Thursday, June 25, 2015

Heatwave RR

Heatwave Classic Tri has come and gone.  Heatwave is almost an Oly distance race.  This year the course changed a bit with some added distance on the swim and a few added miles on the bike to add up to something like a 1000yd swim, 27 mile bike, and 10k run.  This race is quite a fun one, in my opinion, but I can't really say why.  You are definitely swimming in a lake where the alligators outnumber the racers by quite a bit.  The bike is on the Natchez Trace, which I think is pretty.  And the run is on a mostly open, baking course with full sun (ignore the description on the website of the old run course.  I think there is shade for 1/2 mile).  Everyone melts down in the heat and then drinks a cold beer.  It is good fun. 
Good ol' Keith... :)
My race was....well....good?  I always liked the Ren and Stimpy song..."it's better than bad it's good!"  I am really still so, so, so flat for these races.  Nothing is near my best right now, and I feel like I have been stuck in the same place for the past two years where I am just fit enough, but not race ready.  My times are coming down bit by bit, so it is not as though I haven't been making progress, it just feels like a very flat line with a little slight elevation from time to time.  No big changes in my racing.

And that is okay because I am out there, finding the good in it all, and believing that when the time is right I will be back in the mix.

Speaking of the mix, I opted to NOT start in the elite wave and went to the time trial start at the back of the race.  In the moment, I just didn't feel confident racing the other women.  It is odd, because in the past I HATED being in the back and wanted to be where the race was.  I would have always jumped in the wave start if invited.  On this day, I just oddly did not care and did not want to trot down to the front.  I surmise my head was lacking confidence, so I started in the back and made my race a solo time trial.

I also just kind of felt like an out of date, left on the shelf too long-mom.  LOL!  Not knocking us moms!  But, I was one of the only women there without a disc, I didn't line up in the "elite" wave, etc, etc.  And, I am starting to feel old around all of the young whipper snappers!  I just felt a little awkward, and that is probably because I am so out of the loop these days and just making my way little by little back into the sport. 

The swim was uneventful and longer than advertised, but I don't ever see a time when I get out of the water so I don't notice.  I just know I had ZERO panic attacks and no alligator sightings.

I tried to work as hard as I could on the bike.  It just doesn't feel like it used to feel.  I think this is two-fold.  As I have talked about before on the blog, my position has been funky for a while now (since a saddle change in 2012), and after several changes, it was going from bad to worse.  I was encouraged to lower my seat, and I really felt it in my knees and back this race.  (Fortunately, I just now got everything dialed in back to a helpful fit Nacho gave me with my seat a little higher, and I think I am finally right in my position).  But secondly, I just.don't.ride.enough.period.  Maybe 2 days a week and 3 if I am lucky? I hardly hit 75 miles a week?  It is such a huge reduction from what I did for many years, that I am just not strong and fresh on the bike.  There is room to grow, and I will keep trying to build as I am able.
But never mind all that...I got out there and just decided to really keep trying to race the bike.  I pushed, I didn't give up, and I just kept trying to practice racing.  I was by myself as all of the other women did the wave, but I just keep using these races and opportunities as practice.  Of course, no computer or garmin.  Just all effort focused.   The bike split ended up being fine- not near the front, but near enough to some other women that I wasn't way off of the group.

The run was hot, but I am not complaining.  It is Heatwave Tri...so come on!  No complaints about hot races in the summer, peeps! It is what we do!!!  My knees felt awful from the bike, and my first mile was so slow.  I wondered if I had overbiked, although I only seem to be able to do that when fit.  How do you overbike when your max is moderate?  Lol!  But I was thinking...uh oh.  My legs feel like crap and they never feel this way.  Is it possible that even that pace was too much for me?  After a mile they felt better, though.  (I have since had a couple of bricks where they felt like that, but now that my bike fit was adjusted slightly, that has gone away.  I think I was really overloading my knees). 
The little patch of shade on the course
And then a few miles later I was reaching for salt.  Oh I was so crampy in my legs and just cursing the editor of the website who said there was shade on the course.  I did my very best to hold form, even though I was just one big heat cramp.  (And thank goodness I have the hot ironman experience...I think it comes in really handy when you know how to control the cramping and mitigate the heat a bit.)  The front girls were so far ahead of me from the different start times that I had no one to race.  And at that point in the day, it was just fine with me as the run was just tough, tough, tough.  My run ended up ranking pretty fairly in the field.
First place AG Los Locos Peeps
I finished 1stAG and 5th OA.  Interestingly, I was about 15 seconds out of 4th and 30 seconds out of 3rd.  It may have been interesting if I had started in the wave to see if I could have closed those gaps by racing.  But, I think just doing the TT was good enough for my head right now.  In the past I would have absolutely been trying to race for that podium, but on this day, I was satisfied with just having a consistent result, even if I am not back to being competitive.

I have oddly enough decided to put my name down for a fall marathon, and I am actually super excited about it.  So, where does that leave me with tri racing?  I am not sure.  Maybe Mighty Mite.  Maybe AG Nats if I can get a friends to go with me AND actually ride my bike more.  And possibly Redman Tri....that looks like it could be a fun, new adventure.   I am not done with the season yet, but I am still looking for those races that motivate me.  I am trying to stoke the fire and really just build back that passion for racing, and I think that starts by finding ones that give me a reasonable challenge and adventure. 

Happy Training!

A big Heatwave Classic Tri thank you to Wattie Ink, Enell Bras, Blue Seventy, and ISM saddles for the best race gear as well as Powerbar and Herbalife for race course and post race nutrition.  I am a lucky, lucky girl to have the best in these things that do make a difference.  And thank you to my Los Locos teammates for the great company on race day. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekend Check In

Happy weekend!  Nothing much going on around here.  Memphis is having beautiful weather, and we are enjoying good family time.  
^^^ My current view while blogging-  Isla is struggling to nap on the weekends at home, so I don't even waste my time anymore and I just stick her in the car.  Once she is asleep, I pull into the driveway and get on the computer to work or play.  You sometimes just have to be creative! 

 I have made a few changes with training as of this week, and I feel my spirit lifted already.  I like to give things time, and I never expect instant results.  But, I found that I was just unhappy on a weekly basis with my current approach, and instead of running into the same rock over and over, I finally decided to change.  I have felt a ton better this week already- loving my training and feeling happy, grateful, and motivated.  And, isn't that what it is all about?  I also decided to pick up my running and add in a marathon this fall.  I miss it.  I miss my friends, I miss long runs, I miss the trails, and I miss races.  So, there you go.  If I miss it, that is easily remedied.   
And the best part of my week (so far) was my time with Isla at the zoo yesterday.  I am thankful I get off of work early enough that I can pick up Isla and just spend time with her.  As time goes by, I know I will cherish these afternoons.  She requested the zoo, so we spent our afternoon discussing elephants, tigers, and much more. 

And interestingly, after a lot of discussion, she told me she was sad because the gorillas are sad.  She is showing some understanding that what we are viewing is not natural.  Of course I have a hand in explaining the deeper meaning of the way humans treat animals....or really more that I explain to her how we SHOULD treat them.  She is very thankful at the zoo, and always says hello to the animals and thanks them.  (because I thank them).  After all, she models me, and I will be damned if I ever have a kid that taunts the animals at the zoo like so many that I see.  As we hold these amazing animals in captivity, we better damn well be thanking them for living in our selfish world.  I am really amazed at Isla's huge heart, especially for other kids, babies, and animals.  She is very sensitive to sadness in others.  I hope she will be able to use this to change a piece of the world with her loving heart. 
Isla calls this "Swimming."  She is getting very interested in swimming because mom swims.  Can't wait to start taking her! 
My favorite girl in the whole wide world.  There is nothing better! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Day and Racing

Mother's Day Weekend treated me well.  It is actually my new favorite holiday.  I requested a race, a morning to sleep in, and some reading time. 
 One of Isla's daycares had Muffins With Mom.  In this weird way, I absolutely loved it.  Who knew sharing muffins with your kid was so much fun?  It was one of the best mornings I have had.  Once Isla got a muffin in her (something she has never had at our house), she loved it too and now requests Muffins With Mom every morning. 

I had a pretty solid sprint race.  My goal was to be faster overall than I was last year, and I was.  Of course, once the results came out I picked at my results a bit.  The swim was 30-40 seconds slower than I swim daily at practice.  I just swam a timed mile last week at a much faster pace than I did a 400 for this race.  But that can be explained by the fact that I got zero, zero warm up since I showed up late and just jumped into the race as un-warmed up as possible.  I am definitely an athlete that gets better as I am warmed up, and a warm up is crucial for me in a sprint.  But, this was such a low key race, I really didn't sweat it.  Next race, though, I will really focus on my race morning prep.

The bike just isn't moving forward as I would like, although it was fine for the race.  I am still getting hung up on my position as I can't engage parts of my legs like I use to, and I feel like I am just not in my sweet spot.  I just can't seem to get the wheels rolling.  I think the bike will just have to be my project for 2015, and I need to be patient.  But overall, the ride was fine, and I was only passed by one guy.

And....I followed him onto the run and really tried to make my race with him.  I kept turning my legs over, and finally at the top of the hilly turnaround, he cracked and walked.  I passed him and felt him on my shoulder for the next mile.  I finally felt like I was racing and worked really hard to put a gap between us.  I finished ahead of him by 4 seconds, so that was fun.  It wasn't about the place, but it was about me being able to mentally engage and care.  So, the run was a good one, and my mission was accomplished.  I pushed through the run and really started to get a sense of racing again. 
 My parents came to watch me race, which was a real treat.  I think they have now watched me 4 times out of 100s of run/tris?  I think they lost interest somewhere in high school/college soccer when they no longer had to drive me around.

Throw back Wattie Ink OG kit and Enell bra.  Perfect for racing!

So, good stuff...next up Heatwave in June.  I am hoping to put in another few good weeks here.  I had one of my best track workouts on Tuesday, and that was exciting. Unfortunately I followed that up by getting sick at work today with some bug and have been in bed since 3pm, miserable.  That is just part of the game when you have little kids in daycare and work in a hospital.  So, I am still trying to piece together the whole shebang with training.  It is not near perfect yet, but as a whole it is getting more and more consistent. 
I want to end this post thanking some friends for being "encouragers." I really like using the word encouraging in this way as a noun.  Gina, Caroline, and Joy have been instrumental in this past week with just helping me hang in there with work, motherhood, sport, and life.  Things just weren't on track this past week.  And, they seem to be off track more often than not lately.  It leaves me confused, frustrated, and stagnant.  I find that when I am having success in one area, I seem to have success in many.  The opposite seems to be true as well.  I brought my excuses to them...all lame, as excuses tend to be.  I cried.  I complained.  They listened.  They encouraged.

So, let's continue to encourage each other.  We don't really know what struggles other people are facing.  Sometimes little bugger rain clouds can all but be pushed out of the picture by the sunshine of a friend.  An encouraging word is certainly more helpful to all than a disparaging one.  And in this day of social media, it seems a little easier to feel alone, even when surrounded by virtual people.  Thank you to my friends!
 Cutie patooty!!!!!  Look at those long legs!  94th percentile in height as of this week.
I love that she cheeses it up for the camera now!