Monday, May 7, 2018

Mind Over Miles - Wildflower 50k



Earlier this year, Linda and I were talking and she was saying that she was going to sign up for an 50k race in New Mexico and I should consider doing it with her. Having to travel out of state for a race wasn’t really in my plans for this year so I had to pass, but said it would be cool to do one someday. Sometime later, Linda said she found a 50k race in Bastrop in May on my birthday weekend. Hmmm…now that would be fun to do on my birthday. So, I went all in and signed up and 
told my coach, “I’m doing a 50k!”

Fast forward a few months and some bumpy training with colds and some minor niggles, race weekend was suddenly upon me. I did not feel completely prepared to run 31 miles but I knew I could at least get through a little more than half of the race before it would become a total sufferfest. Linda and I drove up to Bastrop Friday afternoon and picked up our packets, had an early dinner, and got our gear ready for our early morning wake-up of 4 a.m. Saturday morning. The race started at 6 a.m. and we had 12 hours to complete it. I told Brian to not worry about coming up until after noon because I didn’t want him to be bored standing around waiting for me for too long, plus Libby might get ornery after a while and I didn’t want him to have to deal with a crazy puppy. Since I really had no idea what the terrain was going to be like, I set a goal time of 7-9 hours for me to complete the race. I figured if I could just keep moving my feet forward, I could do it.

The course was a 6.2-mile loop that we would do 5 times. I hate loops. This race just re-affirmed my dislike for loops, but I do think that it helped me break through a mental barrier I had against them. By forcing myself to keep going and not quit just because “I had the opportunity to”, it made me realize that I can be mentally strong when I need to be. The third loop was the hardest for me because I was pushing past the limit of my training. It was also the first loop where I was mainly by myself out on the trails and my brain started telling me that I should just stop and not head out for the next 2 loops. As I made my way back to the checkpoint to begin my 4th loop a girl caught up to me and asked where the finish was. I told her she was super close and that she was literally almost there and she was doing great. She asked what distance I was doing and I told her the 50k and that I had 2 more loops to do. She told me that what I was doing was, “So cool and amazing and I was looking so strong and that I would be finished with those 2 loops before I knew I knew it.” Her words really helped put a pep back in my step and when I got to the turn to head out for the 4th loop, I felt lighter and had a smile on my face as I hiked up the trail leaving all the people behind. This good mood lasted for most of the loop, and I sang stupid songs I made up to the fire ants I saw on the trail as they were carrying huge pieces of food to their homes. I sang, “If fire ants can carry I don’t know how much more than their body weight then I could finish these next 2 loops.” (I think I was partly delirious, but there was no one out there to hear me so FTW!!!) I was still able to do a slow run down the flat trails and downhills and was feeling great until maybe the last mile and a half of the loop. By then the bottom of my feet were really hurting, but since that was all the pain I was feeling, I knew I had no reason to quit.  

I got to the checkpoint to head out on my last loop and it was so desolate at the finish line. The people that were there were great and cheered and did their best to keep my spirits high. I stopped and filled up my hydration pack with ice and water one last time and I told the lady that I had one last loop to do. She told me to get out there and I started up the hill again. This time there was much less pep in my step as I thought I was the last one on the trail. A little up the way, a group of 3 or 4 people caught up to me and I told them I was so happy to see them as I thought I was the only person out there! We laughed and exchanged some pleasantries and then I got stung by a bee. One of the guys that had just passed me said he got stung last year and that it’s just part of being out in nature! I agreed and kept on going. I knew I was still doing okay timewise because when I started this last loop I was at the 7-hour mark. If I had been able to run at all, I think I would have been able to break 9 hours, but I knew the pace I was keeping, I would probably be more like 9hrs and 30mins. And this was okay with me. It was still under the 12-hour limit and I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. I just needed to keep more forward.

And then the best thing ever happened! I heard Linda’s voice behind me!!! I stopped and got off the phone with Brian. (He had just gotten to the park and I was telling him I was probably still like an hour and a half from finishing.) I knew from the texts that my coach and friends were sending that she wasn’t very far behind me and would probably catch up to me so I was so happy she did! We were able to hike/shuffle that last 4 or so miles of the course and it helped so much to have someone else to suffer with. We finally made it up the last hill to the finish line and I did the most pathetic shuffle run over the finish line. Brian was there with Libby and the race director came over and gave us high fives. We went over to some shade and sat down for a bit while Brian made sure I had a recovery drink and some ice to rub on my legs. Libby then took the ice out of my hands and ate it, so I felt like I was right at home!

It took a few minutes for the realization that I finished an ultrarace to set in, and I couldn’t be happier that I was able to do it. I don’t know where my ability to try and do things that I really don’t think are possible comes from, but I’ve had for as long as a I can remember. In 6th I tried out for the cheer leading team on a whim. I never had really given it any thought, but I went ahead and tried out and I made the team! I remember going to practices and the coach would give us pyramids or formations to do and the other girls would groan and say they couldn’t do them and I would say that I would try. I remember her asking them if they had ever heard me say “no” when she asked us to do something. She said that I was willing to try something first and if it didn’t work out then that was fine but at least I gave it try instead of just assuming I wouldn’t be able to do it. Her comment has always stuck in my head.

Finish Time: 9:28:31 – 31 miles – 72nd place out of 79. There were 97 runners signed up for the race; 13 racers DNS and there were 5 DNFs.













I don’t know what’s going to be next or if I’ll do another 50k again, but I did learn a few lessons from this race:
1.  A 50k is the longest that I will run. I honestly have no desire to run further than 31 miles…for now. 😉
2. I’m not sure I would have been able to do this distance at altitude. So, if I ever decide I do want to do this distance again, I’ll have to remember that.
3.  Trail Running Over Texas (TROT) is one of the best race directors around. They had great support and volunteers and the atmosphere of the race was just fabulous. I will definitely do one of their races again and will recommend them to anyone.
                  

Thank you to Brian for being there for me through all the training and taking care of me. Your face at the finish line was definitely something I needed to see. Love you! <3
Tired spectator puppy
Thank you to my coach, Brandi, for putting together a training plan for me after I sort of sprang this race on you! You’re the best and I really feel bad for stressing you out sometimes!!! I’ll try to do better. 😊

And thank you to my friends who encourage me and, who themselves, do amazing things that inspire me to push my limits and to keep trying no matter what!
 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kerrville Tri!

Kerrville with my girls 
I always have a great time at this race. I don't know if it's because I know it's close to the last race of the season, if not the last race, but I truly do enjoy this race. This year was no different.

Pre-race
Pre-race

Pre-race
I expected this to be a pretty low-key race with not much fanfare, but a few weeks out, Kris said her dad was biting the bullet and doing the race. And not just doing it, but doing the Quarter distance. It would be his first triathlon. He is 69 years old. Just awesome.

Thanks for the cheers Herb!
Kris decided to fly in to support her dad and then Aixa decided to go ahead and race on Saturday and stay to spectate with the family on Sunday. Linda and Shelly even made it in to cheer with their mini cheerleaders. Herb volunteered as paddle board support for the race. All of a sudden everyone was there!
Day drinking

Race morning came, along with all the nerves, but I knew I was ready. Physically, it felt like forever since I had raced, even though it was only a couple of months ago. Mentally, I knew I could do it and wanted to go out and give it all I had. I knew it probably wasn't going to be my fastest race, but I wanted to be satisfied with the effort I put out. There's been a lot going on this year and I hadn't really been hitting my training goals, but I needed to do this race to see if I still could find that "happiness" I remember from a few years back. Finally it was time to line up to hit the water. I wished John good luck and hoped to myself that he wouldn't catch me on the bike.

Swim - 24:13
I accidentally seeded myself at the very back of the pack. I didn't realize this until they had already started sending the girls into the water and I looked behind me and only saw a few of the same colored caps as me and tons of next wave. Whoops! It actually didn't go so bad and turned out to be one of the best swims I've had in terms of sighting and not getting pummeled. Although, I also didn't have any fast feet to hang onto and any that I did come up to, I ended up passing fairly quickly. I was so grateful for the relatively smooth water after the chop and waves of IM Canada 70.3 and it really gave me a confidence boost after my "I'm going to die" swim there.

I exited the water and ran up the hill with Aixa chasing me and anticipating the stinging slap on the ass I knew was coming...and she got me good! T1 was a slugfest. I really need to work on that.

Bike: 1:36:53
Goal #1 - Don't let John catch me. (He didn't, but I only rode about 1 min faster than him. Go John!) Goal #2 - Don't crash. Goal #3 - Have fun!
I got pretty lucky on the bike as I didn't get poured on, but there were a few areas that were slick with water and I just wanted to be safe going around those corners so I didn't kamikaze the whole thing. We also had a headwind on the way out of town, which is usually not the norm, but I must say that I didn't notice it one bit. I'm not sure if it was the disc wheel or if I was just feeling that good, but I was extremely happy on my bike. This is always the best feeling ever! There are times when I ride my bike that I feel like no matter what effort I put out, I feel like I'm not going anywhere. This was not one of those times. With every pedal stroke the bike felt so responsive; we were in perfect sync together. According to Strava, I made it up the last hill before turning back into town in the fastest time I have ever done at this race. Things were just clicking on the bike. Again, not my fastest time, but for sure one of the happiest bike rides I've had in a race in a very long time.

I did better with T2 and was able to get out of there in just over 2 minutes. Not blazing fast but better than T1.  

Running happy. (Thanks Lexa for running back
getting this!)
Run: 1:05:09
My run training has taken a hit lately as I've been trying to clear up a lingering foot issue with PT, so I wasn't sure how this run was going to go. My longest run coming into the race was only 4 miles with the majority of my runs being 2 or 3 miles once a week. I saw Linda and Alex cheering for me as I exited T2 and it was a nice little boost to get the legs moving and then I saw the rest of the gang by the first aid station on the way out. I managed to somehow avoid getting smacked on the ass again, which I'm sure my cheeks are grateful for! The first 2 miles ticked off in the low 9's and I thought that maybe I would be able to scrounge up a good run. As mile 3 ticked off, I was up in the high 9's and I knew I was just running to finish now. The legs popped off not long after that, but it didn't bother me. I was having so much fun and, truthfully, it felt like those miles ticked off way faster than they actually did. I kinda almost didn't want it to end.

Total Time: 3:12:34. Still a top 10 finish in a group of 33 tough women. Who says getting older makes you slower?

After I was done, I met up with the gang and we were able to cheer for John as he ran past us on the final out and back section. He looked great and I'm not sure I believe this was his first triathlon, just saying!

Until next year Kerrville! I do believe I will up the ante and finally tackle the sprint/quarter combo that I've been thinking about for a few years now. :) As always, I've got to give a huge shout out to my #1 supporter Brian. Without him, this weekend wouldn't have run so smoothly and for that, I thank you (xoxoxo).

Love the name banner of everyone doing the race(s)!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Canada 70.3 - Whistler Race Report

IM Canada 70.3 – one of the most challenging, fun, beautiful, and rewarding races I’ve ever done.
If you have not been to British Columbia, I highly recommend you visit. This was our 3rd visit to BC and each time I leave, I swear a little piece of my soul stays behind. Besides the race, we did a zip line tour, hiked around Whistler Mountain, and rode mountain bikes on trails that were absolutely amazing and terrifying. And there’s still so much more that we need to go see – there’s definitely another trip (or 2) in our future! Okay, onto the race…

SWIM: 43:31
Happy to be alive!

They say that you always remember the tough races; the ones where it doesn’t always come easy. This was definitely one of those races and, surprisingly, it started on the swim. The full Ironman and half Ironman took place on the same day with the half starting after all the full participants got in the water, so I didn’t get started until about 9 a.m. Unfortunately, that meant that the wind had time to pick up and cause the water to be some of the choppiest I’ve every swam in. I didn’t notice it right away, because at first, I was shocked by the 68-degree water in my sleeveless wetsuit. My first thoughts were that my arms were going to turn into blocks of ice before I finished the swim. After a few strokes, I realized that the water seemed really choppy and I had to focus on not inhaling a ton of water whenever I tried to breathe. Once I got into a rhythm, I realized my arms were warmed up and the water didn’t feel that bad anymore. I made the first and second turns with no problems and relatively little contact. I felt like I had a great rhythm going. Then I made the third turn and I realized it was going to get ugly. The waves were coming in from the direction I was breathing and I had a slight moment of panic. I tried to breathe on my other side but the waves were coming down over my head and I sucked in a big gulp of water. I coughed a bit and stopped swimming for a spell to get my bearings and I could see the shore and the swim finish. I decided to keep breathing towards the direction of the waves so that at least I could see them coming and try to time my breathing. As I started swimming again, my calf cramped up bad. I had a moment of sheer panic when I thought to myself that I was going to drown with the shore in sight. Luckily that only lasted for a couple of seconds as I mentally smacked myself and told myself to do what I do in the pool when I cramp and just keep swimming with my cramped leg as relaxed as possible. It worked. The cramp subsided and I finally made it to the shore. I’ve never been happier to finish a swim ever in my life. As I looked at my watch, I was also pleasantly surprised by my time. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

T1: 9:39 (Oops)

BIKE: 3:47:05
Best views ever
The great thing about doing a half when there’s a full Ironman going in is that you get to go into the changing tent and have volunteers there to help you, just as if you were doing the full. I was able to sit in a chair and dry off, put on my socks and shoes, and not be covered in dirt and grass from doing all that by my bike, albeit, this probably made my T1 a little bit longer than necessary. I wasn’t too worried though. I knew it was going to be a long day on the bike for me and I wanted to make sure I was comfortable. My motto for the bike was, “Just keep pedaling and enjoy the view”. Every time I hit a particularly long climb, I lifted my eyes off the road and looked up into the mountains. The thing about going up, is that you have to come down and there were some awesome stretches of the course where you didn’t have to pedal for what seemed like miles. The views on this course were just spectacular and were a great distraction when the legs were burning. I was hoping to see some wildlife while I was out on the bike, but either I was looking in the wrong places or there just wasn’t any. There was good crowd support along Whistler Village but not any once you made it out of the town. It did feel pretty lonely out there but having the road blocked off to traffic was very nice. My goal was to be done with the bike in under 4 hours and I was happy to have met that goal. I definitely need to work on my hill climbing skills.

T2: 5:59

RUN: 2:32:55
Not bad views on the run either

I was so excited to get out on the run course. Maybe it was because I knew it was going to pretty or the weather was nice or I didn’t ride hard enough, whatever it was, it was a super nice feeling. I saw Brian as I came down to the trail and I remember telling him that the bike had been so hard. He cheered me on and I continued running. It was a super great course of asphalt trail, dirt/gravel paths, a wooden bridge, and a little bit of concrete. Someone had circled a pile of poop and labeled it “Bear Poop” and that made me chuckle. The crowd support was great on the course and it was nice to be able to enjoy their cheers and interact with people so I could take my mind off my less than stellar pace. When the miles started beeping off, I was actually surprised to see I was doing an okay pace. I wasn’t blazing fast but I wasn’t crawling along either. I had fun cheering at my teammates I saw along the course and yelling “Go Smash” to all the other ladies in Smash on the course. Pretty soon I was at the turnaround and I couldn’t believe I was over halfway done with the run. I hadn’t been to the “dark place” once! I guess I visited that place enough times on the bike that I didn’t need to revisit it on the run. The last 3-4 miles hurt. My feet were done. Once I made the turn into the village I only had eyes on that finish line. I saw the running time at the finish and I just had to laugh to myself. Definitely not the finish time I was hoping for, but considering I hadn’t raced a 70.3 since 2015 I was just happy to be crossing the finish line.

Total Time: 7:19:08  
This guy was the best support crew of the day. XOXO
It feels good to be back racing longer distances and I’m excited to plan my next race, wherever it may be!
Smashfest Queen Meet up!
Biking to catch our plane ;)

Rainbow Park - Alta Lake (Swim Start)

Just a pretty bridge

Zip lining fun!

Hiking adventures - no bears were seen

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rookie Tri!

As my training for Whistler 70.3 began to ramp up, I decided to throw in this fun sprint tri as a warm up since it feels like forever since I've raced. Plus, it was my 40th birthday weekend and I really wanted to smash myself into my new age group. Aixa was a trooper, as always, and signed up for the race to help me celebrate! 



I really enjoy this race as it's a straight-forward course and you get to race against some great competition. The last time I raced here was in 2011 so I was really excited to compare my times and gauge my improvement. 

Swim-6:47
Oh, the swim. One day I'll be able to hit pool numbers in the open water, but this was not the day for it to happen. It was one of the smoothest swims I've ever done and I felt like I was crushing it. But according to my times I'm not there yet. Onward!

Bike-38:07
I was ready to push myself as hard as I could on this course and I am really happy with my effort. I was between my high/low goal times, and I feel the effort I put out was the best I could do on this day. A few minor changes have been made to my bike setup, so I'm really excited to see how these changes affect me. 

Run-17:10
This run was about proving to myself that I could run hard after a strong bike. This course is all off-road so it was a challenge to keep those paces low since I don't normally run trails. I'm very happy with the run I was able to pull out here. It also helped to have Aixa waiting close to the finish line informing me of the girl hot on my heels, who I had passed about a 1/2 mile back. So I kicked it up a notch and was able to hold my position. 


This is were things get gross. (WARNING! Not too graphic but just wanted to warn y'all just in case. 😉)

After I crossed the finish line I thought I just had a normal burp. But as it happened, I realized there was going to be a Linda Blair moment. I quickly found a trailer to hide behind and promptly puked my guts out! Flashbacks to my very first triathlon! After that, my stomach was a happy camper and I found the A-Team to go celebrate the finish. When I got home and downloaded my Garmin I realized that my HR got up to 191/192 so that explains the post-race pukefest. 

Total time-1:08:06

                         
I love challenging myself on these shorter races and seeing where I'm making gains and what areas I need work on. Not sure if I have time to throw in another race before Whistler, but I'm super excited to get back into the 70.3 distance after missing out on last year.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Moe's Better Half Marathon Race Report

I tackled another half marathon the other weekend, and it was a great one. I decided to sign up for Moe’s Better Half Marathon when my friend Linda told me she was going to do it. It appealed to me for several reasons:
·         1.  Linda was doing it
·         2.  I’d never done it before and, as I was researching it, realized the RD was retiring so it would                be its last year; and
·         3.  It looked like a tough course.


I know what kind of numbers I can run on a mostly flat course, so attempting to go under 2 hours on a course that had hills was sort of daunting to me. Both times I had signed up to run in Austin, which has hills, I ended up injured. So, I realized that outside of half-ironman races, I hadn’t really done a stand-alone, hilly 13.1 miles.

Race morning came with overcast skies, cool-ish temps, but no heavy downpours! We met up with Linda race morning and did a quick packet pickup, which included some pretty nice swag.

Then it was time to race. This is probably one of the smallest races I’ve done, and it was weird to be able to see the beginning of the line of runners ahead of me instead of the typical mass of thousands of bodies. I quickly settled into a rhythm that I hoped I could maintain and was soon confronted with the “hills”. I just took my time going up the gradual, long climbs and tried to keep my turnover steady. It seemed to be working, and I noticed I was able to pass up groups of people and keep ahead of them.

I finally found my “group” and we spent a few miles playing tag with each other, taking turns taking the lead and falling back. We finally separated with about 3 or 4 miles left, and I knew this was the time I needed to buckle down and continue to make it hurt. Miles 10-12 were uphill back to the finish and I noticed my pace falling off a bit, but I had built up enough of a lead that even with the slight slowing down I was safe in my goal. Finish time of 1:57:36 and pace of 8:57!




I met Moe after the race, and he is a super cool dude. I’m only sad that I didn’t know about this race sooner. I think I heard another RD is going to be taking over this race in the future so, hopefully, us runners will be able to continue to have a challenging course to play on.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Run Houston!






My first race of 2017 is in the books! It wasn't a PR, but I was able to make my goal of running another half marathon in under 2 hrs happen. This one was a nail-biter because I had to make a pit stop at mile 4, so I felt like I was racing the clock to make it in under the 2-hour mark.
Meb, me, and BL

This year we stayed at a hotel about a mile and a half from the race. We found out when we checked in that they were providing a courtesy shuttle to the start line race morning. Bonus!!! That made figuring out race morning so much better. Just get up and go. Of course, I still under estimated how much time we needed and we missed the gates for corral A by 5 minutes and barely made it into corral B before they closed those gates. Note to self: Next year, get yo' ass out of bed and get to the race!

Brian and I managed to make our way almost all the way to the front of corral B when they started herding us out toward the start. My search for fellow racer and fab friendy, Linda, began as we passed the other corrals. I knew she was probably gonna be up in the front of her corral and, sure enough, I saw her as we passed by it. We got her attention and were able to send well wishes to each other from afar.

Then we were crossing the start line and it was off we go! The first couple of miles clicked off no problem. I was holding a pace that I was happy with but no where near my goal of 8.10. A little mind adjustment took place as I realized that going under 1:50 wasn't going to happen today. I told myself to just push and get in under 2. Then disaster as I approach mile 4 and my stomach starts talking to me. I started casting about desperately for the port-o-pots but didn't see any in sight. It seemed like they were on every corner the first few miles and now they were no where in sight! Plus, every sign I read seemed to reference poop. Please people I'm trying not to think about that right now! Lol. Finally, the green glow of the port-o-pots come into to view and I make a beeline for them. My watch was on auto pause so when I started back up I estimated my break to be about 2 minutes.

The next few miles pass uneventfully and I'm enjoying myself and thinking how happy I am not to be running the full marathon because it was so hot. Around mile 8 I notice myself falling off pace. I've dropped to the low 9's and my head feels kinds of tingly. Not sure if it was nutrition or the heat but I cooled off at the next water station and got some calories in and started to feel better. I run easy for a couple more miles and start to pick up the pace again at mile 11.

I finally get back to downtown Houston and can hear the crowds and the announcers and dig deep to the finish. Every finish line is an awesome experience. It doesn't matter how many times I've done this distance or how my finish time is not what I wanted it to be; every race I do feels like a privilege, and I'm so happy that I'm able to participate in these races. The work I did to put myself in this position gives me a great sense of accomplishment and I'm grateful I've got a wonderful support system. BRING ON THE NEXT ONE!!!
Happy finishers!

                                   
A huge thanks to Linda and her friend for the wonderful pre-race evening relaxing at her house and for the ride back to our hotel after the race!
Happy finishers!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Race That Wasn’t…SA RnR 2016

At the end of September, after my last tri, I’ve been really focusing on my run training because I was supposed to be doing the full marathon in Houston in January. I was going to use the SA RnR 13.1 as a warm-up to see where I was. Then things changed and my friend I was gonna run the marathon with needed to defer her race. I was not full-heartedly committed to running the marathon in the first place, so when I got this news, I quickly changed my goal from the full in Houston to the half. Now the goal is to see if I can get a PR for my 13.1.
Quick snap at the expo
Such high hopes I was gonna be able to run.



I was excited to see the new course for SA since it was a supposedly flatter, faster course. Alas, the weekend before the race I felt the dreaded nasal pressure and lethargy setting in. I was getting sick. I tried my best to talk my body out of it and starting downing the liquids and eating all the food to try to kick it out of my system, but no such luck. Luckily, in the grand scheme of things, it was a relatively minor head cold and by Saturday I was actually feeling pretty good and was looking forward to running on Sunday. I went to packet pick-up and did a quick walk through of the expo, all the while trying to stay positive that the rain that had been lingering around would miraculously stop for race morning.

Race morning came bright and early and I looked at the radar and what I saw was not encouraging. It looked like it was going to start to rain right when the race was supposed to begin. I was feeling great and I knew I would be able to run, but did I want to risk making myself having a relapse or getting sicker when Houston was only 6 weeks out? After much debate with Brian in our warm, comfy bed, I decided to call it. I texted Aixa and told her we were out – she didn’t provide much resistance since she was not fond of the wet weather either. I then texted my coach and told her I was out and wished her good luck and promptly went back to bed!


So, that’s my race that didn’t happen. I’m bummed I missed out but I’m now looking forward to Houston in January!