Archive for the ‘General’ Category
I feel each new year is a blank page in “my book”. A chance to start fresh and get excited about the opportunities ahead. A chance to think about what I would like to do and the adventures I want to take in the coming year. Though some of the race related decisions of what I will be doing were made in 2016, it is no longer “next year”. It is coming into the here and now and the grooming of the specifics come into play.
As far as training goes, I have been active since the end of my race season in October. During the off season, I don’t abandon swim, bike and run, but I definitely mix things up. I have actually had a focus to my swim and I am rather pleased with where I am currently, especially considering it is January. I took several weeks where I would do a run about once a week, maybe two now and again, “just for fun”. This eventually moved into a base build where I was trying to incorporate low zone runs and gradually increase mileage. It was nothing too structured, but I was also thinking ahead to 2017, since running would be a big focus as soon as the new year began. As far as the bike, it is where I always would choose to be, so it is easy for me to keep trainer rides in my rotation. I have been getting in rides approximately twice a week. I definitely have been able to mix it up as well. I have tried some “new to me” classes at the gym and also some more focus on strength training. I have not been able to keep in the strength training as much as I planned, but one winter workout that has been in regular rotation since the first of December is a weekly stair workout with my tri team. We gather on Thursday mornings at 6am at a local 17 story office building and climb stairs every way you can possibly imagine. This is a killer workout and it never disappoints. We have an interesting way of making this challenging workout super fun and I look forward to it every week.
There will be no significant changes to how I approach training in 2017. I continue to be dedicated to getting stronger every year. My dedication is my strong suit…I have to be. Progress does not come easy for me and this is one thing that I can always bring to the table.
I will tweak some things here and there to try to reach that improvement this year. Last year I believe that I plateaued a bit, so my focus is to DO THE WORK that is necessary to grow in 2017.
My first training plan of 2017 has already kicked into full gear. With my first race planned for March 19, it is time to incorporate the structure that is needed to keep the focus and push for the goals. The Tobacco Road Half Marathon is first up. I am excited to have this early season race…this is new for me. The idea was that I would take this early focus on my run….base building started late November and by March I will be well prepared for this half marathon which will hopefully set me up well for a strong season of triathlon.
The next race I have committed to is the Chattanooga Ironman 70.3. May 21 will be here before I know it, but I am crazy excited about this event. This is one that I really wanted to race in 2016, but missed my opportunity to sign up before it sold out. I am most looking forward to the change this will bring. I have completed four half-ironmans and three of those were Raleigh IM 70.3. The variety and challenge of a new course will be more than welcomed and “fingers crossed” that the temperatures will be a bit kinder than those that Raleigh tends to deliver. This is a team event so there will be a strong showing from Oak City Tri. Plus, Tony has signed up, which will be his first triathlon back after a several year break. This race has a lot for me to be excited about!
I have not yet signed up, but I am also planning to do the Cary Long Course Duathlon that I have done the last couple of years This is a few weeks before Chattanooga IM 70.3, so the timing is ideal. This has become one of my favorite local races, so I am happy that it seems to fit well with the calendar. I expect that this will be another tri team event, which makes racing it, even more fun!
As you can see, the first part of the season is planned out. I have my mind on some summer races, but Tony and I need to pair up our calendars and make some scheduling decisions (he plans to race some Xterra events and there are far fewer of those races to choose from). One thing I have determined is that whatever I do decide to race, I need to plan a bit better than I did for my later season races last year. This will allow me to better set the structure, which in turn, should set me up for a great season!
We departed on June 16 for our vacation. We had a full itinerary on this trip to parts of the country we have never visited.
Our first stop was Portland, Oregon. Our flight took us through Denver which presented some beautiful views from the air!
Once arriving in Portland and checking into the Embassy Suites (we had a nice experience) and getting settled, we ventured out to explore a bit. Even though it was late afternoon and not close to dinnertime, we were hungry, since our internal clocks were on east coast time. We had a light bite at Pine Street Market (local food hall/court) to tied us over to dinner. But then, we decided to check off a “Portland must-do”…Voodoo Doughnuts! We are on vacation…right?!?!?
We decided to head back to the room and get cleaned up and rest awhile before grabbing a real dinner. WELL…..we both fell asleep and slept until morning! I guess that is one way to get adjusted to west coast time!!
The first full day in Portland started with a morning run.
I always love to explore a new place via running!
There is a great path encompassing the waterfront and we took advantage.
I LOVE running along water and this was great.
One of my favorite things was all the different bridges throughout.
After cleaning up and a great breakfast at the hotel, we decided to explore the city and what other way to do this other than on bikes?!?!?! We rented two very simple (single speed) cruiser bikes and went everywhere!
The day also included stops at the infamous Powell’s Books and Little Big Burger for lunch. After that we took a detour to the hotel for a break due to a bit of rain.
When we were able to resume, we saw so much more!
One pit stop included ice cream at Salt n’ Straw, which came highly recommended. It DID not disappoint, as I think one of the best milkshakes Tony has ever had was that day!
This is what our day on the single speed bikes ended up looking like via Garmin….LOL!!! I could not resist! This was definitely a much different effort than what I usually have on the bike!
After a full day of activity, we had exciting plans to meet up with Leslie from Triathlete Treats. Since she and her husband, Dan, live in Portland, I reached out to her while we were planning to get advice on all things Portland. Luckily, the timing worked that so we could all have an evening out together. They took us to one of their fave restaurants called, La Bistro Montage, and it was awesome. Their menu includes a section of a variety of mac n’ cheese that you can customize and I went that route. YUM!!!! After dinner we went for ice cream at another local spot called Ruby Jewels…I took Leslie’s advice and opted for a customized ice cream sandwich. You know life is good when you have ice cream twice in one day! #wewereonvacation
Before heading back to the hotel, we received a local’s guide to part of the city. It was cool driving through town and learning more about Portland and their view of home. It was an awesome night full of great conversation and good times.
The next day was a planned to be a drive down to the Willamette Valley to explore some wineries and do some tastings. Before picking up the car, we went for another run along the water. We did a little different route in order to check out a different bridge.
We had received several recommendations for wineries to check out and I was very excited. We had a bit of rain during the day, but nothing too bad. Our stops included Four Graces, Sokol Blosser, Armonea and Laurel Ridge, which ended up being our favorite!
We had a great time learning about this region and the wine was delicious!!! If you have a love of wine I highly recommend exploring the Willamette Valley. This day was a real treat and I am so glad we decided to add this day to our itinerary!
The next day we had a general idea of what we were doing, but we were also open to a day of exploring! We had planned to drive from Portland through the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood National Forest and eventually arrive in Bend! This was definitely the “SCENIC ROUTE” (speaking literally and figuratively) and I am so glad we decided on this drive! There were so many highlights and our cameras were definitely working overtime.
Some hiking and waterfall exploring makes for a great way to break up a long drive.
I never tire of waterfall watching. These were so great!
We stopped in Hood River for a late lunch at at Full Sail Brewing Co. We were famished and this local spot ended up being a great choice. When we left Hood River to resume our drive, I had no idea what we ahead of us…
When I first got a peek of this mountain top, I knew it was going to be breathtaking!
These views did not disappoint!
As we continued to drive and see it closer and from different angles, it became more and more beautiful!
We arrived to Bend very late in the afternoon. We had a vacation rental which was a one bedroom house that was in a great location. The bonus to our rental was that it had a washer and dryer. With all our activity, we definitely had plenty of laundry to do! We got settled in and cleaned up and ventured out for a light sushi dinner and for our first real drive around town. We saw very quickly what a charming town Bend is and was excited for the next couple of days!!
Our first full day in Bend was started with a short run around town. We didn’t find the best running route in town, but we still enjoyed the crisp, cool morning air and some pretty views in a local park.
The plans for the day included a hike on the Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock State Park. This trail came highly recommended and boy….IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT! I will let these beautiful photos tell the story!
After this wonderful morning, we grabbed lunch and headed back into Bend. We then decided to take the relatively short drive to Tumalo Falls. This was a great choice and it is amazing that these beautiful falls can be seen within a fews steps of the parking area.
After a great day of exploring we had plans for happy hour at Crux Fermentation Project. We met up with Kristen from Glitter and Dust along with her husband Justin and precious little one, Axel. Kristen provided me great tips on how to best enjoy our time in Bend before our arrival. Crux has a great outdoor area where you can lounge, listen to music and enjoy some drinks. It was a beautiful evening and it was so fun hanging out with our friends in Bend!
The following day was another fun day of exploration. After a morning run (we were just loving the morning temperatures in Oregon) and a quick breakfast, we did lots of driving around, stopping at points here and there and continued to be in awe of this beautiful part of the country!
One of the highlights involved Green Lake…we didn’t have the chance to do the hike here, but these views that can be seen from the side of the road, were awesome!
Another highlight was a short hike around Sparks Lake. The pictures say more than I can in words….
I could spend all day on a paddle board or in a kayak floating around this lake.
I just could not get enough of these views!!!
Later in the day, we headed back to the house and decided to take the cruiser bikes out around Bend. The bikes were provided with the house rental.
We did a lot of cruising up and down the Deschutes River trail around the Old Mill District. You can quickly see that this river is a way of life here. People were everywhere enjoying the trail (running, biking, walking, etc) and floating on the river.
We were here on a late weekday afternoon and so I can’t imagine what it would be like on a beautiful weekend! This was really a nice treat and having the bikes available at our rental and being able to cruise around town was a blast!
After our ride, we were ready for a cold beverage, and stopped at the Atlas Cider Company. Wow! This blackberry cider was amazing!!! Sadly, I can’t find it in NC and hope one day that I can!
This was our last day in Bend and I was sad to leave to next day. I would have loved to have been able to have more time for hiking and exploring as I think we just skimmed the surface of the best Bend has to offer!
On a side note, I have to mention this little coffee house that we found and visited twice during our stay. It is owned by a local lady that is super friendly and makes the BEST frozen blended coffee drinks! If you visit Bend, check out this local hidden gem for a treat!
The next morning was a flight from Redmond, Oregon to Seattle, Washington…the last stop in our adventure! Upon arriving in Seattle, we checked into the Hotel Vintage, which ended up being a great hotel! We headed out to the waterfront and grabbed lunch at Elliott’s Oyster House…we both had Dungeness Crab & Shrimp Melts…yummy!
Our first afternoon in Seattle included an outing Tony had in mind from the beginning when we decided to visit Seattle. We were not sure if it would happen, but in the end it did….he flew a sea plane and we enjoyed sightseeing from the sky!
Lots of preparation takes place before the plane is ready to go up. Of course the normal pre-flight inspections and safety checks, but the plane has to be moved into the water…since it has no wheels, a very interesting truck is involved in towing the aircraft. As the picture shows, it is essentially a chopped off pick-up truck that does the towing!
I will say that this was the highlight of our entire stay in Seattle and I am so glad that all the logistics worked out and we were able to take advantage of this rare opportunity!
Our first full day in Seattle started with a chilly morning and a run around town. I will mention that Seattle has some serious HILLS!!!!! Who knew?!?!?!?
After breakfast at Biscuit Bitch, which was recommended by a friend at home,
we started exploring the city on foot. I especially loved walking around and through Pikes Place market. You can’t go to Seattle without checking out the fish mongers and the flying fish. It was a lot of fun!
Pikes Place market was full of not only fresh seafood, but lots of fresh produce and flowers. If I lived here, I believe I would have to make frequent visits!
We all know that Seattle is home of the first Starbucks. What I didn’t know is that there is a speciality Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle. Since the afternoon brought some drizzle, we thought it was the perfect time to check it out!
As you can see there were big batches of beans being roasted before our eyes.
At the Roastery and Tasting Room, you can experience blends that are unique to that location. We sampled with a flight of coffee and cold brews! YUM!
Of course we had to make a purchase to bring home some of these special blends! This afternoon stop at the Starbucks Tasting Room was really enjoyable and something I would recommend for any coffee lover!
Dinner that evening included pizza at Serious Pie, which also came recommended from a friend of ours at home.
After dinner, we decided find a place to enjoy a glass of wine and dessert. We tried Purple Cafe & Wine Bar and it hit the spot. The decor and vibe are very upscale and modern and there was also a good crowd. We sat at the bar and enjoyed something sweet and a nice glass of wine.
We awoke to kick off our last day of vacation. We had a full day planned. We started out with another morning run. It was a dreary and gray morning, but this would be the last run in a very long time that we would be able to enjoy cool temperatures!
We planned our morning run to end at Pikes Place. We had to do the “Seattle thing” and visit the Original Starbucks. We knew there would be a line and we (mainly Tony) are not ones to wait in long lines, but we figured this was a novelty thing to do on vacation.
During the previous morning when we were down at Pikes Place, there were decadent smells coming from a bakery a few doors down from Starbucks. We knew we had to check it out. Our breakfast that morning came from Piroshky Piroshky which is a Russian bakery selling Piroshkies, hand pies filled with a variety of fillings. Tony and I shared one sweet and one savory…they were tasty!
After our breakfast and getting ready for the day, we headed over the Pioneer Square neighborhood (which we had checked out the day before and really liked) to participate in Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Before the tour began we were able to check out a few of the shops and stores in the area. This is a very neat area!
The Tour came highly recommended and I liked it pretty good. Tony was not a huge fan, but was a good sport.
After the tour, we had a bite of lunch and then grabbed an Uber to visit the Museum of Flight. Since Tony is a private pilot, this was definitely on the list of “must-dos”!
There was tons to see and some very cool history to enjoy.
After yet another full day, we enjoyed a great Italian dinner at the Tulio Restaurant, which was conveniently located in our hotel. It was delicious and I can’t recommend the sweet potato gnocchi appetizer and the linguine and clams dinner enough! We found a corner spot called Gelatiamo and shared a scoop of gelato for dessert. Knowing we had an early morning to catch our flight, we called it a night.
We were fortunate enough to have a direct fight home from Seattle. One of our final views was this beautiful sight…
This vacation was full of adventure and Tony and I had a blast visiting a part of the country that we had never seen before. I love to travel and explore new places and this trip did not disappoint! Besides the beautiful photos that really can not due justice to some of what we saw, I was so fortunate to connect with two blogger friends that I had only previously “met” over our respective blogs and through social media. That supports what I have known for a long time…I am lucky to be part of the triathlon community that includes some amazing people!
Until the next adventure…
Last year I raced in my first ever duathlon. I had a great time at that race and knew that it would be a repeat event for me. They offer both a long course and short course option, but with my training for Raleigh 70.3, the obvious choice was long course. With the race taking place on May 14, it is actually a great lead up to the 70.3 on June 5. Two of my training partners also raced, so even better to have friends out on the course!
The interesting twist to the race this year is that it served as the USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championship for 2016. That would bring in athletes that would not normally be participating in this local event and I expected them to be great racers as well!
The race took place in Cary, which is just down the road. The venue was located about 35 minutes from home, but had an early start of 7:00am. That meant an alarm of 4:20am…ouch! It was a tiny bit chilly race morning, but that really meant that it was going to be a great weather day for us! We arrived around the time I planned and was able to park super close to transition. I love when that happens! All the typical pre-race stuff happened as well as connecting with my friends. The one big difference about a duathlon is that I do a run warm-up and some dynamic stretches beforehand….all not typical with a tri!
The long course guys were scheduled to start at 7:00am with the ladies starting 7:04am. The short course began at 7:15am. The event was a 5 mile run/30 mile bike/5 mile run. The run was an out and back with the majority taking place on residential sidewalks and greenways with “small rolling hills (as the course description read)”. The bike course included “fast, flat, rolling and climbing sections with multiple view of Lake Jordan”. Part of the course included a two-loop section which passed a local strawberry farm. I have ridden all these roads before, but not frequently. However, the course is generally the type you would expect for our area.
The run started and I did not have a specific plan, but mile #1 is generally my slowest mile and I gradually build. I can say this is the case for me about 95% of the time. Well, this day proved to be different. Mile #1 was an 8:14 split, my fastest mile of the day! Still not sure where that came from, but I didn’t really feel like I was pushing that hard at the beginning! I did settle down into a more likely race pace for myself, but I have to admit that I was glad to have the first split in my pocket! Overall, I was happy with the first run.
Onto the bike….the one thing I did, which I planned to do, even though I don’t prefer it, is to wear socks on the bike. I always bike barefoot unless it is a cold day. Otherwise, I just don’t like it. However, since I do wear socks on the run, it only made sense to wear them for the leg in between the running! I did have a little bit of a hard time getting my shoes on with the socks….that may sound weird, but that’s that. Too long in T1. Tony was not there to push me in transition (as he typically does) because he had run out to see me on the bike course. There was a place he could see me twice, but that involved him getting in a four-mile run and then back! I always love to see him out, so I was glad he decided to get in some run training as I was racing!
I had my nutrition and hydration plan which would all occur on the bike. There were aid stations on the run, but that served as only a little cup of water a couple of times. I started out hard on the bike but then just tried to ride smart. The plan was to take advantage of the downhills and the flats and work the gears on the uphills. I was eating and drinking well and took one bottle of water at the one handoff on the bike course. Within the last few miles I really started to notice the fatigue in my legs. Maybe I pushed too hard?!?!? Do I back off? Well, I didn’t really. I would just endure the second run as best as I could. It would not be easy anyway, so I just kept it going.
Into T2 and I saw Tony (he was back from his run). This transition was much better than T1. As I ran out he asked me how I felt…”my legs are shot” was my response.
That first mile of run #2 was not easy. I just told myself that the first miles are never easy and after I found my rhythm I would loosen up. This was the case. It was still a challenge throughout, but I was pleased with how I mentally and physically hung in. I saw the guys on my way out as they were headed back in. Racing with friends is the best!
Knowing I had a solid first run, I was really hoping for a sub 9:00 pace for the 2nd run. As I saw my Garmin laps tick off, I knew I would not achieve that. However, my last mile ended up at 8:37 pace, so overall my 9:04 pace for the second 5 miles was exciting after all! Very close!
The finish line felt great (doesn’t it always) as I gave it all out there.
My Garmin distance on the bike is pretty spot at 29.6 on I think. (My two training buddies had 29.69 and 29.73). The race results use a 31 mile distance, so unfortunately that 20.1 mph average speed in my official results is a bit inflated! I find it very interesting to look at my overall category placements in a duathlon. Unlike a tri, you are running twice. While my first run was my fastest, that was my lowest placement. I guess more people went out hard and had less in the tank that I did when you look at my placement for the second run. Slower pace than the first, but higher placement overall. Hummmm….
Post-race there was plenty of socializing and hanging out. There were good choices for food, and while I had a bit, we all had planned lunch out post-race, so I knew a good burger was in store for me. Once again, this was a great event. It was fun to race a duathlon again and it also served as a great lead up to Raleigh 70.3.
This has been my motivation for the past several weeks.
WHY? This years’ training has been similar to that of the past. I am dedicated, work hard and give it my all. I am serious about my training and really striving to improve; however, I am trying to not take my training too seriously. Make sense? Hopefully….at least it does in my mind.
Let me explain some more. Two of the key drivers to my mindset has been my swim and my run. With the break I had to take from running late last year, I have mentioned numerous times how hard it has been to “get my run back”. With that, I was able to focus on my swim during the off season. However, I wish I could report that I have seen big strides in my swim progress.
I decided that instead of obsessing about how my run pace is a bit slower that this time last year (also, when I was leading up to Raleigh 70.3), I will take a piece of good from every run. It may be that I was able to hit a better pace at the track than the prior week, or that my heart rate was lower during the most recent tempo run than the last, or that I did not have any achiness in my leg….whatever I can pull out, I will and I take it. This is similar to my swim. While honestly it is super hard to not keep that last swim split time in your mind when you push off the wall for the next, I have been trying to keep my concentration on my stroke, overall technique and staying relaxed. When I allow myself to get too caught up in 4 or 5 secs from the last lap, I tend to get uptight and that is definitely not a good thing for me and swimming. Being relaxed brings much better results, from my experience.
This has not been easy AT ALL! I will admit, I am competitive….after all, we race, right? Sure, when I see someone in my age group out on the course, I am driven more to close a gap or take a pass. However, I know that I am even more competitive with myself. It can be hard to not have most of my focus be on the time, pace, speed, etc, but I am trying. I think when I have been successful in not allowing myself to get so uptight over the numbers these past several weeks, it allows me to enjoy my training more. Don’t get me wrong…I still review my data in Garmin Connect and structure each workout and my plan to become stronger and fitter. I am committed to working toward my goals. I am hoping that bringing more positivity to the big picture will give me the little something extra to get there.
Highlights from my recent weeks:
1. This past week I felt my training really “click”. This was the third week of the 3-week build and the last before my current recovery week, so despite the natural fatigue, it seemed my body was responding well to the training and I was feeling good during most of my workouts.
2. Long bike ride = 54 miles and I think I felt just about as good as I have on the bike all year (and this was my longest ride so far this year). 4 mile run off the bike was a challenge, but I was able to improve my pace on each mile. During the run my sole focus was on good breathing and staying strong.
3. Last long run of 11 miles = Nailed my hydration and nutrition and felt pretty good throughout AND after! It was awesome to have T run with me for part and ride the last few miles alongside to keep me company!
One crazy ride I will share was a couple of weeks ago when a few of us ventured out on a late Saturday morning and we knew that it would be fairly cold and windy (we DID have sun). This ride ended up being brutal! I can’t remember having the strong, constant wind we endured for that 44 miles ever on a ride before. There were crazy gusts plus headwinds where you felt like you were on your bike trainer (not moving!!!). We ended the day with 44 miles on the bike and we earned every single mile!
Random fun stuff:
We got out of town a few Sundays ago for a day at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. I have not been to an amusement park or been on a roller coaster since college! It was such a fun day and I am so glad we picked a day and planned a quick get-away.
2. Threshold test (re-test)
3. The decision regarding my first race – will it be to Beaverdam Olympic on April 30? Water temperature has been hanging around in the low 60s and not really moving…until yesterday. I hate swimming in cold water, so I will see how it goes the next few days!
A new year has begun. I know we are half way through January, but two weeks ago I had not yet decided what I wanted to share as my first post of 2016.
People approach a new year in a variety of ways. As an athlete, my year is typically full of goals and aspirations, so there is not one thing that I dig in and focus on as the calendar hits January 1. Some of these goals I already have in mind and yet there are some that I have not yet realized.
I do know that I have gotten excited about this new year. I remember feeling this way in 2014, the year I did IM Lake Placid. I was excited to start “clean” and approach the year with excitement for what I knew (sort of) the year had in store. However, this year is so different from 2014. I don’t have an Ironman on my schedule…in fact I don’t have any races locked in at all. So, what is brining on this anticipation? Honestly, I am not 100% certain.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I ended 2015 with not being able to run and the subsequent DNS to my planned half marathon in December.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have been running over the past few weeks (generally comfortable efforts and low mileage), but feeling hopeful that my running is getting back on track and this experience has PERMANENTLY ENGRAINED IN MY MIND the importance of stretching and foam rolling with any training. I plan to get my leg healthy and keep it that way!
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I wanted to tackle my swim in the off season and I have been faithful in my trips to the pool, so far. This gives me hope that I will realize improvements this season.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I received this notification in my inbox this week….
It reinforces that the hard work I have put in has paid dividends.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my tri team is looking forward to an exciting year with people training for a variety of events, including some doing their first 70.3 or IM! The energy is exciting and I know I will have lots of opportunities for solid training in 2016!
As it develops, I look forward to sharing my race schedule and related goals for the year. I hope everyone is on track for an awesome 2016!!!
My highlight lately was a milestone, but there was so much associated with it that made it so very special! The milestone is that I turned 40 on October 1! I had so much fun celebrating this birthday, that I can truly say that I brought in 40 with bells on!
Honestly, I need to go back to July 27, when I completed Ironman. I did not register for an Ironman specifically because I was turning 40 in 2014, but after I realized it, I thought the timing was pretty neat. So, going back more than two moths before my birthday, I was basking in my glory after completing the race, being the fittest I have ever been in my life, while being 39 going on 40!
Then jump to September 27, the weekend before my birthday, when Tony and I were (supposedly) going to a friend’s’ house for dinner. Little did I know that there were lots of other friends also there waiting for my arrival to yell “SURPRISE”. They got me! I had a great night and felt so lucky that so many of my close friends were all together in one place to celebrate.
Tony was the original mastermind but had lots of help to pull off the surprise! They had planned some of my favorite foods, cocktails and dessert!
There was a photo slide show with tons of pictures through my 40 years. We even had a photo booth to act silly and have something to take as a memoir of the night. All the little details were covered! I am a lucky girl!!
The original plan (the one that I actually knew about) to celebrate my 40th was for us to travel to Boston for a fun weekend. We planned to travel the day after my birthday, so I took Wednesday off (my actual birthday), because who really wants to work on their birthday?!?! (I have never taken a day off work because it was my birthday, but I decided this was the year to do it!) I enjoyed my day to do whatever I wanted to do:)
We had a great time in Boston. Neither one of us had ever been to Boston and we thought it would be a fun city to check out and explore. We were right. We did lots of eating, poking around town and we ran every day!
I always enjoy running when I am traveling because it lets you check out the city in a different way. Even though we pretty much walked everywhere, running the city, is still different to me. Plus, since we frequently saw people running around town, it gave me the extra motivation to do the same. One of our runs took us by the Boston Marathon finish line. Obviously, we had to stop and take a look. I think it is very cool how the finish is painted on the road. There may even be some motivation, by my partner in crime, to train for a race to try to qualify. We will see what he decides down the road!
I had originally scheduled something on my birthday that I have never done before, but it had to be rescheduled. So, this happened the week after my birthday…I got my M-dot tattoo! I am really pleased with how it came out. I had sent pictures to the artist that inspired the design in my mind and she really captured it perfectly. I now have a permanent reminder of a goal that I worked tremendously hard to accomplish and if I ever doubt my strength and determination, I will take a look at my tattoo and forever be reminded!
Amongst all this activity, I am still enjoying and focusing on the flexibility I have in my training routine. I have been successful at incorporating yoga on a more regular basis and as a result, I feel I am getting stronger in my yoga. I also have been doing a bit more strength training and core work. Running and biking (trainer) are still are in the regular rotation but there have been no recent trips to the pool. There needs to be…soon…
With the Ironman World Championships starting in just a couple of hours, I decided earlier in the week to share my experience spectating at the 2013 event in Kona. Since I did not have the blog then, I thought it would be fun to share my memories with everyone now! It has been fun this week going through the hundreds of photos and remembering a truly magical event!
To start off, I will share a little about the race, which is the mack-daddy of ALL Ironmans!! Most of the readers probably know the basics about this race, but I don’t want to assume everyone does. A large majority of age-group participants at the IM World Championship in Kona are there because they qualified to be there. The rules can get a bit confusing, especially for the pro athletes and so I won’t even go there, but generally speaking for age groupers, to qualify, they will have done REALLY well at another race, and probably placed in the very top of their age group. Each race is different, but for example sake, my age group, female 40-44, may have two or three slots available, at a particular IM race. Therefore, to qualify for Kona, one would have to come in as the top two or three finishers in their age group. There are also roll down slots and other logistics, but for arguments sake, I wanted to illustrate a basic example. To elaborate a little bit more, my age group at Lake Placid had 172 women, which shows how tough it is for someone to qualify for Kona. To get to the level of even trying to qualify, one must have lots of time to train. I would say ALOT more time is required and also very special athletic ability.
World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the owners of Ironman, have made it possible for others to live the dream to race at Kona by implementing other programs. One of these programs is the lottery. To join the lottery, one must register and pay a fee in hopes to be one of the 100 selected age groupers. I have heard, that thousands register for the lottery, so odds are not great to be selected. However, our friend Tim, was selected through the lottery, to participate in the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona.
When Tim called us with the news in early spring 2013, Tony and I pretty much decided immediately that we would be making the trip to support and spectate. We had traveled to Maui and Kauai in 2006, and really fell in love with Hawaii. We had discussed going back one back to the Big Island to witness the IM World Championships. This was the perfect opportunity!
After months of planning and watching Tim prepare for the big event, October was here and it was time! Tony and I left for the Big Island on October 8. We arrived that evening in Hilo. Our plan was to fly in to the far side of the island (from Kona) and spend the following day (Wednesday) exploring the opposite side of the island as we made out way to Kona. All in all, I think this plan was a good one as we would not have had the time to see and explore this other area.
After a day of exploring, we made it to Kona (just outside of town) and Tony and I located the rental house where we would be staying. Nicole (Tim’s wife) found a house that was large enough for all Tim’s supporters to stay. Tony and I arrived first, followed by Tim’s parents and finally Tim and Nicole. The last couple would be arriving the following day.
Thursday 10/10/13 – That morning, we made it downtown and immediately felt the buzz and excitement of all the is the World Championship Ironman! The general plan was for Tim to get checked-in and pick up his bike from TriBike Transport. We also wanted to check out the expo a bit and just look around.
We had not been in the expo area very long when we hear an announcement that Chrissie Wellington (4-time Ironman World Champion and undefeated at all Iron distance races) would be available in a bit for a meet and greet. WHAT! I was thrilled! I was hoping that I would get the opportunity to have her sign my book, but I did not think the opportunity would come this quickly! HOW PERFECT! I brought my copy of her book, “A Life Without Limits”, all the way from NC in hopes I would have this opportunity. PLUS, I threw it in my bag that morning, so I had it with me there at the expo!
After all my excitement of meeting Chrissie, we all meet up and the last of the support crew, Jeff and Liz, had arrived in town. We spent the afternoon grocery shopping before having a early dinner in anticipation of the outing planned for the evening…night swimming with MantaRays! (I originally planned to limit this post to just Ironman related activities or else the post would take hours to write and read…however, this experience was too cool to exclude!)
Night swimming with the Manta Rays was a fantastic outing and I highly recommend this to anyone that ever has the opportunity.
Friday was filled with more Kona exclusive activities! That morning, Tim, Tony, Jeff and myself took part in a swim in Kailua Bay from Kaiokekua Beach (where the swim takes place). There were a couple of really cool things about this swim…(1). The absolute beauty of swimming there with all the beautiful sea life. It was like swimming in an aquarium! (2). We swam out to the floating coffee bar that is anchored a few hundred meters off shore for a free taste of coffee. This is a race week activity that we had a blast participating in!
Later that morning, Tony, Nicole, Jeff and I went out to the infamous Energy Lab for a run. Ever since we decided that we would be traveling to Kona, Nicole and I talked about wanting to do a run there.
This facility is the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority which is a marine science and technology facility that provides economic opportunities for Hawaii in various areas.
This may also be considered to some, as the toughest part of the run course. The road through the Energy Lab is surrounded by lava fields as is very barren. Unlike the name may seem, they say that the area zaps your energy versus providing it! Check out the short video from Triathlete Magazine’s web site that was published a few days ago about the Energy Lab.
It was definitely a hot run and we were there much earlier in the day than the triathletes on race day. It was neat to be able to experience a tiny piece of the course.
Mostly along the area of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway (or the Queen K for short) where the bike course follows, you see signs about that are in support of the athletes that are out training. This is just s reminder how much this race pretty much takes over the town and not just on race day! Riding along the Queen K in the car, made me yurn for my bike. With huge shoulders along the highway, I just felt like going for a ride. It seems like a great place for locals to ride since you can go for hours basically without making a turn!
Into the afternoon, we headed back into town for bike check in. It was awesome to see the variety of bikes out and about and how “sweet” most of them were!
There were lots of neat and fun details around the transitions and the host hotel.
The late afternoon and evening was low key with a pre-race dinner prepared by Nicole, with assistance from the group. It was a great meal to enjoy before all the excitement of the next day.
Saturday 10/12/13 – Race morning was finally here! We were all up and out early. Tim and crew (sans me and Tony) followed him for the final send off and good lucks on the race.
Tony and I decided to stake out a spot on “the wall” to start the swim. You definitely had to arrive early to secure a location there.
It was definitely the place to be and securing spots for us and Nicole allowed us to have prime spectating and picture taking opportunities.
The spectating plan for the day was the split up in pairs so we could cover as much of the race course as possible and maximize our Tim spotting opportunities. We all communicated by phone/text to let each other know when and where Tim had been spotted.
It was neat seeing the pros on their bikes and trying to recognize a few as they raced by.
It is always exciting to see the athlete you are supporting on the race course. Tony and I take our responsibilities very seriously and try to get photos, cheer, lend encouragement, etc. all within a few seconds! This was out first sight of Tim since before he started the swim. He looked great on the bike and we knew he was so prepared to tackle this course!
After Tim passed, we jumped in the car and headed to the next planned point. We had one failure and it was with our decision in parking that morning, so unfortunately it took us a bit longer to get in route, but we overcame and made it to another great spot for spectating.
We found another good point on the course for spectating. There was a bit of a hill which meant the athletes were not zooming by as fast as if they were on a flat section. Also, they were not in aero position which can make it a little easier to recognize people. Once again, we were able to spot several pros on course.
Once again, after Tim passed, we were on a mission to make it to the next stop. We jumped in the car and headed back into town with plans to spot him early on the run course.
We enjoyed this spot on the run because of the ocean view and it was crowded with lots of spectators and support. However, we were still on a mission to spot Tim again on the course, so we stuck to our plan!
At our new spot, we were able to see more of the pro athletes.
After seeing Tim a second time on the course run, shortly before he entered the Energy Lab portion, we made our way back into downtown to stake out at the finish line.
After Tim’s finish, we all gathered together for well deserved congratulations. It took a while for us to all find one another but that worked out the best because Tim needed a bit of down time before gathering all the gear to head back to the house to eat and clean up.
Once that was taken care of, we all headed back down to Ali’i drive to support the finishers in the last two hours. This was something we all really wanted to take part in. It had been a very long day, especially for Tim, but we knew that the finish line nearing midnight in Kona, was a special place to be.
We saw some amazing things at that finish line. Harriet Anderson at age 78, finished the event after having a bike crash (she flipped over the guard rail on the Queen K) during the race. Just a year earlier, she had become the oldest female finisher in Kona. Harriet was the last official finisher with three minutes before the midnight cut-off. She is incredible!
A bit after Harriet finished, Mike Reilly really got the crowd pumped up as he spotted a athlete named Karen approaching with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Everyone on Ali’i Drive was cheering her on and chanting her name with every bit we had.
Karen was racing with a prosthetic leg after losing her foot in a biking accident years before. She had qualified to make the trip to Kona earlier in the year and NOT in the challenged athlete division. She had issues with her prosthetic leg during the race and lost vaulable time as a result.
Karen crossed the finish line just after the 17 hour cut-off. However, she brought so much inspiration to Ali’i Drive. It was an unforgettable moment.
We had one last show to close out race day. This obviously had a special Hawaiian flair and was a neat way to end the amazing day!
After race day, Tony and I spent one more day on the Big Island and then flew over to Maui for some more fun and relaxation on our favorite island.
I really enjoyed writing this post and sharing these memories. Hawaii is an absolutely beautiful place and if you have never been, I strongly encourage you to make the trip. In addition, if you love triathlon and have not experienced Kona during race week, DO IT! It was a blast and confirmed what I thought I knew about Kona and the World Championship…it is magical!
This past Sunday was the second running of Raleigh Ironman 70.3. With the inaugural year being in 2013, there was tremendous excitement and hype amongst our local triathlon community that first year. Both Tony and I participated then and it was a great event. I was proud of the support the community showed the inaugural year and the volunteers were excellent!
This year, of course all my focus is on IM Lake Placid, and I did not sign up early on for Raleigh. At some point after I had selected my training plan, we decided that with the timing of Raleigh versus the timing of Lake Placid, Raleigh would be a good event for my training. However, my actual signing up came too late, as it sold out before I could register! So, we decided to volunteer…we selected two different volunteer options. One was an aide station on the run course and the second was a homestay.
Our aide station experience was crazy! We had volunteered at a local sprint tri before, but never a race this large! After spending the first hour helping get the station set up (moving boxes, cutting up oranges, pouring drinks, etc), Tony and I were on “cold sponge” duty during the race. We passed out sponges soaked in iced water to any athlete that wanted one. These were super popular. It was not as hot as the prior year, but with full sun on the run course, they were welcomed refreshment to the athletes. Our shift ran from 8:30 to 1:00 and this time really flew by. It was great supporting the race, our friends racing and seeing it all from a different perspective.
The homestay program is something we stumbled upon on the volunteer website. Essentially, we would be hosting a pro triathlete in our home as they visited Raleigh to participate in the race. We thought this would be an interesting experience, so we signed up. After communication with a volunteer coordinator and an Ironman representative, we were initially paired up with a pro. We were then asked if we could accommodate two athletes as this particular pro was traveling from California with a friend that was an elite age grouper. We agreed and were excited about meeting two great female triathletes.
One of our visitors came in Thursday evening and the second Friday evening. Of course, they were busy preparing for and coordinating the logistics of race day. However, we were very fortunate to spend time with them over meals and during some down time to get to know them. They are both dedicated and experienced athletes and it was a treat to have them in our home. They both had great races and we were happy to cheer for them as they passed our aide station. They each achieved personal goals during this race and I was super impressed with their athletic ability. They seemed to both enjoy their experience here in Raleigh!
I am happy that Raleigh has hosted two successful Ironman 70.3 events. It is great for so many people that travel from around the world to this event to see the city that I love and experience some southern hospitality. If anyone is looking for a new race to experience, I urge you to give Raleigh Ironman 70.3 a go!
This week was another recovery week, which included reduced volumes and intensity. I was feeling some fatigue and achiness…some of which I attribute to a very solid week the week before. Here is the run down…
AM – 70 minutes on the bike trainer with the focus on hill repeats – This was a tough workout to get the training week started. I did the workout and did the best I could, I just did not have a lot of push in the pedals!
PM – 2300-yard swim with the main set focused on drills and a few speed sets. This has become a recurring workout during my recovery weeks. I did not use the Garmin due to the nature of the various sets. I just focused on form and technique. It was nice to not think about time or speed every now and again.
AM – Tempo Run (speed work) on the treadmill – After a good warm-up, I ran 3×5 minute speed sets, which was a bit shorter than the last two tempo sets I have run, but OH MY! It was another tough session. I was feeling the results of a kick-booty week last week! No worries, just pushed through and was able to hit the target pace; it was just harder to get there and maintain. The 5-minute speed intervals ranged from 7:29 – 7:33 average pace.
PM – 3700-yard swim – I am not sure if this was the longest swim I have ever done, but if not, I would say it was pretty darn close. I was in the pool forever! The main set was 3000 yards with 4×500 and then 5×200 with the pull buoy while building speed over the 200. My times for the 500s were pretty good. The first set, was awesome. My times were a little all over the place, but I was giving all my effort! I think the 200s with the buoy were really just working to ramp up total distance. I did not pay too much attention to pace, just form. My shoulders were burning BIG TIME towards the end. I finished up my swim five minutes before the scheduled closing time for the pool!
AM –55 minutes on the bike trainer with the focus being on max effort intervals. Well, any little thing I had in my legs, was completely depleted in this workout. This is really becoming one of my least favorites…not because it is not effective…it just sucks! Max effort sessions are particularly hard for me and this morning, it was brutal! I finished it up with spaghetti legs!
AM – I was having some achiness in my legs and so I decided that I would take the morning to stretch. I did a one-hour stretch session from the P90X series.
PM – Massage!! Woo hoo!! Much needed!!
PM – One-hour steady run on the treadmill. Good pace and was able to hold it throughout. Averaged 8:17 for 7.24 miles.
Brick – We met up and rode with a group of folks. There were six of us in total. It was a beautiful morning!! We did a course that is fairly familiar. It has several good rollers, which is great training. At the end of the course there is a lengthy steady climb, which Tony suggested that I hit hard with a solid tempo effort. It hurt, but I was pleased with my effort!! Overall the ride was good and I felt good. We rode just under 2 hours for a total of 35.69 miles (average 18.2 mph). Immediately after the ride we went for a run. I started out a bit tight and it took me a little while to loosen up. I ran for 5.18 miles with an average pace of 8:45.
3700 Swim – The main set included 6×500 steady effort with one-minute recovery between intervals. I was pleased with my paces for these intervals and overall for the 3,000 yard main set. Good, LONG swim!!
Time: 11 hours 38 minutes
Swim: 9,700 yards
Bike: 59.26 miles
Run: 16.92 miles
Stretching/foam rolling: Some, but not enough!
With this being week eight, this recap is from another recovery week. I will mention again, that my general training plan is three weeks of build followed by one week of recovery (lighter volume with a bit less intensity). I was actually pleased that my recovery week fell the week after I was sick, so I could work back into being 100%.
PM – 2100-yard swim – At a swim one week ago, I mentioned that my Garmin was not charged when I got to the pool. Well, for this workout, I had my Garmin and it was charged, but I decided to go without it. This workout was a skills focus that incorporated more drills than normal, a longer set focusing on form, and a few speed intervals. This was a good workout to not think about time and just focus on form and drills. It was a good workout to ease into the new week.
AM – 55 minutes on the bike trainer. This is one higher intensity workout that falls during the recovery week. The same workout seems to fall about every other week in the plan. Despite performing this workout numerous times so far, it continues to challenge me. It is an intense session with the focus on multiple sets of “max effort” for varying periods of time. It is always nice when this workout is done!!
PM – 45-minute “steady” run. The target pace was 30 seconds faster than race pace. Prior to the run, I was not feeling ready to run at all. I could not tell if I was tired/sleepy, hungry, fatigued (muscles/body) or still getting back to 100% from being sick. The weather outside was gorgeous and usually that is enough to get me motivated to run, after sitting inside at a desk all day. Unfortunately, that was not doing the trick though; I had a good pre-run snack and just ran. Mentally it was hard to get out the door and I thought physically I would have a bad run. Well, it was not the best, but pretty good. I did not maintain the pace that I needed/wanted, but I was not worried. I just tried to get through the run and focus on breathing and staying strong. It was a rolling course and I just ran it! I finished the run of 45 minutes with 4.94 miles at 9:07 pace. My first mile was the slowest at 9:23 pace and the last mile was the fastest at 8:53 pace.
AM – 55 minutes on the bike trainer with hill repeats. The workout included three 10-minute hill repeats with 5 minutes recovery between intervals. The first and third repeat was seated and the second repeat alternated sitting/standing every 30 seconds. Good early morning workout.
PM – 2950-yard swim with the main workout including three 750-yard sets with one-minute recovery between sets. This was the first time for these longer intervals.
I was pleased with my times, especially the first and second intervals. I will work to try to bring the third interval time down. Overall, I was happy with the average pace of 1:57 for 2,250 yards.
AM – 40-minute recovery run on the treadmill. This run on the treadmill was fine and pace was on point as planned. However, I was feeling bored on the treadmill. Usually I don’t feel like that and can run on the treadmill just fine, but this morning I could not wait to be off! I finished the 40 minutes with 4.21 miles at 9:30 pace.
PM – MASSAGE!!!! Another great massage that was very much needed. I highly recommend that anyone doing regular, intense training work regular massage into the recovery week. I have found that it is key to keeping the muscles happy! For anyone in the Raleigh area looking for a good masseuse, call Julie White on Six Forks Road.
Friday: REST DAY!!!
Saturday: The plan was a long brick with two hours on the bike followed by a 50-minute run at a pace of 30 seconds per mile slower than target race pace. I had planned to ride outside with Tony, but he woke up that morning sick. SO, I did an aero-base Spinervals DVD workout on the trainer. Like on the treadmill just a few days earlier, I felt antsy to finish and get off the trainer! The ride was fine, I was just mentally ready to finish up. After the ride, I immediately switched into my run gear.
This brick run was good. During the run, I was not very concerned about pace. I ran based on feel. I ended up being quicker than my goal per the training plan, but because my steady run earlier in the week was slower than target, I thought this ended up being a good trade off. I finished up the 50 minutes with 5.47 miles at 9:08 pace.
Sunday: 3100-yard swim where the main set included 2400 yards starting off with a longer set and working down to short sets, building speed. I was pleased with the times for my longer sets, but need to work on bringing down the times for the shorter sets.
The highlight of the week was getting back to 100% after my short sickness. Even though I was actually “sick” a short time, it really took a toll on my body. I felt that I really needed a bit of time to get back into my training groove…but I did. There is really nothing better than being healthy!
Time: 9 hours 45 minutes
Swim: 8,150 yards
Bike: 46.89 miles
Run: 14.62 miles
Stretching/foam rolling: Some, but not enough!