Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting serious again

I didn't even look to see when the last time was I updated this blog, but I'm fairly certain it was 2013 sometime.  I'm doing my first triathlon this coming weekend since I did the half Ironman in October of 2013.  Stupid sprained ankle kept me from the two races I had registered for last spring.  I just got back from a brick workout and felt like updating on here and recording some of my thoughts about how my fitness life is going.

The day after the half Ironman race, my husband and I left for a week in Mexico to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  Coincidentally I gained 10 pounds while on the trip, and I've been fighting to lose it ever since.  I just go back and forth on how I feel about losing weight.  I know I could weigh close to 20 pounds less than I do now, but it would involve working out for almost two hours each day and counting every single calorie that goes into my mouth.  Frankly that's just not how I want to live my life.  However, I'm not at all happy with how I look now and know I need to make some changes and find a happy medium between where I am now (kind of being mindful of what I eat and exercising sporadically) and the extreme of exercising a ton and monitoring everything I eat.

I did lose eight pounds while having pneumonia back in February, but most of it came back once I was healthy again.  Bummer.  I was looking pretty good there for awhile and fitting into jeans I hadn't been able to wear all winter.

We take an annual trip to Florida every summer with some of my mom's cousins and their families.  I booked our airfare last week, and it was kind of a wake-up call that in two short months I'll basically be spending a week straight in a swimsuit.  Yikes.  So the husband and I made a deal.  He's been in the same boat as me, wanting to lose weight and get more tone and fit but not having the real motivation to do it.  Our wine consumption probably doesn't help us either.  So we made a bet of sorts.  We both want to lose 10 pounds before the Florida trip, so we are using the Lose It app to track our calories and exercise.  Part of the bet is that we have to log every day and aim to be under for the week.  If we go over on calories a day or two, that's forgivable as long as the weekly total is under.  If one of us falls off the wagon and stops logging, we have to give the other person $150 of our Christmas/birthday fun money for the other to have as fun spending money in Florida.  If we both succeed, we each get $150 out of general funds as fun money.

This past week was our first week at it, and it went pretty well.  It's not uncommon for me to start using Lose It during the week and then slack and not record anything on the weekend and then just not go back to using it at all, so I'm pretty pleased with myself that I stuck to it over the weekend, even though I went over pretty significantly on Saturday.  But we were on a day trip wine tasting.

I've been struggling with some lung issues since November.  I had what was diagnosed as bronchitis from the middle of November until early January, then I was okay for a few weeks, then I had pneumonia.  I was well again for about four or five weeks after that and then started coughing again.  Enough was enough, so I went to see my pulmonologist.  She gave me an official asthma diagnosis, so I have a new super inhaler I take twice a day which does seem to be helping.  I wound up with some sinus thing or allergies or a cold last week, and I feel like my lungs are still battling that, especially when I tried to run after the bike ride today.  I felt pretty good on the bike, although I was breathing harder than normal, but the run just kicked my ass.  I couldn't catch my breath, and then I couldn't remember if I'd taken my inhaler this morning or not.  Oops.  At least the race this weekend is only a sprint, which I should be able to muscle through just fine.

My goal for the week is to exercise most days (brick workout today, weights and swimming tomorrow, run on Wednesday, bike on Thursday, take Friday off to rest up for the race on Saturday) but not go into my exercise calories at all to make sure I'm under for the week because I know I will be indulging after the race!  I planned out our dinners for the week (except one day...I need a vegetarian something...) and may plan out breakfast and lunch, too, just to make sure I'm staying on my calories.  We have some pretty busy evenings this week, so I don't think wine will be a problem.  And actually I think I'm going to scale back the wine drinking as well.  If I want an adult beverage I think vodka is the way to go...fewer calories and carbs.  And I'm pretty sure when I was at my lowest weight we consumed more vodka than wine, so surely the wine has to play a part.

I feel like this was kind of all over the place, but I'm glad for me that I wrote it all down.  The "run" today was definitely disappointing and has me slightly concerned for the race on Saturday, but I guess if I have to walk some of it, I have to walk some.  Doing well at the race is not one of my goals...I just want to finish!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Two years later

I grabbed a t-shirt to put on a couple nights ago and saw it was from the first 5K race I ever ran, Girls on The Run 5k, two years ago this month.  I stood in my closet staring at a minute and thinking, "Is that really right?  That was just two years ago?"  I was amazed that it was just over two years ago that I started running, about 2.5 years ago that I lost a bunch of weight and started getting fit and active.  In two years time I've gone from starting the Couch to 5K running program (where I struggled to run 90 seconds in a row sometimes) to being registered for a Half Ironman distance triathlon (that's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run).

Really?!  That seems like such a huge jump in activity in a relatively short period of time.

It's funny how ingrained in me it's become to be active and fit and push myself physically and mentally, and really any time prior to January 2011, that was not the case at all.  Sure I went to the gym, but I didn't really try hard, nor did I really even know what I was doing when I look back on it.  And I gave up really easily.  Like, really easily.  There was one time (this was pre-Lasik and pre-kids and pre-husband so maybe not the best example since it's not very recent, but it definitely illustrates my mindset) that I hadn't worn my contacts to work and had worn my glasses instead.  I flat out told my friend from work that I exercised with that I didn't like exercising in my glasses, so I thought I'd just skip and go home after work.  Seriously?!  So, see, it's pretty impressive I've gotten where I am.

You hear people say, "Oh I could never do that" in regards to so many physical activities or racing, and it's really just total bullshit, excuse the language.  You totally could do it if you got motivated or just started trying!  I got in the pool in the winter of 2012 and was an awful, awful swimmer.  I could barely make it a full lap without gasping for breathe at the end.  Swimming was a lot harder than I remembered it being.  But I worked at it, found a training plan and practiced, and I got better at it.  Same with running.  Same with any kind of exercise.

It sounds so cliche, but really, if I could do it, anyone can do it.  I'm never going to win a race, I'll never stand on a podium at the end of a race.  But I'll get out there and do races, and I'll do my best and push myself, and I'll cross the finish line and get a medal.  I'm okay with never winning.  I would have never, ever, ever, never, ever, never, never, ever, never, ever imagined myself doing a triathlon.  Swimming, biking, running all in a row?!  Wait...any kind of running at all?!  No way.  But I tried one, and it was a blast, and I loved it.  And now I'm signed up to do a freakin' 70.3 race in less than five months.  Once I did a tri and liked it, I figured at some point I'd do a 70.3, but I didn't think that would be until at least 2014 if not even further out.  A friend from elementary school who has done several 70.3 and 140.6 races pretty much told me to man up and do one, that I would always put it off if I didn't just go for it.  So I did.  And now I go back and forth between thinking it's going to be awesome to wondering WTF did I sign up to do.  But like I said, I won't be on the podium, but I'll cross the finish line and get a medal and slap a freakin' 70.3 sticker on the back of my minivan and consider myself a total badass.

My friends Jen, Benah, and me at my first ever 5K.

At my last triathlon.  I normally don't look this joyful running, I was just tired of having awful running race pictures and decided to pose a little.  If only I looked this happy with less than a quarter mile to go to the finish line!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Esprit De She post race

Race day was yesterday.  I felt pretty good going into it and really thought I could rock it and take some names.  Then things kind of went downhill.  I should have left a few minutes earlier than I did because I felt a bit rushed to get everything set up and ready once I was there, even though I had 30 minutes until transition closed.  I almost forgot to put my water bottle on my bike and on my run belt, but thankfully I remembered when I was doing a final review of everything I'd set out.

The husband and boys got there before the start, so I was able to see them and get hugs and kisses before starting the race.  For the first time ever doing a race at this starting point (this was my third race to start there), I didn't whack my foot on a ledge getting in to the water, so that was a bonus.  Once again I felt rushed because the swim start seemed pretty far from where we jumped in the water, and the group I started with was HUGE.  It was definitely the most chaotic start I've ever been a part of.  It seemed as soon as I got to the swim start they started the countdown for the wave to go.  I barely had time to pee in my wet suit!  Sorry if you didn't know that's a thing triathletes do. ;)  The wave I started with was huge, so it was really hard to get going at first.  I've done several open water swims, but I still don't like the feeling of being hit and kicked or having people swim over me.  I had an awful time sighting on the first leg of the swim because we were swimming east into the sun, so that made it hard to see, plus my goggles were fogging up a little.  I was really struggling to breathe and control my heart rate, too.  Usually my heart rate stays pretty low during a swim (not like when I run), and this time I felt like my heart was pounding and racing in my chest.  Not in a panic attack way, just a really exerting myself way.  Which is weird.  I still don't know why.  Once I made the turn to head back west I was slightly more confident since I could at least sight easier.  I didn't check my Garmin at all to see what my time was like until I was out of the water.  18:30.  Not bad, not good.  Better than my last sprint, but still a little slower than I had hoped for.  But I guess since I did stop once to try and catch my breath a little that it wasn't an entirely bad time.  I made it out of the water okay and had race volunteers help me get my wet suit off.  I tell ya, that is the most helpful thing.  John and the boys were standing there as I headed towards T1 and I got to high five my kids.  I wish I would have seen them before John took my picture so I would have been smiling, but instead I look...focused.  yeah, focused.

Swim time: 19:32 (time includes wetsuit removal and running a ways to the transition area, plus I didn't start my Garmin right away)

I was really pleased with my T1 time when I saw it.  John said I did a great job in T1.  It probably helped that it was a smaller race so the transition area wasn't that big.  Got to my bike, tossed my wetsuit and swim gear to the side, and got ready for the bike.  Gu in pocket, sunglasses on, helmet on, bike shoes on, grab bike, go.  I hate running/jogging in my bike shoes, but I did it a bit so maybe that was part of why my time was good.

T1 time: 1:41

I had high hopes for the bike.  I really thought I could hold a pace of 17 MPH for most of it.  Then I discovered a good chunk of the course was uphill.  Well, of course there were downhills to counteract the uphills, but going 23 MPH downhill didn't make up for the 13 MPH I was doing going uphill.  It was pretty discouraging.  The one good thing was that I managed to stay on my aero bars except for one section of uphill riding and one or two turns on the course.  I got passed A LOT, but I also passed a few people, so I guess it works out.  I knew on the bike that I wasn't going to PR the race.  I knew I had to be off the bike by 1:10 total time for me to have any chance of hitting a PR.  I glanced at my Garmin at 1:12 and knew it was done since I still had a mile or two to go on the bike.  Awful feeling.  I tried not to let it get me down, but it was really discouraging.

Bike time: 53:51 (ouch)

I figured at this point I could still rock the run and at least get a decent run time.  When I made one of the final turns on the bike I only saw John there and not the boys, so I knew my mom must have gotten there which helped knowing there was one more person there cheering for me.  They ended up over by the transition area and were cheering for me while I got my running gear on.

T2 time: 2:16

I started off on the run and felt okay.  I told myself I was only walking on the two uphill portions I knew of and through the one water station.  And I stuck to that.  I was pleased when my Garmin buzzed after the first mile, and I saw my time for that mile was 11:08.  that's a lot faster than I've been running lately.  The run course for this race was similar to the Olympic tri I did last month.  Obviously this was shorter, but I at least had an idea of how it went and what to expect this time.  The first uphill was pretty tiny, and I stuck to my promise to myself and ran again once I was up the hill.  The aid station was maybe half a mile past that, walked as I drank my water and had a volunteer shoot me with a squirt gun (I should really have us volunteer at a race as a kids would have a blast squirting people!), then it was back to running.  One more uphill a bit after the second mile marker, then I ran the rest of the way.  I was actually a little surprised with how easy the run felt to me.  Or maybe I just wanted to have one decent leg of the race.  The run course took us across a bridge and then basically a u-turn down into a park to the finish chute.  I could see John and my mom and the kids from the bridge, and as I reached them they were cheering and my boys ran up to me and each took a hand. I absolutely LOVED having them run the finish chute with me and cross the finish line with me.  I told them they needed to be fast and they were!  This is the first time I've been excited to see my race pictures because I can't wait to see the pictures of me and them together.  Although really I think they were more excited about the Gatorade I shared with them than anything else.  Even with walking portions of miles two and three, my average pace still ended up under 12:00 which I'm really pleased with.

Run time: 36:28

Total time: 1:53:50

I was looking at race data last night after results were posted, and the average time for the sprint was 1:46.  I'm assuming a lot of people sucked on the bike leg because of the hills.  It never even occurred to me the bike course was hilly.  Normally Tempe triathlon bike routes are along flat roads.  In hindsight I should have driven the bike course I guess to see what it was like ahead of time.  The race is what it is.  I know I really did my best, so I'm pleased with how I did, I just wish my time reflected that I tried my hardest.  That's what's so discouraging I think.

Now I have over five months until my next race, the--gulp--70.3.  I'm going to take a break from tri training and get back in the weight room and work on building some strength, hopefully gaining muscle and losing some fat.  I need to start looking for a 70.3 training plan that's around 16 weeks long.  I think 12 is too short and 20 would be too long, and I'd burn out way before the race.  But for now I'm going to enjoy not swimming, biking, and running twice a week each and focus on making my 70.3 a good race.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Esprit De She Eve

I had my first tri of the year a few weeks ago that I need to write up a review about (my first Olympic distance!), but tomorrow is my first sprint of the year. Actually then after this my only other race is the 70.3 in October. I'm pretty excited to get a few weeks off tri training and get back in the weight room for awhile.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this race tomorrow, the Esprit De She. This is its inaugural year which is pretty exciting. It's a women's only tri (or duathlon or 5k) which is kind of cool. The last race I did was pretty huge with three different distances, so it was kind of crazy to see such a small transition area today. I'd guess there are less than 1,000 women participating. My bib number is 123 which the husband and I think is pretty cool. I like interesting bib numbers, what can I say.

It's a little weird because this is the first race of any kind I've ever done where I don't know anyone else doing it. With the tris I've done I haven't ever done a leg of them with someone I knew doing the race, it was all solo, but it was still nice knowing that I knew other people out on the course. Most runs I've done with someone by my side (except the last Rock and Roll Half in January, but I knew the husband was ahead of me somewhere and a girlfriend of mine was probably within half a mile or a mile of me). It'll mostly be weird getting my transition area set up and then having no one to hang out with or talk to while waiting for the race to start. The husband is bringing the boys for the race, and they're planning on being there the whole time which is awesome. My mom is going to be at the finish line, too, which I'm super excited for because she's never been able to see me finish any kind of race, even though she's tried many times! I'm hoping my boys will cross the finish line with me because I love seeing that, and I want them to know how awesome it feels.

My previous sprint time wasn't that great, so I'm hoping to improve by a few minutes. Here's how it looked for the one I did in September:

Swim - 20:38
T1 - 2:10
Bike - 45:26
T2 - 2:19
Run - 38:36
Total - 1:49:09

That's a horrible swim time for a 750m swim. I'm hoping to come in around 17 minutes on the swim. I think it's totally attainable because I did a 1500m swim at the Olympic in 35 minutes. My transition times are probably going to be about the same. My average speed on the bike that race was 16.27 MPH. I'd like to be around 17 MPH, but that will partly depend on wind and other conditions. There are a lot of turns in the course which sucks, and it's two loops of a six mile course. Ugh. I hate looping. So if I can keep my speed around 17 MPH, I can shave a few minutes off of that. My run pace worked out to be 12:27. That's maybe a minute slower than I usually run, so I could potentially gain three more minutes there if I really bust ass and make myself run the whole time. I've fallen out of love with running recently, so the run portion is my biggest concern. I walked quite a bit in my last sprint because of some shoe issues, and I know that won't be the case this time, so I'm hoping for a better pace.

So all in all I could potentially cut up to eight minutes off my previous sprint time. I'm not going to hold my breath that it happens, but I really hope I can finish with a better time. I decided during the Olympic that I really didn't care what my time ended up being because it's pretty bad ass that I'm out there doing triathlons in the first place. Granted it was to partly appease myself because I was so over the whole thing and just wanted to be done and didn't care how long it took me. I decided I didn't even care if I was last because at least the person in last place still finishes, right?

My bag is packed, my tri suit is ready to be donned in the morning, my Garmin is charged. I've done hardly zero training since my race a few weeks ago, my nutrition today wasn't the best, and I've been fighting an obnoxious little cold all week. But hopefully none of that matters and I completely rock this race tomorrow!  Oh, and if nothing else, there's a mimosa bar after you cross the finish line, so at least I have that to motivate me along!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The half marathon with three finish times

Yowza, it's been a long time since I've posted anything here! I did a triathlon and trained for a half marathon since my last post. I need to get back on it because this is a big race year, and I want to track my progress and all that.

First up, the Rock and Roll Half Marathon from this past weekend. This was my third time doing the race, second time running it. I don't even really count the walking one anymore, now that I'm fit. That's probably kind of a bitchy thing to say. Anyway, I have never been so unprepared for a race as I was for this one. My long training runs through Christmas Eve (nine miles) were all decent. Some sucked, some were awesome, but I've found that tends to be the nature of the running beast, at least for me. Then I got a cold around Christmas and didn't do much of anything in an attempt to get better and not make it worse. That ended up making running a lot worse because all of a sudden it was time for a 10 mile training run, and I'd only done one short two mile run in two weeks' time. Oops. I didn't even make it the whole 10 miles. It was an awful run. Then a few days before the race I got another cold. I was popping echinacea, zinc, and vitamin C like they were candy. I was really not excited for the race at all.

Race day arrives, and I'm feeling pretty good. I made a new playlist and did the songs in a certain order instead of my usual shuffle. I started out pretty strong and was feeling good. I was running by myself because the husband wanted to finish in two hours or less, and only one of my friends was running it, but she was in a different corral/pace than me. I got to about mile two and knew I wasn't going to make it much further without a bathroom stop. Every other race I've trained for I've had some *ahem* stomach issues on longer runs, but training for this one that didn't happen. I thought maybe I'd overcome it. Apparently not. So I had to wait at a port-a-potty. It cost me about 10 minutes. I knew at that point there was no way I could make up 10 minutes, I'm just not that fast a runner. Talk about disheartening. I plugged along, though, and did okay. I hit a wall around mile 8 and just wanted to be done. Last year at the race I kept having awful calf cramps for the last half, and I had some times time, too, though not nearly as bad as last year. Finally I got to the end of the race, and the husband had finished in his goal time, so he was along the finish chute cheering for me with a big sign he'd made. I was hauling ass at that point, I just wanted to be done. I think I sprinted the last 0.1 mile just so I could be done.

I paused my Nike app while on my bathroom break, which resulted in three separate finish times. I know only one is official, but I'm still counting it as three. The distance on my app was off (by 0.3 miles! WTF?! That's significant!), so I have the time when I hit 13.1 on my app, the time on my app when I crossed the finish line, and then my official time. I was able to make up a few minutes of my bathroom stop at least, so that made me feel a little better. And had it not been for that, I would have presumably finished comparable to last year, so I guess that's good?

Nike 13.1 time: 2:28:25
Nike finish line time: 2:32:30
Official race time: 2:39:38

I think I'm retiring from just half marathon races. I'll stick with running in triathlons, but I think my days of just running races are done. I really didn't enjoy it at all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One week to go

One week from now I'm hoping to be sporting a new triathlon PR. And I'll probably be getting ready for a friend's baby shower, but that's inconsequential as far as this blog is concerned. Next Sunday morning I'll be participating in my second ever triathlon, the Nathan Tempe Triathlon. I keep feeling like I haven't prepared enough for it, but in reality I think I have. I mentioned that to my friend Michelle who is also doing it (this will be her first tri), and she said she thinks I've been training more than she has. Time will tell I suppose. On my last tri, I really freaked out during the swim. So much so that I mostly did breast or side stroke for pretty much the whole thing. That's the big downside to not having an open water nearby for practicing. Swimming in a pool and swimming in a lake are two very different things. I keep telling myself that I know I won't be able to see anything (I could maybe see to my elbow on the last tri when my arm was extended in front of me) and I just have to swim and sight. I've even been swimming laps with my eyes closed in anticipation of not being able to see anything. The swim distance for this tri is 750m; the last one was 400m. In the pool I can do 750m in roughly 16-17 minutes. Theoretically an OWS (open water swim) should be faster than a pool swim because you aren't having to slow down every 25m to turn around, but since I freaked out so much at the last one, I'm not banking on having a much faster time than what I can do in the pool. I was feeling pretty confident about my bike skills. I've had two flat tires recently, so I'm hoping all flats are out of the way and I won't have to worry about changing a bike tube on the side of the bike course. Friday morning I set out on a ride with the intention of biking a distance comparable to the race to see how my time was. I started out and was flying and felt AWESOME. Then I turned north and found myself fighting a headwind for the entire rest of my ride. So over half of my ride was into the wind which significantly slowed me down. Lame. I was averaging 20+ MPH initially and the last half of the ride was less than 15 MPH. Ouch. I was hoping to finish the 12 mile ride in no more than 42 minutes and it ended up taking 48. Please, please don't let that be the case on race day! Running in AZ sucks ass in the summer. It's too hot to run outside, even if you go at the ass crack of dawn, so I've been treadmill running. I'm not sure which sucks more. I did manage to get in four miles on the treadmill one day last week with an average pace of 10:44, so I felt pretty pleased with myself after that. I had a fitness test done at the gym several months ago to analyze my heart rate zones, and the trainer gave me a heart rate zone workout to do, and I've found it has really helped my speed increase. So, with all that being said, I'm hoping to beat my previous finish time by at least three minutes, even with the longer swim. My time on the last one was 1:48. I'd really like to finish in at least 1:40 if not 1:35. My transition times were AWFUL last time, so I think this week I'm going to work on practicing transitions and time myself. If you see my running out of my house in tri clothes dripping wet, think nothing of it. I'm just practicing for T1. Here's how I'm hoping my splits will go next weekend: Swim: 17 minutes T1: > 2 minutes Bike: 42 minutes T2: 2 minutes (dealing with socks and getting running shoes on) Run: 33 minutes Total: 96 minutes I'm going to have to push myself on the run, I know it. If my times for everything else end up being close to accurate, I at least have a little leeway for the run to still meet my goal of 1:40, but I would really really really be happy if I could finish closer to 1:35. So keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back in the saddle again...again

I really don't know what my deal has been over the summer. I just cannot seem to get my eating in check. I've been decent about working out (a triathlon looming at the end of next month has helped that), but my food habits have been awful. I did two weeks of South Beach Phase One and managed to drop eight pounds, but they've slowly crept back up. Well, five of them. I attribute it to summer eating and drinking. We have a pool in our backyard, so we have friends over pretty often to swim, which means we end up drinking while we're in the pool. I think I'm going to have to ease back on the vino and Froot Loop vodka if I want to reach my goal weight of 155. I do have some motivation--my brother-in-law is getting married in October, so I'm hoping to get back in the 150s by then. I think it's attainable, and now that I have a goal I think I can do it. I started back using Lose It today to track my calories, and I planned out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the entire week. I know a lot of my issue lately has been not eating a good breakfast or lunch, so I thought if I planned both those out I wouldn't spend my days wandering around the kitchen snacking instead of having a normal meal. Like I said, I have another triathlon coming up in 34 days. I'm pretty freaked out about it to be honest. I don't feel like I've been training as much for it as I should be, but it's freakin' hot here. That makes it awful to get out and do any running or biking. I've been making it to a spin class at least once a week, but it's not the same as actually being on the bike. In these last few weeks leading up to the tri I'm really going to make an effort to spend time on my bike, regardless of weather, and I also need to try and get in a couple runs that are longer than 5K, as well as try and do at least one (ideally two) brick workouts.