Lesson Learned… Finally? – 10/23/16

monster-dash-half

I have a tendency to try and do too much. Most of the time it works out well; this is an example of where it didn’t. And the final swift kick that got me to refocus.

When I did my 2016 schedule, I had it bookended by half marathons. With everything going on in my personal, professional and athletic lives, I honestly forgot about the October Half until one of my coaches mentioned it to me. But since it was on the plan and it was only August, I thought I was okay.

Fast forward to mid-October — I hadn’t gotten in enough long runs, and overall run numbers weren’t where they should have been. I could give you a long list of excuses, but I think the only valid ones would be the two days that it was raining sideways most of the day. Long story short, I wasn’t where I should have been. But I still felt a lot better than I did going into the January one because of all the miles I had put in during 2016.

On race day, the first few miles went well. I was even able to keep going beyond the normal run/walk intervals and felt great. Then between miles 4 and 5, the bottom of my feet started hurting real bad. I was able to work it out the first time, but the second it just got too bad to run. Doug pointed out that while I was feeling it in my foot, it could probably be higher up. He was right, and found a HUGE knot in my right calf. He tried to work it out, but couldn’t (and that was some of the most painful stuff).

So yet another Half where things didn’t go as planned. We did complete the course walking, and finished with a respectable full marathon time. 🙂 After these issues, I will be focusing on 5Ks and building from there once I’ve got a consistent pace (about 33-34min).

A huge thanks to Lee and Doug for guiding me and for sticking it out with me. And a big thank you to Team Ortho for coming through when the previous race I had planned to run put up huge barriers to me doing it.

2016 Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Camp (aka Pleasant Prairie Take 1) – 6/10 – 6/12/16

D2T-Award

(Thanks to Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club for the photo)

For those of you who haven’t read my 2015 Camp blog, please read my 2015 camp blog first. Or if you don’t want to, the thumbnail is this — I had never done a triathlon before, I struggled at camp and managed to cross my first finish line and had some amazing experiences.

Prior to this year’s camp, I had spent about 6 months in the pool, continually getting my ass kicked by one of my coaches. Never fun to wake up at 3:30AM for a 5AM session, but oh so worth it… And there were other times and other ways that both of my main coaches (Coach Stacee Seay and Terri Hayes) pushed me during the last year since camp. If you want details on any of it, just backread through the last year – it’s pretty well chronicled.

Day 0 of camp went pretty much like last year – get to 31st Street Marina, get on the bus to Pleasant Prairie and then crash out early. The slight wrinkle to this year was that I was so spent from the week to that point that I didn’t bother going out to dinner and just crashed.

Day 1 of camp started with the introduction and then led us into the pool with Coach Stacee. Last year I was struggling to do a 50 meter swim and having to stand up at the middle sandbar. This year, while they weren’t as smooth as they should be, I was still churning out 50s, 100s and multiples of 100s. And then I got to do my oh so favorite drill of all time – bilateral breathing. Never a fun one, but oh so useful. Much more on that later on…. When we finished in the pool, we did functional strength drills and then had lunch as a group.

The afternoon of day 1 started out on the bike with Coach Chris. While there were a lot of fundamentals (start/stop, mount/dismount, turns, etc.), it was still great to do. We finished with a run session with Coach Judy that started with the fundamentals (paw and more) and then went to tension running. Last year, I know I struggled on the tension runnings; this year, I was close to beating the camper I was running against. And we got to finish up with the ‘fun’ of running up hill several times, during which I was told I had great arms.

Day 2 started out hot and then only got hotter. I know that I put on full suntan lotion 3 times and had someone else do my legs/face a 4th time. But it was still so hot that I ended up burning in a couple places. Our day started out on the bike doing interval rides up H/88 and lots of turns. For those of you who have never been at Pleasant Prairie, H/88 from Park Place is mostly uphill. Not much fun to do 8 loops of that during training (or 3 loops during the race), but all part of the day. After about 90 minutes on the bike, we went onto the run.

During the run, we did 2 800s and then 4 400s. After the first 800 (5:33), I was tempted to sit out the 2nd (run in 6:04). And the same was true of wanting to sit out parts of the 400 (first 3 run at about 2:55 each, 4th run at 3:17). What kept me from sitting out ANY of those regardless of how much I was hurting was this simple thought – ‘there are a lot of people here with a lot less than me. If they can do it, I’m going to push myself until I at least fall down on the course and someone has to pick me up’. None of the runs were any fun, but I pushed through all of them. What got me through was that thought above and a LOT of ice, water and ice.

Our afternoon ended in the lake. As it was about 7000 degrees out, jumping into a 65-70 degree lake felt really, really, really good. So much so that after 800 meters of practice I joking told a friend that I was just going to stay in the lake until the morning. If you haven’t gotten the point by now, “the sun [was] a mass of incandescence gas. A hot nuclear furnace. A gigantic nuclear furnace. Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees” (Thanks to the 2 Johns for that. And I take no responsibility if that’s now stuck in your head.)

We finished Day 2 with Yoga and then a group dinner, at which I was blindsided. They do camp awards each year, and I was presented with the one for most improvement. I would not have received that had it not been for all of my coaches – especially Coach Stacee and Terri Hayes – continually pushing me forward throughout the last year. I was very proud to receive the award, not just as validation for my effort but also to validate Dare2Tri’s support of me. At the beginning of the year, they selected me to their Development Team, which means a lot of support from them and a lot of investment into me. I am very proud to be able to show that their support and belief in me is starting to pay off. And I meant what I said that night – it’s never going to go perfect, but you just keep pushing forward and it’ll all come together.

Day 3 (race day) started off with a very patriotic salute led by Melissa Stockwell and others. And then it was time to race – 800 meters in the lake, 15 miles on the bile and 3.1 miles on the run (aka Sprint+). For added fun, that meant 3 loops uphill into a 20-25 MPH headwind.

We started out in the lake as a group and the swim went well for the most part. One of the buoy turns took straight into choppy water. This is where the bilateral breathing came into play. And when I forgot to do it, I got a VERY stiff correction to do it right by getting a huge mouthful of water. It was going so well that I was surprised when Lee told me that we were done with the swim. Along the lines of Day 2, if he hadn’t told me that, I probably would have done another loop. We headed out of the water and onto T1 (aka long transition).

Towards the beginning of the bike, I made my first mistake. We were close to the tandem team of Caroline and Ashley and I decided to try and keep pace with them. For those of you who’ve never seen them ride together, just think of that Jim Croche line “You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim” and substitute Caroline/Ashley where it says Jim. Sadly, I will never remember that lesson for the simple reason that as I continue to push forward, I will see them out there a lot. And I’ll continue tor try pushing that envelope. Charlie Brown eventually kicked the football out of Lucy’s hands, right? 😉 😛

The bike portion really was no fun. As I’ve already mentioned, it was 15 miles with big chunks of it uphill into strong headwinds. But we pushed through it and made it back to T2. That was after we listened to the incorrect information from a volunteer and lost a few minutes.

From T2 out onto the run after putting nutrition into my body. To say I was spent at that point would be an understatement. But I was determined to get that 3.1 miles in, even if it was 1/1 intervals. And unfortunately there were a few place where it was like that. But in the end, we made it back to a lot of cheering campers, staff and volunteers.

In summary:

1) THANK YOU to all of the volunteers, staff, coaches and sponsors that made this weekend possible. And a special THANK YOU to Luke Migalla and Lee Dunbar for helping to guide me thoughout the weekend.

2) Even if you struggle, don’t give up. There will always be bad days, bad race and people that continually beat you at a disciple or on the course. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance; if you keep pushing forward, you will eventually get to a point where you can. It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen…. Eventually.

3) I am so glad that I did the Shamrock Shuffle last year. If I hadn’t, I would have never have met Keri and NONE of this would have happened.

4) If you want to succeed and push forward, the words don’t, can’t, won’t and will not need to disappear from your vocabulary.

I’m looking forward to being back at Pleasant Prairie in two weeks to race with an even larger field!

And if you would like to support me as I move forward with my season, you can do so through my Race2Raise Page

Leon’s Triathlon – 6/4-6/5/16

Leons-Triathlon

And so the outdoor season beings… Leon’s Triathlon (Hammond, IN) was my first race of the for the season. While the training hasn’t been perfect, I felt confident heading into it. Especially With th swim. Simply because Coach Stacee has been kicking my ass in the pool for the last 6 months.

There was a camp/team dinner that we went to Saturday night. Leon’s mom showed up, and I ended up sitting next to a wounded veteran (I believe Navy) and got to hear all kinds of amazing stories from him.

On Sunday, we practiced with the tandem that Dare2Tri loaned us, and then got ready to race (including the new magnetic race belt set up — thanks to Dare2Tri) They did an amazing opening ceremony with the garason flag and a multi-service (I believe Army/Navy/Narines) veteran singing the National Anthem. As we were the second-t-last group to start, we had about 45 minutes to wait after transition closed. This gave us a chance to see some of the other groups start, and antics from the wheelies. We’ll see what photos turn out… 😉

Prior to starting, Leon met us at the gate to the lake and welcomed each of us. There weren’t big waves in the lake, but they were consistent. The course seemed to be a sideways J, so the straight part out was into the waves and a challenge. There were a couple of times that it got hard to breathe because of the consistent waves. That’s where the bilateral breathing (one of my least favorite drills) became very helpful. I was able to make it out in my target window (less than 21 min) and we moved onto T1.

For me, T1 always takes — or at least seems to take — an eternity. There’s a lot of gear that need to get switched. Wetsuit/goggles/cap/tethercap off; towel off; socks/shoes/vest/camelback/helmet/gloves/sunglasses on and nutrition in.

Once all of the changes were completed, we were off on the bike. For almost the entire course, we were riding into a headwind. The softglide seats helped during the bike, with my ass falling asleep less times than it normall does during a 12mi ride. I thought we made it back within my target window (30-32 min), but when I saw the results it showed 42 min.

Back to transition for T2, which is always shorter since I’ve got most of my run gear already on.

On the run, my body was just spent. The majority of runs, I’ve been doing 4/1 or 5/1 intervalss, and have been close to 13 minute mile averages. I wasn’t able to do anything close to that on the run course – maybe 2/1 at best. I think there may have been minor ITU band issues, but stretching didn’t fully help. It allowed me to run a bit longer but nothing in the normal 4/1 area. So the run ended up taking 44 min.

Overall, the race went well. I was able to shave 23 minutes off of my sprint PR. And I believe that once I finally have my tandem and can practice on it consistently, I’ll be able to shave even more off. It was an amazing race setting and weekend, and will definitely be on my 2017 schedule. The only thing that I think needs to be changed for 2017 is a better fitting swim cap. This year’s were extremely tight — to the point of hurting. So unfortunately it won’t get used again. I know that TYR makes better fiting ones, as I’ve almost worn out the one from last year’s Naperville Sprint from consistent wear.

Thanks to Lee Dunbar, Dare2Tri and everyone else who helped to make it a great weekend. Next race is Dare2Tri TriIt (Sprint).

4th Indoor Tri – 2.14.16

MITCS

This was my 4th Indoor Tri, and 2nd in the MITCS. Having done a MITCS race in January, I knew what to expect.

As Lee and I warmed up in the pool before our wave, things semed to go well. Even though I couldn’t clearly see the double T at the bottom of the pool (due to lighting), I still felt confident. As our wave started, the swim was okay and I was able to keep on course for the most part. However, there were a couple of laps where I went completely off course, and had to take off my goggles to see where I was at. I ended up losing a couple of laps because of that.

While the swim was a challenge just like the last MITCS race, the bike and run went well. I was able to go further on both of those, while the swim stayed the same.

The final MITCS race will be on 2/28 – hopefully the swim can be a bit better then!