September 27, 2012

I'm Ready!

Well, it's race week! In just a few days I'll be competing in my first 70.3 triathlon, a half-Ironman distance.  What's cool is that SuperFrog is actually the first-ever half-Ironman triathlon, so it's pretty historic.  I've also competed (twice) in the Mission Bay Sprint Triathlon, which was the first triathlon EVER, back in 1974. It's nice living in San Diego, the birthplace of this fabulous sport!

I haven't posted in a while, not because I have nothing to say, but because I've been so overwhelmed with thoughts.  These last few weeks have been very emotional for me as I completed my training.  As I last wrote, I hit peak week 3 weeks ago by doing a 50 mile bike ride followed by an 8 mile run. The next day I swam 1.2 miles in the ocean.  The following weekend I ran 10 miles, 7 of which was on the beach (4 miles of SuperFrog will be on packed sand), and did a 39 mile bike ride (it was supposed to be 45 miles, but I was getting a migraine and with 6 miles left called my husband to pick me up. It wasn't worth it at that point).  This past weekend I tapered down even more, doing a short ocean swim, mainly to practice wave entry/exit, a 6.7 mile run, and an 18 mile bike.  This week is all about rest.  I am only training 3 days this week, and just a little.  My typical weekday 3 mile runs are now 2 miles, and yesterday I swam, but only 1500 yards instead of my usual 2000/2500.

Taper is a hard thing.  I'm in that weird phase, where nothing I do will build fitness.  The hay is in the barn, as they say, or as another triathlete friend of mine told me, my cake is baked.  At the same time, theoretically I could do NOTHING this week and not LOSE fitness.  Of course, my body is wanting to hit it hard, as I usually do, but I am holding back and working out just enough to remind my muscles of what they have to do on Sunday, and to get out some of my energy.  I don't want to risk injury at this point, either, so I'm trying to be extra careful. (Of course, I was testing out my bike this morning and I hadn't put the tire on quite my chain came off. I couldn't clip out in time, so over I went. I now have a nice gash on my right knee. Grrrr...)

I signed up for this race on March 30, exactly 6 months from the actual race.  Everything I've done since then has been in preparation for SuperFrog.  Every yard I've swam, every mile I've ridden, every mile I've ran, has been for this.  The races I've done since signing up (since I registered for SuperFrog I've done 3 half marathons and 1 sprint triathlon) has been with SuperFrog in mind.  Every time I get tired, when I think I can't swim one more lap, pedal one more stroke or pound the pavement anymore, I think of how good it will feel when I cross the finish line.  Since signing up in March, I've run 310 miles, biked 817 miles, and swam 42 miles. That doesn't count other workouts, such as getting on the spin bike or the elliptical at the gym, or doing yoga.

I think of all the training I've done as a wall, made of individual swim/bike/run bricks.  I've laid a good foundation.  Sometimes I skipped a workout, either because I was too tired, or I was injured (I had a foot injury in April and a back injury in July, both of which kept me from running and biking, respectively), or simply life got in the way. So there are a  few spots in my "wall" where bricks should be...but the foundation is strong enough. I've done a lot. There is always more I could have done, but I am proud of the job I've done in training, while still being a good mother to my two young kids, and keeping up with my myriad other obligations I have. I can definitely have trained more, but I've trained enough. I know it. I will finish.

I've done other little things to prepare. I gave up caffeine a few weeks ago for the race. I never actually drink coffee before I work out, but usually mid-morning if I don't have a cup of coffee I'll get a headache. I don't want to get a headache a few hours in from caffeine I decided to go through withdrawal last week. So now I'm caffeine-free. I've practiced changing my tire an additional 3 takes me a while, about 15 minutes, but if God forbid I get a flat during the race I am confident I can change it.  I've done my beach runs---as I said, 4 miles or so will be on the hard-packed sand on the beach. I've done 4 beach runs:  one was 1 mile, two were 5.5 miles, and one was 7  miles. I know I can run for miles on the sand now. (There will be a few hundred yards of soft sand, which I already know I will walk).

So now it's just getting ready....getting all my gear together and keeping calm. I FEEL calm right now. I feel like I'm in a zen-state about the race. I'm sure I'll get nervous tomorrow when I pick up my packet, but I really feel good right now.

My next post will hopefully tell about me becoming a Half-Ironman. Let's do this thing!

September 10, 2012

Gaining Confidence

First, thank you so much for all of your support on my last post where I was FREAKING OUT about my upcoming 70.3 triathlon.  I got lots of encouragement on my blog, dailymile and twitter, and I truly appreciated all of it.  I know it's normal to feel scared about taking on such a huge endeavor, but I was nervous telling the world my fears. However, I'm glad I did.  I'm in a much better place now.  My race is 3 weeks from yesterday, meaning I have two more training weekends.  This past weekend was my peak weekend of training, and it's all downhill from here until the big day.

For my peak week, I decided to do a huge monster brick. For those of you who don't do triathlons, a brick is when you do two consecutive sports, usually a bike ride followed by a run, but it can be a swim/run, swim/bike, bike/swim, etc.  Usually what I've been doing is my long bike rides followed by a 1 mile transition run, making for a short brick, just to get my legs used to running after biking.  But I haven't done more than a mile run off the bike in quite a while. A few months ago I biked 30 miles and then ran 5, but I really wanted to up the mileage.I wanted to know that I COULD DO IT.

Saturday morning I got up early and headed to Coronado, which is where my half-Ironman will be.  My goal was to bike 50 miles, then run 8. I've been doing a lot of bike rides there...I can't quite ride the course, as the course will actually be on the highway, but I've been riding the bike path alongside the highway, along the Silver Strand, so I'm mimicking it the best I can. The course is pretty flat but has a huge headwind, making it hard to ride.  The Silver Strand is boring, and quite frankly, pretty ugly (at least to me).  Sometimes you can see a pretty view of the San Diego Bay and across to downtown San Diego, but for the most part the view is desolate.  It takes a lot of mental toughness for me to get through riding (and running) there. In fact, I did the Silver Strand Half Marathon there last November, and even then noted it was the most boring race I've ever run.  Two weeks ago I did my longest bike ride ever there, 60 miles, and it was pretty torturous for me.

Anyhow, I got the 50 miles done.  It was slow (it took me 3:33) but I got it done. I think I nailed my nutrition; I've been trying to eat about 250 calories per hour on the bike, and I came pretty close.  I was tired at the end, but I could have gone an extra 6 miles (the race will be 56 miles on the bike) if I had needed.  I wasn't fast at all, I never am, but although I could have gone a tiny bit faster, I knew I had to conserve my energy to run 8 miles.

Afterwards, I transitioned in my car and went out for my 8 mile run.  This was really hard for me. It was very hot by this time, and I felt like I was slogging through the run. I ended up doing a run/walk:  I would run for 0.4 mile, then walk for 0.1, so each mile I would end up running 80% and walking 20%.  I would take an occasional extra walk break here and there, but overall this plan worked for me.  I figured out that if I have an overall average pace of 13 min/mile, I can finish in 2:50. Most of my half marathons recently I've finished between 2:29 and 2:45, but that is without swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles beforehand.  I am giving myself 3 hours for the run (and let's face it, I could totally implode and the wheels come off and I have a 3:30 half marathon) but I think I can do it in less than 3 hours, if I'm smart on the bike and do this run/walk combination. I finished the 8 miles with an average pace of 12:18.  Yes, it was hard. Yes, I was exhausted and my sciatic nerve pain was flaring up, but I did it in a decent pace for me.  If I had to do another 5.1 miles after that, it would have been hard, but I would have done it, running 0.4 miles at a time and getting it done.

I came home and felt good all day. I was proud of the monster brick, which was not too far off of the 56 mile bike/13.1 mile run I'll be doing in a few weeks. The next morning, I woke up early to do an open water swim with my friend Steve, who is also doing SuperFrog.  I was sore, but not terribly sore.  We did a 1.2 mile swim, doing two loops (which meant two times each of entering the waves, which were bigger than I've ever swam in, and two times exiting the waves....this mimics SuperFrog, which is also a double-looped ocean swim).  The swim was good. I wore a sleeveless wetsuit that a friend lent me, which was much easier on my shoulders. I was tired for the first part---swimming out into the waves and the current is very draining--but toward the end I found my energy. And I learned two valuable things on the swim:  I need to wear my tinted goggles, as the sun was directly in my eyes heading back to shore and I was blinded, and also to wear my goggles under my swim cap, as I got knocked over by a huge wave after the first loop and my goggles got knocked off! Luckily I found them, but that could be bad news in the triathlon if that were to happen again.  The rest of the day I felt great, not an ounce of soreness.

I woke up this morning, and wasn't sore at all. Tired, yes, but no more tired than usual. I could hardly believe that two days ago I biked 50 miles and ran 8, and yesterday swam 1.2 miles in the ocean.  I started worrying this morning that maybe I didn't do peak week right, that maybe I should have gone longer, but when I mentioned this on dailymile, my friends assured me I'm not sore because my body is ready. I guess I'm ready! I won't be fast, it won't be pretty, but I'm ready.

Speaking of not being fast, today I read a great post by one of my favorite bloggers, Dimity, at Another Mother Runner.  In recapping a recent race she did, she wrote: "At some point as I battled on the bike, I realized I had to stop caring about not going the full distance. A coach once told me that nobody cares about your times but you, which stuck with me. (Then he added, they do care if you’re fun to hang out with before and after a race, if you support and encourage them. I totally agree.)"  Just what I needed to read. It doesn't matter if I come in under 8 hours or way over 8 hours---I will have finished the race and no one cares about the time except for me....and at this point,  I don't care about time. It's my first time doing this distance, so whatever my time is will be an automatic PR for me (personal record).

Gosh, this post is long and rambling again. I guess what I'm trying to say---in a very long-winded way--is that this weekend gave me the confidence boost I desperately needed. My body is ready. The hay is in the barn. I need to train for a few more weeks, then BAM---it's my time to shine.

Oh--and Lance Armstrong is doing the race too. I hope I see him! I'm sure I will; the bike course is 4 loops out-and-back, so I expect to see him on his 4th loops while I'm out on my 1st.