last few months I've been explaining that I needed a break and was sorry that I hadn't taken one. I'd felt burnt out, and I didn't know how I was going to keep going and going at the rate I was without burning out completely. Maybe you all saw it coming, or maybe you didn't, but eventually, that shut me down. I finally took that time off that I so desperately needed, and then I spent this week returning full force and happy to the sports that I've really grown to love.

I mentioned in Friday's recap of the last two weeks that I went to Connecticut for most of the first week of spring break. Between the burnt out feeling, the software training, and the really terrible cold that I caught, I snapped. And this is how that week went:
 
That's not a mistake. I worked out twice. Neither were long runs or long rides. That 6 was a tempo run, and it was a pretty good one, but when I got up the next morning it was when the cold had set in. I had no voice. So I took off Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Then I woke up Saturday and thought, "Nope! I'm not going to long run." I was at 80% as far as being back to normal, and I could have laced up and gotten it in, but I didn't. I took a Saturday off. It was beautiful. And on Sunday after I got home from Tori's wedding I lounged all afternoon and didn't long ride. That night I setup the trainer and got in 1:15 of riding, but that was more just to make up for my weekend calorie consumption. 

And here's the thing. I didn't feel bad about it. I still don't. It rejuvinated me in every way necessary and possible. I felt better! And it paid off this past week. Even with a friend in town visiting Monday through Thursday, here's what I accomplished the second week of my spring break.
 
I'll break it down like normal now.

Monday: Not the normal rest day. After 5 of those the week prior I decided I probably didn't need another...I ran 5 miles with my friend at an easy pace. Laura ran 4 of those, and it was nice to run in the sprinkling rain and enjoy the coming of warmer weather.

Tuesday: I woke up early before we were to head to the beach and rode an hour on the trainer. Then when we were lounging I jumped in the pool and swam 2000 yards. Double day! Go me!

Wednesday: I tracked it as a cross training day, because I walked around Disney from 9:15 am to 8:30 pm. I counted it as an hour of cross training, but it's obviously much more than that!

Thursday: After Laura left I ran my tempo. We upped the mileage this week and I ran 7 miles with 5 at tempo. My miles were 8:18, 8:00, 7:55, 7:55, and 8:01.

Friday: I ran 5 easy miles. Any miles the day after a tempo run are hard. This one felt terrible, and I wanted to stop, but I kept repeating to myself for the last 2 miles, "An Ironman wouldn't stop." So I didn't stop. I'm not going to be able to stop on September 28th.

Saturday: Long run of 10 miles at 9:26/mile.

Sunday: Long-ish ride of 42 miles at 18.7 mph then a 5 mile post-ride run at 8:37/mile. I rode in my new Rev3 cycling kit with Stephanie, Jamie, Chris, and one of Chris's friends!
 
I'll share more about my Rev3 loot this week! They're styling us up!

How were your workouts in the last two weeks? Do off weeks or down weeks help you feel refreshed for what's to come?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Catching up

I've been on spring break for the last two weeks. It's always nice to have such a long break, because it gives me time to catch up on things that I don't have as much time to focus on while school is in session. This break, however, was very different from normal. I was so busy! It was all busy in a fantastic way, but it has kept me away from catching up on my blog like I normally would. So what have I been up to?

New job training! I haven't really talked much about it, aside from a Facebook post a few weeks ago, but I got a new job at my school starting next year. I will still teach one class, but I'll be out of the classroom doing a lot with technology. I'm really excited about the opportunity, and I spent Sunday-Thursday of the first week of break up in Connecticut at a training session to learn some new software I'll be using. Though it wasn't exactly thrilling, I'm so thankful that my school sent me so that I don't have to learn the software on my own. And I know you're all aware, but it's cold up there!

I caught a bad cold while I was up there and lost my voice for a few days. I'm still getting rid of it (it's true what they say that a cold can linger for 10+ days), but for those days without a voice and with a hacking cough, I missed more than a couple of workouts. 

Tori's Wedding! After I got back from the training, it was time to celebrate Tori and Patrick! Tori got engaged in September of 2012, and it has been fun to hear about all the goings on with the wedding on our long runs and bike rides since then. Now that the day was finally here, it was hard to believe it! There were so many special touches celebrating Tori and Patrick and their mutual love of family and endurance sports. I never really like sharing photos of other people's weddings before they do if they have a blog, but she did share some peaks on her Instagram account!
There were so many friends there, and we had a ball. I love weddings!

College friend visits! After Tori's wedding, and sleeping in the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, it was breakfast and a mad dash home to clean the entire house. My friend Laura was coming in on Monday, and I wanted her to think that we keep our house spotless all the time. Hope I fooled you, Laura!

We had so much fun exploring Tampa and Clearwater. Though the weather wasn't ideal for a beach week, we made the best of it. Though Monday was a bit of a bust with a rainy attempt at a visit to a botanical garden and a flat tire, we made the most of it and enjoyed a rainy run and delicious sushi.

On Tuesday we attempted a beach day, but I stayed covered in long sleeves and a towel the whole time. We did eat at Frenchy's, which is a must if you're at Clearwater Beach as far as I'm concerned. The weather did get nicer later when we headed back to the pool, and I even got in a pool swim while Laura lounged.
On Wednesday, and this might have been my favorite day, we headed to Magic Kingdom at Disney World! Laura had never been, and I'm always up for a Disney trip! We left Tampa at 7 am and didn't get back until 11 pm. We had a full day, and it was probably the busiest day I've ever seen at Disney. Lines were insanely long for everything, including food, snacks, and restrooms, but we had a ball! We got to ride everything we wanted, and the new FastPass+ system worked out in our favor.
 
On Thursday we did nails and saw Divergent, and then I took Laura to the airport. I had a great tempo run last night, and then I enjoyed watching basketball and relaxing.

And now, I rest before heading back to school on Monday. And catch up on workouts. I have been right on track this week, but last week was a bit of a flop. I'll recap both weeks on Sunday to keep a record for myself.

What have you been up to? When is spring break in your area? It felt like the whole country was on spring break and was spending it at Disney on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Perspective changes everything (plus another long ride story)

It's crazy how much perspective and frame of mind can change your overall feelings. This week was a step back week on my training plan, because I had told my coach ahead of time that this was a really crazy week at school. There was only one workout planned per day, so I knew if I couldn't hit all of those then I'd really have to reevaluate my goals.

Having a training plan and following through with all the workouts has a certain way of making me feel successful. I don't have an empty hole in my stomach that represents the ride that I missed or the run I didn't get done. Instead, I feel better about how things are going. Though I still missed my swim, I've spoken to my coach and we've decided that it's been okay for the time being. I just need to get back to it soon. His exact words were, "you need to prove it in a race." I can do that, but I'll probably start training the swim before my next race.

Here's a layout of my workouts this week:
Monday still stands as a rest day.

Tuesday turned into a rest day when Tim texted me in the middle of the day and told me that we were going to go to dinner at his parents' house. His aunt was in town, so I couldn't say no. Between things going on at school and that, I didn't have time to get my run in. I just moved it to Friday, where my swim was supposed to be.

Wednesday was a phenomenal tempo run. I guess they should be after two rest days. I did one mile warmup, then four tempo miles at 7:43, 7:51, 7:52, and 8:03. Then I did a mile cool down. Those 7:XX paces are feeling better and better, and I'm loving this improvement in my running.

Thursday I rode the trainer for an hour and kept my HR up.

Friday I did a not fun five miler and held a 9:13 pace. It didn't feel good. I felt a little sick.

Saturday I met up with the XP group to ride in Alafia. Felipe is the coach of that group, and my friend Stephanie had invited me to join the weekend before, so I took her up on the offer this weekend. He doesn't tell them the distance before they start, but he noted soon before taking off that we'd do 80-100 kilometers (they do everything in kilometers) and we wouldn't be stopping. My brain had a moment of panic. No stopping?!

When we started we were holding a pace that I was really comfortable with. Between drafting and feeling good, I wasn't having any issues. When we Uturned in the middle of the road and I had run out of water in my reachable bottle I started worrying about how I was going to get more water. I'm not practiced with the water bottle cages in the back, and I couldn't grab them. Luckily Courtney had to pull over for a second to fix a bottle that was falling out, and that 30 seconds gave me enough time to quickly switch the two bottles so I had access to more water. 30 seconds might actually have been longer than our stop. By the time I got the water bottles fixed, without drinking any, I was already behind again. Luckily Stephanie's boyfriend Bill (there were 8 of us riding) pulled me back to the group.

The back half of the ride had a lot of tailwind, but we also pushed ourselves a lot harder than we had going out. At one point I thought, "Yes! We've slowed for a minute!" I looked down and we were at 19 mph. Whoa! Readjusting perspective. For two five mile increments my average pace was 22 MPH. And by the end I was cooked...like, really really cooked! I was super thrilled with my new bike though. Another successful ride. My saddle only started getting uncomfortable for the last 20 miles or so, because I still haven't been on it enough to get myself used to it.
We ended up riding around 65 miles. I started my watch late, so I just got a little less. 
 
My quads literally burned for half an hour after I got off that bike.

Sunday I met Tori at 6:30 to run 10 miles of her 23 miles with her. I needed to be done early to catch a flight, and she had so many miles that she was good with starting early too. It was a beautiful run with perfect weather all the way through. I wish they could all be like that. Tori is getting married in less than a week, so it was fun to catch up with her and hear about the plans and last minute goings on.
 
I'm going to be in Massachusetts this week for a work conference until Thursday, so it'll be interesting to see how I squeeze all these workouts in. It's cold up there, I've heard, so I may be finding my way to treadmills and indoor bikes...

What do you do to get in your workouts when you travel and don't know an area?

Did anyone race this week? How did that go?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Transitioning to a Triathlon Bike

When I first bought my new bike, I knew it would take a bit of time to transition onto it. I was a little nervous about transitioning into it for some reason. I was told by the people at the bike shop I go to that I should ride it by myself for the first time I head out on it. So, when the opportunity came up to do a 70 mile ride two weekends ago as a fundraiser for a local animal shelter, I opted to take my road bike with me.
I do most of my weekday rides on the trainer, and because of the tubular wheels on my new bike, I haven't wanted to ride it on the trainer. So even my trainer rides were on my road bike.

But then, this past weekend I made plans to meet up with Tori and Patrick. They wanted to ride 30 miles, and I wanted to get in 50+, so I planned to head up to the trail early to ride alone and feel the bike. I was nervous because the bike shop said I would notice the wind more with the wheels and that the bike would ride a little differently. For some reason in my head I had this picture of me being carried off by the wind because of these wheels.
I was so so careful when I was first mounting the bike that I'm sure people looked at me sideways. I walked it onto the trail instead of getting on in the parking lot. And I was glad that I did. I noticed the positioning of the pedals and the seat immediately. The pedals to me felt more under me than slightly in front of me. It might have also been the angle of the seat.

Once I got on it I was white knuckling the handlebars, and I was so nervous to let go or get into aero that I actually didn't even start my watch for a mile or two. Finally, after a few minutes I forced myself to drop down into aero. I was so scared! But once I dropped down I got my comfortable and started enjoying my bike more! The seat needs to be raised, and I need to get a fitting, but I can already tell that I really love it. My quads felt a lot more burning than they usually do, and I'm not sure if that's a difference in muscle usage or if my seat's low position just threw my legs off.

I also noticed that I was faster! I could go a little faster with the same amount of effort. When I had a tailwind I was over 20 MPH on my own and even into 21 at times. I felt like I was flying! The headwind was still noticeable, but I could feel the aerodynamic efficiency of the bike more than my road bike. I told Tori that I felt like I was in control of the bike, whereas now I felt like my road bike was more in control of me. The weight of my new bike is so much lighter, and it makes me feel like I can maneuver it more easily.
In truth there's nothing I don't like about my new bike. I do need to get a fitting, and I need to get it out a few more times to get any more detail to my opinions. But, as it was, I was in love.

Quickly, what I've learned about the difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike has come from internet searching. I found an answer on beginnertriathlete that was useful.  The difference has to do with positioning and how your body sits in the seat. You're more aerodynamic on a triathlon bike, and some of the power in your running muscles is saved on a triathlon bike so that you can transition to the run with more left.

I also am in love with the saddle. Instead of the stock seat I have on my road bike, this one has an Adamo Prologue on it, and I felt like I was riding on a cloud. It was lovely.

I'll share more as I ride more, but for now, all is good!

Do you have any questions about bikes that I could answer? I'm thinking about doing a post answering people's (beginner) bike questions. This would be in the realm of "I'm thinking of buying a bike..." or "Should I buy a bike?" Ha! I don't know much, but I know more than I did a year ago!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fizzled...

In the last few weeks I've been having this sense of, "oh crap I wish I'd taken an off season before I jump it up". Before Gasparilla, I talked about not finding motivation to get to the pool or get up early in the morning, but for the most part I still felt okay about what was happening. In the last few weeks, though, as I've been trying to push to get all my workouts in on a more regular basis without much success, I've continued feeling fizzled out. But, I've been manning up and working to get in what I can, find peace with what I don't, and enjoy any extra second I can steal from my workouts or work.

Things have also been stressful at work in the last two weeks. It's always like this at the end of a quarter, so that will end soon, and spring break will begin. I think that has added to my stress worrying about getting in all of my workouts. But in the last two weeks, as I've been exceptionally hard on myself while also being torn on how much I'm doing, I've found that I got in more than I was giving myself credit for. I wanted to get in a quick recap of workouts over the last two weeks, because I need to hash it all out for my own peace of mind.

2/24-3/2
This was the week after my PR at Gasparilla Half Marathon. I got in 23.5 miles running and 80+ miles on the bike. That included a fartlek 5 miler, a 12.5 mile long run, and a 68 mile bike ride. It also included one AM wakeup to get in a trainer ride and make that Thursday a double day.

3/3-3/9
Last week was 25 miles running and 70+ miles on the bike. That included a 6 mile tempo averaging around 8:03 for the 4 mile at tempo pace. It also included a 52 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run off the bike.

I've been getting in my long rides and long runs, but I've been really missing one bike per week plus my swims. Last week I missed a run in there as well. It's not me. I don't miss workouts on a plan, and now I have to own up to it and make the workouts happen. Even though I feel fizzled.

So those last two weeks (plus this one...) with the two rest days and the missed workout here and there need to serve as the last of the "not following the plan" weeks. I'm not saying I have to be perfect, but I have to be better. I don't have a race until June, and I think that's part of the reason I'm not motivated as much as I usually am. Do I sound like a broken record? This is the last of it.

Here I'm laying my plan down for one week just to hold myself accountable. I want to see how that works. This is actually a step back week in the plan, so it's a good place to focus on getting every one of these workouts in.

Wednesday: Run Tempo (makeup for missing yesterday because of last minute family plans)
Thursday: Swim & Trainer
Friday: Run
Saturday: Long Bike
Sunday: Long Run

What do you do to refocus yourself when you have lost some focus?

I really do feel like these last weeks of an extra rest day, though they've caused me stress in a way, have aided to fix my fizzled feeling.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Gasparilla Half Marathon Race Recap {A new PR that will stand for a while}

Heading into Gasparilla last weekend I had really confident thoughts in my head about what I was capable of doing. I didn't know exactly what it was, so I pinned a 1:52 on it, because that 8:30 pace seemed challenging but manageable.

I headed to the expo on Friday to pick up my bib after a long day and sitting at the Honda dealership to get my battery changed. I wanted to get in and out of that expo as fast as possible. I had a few friends I wanted to say hello to that were working at various booths, and I was told to try the ice cream. Aside from that I didn't shop around the booths very much. The one notable thing I did was buy two packs of gel. Normally I use one for a half, but for some reason I thought maybe I should try taking two for this race. I'll come back to that later during the race recap.

My plan for the following morning included getting up at 3:50 to head down to South Tampa to meet Meg and Meghan by 5:00. The race started at 6, the starting line had been moved from previous years, and we wanted to find free street parking and didn't know what would be open. Once we found our parking spots we walked to the starting line, snapped a picture, and made our way to every runner's favorite spot on race morning: the port-o-potty lines!
 
And this is when the story took an unexpected turn. We were planning to run this race together. Meghan had done the 15k the day before, and even though she's super speedy, she was planning to hold back a bit to help pace me to 1:52. Meg was also planning to run with us. So when I came out of the port-o-potty and couldn't find them, I got confused on what had happened. I looked everywhere for them. I walked around for at least 10 minute between port-o-potty lines, the grocery store parking lot across the street, over to the corrals, and back to the port-o-pottys. They were nowhere to be found.

I had to make a decision at that moment. I didn't know what had happened, but I decided to just run the race alone, so about 9 minutes before the race was about to start I put in my headphones, figured out some music to listen to, and made my way to the 1:50 pacer. I wasn't planning to start with him at all, but Gasparilla is notable for having a terrible backup on a bridge going over to Davis Islands, and I didn't want to get stuck behind a clump that wasn't moving like happened in 2012

The national anthem was sung, and we were off. It was around 70* at the start with 98% humidity, and though my confidence was a little thrown off by the weather and losing Meg and Meghan, I decided to ignore it for the time being. My plan was to run the first two miles slower and then to settle into the 8:30 pace before hammering the last three miles with whatever I had left.

When the first mile beeped 8:48, I was a little nervous because it didn't feel quite that slow. I knew that it was going to be a tough race to run, but I knew I could do it. At this point I'll mention that I took water and gatorade at almost all of the stops. Sometimes I'd have one or the other, but at most of them I had both. 
For the next few miles going up to mile 4 or 5, I was holding around 8:30 like I wanted, but it wasn't seeming effortless like I had hoped. I took a gel at mile 4 because I had been feeling hungry even since the start. The two waffles that I had for breakfast hadn't held me over like I'd hoped. When we crossed over the bridge from Davis Islands onto Bayshore, I really started getting bogged down. That 8:30 pace was hard! The weather was warm and it was a little breezy, and I just got a little down on myself for a second. 

And then something happened. At that very moment when those 8:30s were seeming hard, I thought to myself, "Running a marathon after 112 miles on the bike is going to feel a lot worse than this. You need to decide right now if you're going to throw in the towel and make excuses for why today wasn't the day for your best race or if you're going to suck it up and run that best race." And then, around mile 6, I did just that. I decided. Come hell or high water, I was going to run the best race I had in me on that day and with those conditions. I wouldn't finish with excuses. I would finish with pride.

I have no better way to explain it than that. I didn't drink a potion or take a salt tab or find a friend. I just decided. And once I decided, the whole race changed.
 
From that point on I was going as fast as I thought I could go without hitting a wall and while still saving something for those last three miles. 
 
The last 8 miles of the race are on Bayshore, and it's not thrilling, but it's familiar. I know what I was getting into and how to tackle it. The only annoying thing at this point was that the water stops alternated sides on a three lane road. There was some weaving that went on at that point that wasn't really necessary. They could have picked one side. 

When we neared the bottom of Bayshore at mile 9, I had taken my second gel, but they were handing out Gatorade chews. I grabbed a pack in case I needed them later (which I didn't). And I spend the next 4.1 miles chasing people down. I would just spot people up ahead and try to catch them. I didn't think about anything besides catching people, running fast, and the possibility of getting a top 10% age group mug. When I got to mile 10, I knew it was time to throw down the hammer. What could I do for 3 miles? 
 
And I just kept pushing as hard as I could. When I was .3 or .4 from the finish line, I thought to myself, "I may never run this fast again." I hope that's not true, but I was going so fast at that point and hurting so much that I just didn't want to think about ever running that fast. For a second I thought about maybe slowing down. I thought it would make me feel better. But then I realized how close I had been to beating 4:20 in the marathon and how close I had been to beating 1:55 in my last half marathon, and I knew I was going to be right on the cuff of running 1:50 here. I knew that if I was a 1:50:0X I'd kick myself for it. So I kept pushing. And as you can see in my splits, I had some kick left! And I crossed that finish line in 1:49:43. 

I never in my life dreamed I'd ever be able to run a 1:4X:XX. I couldn't believe it! I was ecstatic! I jumped up and down, I squealed, I continued celebrating alone as I walked down the chute. I'm sure I looked bonkers, and I'm still sure that I don't care in the least. 
 
I had gone faster than I thought possible for that day, and for me at all really! All my hard work had paid off! I could do whatever I set my mind to! All these things were rushing through my head.

I went to grab my medal and ended up heading up to the convention center to see if I could find a bag for all the post-race stuff they were handing out. While there I saw a bunch of other Tampa Bloggers, and Meg found me! It turns out they thought I had disappeared at the potties. They waited in a spot at the end of the lines until 2 minutes before the race started, and we just didn't see each other. It was wild!

We walked over to the post race party to see if we'd gotten mugs, and the man told me I was 4 spots out of 10%. Darnit! I wanted that mug. I checked online later and it seems like I should have gotten one. I finished 36/391 in my age group, so I emailed. But I guess I'll just wait for that to be resolved. 

We took pictures with the pirate ship celebrating a great Gasparilla! I couldn't have been more pleased with everything (besides the weather)!
 
I've spent the last week recovering and running lightly. It's time to get back to triathlon training now. Some big stuff is coming up in the next few months, and I'm going to need some time in the saddle to get me there!

Any big events or goals coming up for you?!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Forgetting triathlon for the week (I just ran...)

My workouts this week would make you think I had shifted away from the world of triathlon and back to my early running days (that lacked any cross training). I didn't do any cross training, I spent no time on the bike, and, though not as surprising, I didn't get in the pool once. I was completely focused on running. It was a taper week to prepare for the half marathon that I had been training for in hopes of scoring a big PR. It was also the last preparation I was planning to do to PR at any running-only race this year. I wanted it to go well!

I still would call my workouts last week a success because of the result of the main event on Sunday! The Gasparilla Half Marathon turned out better than I could have hoped.

Here are my workouts:

Monday: Like usual, my full rest day.

Tuesday: 6 mile tempo run with middle 4 miles at tempo. I had planned not to take this one too hard since it was still a rest week, but what ended up feeling not too hard surprised me and made me excited for the weekend ahead. My tempo miles were 8:14, 8:06, 8:09, and 8:08, and they felt really manageable.

Wednesday: I had plans after work so ran with a colleague after work. It was fun, but it wasn't as slow as it should have been. I still ended up running 5 miles around 9:30 pace, when I was hoping to go more towards 10:00/mile.

Thursday: I ran 3 miles and took slow to a whole new level. I ran those three miles at a 10:27 pace, but somehow it felt harder than the tempo run on Tuesday. I guess my legs were just really tired and were trying to scare me.

Friday: Full rest day

Saturday: 2 mile shakeout run. It was so hot and humid and it made me really nervous for the following day. I did a couple of pickups and felt good, but I came back drenched in sweat from 2 miles in the high 9:50 range. I decided, though, that it wouldn't get me down. I wasn't going to let the weather dictate how my race went, even though I'd normally let it get in my head. So much of running and racing is mental, and I've been working on hard building mental strength with the physical strength.

Sunday: Gasparilla Half Marathon! I'm going to write my whole recap to post tomorrow, but I ran a 1:49:43 and blew my goals out of the water.

And now, after a few days of taking easy and working out my soreness, it's back to the grindstone with triathlon training. I have got to stop making excuses for getting up in the morning to swim or ride my bike. It isn't cute, and it isn't going to get me through 140.6 miles in September.

How was your week? Any racing?