September 18, 2017

Tiki Swim 7 Recap 2017

Yesterday I completed my 3rd Tiki Swim----a 2.4 mile open water swim race.  I have done this race twice before (in 2013 and 2014).  I was signed up to do it in 2015, but after I backed out of the Labor Day Swim I gave my bib away. I just wasn't up to doing Tiki again. I skipped it again last year, and had every intention of never doing it again.  However, two factors changed my mind.  The first is that my dear friend Bryan was doing it for the first time.  Second, my friend Leo actually gifted me with the race entrance. I had been trying to decide between doing Tiki and the Chula Vista Challenge Half Ironman, and knew I couldn't afford both---I need to stick to a race budget this year.  I chose Chula Vista (race recap here) and was grateful that Leo gave me the gift of competing in Tiki again. 

Now in it's 7th year, the Tiki Swim starts at the Oceanside Pier and ends at the Oceanside Harbor (same harbor where the Ironman Oceanside 70.3 swim takes place).  They offer both a 2.4 and a 1.2 option (Ironman distance and half-Ironman distance, respectively).  I have only done the 2.4 mile distance, and this year would be no different.  This year it was sold out---it has been gaining in popularity every year, with both triathletes (especially those who are training for Ironman Arizona in November) and swimmers.  They have a wetsuit division and a swimsuit division.  Like always, I chose wetsuit.  No way I can swim in the ocean without it; I get too cold.  On Facebook, people were talking about how warm the water was supposed to be (in the 70s) and I almost wore my sleeveless wetsuit, but I'm glad I didn't. My body simply can't be in cold water for that long without protection.

from the website. I did the green route

The other difference this year was the swag.  The years I've done it I got a medal, a handmade lei, and a trucker hat.  They would have a sweatshirt hoodie for sale separately that I always bought (I wear them all the time).  This year, they offered a medal and lei, but a visor instead of a trucker hat, and this time included a cute lightweight hoodie as part of the swag.

My friend and coach Steve designed a Tiki plan for me, mainly 2 swims a week, with an optional open water swim on weekends.  With my crazy life, I only made one OWS practice, but I nailed all but one of the pool workouts. I topped out last week with a 4300 yard swim (4200 yards is 2.4 miles) and felt as ready as I could be.  

I'm glad I write a recap after my races (except for 2016, whoops!) because in reviewing my past write-ups I knew how to prepare.  The race started in Oceanside at 7:30, and I was planning to leave the house by 6, but in reading my past recaps I realized I needed to leave by 5:30 or so.  I was up by 5:15 and out the door by 5:35.  Not much to pack the night before---just a wetsuit, two pairs of goggles, Tri Slide and a towel---so different than a triathlon, or even a half marathon.  I brought a Luna Bar and coffee with me in the car for the drive and hit the road. I easily found parking in the paid lot, which is only $5 for a spot right next to the pier, found Bryan, found my friends Leo and Freddy, and got my stuff (namely, my race number written on my hand, my timing chip, and my swim cap).   After chatting a bit and getting my wetsuit on, it was time to line up on the beach and wait for the conch shell to blow, signaling the start of the race.

One of my big fears and concerns about this race, and actually all ocean swims, are the waves. I am terrified of going through big waves. I lucked out yesterday---the waves were 1-2 feet tall!  Getting out past the waves was no problem at all.  However, the water was choppy once past the breakers.  Not awful, but a lot of up and down. I started to get nauseous and seasick, which I happened to me during the last Tiki and when I did the La Jolla Pier to Cove this summer.  Also my mood started to plummet.  Traditionally, when doing an ocean race (whether a swim-only like Tiki or a triathlon) I start to feel despair when going through the waves.  Even without huge wave to content with, it's still tiring going out against the tide.  Usually fatigue sets in, which gets me scared that I won't have energy for the rest of the race (remember, this is always at the beginning) and then fear and despair settle in. 

pre-race.  the waves stayed this size!

Yesterday I decided to rewrite the narrative. When I started to feel despair, I reminded myself that this ALWAYS happens, and that it will pass.  It always does.  So I allowed myself to wallow in the despair, knowing it was temporary. I also allowed myself to be seasick. I didn't try to stop it. I started dry heaving, then actually threw up, then more dry heaves, then I was fine.  I saw my friend Bryan behind me and I told him I had thrown up---he said he did too, which made me feel better!  I kept swimming out to the first buoy (before we had to turn right to head north), and even though I sighted wrong, and was going the wrong way and had to add extra yardage to round the buoy, eventually the feeling of despair went away.  I need to remember that for next time: to expect the despair, to wallow in it, and know it WILL pass.

The rest of the race was unremarkable.  It would seem to take forever to get to the next buoy, then suddenly I would be past it.  One thing I LOVE about this race is that not only are there tons of buoys marking the way (I'd estimate every 500 yards or so) but there are also a lot of lifeguards out there. I mean, a lot.  On paddleboards, kayaks, boats, you name it...I always felt safe out there, and in fact one paddled over to me as I was heading toward some rocks and stayed between me and the rocks until I changed my course.  About halfway into the race my hands got very cold.  My body, feet and face were ok, but my hands felt like ice blocks.  This is typical for me in cold water.  I spent most of the time singing in my head (lots of Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers) and thinking about the upcoming week.  The water was choppy, but not too bad. After the race I heard others complaining about how awful the chop was, but in my opinion it was much better than the last time I raced.

Finally I got to make the turn into the Oceanside Harbor.  This would be my fourth time swimming the Harbor---two other Tikis and then the half Ironman.  The water is calm here, which made a nice change, although it tasted weird, probably from all the boats docked. By this point, I was DONE.  My arms were fine, my cardio and breathing were fine, but mentally I was DONE DONE DONE. I wanted out of the water.  But I still had about half mile to go.  This part of the race seemed to take forever. I had my eye on my watch; I had wanted to beat my previous times (1:49 and 1:45 respectively) but as I saw 1:50 tick by my goal was just to finish under 2 hours (there is a 2 hour 20 minute cutoff).  Finally, FINALLY I made the final turn to the boat ramp, signaling the end of the race.  Kim, Bryan's wife and one of my best friends, was on the dock, video taping me.  I got to the end, was helped up by some volunteers, and was directed to the appropriate finish shoot (they had separate chutes for wetsuit swimmers and swimsuit swimmers).

finisher with medal and lei

 I was given my medal, lei, and my timing chip taken off. I had to bend over for a second because I felt faint, but that passed quickly.  Off to watch Bryan finish (only 3 minutes behind me) then found Leo and Freddy, who were in a long line for the rest of the swag (hoodie and visor, plus an egg burrito, which was delicious and thankfully vegetarian). One more stop for free pancakes, then the double decker shuttle bus back to the pier.

I am very pleased with my race.  I didn't swim 2.4 miles----per my Garmin, I actually swam 2.69 miles.  I think my poor sighting in the beginning, plus some other points, added on 400-500 yards.  I need to work on this...but the fact that I did so much more yardage in 1:54 is great (a 2:24/100 pace, which is great for me!).  Every race is different, and the ocean especially is different minute to minute, let alone day to day, so you really can't accurately compare past races.  I am proud of doing this distance yet again.  I may even do it next year...we'll see!

showing off the visor

September 13, 2017

Chula Vista Challenge Half Ironman Race Recap

A month ago I completed my fourth half-Iron event, the Chula Vista Challenge (since it's not an Ironman-branded event they call it a half-Iron or a 70.3).  Branded or not, the distance is the same:  a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run.  This race is relatively new, or at least newly owned.  A new company, Koz, bought it last year and added the half-Iron distance (I believe that before that it may just have been an international and sprint distance).  Now they have three distances on race day (sprint, international and half-Iron) as well as aqua-bikes for all three distances, a duathlon, a relay, and a few kids' distance races.  A lot goig on in one morning!

From the website:  Bayside park in Chula Vista California, just 10 miles south of the heart of downtown San Diego will host all events with a spectator friendly layout with a beautiful view of the Coronado Bay Bridge and the San Diego Skyline. Triathletes will enjoy a Calm Bay Swim with a in-the-water start along the beach to the pier. The bike leg features a closed multi lap course, 4 laps for the Half Distance equaling 56 miles, 2 laps for the International Distance equaling 28 miles, and a single lap Sprint distance of 14 miles. The fast flat run for all events will be along the bay shoreline walking and bike paths. Athletes will run past the J Street Marina boat docks and around the boat launch park for a 5K loop. Half Distance racers will have an extended triple loop Half Marathon distance along the Bay Shores Bikeway. The run course loops back into the Bayside Park forming our hot lap corner for a great place for family and friends to cheer you on.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had originally signed up for the aqua-bike, which would have "just" been the swim and bike. I had not run for 6 months, as I was taking time off to heal from injury (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy).  I signed up for the aqua-bike because when it comes to swimming and biking I need a goal in front of me to train properly. However, as I began running again (still not healed, but with the consent of two doctors) I got it in my head that I could do the whole triathlon, that I could add in the run.  My runs slowly and safely increased in distance, until I did a 10 mile run a few weeks before.  With the blessing of my husband and my coach I paid the fee to upgrade to the whole enchilada.  Suddenly I was training for a 70.3, which both excited and scared me. I trained HARD.  In the two and a half months leading up to it, I hit every single workout. I did at least two swims a week, two short bike rides, one long bike ride (topping out at 60 miles), two short runs, and one long run (topping out at 10 miles).   I also did bricks (a short run after my long bike rides).  I hadn't trained that hard, especially on the bike, in a long time. I knew that, come what may on race day, I had put in my training and could not have tried any harder.  Getting up at 5:00 in the morning to swim, getting my short bike rides in the evening when my husband got home from work----training in the summer, with the kids home from school, took extra finesse.

Packet pick up was the day before.  There was no pre-race bike check in, so it was simply driving down to Chula Vista, where I got my wrist band, timing chip, swim cap and tech shirt.  There was no other swag to buy, which was good for my wallet, but I was sad, because I definitely would have bought a jersey or special finisher's shirt. Afterwards, I drove most of the bike course, and was encouraged by how flat it seemed.   I came home and packed my stuff, triple checking everything in my usual fashion. That night my family went out to dinner with my friend Leo and his family (Leo was doing the international distance, and his two kids were doing the sprint). I tried to get a good night sleep, and was up at 4:00 in the morning. I left the house by 4:30, and found parking (on a side street) by 5:00.

packet pickup


With my bike and my overstuffed tri bag, I followed the crowd in the dark to transition. There was a line to get in, but it moved pretty quickly. I found my rack (wave 3, which included my group of women age 40+) and began to set up. It'd been so long since I actually did a triathlon---over a year!--that it took me a while to place everything where I wanted it. Other women started to set up and I remember feeling intimidated by their fit bodies, their sleek bikes, and their chatter. I had to remind myself I belonged there too!  I got body marked  and went to the bathroom.  While they did have a few port-o-potties set up, there was a "real" bathroom by the water, with real toilets. However, it was one of those situations where there were no doors on the stalls. Ugh! I hate that. Regardless, I used the facilities, but on the way back to transition I started to get very nervous, and started to feel nauseous. I ended up sitting on the sand by the water, and actually threw up.  I felt better after that, but was unhappy with my body's response to stress (I threw up right before my last half-Iron as well).  I made my way back to transition, put my wetsuit on, grabbed my goggles and cap, checked my bike and set-up one last time, and headed out to the water.

The Swim

the swim course---my course was in red

 I walked into the water before the race started and was surprised at how warm it was. It was WARM, almost like bathwater.  And it was so shallow----I walked all the way out near where the in-water start would be and was still standing.  I got acclimated to the water quickly, and decided to just stay in the water until my wave started. I was wave 3 (waves 1-4 were half-Iron competitors; the following waves would be for the international and sprint competitors).  We listened to the National Anthem, and I tried to calm my nerves.  A woman in front me said she was so nervous she was about to throw up . I told her I already did, which made us both laugh. I also met an older woman next to me with the best attitude---she said she's usually last to come in, but who cares?  She's happy to be out there.  Hearing that made me feel better.

The horn blew and we were off! I had an issue immediately. I hit the "off" button on my Garmin, rather than my "start"!  Ugh!  I stopped for a few seconds to restart it. I would rather be a few seconds behind at the start and have my correct time!  Finally I got my watch situated and was on my way.  The swim itself was pretty uneventful.  The half-Iron people had to swim north to a buoy, and then turn around in a a rectangular shape.  I didn't get hit by anybody, nor did I accidentally hit someone else.  The water was warm and calm.  The only time it got a little choppy for me was when the next wave's fast competitors overtook me.  But other than that it was fine. I actually passed a men from wave 2, which made me feel good.  I sang in my head the whole time, mostly Beatles songs, mostly "I've Just Seen A Face".  Don't know why that song was stuck in my head, but it made for a good rhythm for my arms.  Finally, the end was in sight. I turned the final buoy and made my way up the ramp  and ran into transition.

Transition one (T1) was very quick, at least by my standards. I was pleased to see that, while there were tons of bikes gone in my rack, there were also tons of bikes still there.  I am not a fast swimmer, by any means, but I've discovered that in races I tend to be back-of-the-middle-of-the-pack.  Wetsuit off, a quick patdown with a towel,  jersey on, socks on, bike shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on, grab my bike, and GO!

The Bike

I got on at the mount line, and settled in for 4 laps.  It was still cloudy and overcast, which was awesome!  The route took us down some side streets in Chula Vista (which I had ridden in previous rides) and then into Chula Vista proper. The half-Iron people had to do four laps; the international people had to do two laps; and the sprint people had to do only one.

The first lap was good, as everything was new.  There was an aid station by the start, which I bypassed.  Heading deep into the course there was lots to look at.  A tamale shop.  A church.  A community center (oh look, they're offering pilates classes and showing Moana next week).  Each way was roughly 7 miles; heading back makes 14, and 4 loops equals 56 miles.  Toward the end of the "out" potion you have to make a u-turn and go downhill on the other side of the street, down about a mile, then another u-turn (an aid station here with water), then back uphill to the first u-turn part, where you turn again then head back to the start.  It's hard to explain, and it's not even on the picture I posted from the original website, but in essence there are two u-turns when you get to the end of the "out" portion.  All was good, I was holding my own, I was surrounded by tons of people, and I was feeling fine. The only issue was that I needed to use the bathroom, and for the life of me I couldn't find a port-o-potty. I finally spotted one---a lone one--near the second u-turn area. I kept that in mind in case I couldn't find another one. 

The second lap was more of the same, except that this time I saw my friend Leo out there. He was heading uphill toward the first u-turn, while I was parallel to him, also going uphill to the same uphill (my second time).  He yelled out that if you looked up "badass" in the dictionary you'd see a picture of me.  That gave me a much need smile and boost---it's always good to see friends on the course!  The other notable thing about lap two was that I DID stop to use that lone port-o-potty at the second u-turn. I'm not even convinced that it was part of the race's, but I didn't care---it was literally the only bathroom I saw on the entire course, and I needed to use it!

The third lap was not noteworthy, except that I stopped at the aid station by transition for a quick cold drink and orange.

The fourth lap was demoralizing.  By this point, the course was virtually empty.  The spring international competitors, who were doing the course once and twice respectively, had already finished.  And  most of the half-Iron people were done too.  The sun was now out, and while it wasn't horribly hot, it wasn't cool either. I was upset, because I had put so much work into the bike all summer, and here was I at the back of the pack again.  It wasn't as flat I had thought---my Garmin showed about 2000 feet of gain, but it was flat enough that I was constantly pedaling with little reprieve.  At the u-turn I was able to see people behind me, and I counted maybe 25 people.  Ugh.  Plus, not only was I hot and alone, I was bored with the course. It's hard to do the same route 4 times in a row.  Look---a tamale shop!  And the community center is offering pilates classes and showing Moana! Finally I made my way back to transition.  By the way, the course was long---I logged 57 miles.  Not thrilled with an extra mile on an already-long race!

Got back to transition. Racked the bike, jersey off, cute tank top on, swapped bike shoes for running shoes, visor, fuel belt, and out the run exit.

The Run

I had preset my Garmin for 60 second run/30 seconds walk ratio (in training I had been doing 90:30, but thought it would be wise to be even more conservative on the race).  Once I got on the course, I was already exhausted. Of course, this was to be expected, as I had just swam 1.2 mile and biked 56 57 miles!  The sun was out in full force. I kept it nice and easy, trying to stick to my pre-planned ratio, but walking more when I needed it.

The course was 3 laps (for half-Iron only; the international and sprint runners had a somewhat different course and I don't know where they went).  Each lap was a little more than 4 miles.  The first lap was hard.  Most of the course was somewhat pretty, going by the water and a park, but there was an out-and-back portion on a bike path that was just HOT and hard.  There were two aid stations on the course, and one had ice. This was amazing...I grabbed a cup and just sucked on ice .

Lap two I was really starting to struggle. At mile 5 my Achilles was really acting up.  I stopped at a bench and put ankle braces on each foot (I had put them in my fuel belt, just in case).  However, after about a mile the braces were bothering me so I stopped again to take them off.  I needed to use the bathroom again....I had seen ONE port-o-potty, which I'm positive wasn't part of the race, but was able to use a bathroom in a park (again, one with no doors on the stalls).  At about mile 7, when I was on the out-and-back on the bike path, I saw a guy in front of me, also walking. I recognized him as someone who had been behind me on the bike. I ran up to him and asked him if he wanted to run some intervals with him. He said yes, and we ended up doing the rest of the race together.  We pretty  much stuck to the 60:30 ratio, with a few extra walk breaks. It was a godsend to run with him---he kept my mind off the pain and the monotony, and since I had just met him we had lots of stories to share. It was his first 70.3   Obviously, I could have gotten through the race without him, but having him there for the last half of the run was AMAZING and I was grateful for the company.  By the third lap, the aid stations were out of ice, and having company made this misery that much more bearable.  It was hot---not awfully hot, and I've run in hotter--but it was definitely hot and humid and I was ready to be done.

Finally we completed the third lap. We were cutting it close---the course was supposed to close at 3:00, and I think it was 2:50.  My new friend wanted to sprint to the finish and I told him to go ahead, I didn't have it in me.  I saw my son, D, up in the distance, wearing his bright orange cheer shirt. He ran up to me and high-fived me, running a bit with me.  I saw my daughter, A, who was on the sideline (truthfully, there were hardly any spectators at this point) who also gave me a high-five. I crossed the finish, got my medal and a bottle of water. I was DONE!


Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that I was nowhere near as fast as I wanted to be (this was my 3rd slowest 70.3 time, out of four completed) I am proud of myself.  I had trained very hard all summer for this race, and I finished.  While my bike was about 15-20 minutes slower than I'd hoped, I guess it would have been even slower if I hadn't put so much work in.  That alone is cause to be proud. 
I"m also proud that I did the whole thing, not just the swim and bike. I think I would have felt incomplete had I done just the aqua-bike.  I'm happy that, while my run pace is so much slower than it used to be, I was still able to complete 13.1 miles, something I hadn't been able to do in a year.

I think I may do this race next year.  For a local race, it's nice.  My only real complaint is the lack of bathrooms, especially on the bike course.  I also would have liked more ice on the course. Other than that, for a non-branded race, this holds it's own. It's  a cheaper cost than Ironman, and being local means no travel costs or hotel.  Definitely something to consider.

Next half Iron:  Ironman Oceanside 70.3 next April!

August 19, 2017

What's Been Going On?

Last weekend I completed my fourth half-Ironman race. I want to recap it, but I feel it's important to backtrack a year or so (since my last entry!) to catch up.

2016 was a rough year for me physically. In January, I completed my second full marathon which was wonderful and fulfilling but left me in a world of pain.  My  body is simply not cut out for going 26.2 miles.  I had an awful half marathon a few weeks after (Princess, in Orlando) and then took some time off of running to heal.  I did run in the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half (my race report is only half written, and unpublished, so I can't link to it) but even at that race, which was in June, my body just felt "off".  My sciatic nerve pain was worse than ever (caused by my herniated disc) and I kept having random pains. I blame it all on the Carlsbad full.  By summer, though, I was training for a  September race I had signed up for, Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3, which was to be my fourth half Ironman. I paid for the race, booked my hotel, and started training.

However, training did not go well.  That summer I was plagued by nausea.  I was literally nauseous every single day, usually all day.  That affected my motivation (it's hard to go for a big bike ride when you feel like you're going to throw up), and affected my performance (even when I did bike, it was hard to force calories in).  I grew concerned and ended up at the doctor for tests.  Blood tests, urine tests, even a full lower abdominal ultrasound showed nothing wrong---but clearly something was.  I did persist through training, and did what I could on the swim, bike and run.

A few weeks before the race, I went out for a run and as soon as I left my house I felt a stabbing pain in my groin area.  I don't know what I did, but I had pulled a muscle.  A week's rest didn't help at all. I finally had to made the decision to pull out of the race.  It was a hard decision to make, because I was looking forward to it, but it didn't make sense to spend all that time and money driving up to Santa Cruz, paying for a hotel, having my husband take time off work to care for the kids, for a race that I may not be able to do the run.  And, to be honest, my swim and bike training had suffered because of my medical issues.  Luckily, I had purchased the newly introduced Ironman insurance (only $40, and only available when you register) which meant that I would get a full refund, minus the $40. I only had a to provide a doctor's note, which my primary physician was happy to provide, based on my pulled muscle.

Also in 2016, I began a new daily medication for prevention of migraines. While it worked for a while, I started to gain weight immediately.  I wasn't eating more than usual, and was still working out, but the weight piled on. My doctor told me it wasn't actual fat, but that the medication was making my body hold onto weight.  All said, in three months I had gained 18 pounds.  At first, when it was only a few pounds, I decided that was an ok tradeoff for being pain-free.  However, a few months later the migraines started to come back.  Now I was in pain, AND 18 pounds overweight. I was miserable; my clothes were tight, and I didn't feel like "me".  My doctor agreed to take me off, as it wasn't helping anymore. It would take about 9 months for the weight to finally drop off of me.

In October, right before Halloween, I went out for a run (my groin had healed) and my right Achilles hurt.  This began a 6-month long ordeal in which I didn't run, in an effort to heal (eventually my left Achilles hurt too).  My podiatrist diagnosed me with bilateral Achilles tendinopathy, and while he wanted me to rest (no running) he also had me try lots of other remedies, including anti-inflammatory pills, anti-inflammatory creams, different shoes, different orthotics, 6 weeks of physical therapy, ultrasound therapy, night splints, etc.   

After having pulled out of the race, I just focused my efforts on Padres Pedal the Cause, the cancer fundraiser that I had done the year before.  It was a two day event, and I had medical issues on the first day.  My nausea was in full flare climbing up those hills. A tough weekend, but worth it to raise money for such an important cause (I ended up raising $4000).

In November, I took my daughter, A, to a new doctor for her behavior, this time a pediatric developmental-behavioral specialist. She prescribed a new medication, targeting anxiety, and it worked wonders almost immediately.  Coincidentally, or not, my nausea disappeared as soon as her behavior improved.  My body had literally been falling apart (besides nausea, my hair was falling out and my gums were suddenly a mess).   Once she was stabilized my health returned. That was a brutal lesson for me---I usually deal with stress pretty well, but apparently I internalize it and it wreaks havoc on my body.  Lesson learned---I need to take better care of myself.

The new year came with me not running, and not motivated to bike or swim.  Yes, I was still biking and swimming, but not as often as I should, and without joy.  In the spring I decided to sign up for a race, and found the Chula Vista Challenge, a triathlon that had many distances (sprint, international and half-iron) each with an option to do an aqua-bike (swim/bike only, with no run).  I signed up for the half-Iron aqua-bike (which would be a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike ride), thinking that having a race to train for would help me get back into routine. I built some base on the swim and bike, but wouldn't start actual training until June 1, after my son's Bar Mitzvah. 

In April, exactly six months after injuring myself with the Achilles, I began to run again. I still wasn't healed (and still am not, at the end of August) but both my podiatrist and the sports medicine doctor he referred me to told me I could resume running, that I wouldn't injure myself more.  Truthfully, it doesn't usually even hurt while running, just while at rest.  So I began a few tentative runs---starting with a mile, and not going over 3 miles.  Very slowly, very happily.

In May was my son's Bar Mitzvah. It was magic.  It was everything I could have hoped for as a mother, both in terms of how well he led the service and read from the Torah, to how fun the reception was.  It was definitely one of the top two weekends of my life (alongside my wedding weekend).

Training for the Chula Vista Challenge Half Iron Aqua Bike began in earnest on June 1.  I got a training plan from my dear friend Steve. I am proud to say that starting June 1, I hit EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT---all swims, all bikes, and even the runs (which weren't on the plan, but I snuck them in anyway).  For the first time in YEARS I had a new hunger for training; I looked forward to them.  Summer is traditionally hard for me to find time to workout, since the kids are home, but I did it.  During the week I had two bike rides, which I snuck in when my husband got home from work (since it was still light outside) or early morning.  Swims were easier, since the gym has daycaer, but I often went early in the morning before my husband went to work.  I found a new joy in biking, and with all my riding (two short ones in the week and one long one on the weekend) I actually got a little faster. I'll never be fast on the bike, but I improved. One route that I did once a week started out at 12.7 MPH overall; by the end, I was at 15.3.  For me, that's fast, and by any standard an improvement.  I also slowly stretched my running out---first to four miles, then five, then six.  By the time I got to nine miles, I decided to add the run portion in for the race, meaning that I would no longer be doing the aqua-bike, but the half-Ironman instead (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run).

In recap, since my last blog post a lot has been going on.  A lot physically, both good and bad.  A lot in my family (mostly great!).  A lot in my life (I got  job---not ready to write about that yet though).  My next post will recap my recent race----but if you've read this far, thank you for letting me catch you up!