Tuesday, August 19, 2014

my awesome triathlon report (and real award!!)

It's not that my report is awesome, or that my times were awesome, but honestly I had an awesome experience at my triathlon on August 10.  My first triathlon experience was less than stellar because although I trained religiously, on race day I did not have a great performance and I felt so tired I was sick for pretty much the rest of the day.  It made me question whether I wanted to do more triathlons because it wasn't super fun or exhilarating.  And that is all separate from actual time/finishing stats.  The other odd thing about the first triathlon is I tried to go into it being complimentary, gracious, and supportive of everyone there.  I learned that when I ran my first 5K with my sister.  She always congratulated people on their run whether we passed them or they passed us, and she always thanked all the volunteers.  Since that is a great attitude, and my sister is so cool, I wanted to do that too.  So it wasn't odd that I did that at my first triathlon, but what I found odd was that none of the other athletes ever said thanks, or good job back, or things like that.  Largely I was completely ignored, which was also disheartening as my first tri experience.

Buuuuuuuuuut, all that to say I decided to do another one about 10 weeks after my first.  I didn't want to let all of that fitness go to waste!  The other bonus was the second one was at the same venue of the first, just longer.  So I was familiar with the setup, most of the routes, etc. so that gave me some comfort.  Well, I did take off a month from serious training because I had some laparoscopic pelvic surgery two days after my first triathlon.  Then we traveled to Ohio for the fourth and I was buying a new bike, so I basically had from July 10 to train until the triathlon on August 10.  I made a plan to train between those dates, but I didn't follow it anywhere near as religiously as my training plan for the first triathlon.  Plus I had bought a new bike that made me NERVOUS to ride.  It was about half the weight of my original bike (or so it seemed) and had tri bars, and I was just uncomfortable going fast, getting a drink, etc.  So I felt a little undertrained in the fact that I had only done the actual bike distance of this race once as part of a brick one week before the actual race.  YIKES.

Sooooooo, I decided to go into this race with a different attitude and perspective.  I was not going to try to be as fast as possible and super-perform like I had trained hard core.  I wasn't going to set any goals with times or placing....I was going to go slow and steady, enjoy the workout, and try to work on my positive attitude and "course management".  That's what I call trying to race smart for the whole race instead of just going as fast as I can and then being sick the whole day and also cramping muscles and stomach on the run like last time.  I would concentrate on getting to know my bike better and not wreck.  Well I have to say having this attitude, I think, made for a really enjoyable triathlon for me!

Okay, so enough yammering on and time for the pictures and fun details.  The triathlon was in Oak Ridge, TN, again, and since that is in Eastern time zone and we have to be there between 6 and 7 in the morning on race day, we stayed in a hotel the night before.  I did not want to leave my house at 3-something in the morning!  So we picked up race packets with some cute swag including this bag:

(Thanks for the pic Clare...I totally forgot to take a picture of the cute bag!)

Then we went back to the hotel with subway to eat and watch golf, which is what everyone does pre-race, right?

Yes Andy is winking.  He's so cute.  We were just chillaxing:

It was actually nice (despite the less-than-nice hotel room because you get what you pay for) to just relax, read, and watch tv.  It has been super crazy at work and I'd been training and it was just great to have some down time with  my hubby.

So race morning we get there, set up, and I'm praying to the weather gods that it won't storm.  It was like 80% chance of thunderstorms.  Well I've never ridden my bike in the rain, plus they said if they can't do the swim because of lightning, then they would do a duathlon, which is run/bike/run.  Well I never trained for that, but I could figure it out.  But everything got set up with the important dry things like headband, bike gloves, and socks in a ziploc baggie.  Then I got into the water to get used to the temp a little:

This race they did a wave start, which means they say "go" and you start with people in your age group.  Well, they grouped us by women under 40, then women over 40.  The men were grouped separately and went before us.  So I go with the women under 40, which means we start in the water and wait for them to say "go" according to start time.  So it looks like this:

Red arrow is me.  I was on the side because I didn't want to get caught up in the kicking and awkward starting.  Plus to use my course management theory, I wasn't going to swim my fastest but steady and strong to let me have a great race.  That means after he says go, this is what it looks like:

The red arrow is me waiting for everyone else to get away, then I bring up the rear.  The girls sitting on the edge are the over 40 women who are already getting into the pool.  But I will say that I was glad I started this way and there was zero interference from anyone.  I got jostled less than at my last tri, which wasn't even a wave start.  So I think I waited maybe four seconds for others to go before me?  So not upset about giving up the time.  Here I am in action (you can see in the lane to the left all the women ahead of me that I let go first):

You can also see some people standing.  Some people struggle with the swim and so they walked some since it is shallow.  Some also stopped at the end of a length (which was 100 meter lengths) to rest.  This is how I passed people :)  I also got passed by some of the faster women who started in the wave behind me, but they were very considerate in passing me.  Here are a few more action shots:

Loving how I look like a fish with a gaping breathing mouth like that.  But whatever works.  I finished the swim successfully never stopping and swimming steady the whole way:
SWIM 500 meters: 14 minutes, 57 seconds (73rd out of 82 overall)
I averaged about 3 minutes per 100 meters, which is my pace of "I feel like I could swim forever at this rate but it's a good workout."  Yep, that's the technical term.  This pace was slower than my first tri, but only by about 10 seconds per 100 meters, and considering the first tri was 300 meters, I don't mind being a bit slower for a longer distance!

So I got out of the pool by the ladder (knees HATE getting out of the pool on the side) and jogged slowly to transition.  Last time I sprinted, but that was hard on my feet (since it's barefoot on a road and parking lots), and then my muscles were exhausted.  So I got to transition, and Andy was standing outside but near me so we could chat.  He told me what a good job I was doing :)  Then I got out my stuff, dried off my feet, put on my goods, etc.  I was slow, but that was okay because I wanted to be sure I was properly prepared for a good race day.  I also got a drink or two.  Then I got my bike down, walked quickly out of transition to the start of the bike.  I didn't even jog because I now have cycling shoes and since they have clips on the bottom at the balls of my feet, my heels are lower than my toes when standing, which = awkward running.
TRANSITION 1: 3 minutes, 40 seconds (81st out of 82 overall - HA)
I thought every second was worth it, even though it was slow and most people average around a minute.

So I got on the bike, clipped in with my new shoes, and was able to get up the baby hill immediately without any issues.  Then the professional photographer was right there taking pictures of people just getting on their bikes (if you want to see all the pro photos, go to that link above and enter my race bib 217):

I have linked his two photos I am borrowing to his site since I just want to show two since Andy wasn't in the right place to get those pics:


Don't I look happy?  I was trying to be happy and grateful to be out there!  That is my new bike...her name is Annie.  She reminds me of Little Orphan Annie because she is orange and red and I adopted her off eBay when no one else wanted her.  The orange fence you see in the background outlines transition area, just so you know.  So I go out on the bike, which last tri seemed so slow compared to everyone and I got passed by a TON of people.  This race I wanted to feel better about my bike.  Don't you love how vague that goal is?  Anyhoo, I rode steady and would rest my legs if they burned, but tried to pedal the whole time.  I rode in my aero bars some, got THREE drinks while riding (woohoo for me doing that on my new bike), and passed quite a few people!  So I was pretty proud of my bike and I felt good.  Funny how it was an out and back loop, and I don't know how but I swear it was uphill both ways!! 
BIKE 15 miles: 54 minutes, 39 seconds (59th out of 82 overall)
So I averaged 16.5 mph, which is faster than my 15.8 mph average.  But this time I went 5 miles further, and I felt so much less tired.  Thank you, Annie....I love you!

So back into transition to take off bike stuff and put on run stuff, which really only consists of running shoes, race belt with number, and visor, then grab my hand held water bottle and go.  Most people put their hat and race belt on as they run for a faster transition, but since I was holding my water bottle, I wasn't sure I could do that.  So I took time to do it in transition.
TRANSITION 2: 1 minute, 43 seconds (80th out of 82 overall - WOOHOO)

Last time I immediately had calf cramping out of transition and then ten seconds later developed side stitches for all but about five minutes of the running.  So I was hoping my course management was going to pay off.  Out of transition this run goes uphill for about the first half of the first lap (it's a two lap course).  My calves twinged a bit like "what are you doing, we just biked, aren't we done" sort of conversation, but no cramping.  I also wore my new calf compression sleeves that I love.  I put them in on Transition 1, which didn't speed up my time I'm sure.  In hindsight they get so wet from dripping water on the bike and don't prevent my socks from getting went that next time I'll just swim in them so I don't have to put them on over wet legs on my timing ship.

Also good news...not stitches in my side!!  Hmmmm...course management might be paying off!  So I occasionally drank my powerade zero out of my water bottle, sips at a time, and kept plugging along.  I didn't look at my heart rate at all (although it was recording), and I just ran to how I felt.  I got passed quite a bit on the first lap, but then I realized those were people who were on their second lap and much faster than me.  Realistically I only passed one person nearing the end of the second lap who was having shin splints really bad (yes we chatted a bit while running).  So if I was chatting I probably could have run harder, but I felt good and felt like I was moving well. 

So second lap was a lot of uphill the first half but I kept running and doing well.  So here I am coming into the finish:

The time on there isn't my time because of the wave starts, FYI.  Here I am when I cross the finish line, posed for fun because I learned on a blog I follow that you should take a more fun finish line photo, not stopping your watch (which was me last time).  So I did more fun this year!

(thanks to the professional photographer for that photo too since Andy's picture was blurry.)  So I felt good the whole run, but worked hard.  No headphones....illegal in a USAT race so I have to sing in my head or just think about how I'm amazed my body can do this!
RUN 3.1 miles: 36 minutes, 33 seconds (73rd out of 82 overall)
Funny how I was 73rd in the swim and run.  My pace was 11:15, which considering my last tri with a shorter run distance was a 13:04 pace, big success!

500 meter swim, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
1 hour, 52 minutes, 39.8 seconds
72nd out of 82 overall
1st in the Athena Division (women 165+ pounds) out of 3
overall results:

Takeaways and notes for this race:
  • thank you weather gods....it only sprinkled a little on the bike and that was it, plus it was cloudy all morning which helped it not be too hot!!
  • people were much more friendly when I said good job and thanked the volunteers, so that was nice
  • I loved the cute bag (and have already used it twice) but I was a little sad not to get a medal for some reason, which surprises me because a bag is more useful!
  • I was faster on the bike pace and faster on the run pace, despite longer distances and despite feeling under trained
  • I felt good the rest of the day (but tired)....not as exhausted and sick both mentally and physically as last time 
  • it was nice to win an actual award instead of accidentally getting one and then finding out later that I shouldn't have like my last race!
  • I think my approach to this race mentally with no goals, and doing what helps me feel good during the race really works for me.  Go course management!!!
  • It is important to have a great mental attitude for me because I am a very competitive person....and if I had a different mindset, I would be upset about placing 10th from last instead of being proud that I did a freaking triathlon for almost two hours!!!
  • I felt great during the race, all things considered, but right after the race I had to sit down and rest because I was beat.  That means I left it all out there on the course and did my best - yay for me!
  • I am definitely doing more triathlons :)
  • I could never do this without the support of my loving husband (this is always a takeaway of just about every workout!!)
I am done with triathlon races for the year.  The start of school makes this my busiest time for work and trying to fit in training will stress me out more than be fun, so I'm going to not make myself crazy.  I'll focus on mostly running for a couple running races this fall/winter, then just swim and bike for fun.  I think my first one of next year will be April.

Funny pictures, when you take the van it's easy to spread out all your stuff and just dump things in:

It also makes for a great changing room since it has tinted windows after the race is done.  Here I am with my first place prize and certificate:

So I really am proud of what I accomplished, and I think my great race day had a lot to do with my perspective.  Not only does it make for more fun on race day and during training, but it keeps me balanced and understanding that I don't need to always try to be the best at everything.  To help me keep a good perspective, I like remembering the following:
  • the first time I took any running steps by choice (i.e. outside of gym class and college volleyball and someone chasing me) was exactly a year before this triathlon: 8/10/13.  So I had only been running a year, and that first workout was running four minutes in a row, which was REALLY HARD.  So look at what I can do in a year.
  • although I finished "slow" in the run compared to most others, someone said to me "you are fast" when they find out how long I've been running.  
  • "you look great, bitch" when someone saw pictures from this race.  The "bitch" was said with love because they know I've worked hard to lose 65 pounds over the years.  So don't think about my weight, think about how far I've come.
  • my first bike ride was 1/9/14 since about middle school.  It was for 15 minutes indoors on a stationary trainer and I thought I was going to die.
  • my first swim with trying to do real strokes and put my face in the water while breathing to the sides was 1/22/14, and I was using a flotation belt to help me learn.  
So even if I finish low in the ranks, I think I am doing pretty dang good :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

the christmas card preview....

I usually give one Christmas card preview once I start working on it, and here it is:

This is what "in progress" looks like four months out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

guess who else got a bike??

Andy is now going on bike rides with me because he bought a new bike:

He bought his online, new, but a lesser known brand.  I bought mine used off eBay, but a fancier brand.  We ended up spending about the same money!

Andy's been working on both our bikes to make sure they shift and run smoothly - it's so awesome!

Yay for couple's bike rides now!

Monday, August 11, 2014

doughnuts so good boys can't take a picture

When my parents were over last month for my moms birthday, we went out to eat. While there I mentioned that our town of Cookeville, Tennessee, has one of the top 25 doughnuts in the country in the form of an apple fritter according to a website.  So we decided to get a few. Well it turns out we only needed one to share because they are HUGE!!  We got on apple fritter and one regular-sized peanut covered doughnut and look at the size difference:

And believe it or not the fritter was only two dollars...and fresh out of the oven so it was still warm.

I tried to get a picture of us but the boys were so loving their treats they couldn't stop eating them long enough to take a normal picture. HA!

They were totally delicious and I can see where they get their reputation for such a renowned apple fritter!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

weirdest speed limit sign EVER

When we go to Nashville we often stop at the Opry Mills shopping mall, and they have one of the most bizarre speed limit signs ever:

Why is that a speed limit??

Never seen anything like it, but it entertains us every time! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

happy birthday, my love

My dear husband's birthday is today, and I am more in love with him this birthday than each of his previous birthdays.  He just gets cuter and funnier every day :)  In any case, I pulled together some fun pictures previously from the blog that make me smile!

I love my husband for jumping in with me when I say "I want a dishwasher in the kitchen" and it turns into "we must remodel everything and tear out the soffits!  But what a transformation we made!

This was from our honeymoon and one of the best pictures of Andy with his gorgeous blue eyes (and yes, I have bedhead from just waking up):

We go to the fireworks every year in Orrville and the flash is too bright for Andy so he gets all squinty, so these are his pictures we take at the fireworks:

Required after miniature golf: ice cream!

Whenever he opens presents, I always make him put them on right away like his new hat:

And his headlamp - and he humors me!

Yes, he even lets me take pictures of him wearing my girly hat to protect him from the sun:

He is the best husband and I'm glad I get to spend all his future birthdays with him!  Happy 30-something birthday ;) ;) ;) my love.

Monday, August 4, 2014

why I want to be outside in 90+ degree weather

Most people want to be in air conditioning at that temperature, I know.  But me?  I'd rather be playing volleyball.  I played a tournament in Nashville with Beth and we came in second.  Overall it was a really fun day and we played a little inconsistently (translation: we either won by a lot or lost by a lot...not many close games).  But still a great day with a t-shirt prize! 

Andy tried his hand at taking pictures again.  He got me serving:

Got a great shot of Beth hitting:

But this was the shot me hitting (too early and can't see the ball):

Still a great time and fun to spend the day with my hubby:

Beth serving too:

I believe this is me waiting for Beth to serve:

Before this year, I would have said the picture above was me bending over, sucking wind and dying in the heat.  However, since I started triathlon training this year in March after we returned from Germany, I am in such better shape in terms of cardiovascular.  I barely felt the heat and I wasn't really out of breath much, even after some of the longer points.  It's amazing what running and cross-training will do for you...and it helps keep me motivated to keep training even if it's not always for the triathlons!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

my hubby's sweet karate moves

Okay, not really.  But I was testing the burst setting of my camera, so I asked Andy to do some movements to test it.  So he did some karate:

Isn't he cute, even if he isn't lethal with his karate? :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

we love you, chuckles

Earlier this month we had to put our dear kitty, Chuckles, to sleep.  He was sick, and we weren't able to care for him and we couldn't find anyone to take him.  We really struggled with the decision but in the end it was the best for everyone.  He was such an awesome kitty, and although his brother died about 3 years ago, we think Chuckles loved being an only kitty after he got used to it. 

He was Andy's buddy and they were very close, so Andy "was a mess" as he says it.  However, things have settled down a bit since it's been almost a month.  There is a lot less cat hair and litter dust in our house, but we still miss him a lot.  So here are some great pictures of him as a little tribute:

He was definitely Andy's baby, with snuggles:

Or usually this position to watch television:

This was often how he laid on our legs, which we called "super kitty":

He was a straw hunter.  Loved to play with them and would stare you down just waiting for you to look away so he could start chewing on it:

Other trademarks of his included loving boxes of any size:

Crawling in any bag or suitcase he could when we were packing, whether it be just to go to the gym or to go on vacation:

And one of his favorite places to sit was on our little computer bag.  We figured it must have felt good on his tushy, so we called it the tushy bag:

Although he was Andy's baby, he still loved on me some.  He loved any occasion with presents so he could get invovled:

And he was a very good nurse as needed, including when Andy had to have his Achilles surgery:

This was the very first picture we ever took of him (I can't believe he was ever tiny enough to sit on that thing):

And he started sleeping a lot from the very beginning when we got him:

He loved his brother and they usually wanted to be near each other:

Chuckles was so good, letting us perform musical numbers with him:

And the fanciest trick he knew was how to turn the fan on and off:

We will miss him dearly and hold him fondly in our hearts.