Tuesday, December 06, 2011
I came home from Florida on a Monday. The following morning, I found myself in the pool. During sets, my training partner asked me, "OK, what time do you want to ride tomorrow?" Really? We did set a time and ended up riding...
But now is NOT the time to be in a routine. No structured workouts. It's a
I did go to now my FOURTH doctor to take a look at the big toe. I just realized last week that in April, it will be 2 years that the toe has been
Well, I'm not a fan of surgery and feel like the body should be able to heal itself. But I feel like I've exhausted all my other options and am ready to bite the bullet. And what better time of year to have this done than now when I should be RESTING? And, though I try to put it out of my mind every time I run and even when I'm walking, the toe really doesn't feel good.
So now I need to re-think my whole race strategy for 2012. In 2011, I had taken so much time off running, by the time January came around, I was ready to go! This coming year, I likely won't even be able to put a shoe on for that month. It's a bit challenging as there are so many really fun off-season, cross training workouts I want to do - for example - cross country
skiing! However, all of them require the use of my foot, so I have to forego them. And by the time I recover, I'll have to put the hammer down and be training for specificity if I have any shot at being competitive this year.
So maybe the "forced" rest will be good. Maybe not. It would be really nice to run again without pain or trying to compensate for it. I've decided I've done a really good job at compensating for it this past year, but what further damage could I be doing? So here we go. I've been collecting lots of books to read while I'm down for the count. If you have any suggestions, please share. Funny enough, all but 1 of these books are sports-related or some sort of self improvement book. Wish me luck.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
It really didn't get light out until about 15 minutes before the race, the sun started coming up. It was a brisk 52 degrees and while I wasn't worried about the temperature in the water, I was very concerned with the temperatures and predicted wind for the bike portion. Earlier than usual, I parted from the best training partner in the world and went to line up to get in the water. I needed alone time to focus and I wanted a contact-free swim start.
No, you can't see me in this photo, but I'm probably as far away as you can get from this shot. Yes. It was by design.
The anxiety is worst in the last 10 minutes before the cannon fires. But once it goes off, it's all about doing what you've been training for and the nerves disappear. It was a very gentle start and the water was fairly calm. The announcer said there was a current, but I didn't notice much. About 200-300 yards in, the water jumped about 10 degrees. It felt absolutely wonderful but I was confused. Shouldn't the water be warmer in the shallow part? Whatever, it felt good on my face and hands. I made the first turn and was disgusted by the number of athletes cutting the course. This was way worse than in 2009 or 2007 when I only noticed it on the second loop. Dear North American Sports - PLEASE do something about this! There has to be a way to make these swimmers STOP CUTTING the last buoy! The buoys are supposed to be on your LEFT throughout the swim. Where the hell are all these people going? Make the second turn and I see the coolest looking jellyfish! Well, it was just like the pictures you see - it was awesome. It was deep enough that I didn't worry too much and I was excited as this was only my second jellyfish sighting in my life. Then I looked up and they were EVERYWHERE! I had to dodge a few, but most were deep enough that they weren't an issue. I tried not to think about them too much. I was too busy wishing the guy drafting off me would quit hitting my feet. I kicked hard a few times, just to let him know he was agitating me, but he hit me regularly. As it got shallow, the water got cold again. We get to the end of the first loop and I hear him laugh behind me. As I got up to start running across the timing mat, I turned to him and told him it was his turn to take the lead. He stopped laughing. Heard some cheers for me and wondered how the hell people recognized me with a wetsuit, cap and goggles on!
Second loop was uneventful - more jellyfish, same temperature change, same thing with athletes cutting the last buoy (come on guys, you know you have to go to the RED buoy before you make the turn!!), but no drafter on this loop. Yay. As I get to the end, I hear more cheers and try to muster a smile as I ran across the mat. I ran under the showers, splashed some fresh water on my face and ran to T1. The calves DO NOT LIKE running in sand, but thankfully, that pulling sensation went away as soon as I hit solid ground.
I found my bag before the volunteers (I do go over this the day before as you never know if a volunteer will even be there or not) and it felt like an eternity before I hit the changing area. I sat down and had about 4 volunteers helping me. It wasn't until after I pulled on a jersey and started putting armwarmers on that I realized one of those volunteers was Barbara Shoemaker! I said Hi to her, but she didn't respond. Weird. They helped me put the armwarmers and gloves on. I had toe covers with handwarmers tucked underneath on my shoes - did I mention I don't like to be cold? I put on the helmet, grabbed my sunglasses and though the transition was a little slow, I was now prepared for the chilly conditions.
The volunteers hindered me more than helped me get by bike, I was positioned right near the bike exit and by the time I got there, there were not 1, not2, but THREE volunteers standing IN THE AISLE where my bike was. I yelled "excuse me!" and went to grab my bike. I sorta had to push through them. As I got my bike off the rack, there was another volunteer directly across from me, with a bike pulled off the rack blocking the aisle asking, "whose bike is this?" I had to yell again, "excuse me!" to get him to move so I could get out. UGH. I got out on the course and the frustration left.
Wow. Ccccccooooooolllllldddd! I was so happy I put on the extra shirt, gloves and armwarmers. I was very chilly. Now I hear a noise. It was in rhythym with my pedaling, I slowed, the noise slowed. I went faster, so did the noise. What the??? Damn...the sticker I used to cover the hole in my disc was flapping. Crap. OK, it's just gonna fall off sooner or later. But ridiculously annoying in the meantime! I rode conservatively and comfortably. It was windy. Really windy. A couple times, the gusts would move me and my bike, but I am still happy with my decision to use the disc. At some point, I saw Dan and Kurt and they rode in a car alongside me for a few minutes. HUGE pick me up, thanks guys!
The first out and back section was rough - the road was really bumpy. I searched for a smooth path only to come up empty. Just after the turnaround was special needs. I didn't have anything there, so I kept riding. Then I felt something hit my leg and as I looked down, I saw the shadow of all my flat tire fixing equipment falling off my bike. Uh oh. Should I stop to pick it up? Um....I could, but...no. Forget it. Hope I don't flat! I wondered how that fell off for about 5 minutes then forgot about it. Mike Boyle came up, we chatted for a few seconds, and off he went. That was a nice distraction.
Mile 80. I feel good. Mile 90. I want this to be over. The speed was nice on the way back in. It felt good, but I still had to push. The way out was rough and I know this ride is considerably slower than the last time I rode here. I stayed true to my plan and backed off my ride a little in hopes that it left me a stronger run.
The last stretch in was RIDICULOUSLY slow! It was a straight-on headwind and the only thing that kept me sane was that I knew we were almost done with the bike. It felt like we were crawling. Then in the last mile or so, there was a bunch of sand across the road that was blowing into our faces and I held my breath and closed my eyes as the gusts blew sand everywhere. You had to see it to believe it.
I handed my bike off, easily found my run bag and ran into transition. I had 2 volunteers help me there - and they were very nice - and convinced me to take off my armwarmers. I considered taking off the bike jersey, but opted to keep it on. I also kept the gloves. I wasn't frozen, but I was far from warm. I changed shoes, put my Gu in my jersey pockets and off I went. I felt slow, but good. Saw lots of Team Tri Smart members and smiled. It's always great to see familiar faces along the course. As I hit the first mile and saw my split, I was like, "I need to slow down!" I did slow down for the next few miles and hit cruising pace. I still had my gloves on and felt comfortable. I hit the first round of Inspiration Station and someone put an awesome message in there. "M. Slikas: DO IT AGAIN" Wow. I still don't know who did that - so if it was you, please let me know! I LOVED it!! I smiled and held the pace.
On the way back toward transition/finish, I saw Team Spectate again. They were just awesome and their cheers are priceless.
The first loop was effortless. But I saw a few women pass me whom I believed to be in my age group. In my head, I was frustrated. I am out of the running. I'm in 5th place with 13 more miles to go. It got hard. I fought with myself. I smiled for the cameras, but I was hurting. My hamstrings hurt. My quads ached. I started walking aid stations. I got to the second round of Inspiration Station and the message read, "M. Slikas: HERE YOU ARE" WHO IS WRITING THESE???? They were absolutely perfect and it was the push I needed. My time was slowing, but I knew if I kept running, my time would still be respectable. I kept wanting to see more of my spectator friends. Oh, friends, you don't know how much I needed to hear your cheers!! I was in a bad place and was struggling to keep the wheels from falling off. With 2 miles to go, I heard someone yell my number and then another number...of another woman IN MY AGE GROUP! Oh hell no, NO ONE ELSE IS PASSING ME! I kicked it in. It was very painful. It was then that the calves started screaming, threatening to seize like they had in the week before IMWI. No, no, no, no...just finish. I dug deep. I saw Team Spectate and Jeff Shoemaker took what I thought was the best photo of the day.
The sun was setting. I was struggling. I needed the cheers. I was pushing. Leaving it all out there. I need to be done. I passed 3 guys in the last mile and got frustrated at the volunteer who yelled at me that I needed to go out to the second loop. He yelled at me several times that I needed to make the turn. Dude, I know where I am, leave me alone! It hurts!!! Hurry! I. NEED. TO. BE. DONE. NOW. And then...I hear, "MJ Sli..#)($#@^)& from Oakland, er, Orland Park, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!"
I sat dejected and unable to move in the finisher area. Snips was a Godsend as she waited on me and lots of other finishers. I figured I finished in 6th place in my AG and was very upset with my run. It was not where I wanted it to be. After sitting in the finisher area for over an hour, it wasn't until I got home to the condo to look at the computer and see the results. MJ Slikas - 3rd. WHAT??! That means those women that passed me were on their FIRST LOOP of the run! DAMN myself for letting that get in my head. This sport is definitely mental.
I now have a date in Kona in October 2012. I guess I'm not taking a break from the Ironman distance just yet....
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Two days after Steelhead, I was out on a very leisurely bike ride on a trail and took a hard fall when my front wheel hit a thick branch that was hidden between the shade and leaves on the trail. I first thought it was my elbow that was going to give me problems, but on the drive home from that ride, I knew my shoulder took the brunt of the fall. I went to the emergency room where they confirmed nothing was broken. I was told I needed to be in a sling for 2 weeks with no activity. I was able to ride indoors the next day and pushed my luck in the pool two days later. It was extremely painful but I figured I’d have time to work it out before Wisconsin.
That weekend, I had 100 mile ride on the schedule. My elbow was still really chewed up and I had a hard time in the aerobars between the road rash on the elbow and the pain in my shoulder with any pressure. I was able to finish the ride but the next day, I felt the top of my calves, just below my knee, were really tight. I wondered if the weird position on the bike that day worked muscles in a way they didn’t like. I continued on with my regular training, all rides and runs going well and each time I went to the pool, there was a little less pain. I knew I was compensating for the shoulder and my pull was a bit off, but I was confident I could still swim the 2.4 miles.
The calves remained tight, but nothing I would really complain about. In fact, my longest run went well, holding splits exactly as planned. My last long ride went very well and then it was time to taper! I went out for what was supposed to be an 8 mile run, my last “long” run before the race…7 days away. I was very uncomfortable starting out, the calves felt like rubber bands that had been stretched to the max. I figured they’d just warm up and I’d be OK…it was only 8 miles, anyway. Just before the 2 mile mark, it happened. My calf muscle pulled so hard, it caused me to fall. I couldn’t extend my leg. I couldn’t put any pressure on it. I couldn’t walk. I stood there, leaning on the good leg, dumbfounded. WTF. I can’t run. After trying to compose myself for a few minutes, I painfully limped back to my car on pace for about 18 minutes/mile. What do I do now?
I drove to Accelerated to see if Gina (my physical therapist) was at her office and maybe her or someone in her office could work on me or at least tell me what I need to do! I have 7 days to get this calf thing to go away. Unfortunately, being Saturday morning, no one was there. I went home and packed on the ice. I compressed. I rested. I elevated. I used the stick. I took ibuprophen. I iced. Two days later, I took 3 steps in a running fashion and felt the pull again, although not to the same magnitude. What am I going to do??? I rested. I iced. I compressed. I started to be able to walk without a limp in a couple days, but the calf was still very tight and tender. I wouldn’t know until race day whether I could run or not.
Thursday morning, 9:45 am. BC was going to pick me up to head to Madison. Me, scrambling at the last minute, hurried down the stairs and took a long step with my left leg and – BAM! Calf pulled so tight, it seized and I fell down the rest of the stairs and rolled on the ground screaming with pain. I cried as I called BC to tell him the bad news. I wasn’t going to be able to race. Don’t come and pick me up, I can’t even walk. Being the voice of reason that he is, Bernie (BC) said he wanted to come over. We sat for a few minutes and talked. I could still go swim and bike and just not run. I could go and spectate as lots of tri club members were participating. And best of all, we knew Gina would be up there and maybe could do some work on the calf and I could get some much needed help.
I packed in 10 minutes (seriously, I packed for the Ironman in 10 minutes) and we got in the car. I already felt bad that I had us over an hour behind schedule. I texted Gina to ask her to please hang out at her ART tent, I was on the way and needed to see her badly. Bernie drove as close as he could get to her tent and dropped me off. I hobbled over to her and explained what happened. Within seconds, I was on a table and she was digging into the calf. If any of you have ever had the opportunity to be worked on by Gina, you know what I mean when I say OOOWWWW!!! But I knew I had to do something – if this pain would make it better, I’ll take it.
I thanked her and limped away, but it did feel a little better. I went and got some heat wraps, threw my compression socks on and hoped for the best. The next day, I went first thing to see Gina. Though the pain was still very evident, it had moved. It went lower into the calf, which is a GOOD thing! I was hopeful – I could walk almost normal. BC and I did our ride and hung out downtown so I could see Gina one more time that day. I started calculating - if I could walk 18 min/miles for the marathon, I could finish. But do I really want to walk 18 miles? I’ve already proven I can do an Ironman and I have another one coming up. Maybe I should just use this as a training day. Bag the run and get out there and cheer on my friends and tri club members. It would be a race day call.
Two more treatments with Gina on Saturday and that was all I could do. I was walking just a little better each day, but once in a while, I would do something with the calf that it didn’t like and it would remind me that I still needed to be careful. I tried running in the hallway in the hotel but it didn’t work. This was a different pain – the pain in the upper calf hurt really bad, but was continuous. Now, with the pain moving down in the muscle, the pain was sharp and sudden, but as soon as I relaxed the calf muscle, it didn’t hurt anymore. I spent a lot of time walking around, stretching, trying to figure out exactly what movement it was that the calf would freak out on me. I didn’t want to make that movement!
Race morning. Smooth and pretty relaxed. Still not sure if I would run, walk, DNF, or what. I’ll decide after the bike. After all, with the hills, I wasn’t sure how the calf would handle the climbs on the bike. Just take it one discipline at a time. I stood in waist-deep water for the start. The guy on my left was nervously chatting to me and I was trying not to pay attention. Then he shrieked, “Oh my God, my goggles just broke!” I looked and they didn’t break, but the rubber gasket had come off one of the lenses. He was now muttering, “Oh no. My goggles! What am I going to do? OH NO!” I told him to calm down and I was actually quite nice about it! I had him hold one side of the gasket and I pulled the other one back into place. I then told him to put them on and go under to make sure they weren’t leaking. They were fine. He was grateful. I asked, “First one?” “YES!” he replied. No kidding.
The gun went off without a countdown, which bugged me a little. We were off and it was a very gentle start of the day for< me. Unfortunately, I forgot that I hurt my shoulder and tried going into my normal swim stroke. It hurt to try and pull hard so I needed to make the adjustment so I could swim without feeling anything in my shoulder. First loop, no problems, but I’m a little bored. I just tried to enjoy the swim and flexed my feet every now and then to make sure the calf muscles wouldn’t cramp up. I never did find a good draft, though I did get into a slight altercation in the water. I was swimming parallel to the shore (if there’s one thing I’m pretty good at, it’s swimming in a straight line) and I see a guy in front of me swimming out toward the middle of the lake. We’re going to crash if I don’t do something so I stuttered my stroke and my arm ended up pushing a little on his thighs as I swam over him toward the buoy. Apparently, he felt this pass, looked to see he was swimming the wrong way and decided to change direction. Now he started smacking me on my right and I am not going to race him for the spot, so I now stutter my stroke again, roll over on my back where he’s under me and then back on my stomach so I’m pretty much still in the same spot I started in. The guy stops, turns around and starts yelling at me. I just told him maybe he should swim in a straight line. Yep, then I got mad and swam away from him so he couldn’t draft off me. Too long of a day to let something so stupid get to me.
I get out of the water, pretty slow swim, and try to run to the wetsuit strippers. Calf does not like the running, so I walk. Strippers take way too long with the wetsuit, they seemed very timid! I yanked the wetsuit off my ankles and got up on my own. Tried running again, but no go. Here we go to walk up the helix – embarrassing as there are a TON of spectators lining the helix! I walk without looking at any of the spectators in the face. I get to flat ground and try gingerly running easy. Not too bad! Right away, I see Maxine and I’m happy to see a familiar face! She takes the bag out of my hand and pulls everything out to help me get ready for the bike. Gina also walks over to see how I’m doing. Calves are OK so far! Here we go!
I carried my bike shoes out to the bike itself. Running on the cleats would really screw up the calf, so I didn’t really hurry. I get to my bike, put the shoes on and off I go! I was surprised I was not cold at all at the start of the ride. It might get kind of hot out here if I’m not cold now! I really dislike the out and back part of this course. Going on the trail where there is a no passing zone isn’t fun and sort of kills any rhythym you might have. Going through this empty parking lot also feels very random. But once out on the course, it’s all you and your head. My bike sure was making a lot of noise today. Weird, because it wasn’t making ANY noise on Friday’s ride! I didn’t realize there are a few hills before you even get to the loops, which we’ve practiced a lot in the last few years. I enjoyed getting to the loops because I’ve ridden the course so much, I felt like I knew every turn and pothole and I was prepared for what was up next.
I was having a good ride and feeling pretty comfortable. The noisy bike was really starting to bug me and I knew people passing me were like, “What the hell is wrong with that bike?” It was so LOUD! At the start of the second loop, the calves were tightening. I couldn’t put the power to the pedals as I’m used to, but I just tried to stay out of the pain zone. Now the bike wouldn’t let me into the smallest cog in back and I was definitely having some shifting issues. I hoped for 2 things: 1)Please let me finish this ride and 2)Please tell me I’m not ruining this bike. I heard some shearing noise at one point and knew whatever was going on wasn’t good. Just finish the ride. We’re on the home stretch!
I was able to get in off the bike and stopped thinking about it. Now all I could think was, “Should I even try to walk this? Run??” I took off the bike gear, switched to running shoes, put my visor on and Gina was right there. I asked if she had time for me. I grabbed a quick drink of water and hopped up on her table where she stretched out the calves. YOWSA, some of it hurt, but I knew I needed it. She finished and I sat there for a second and asked, “Do you think if I run, I will do further damage and hurt myself more?” She answered with a no and that’s all I needed to hear.
I gingerly jogged out of transition, being passed left and right, but still moving
forward. I was caught by Brian C. before mile 1. We shared a quick couple of words and I watched him run away and I tried to go faster. The calf just wasn’t having it. OK, I’m at mile 1…that didn’t take 18 minutes. As long as the pain doesn’t get much worse, I can finish this thing! I’m not going to go into all the details or thoughts that went through my head because that would take too long. But I would run and every 20-30 steps or so, the calf would pull in a way it didn’t like and I’d yell, “OW!” There was always someone there going, “Are you ok?” “Yeah, just hurt, I’m fine.” And I’d keep going. As I mentioned, the pain would be sudden and sharp, and I tried not yelling out, but sometimes, it was just a reflex! I pretty much did a run/walk and saw lots of friends out there – both racing and spectating. I walked a little with BC, just enough to get him going again. I tried to keep up, but it wasn’t happening.
I got to mile 18 and was starting to hurt now. I almost started crying as I thought about walking the 8 remaining miles. I took more ibuprofen and decided, it hurt whether I walked or ran. It did hurt more when I ran harder, but I’m now getting cold and I just want to be done. I started to think about the events leading up to this race – falling off the bike and worrying about the shoulder. Then the calf. And then – just 3 days ago, I COULD NOT WALK. I ran the last half mile without stopping to walk. I couldn’t believe it. There is no way I should have finished this race. Finishing an Ironman requires the physical strength, sure. But without the mental toughness, I wouldn’t have finished on this day.
Thank you to Bernie for convincing me to go up to Madison.
Thank you to Gina for taking good care of me and getting my calf as good as it could have gotten before race day.
Without you two, Ironman Wisconsin 2011 would not have happened for me.
Monday, August 15, 2011
On Saturday, after we did our training ride, we were on our way to drop off the bikes in transition when a storm rolled in. The winds picked up, stuff started blowing all over the place and my short little Kestrel was just hanging on the rack,
too small to reach the pavement. With the wind, I knew it wouldn't stay up there, so I opted to bring the bike back to the hotel and bring it in the morning. After all, rack space was pre-assigned, so I figured I'd be good. The wind was blowing the sand so strongly as we made our way back to the car, it felt like we were getting a microderm abrasion treatment! Unfortunately, all that sand stuck to my legs and some got in my mouth. Ick.
Dinner took too long that night, but we were still back at the hotel at a decent time and went to sleep pretty early. Of course, nerves won't let me sleep in and I woke up before the alarm. I quickly gathered my things and we were some of the first people showing up to the parking lot. A long walk with the bikes to transition and before we make it to body marking we learn the swim has officially been cancelled. WHAT? You're kidding. It's not a "triathlon" without the swim! The news disappoints me and sucks some of my motivation to really try to RACE. I decide that if my training buddy decides, forget it, let's skip this and go home, I'll go. It's dark, cloudy, very windy and I don't even get to do my favorite part of the race. We get body marked (what a cluster!) and head into transition. I just threw my stuff down and wondered what to do. Now we were WAY early and they were not even closing transition.
Now the race is a time trial bike start (3 seconds between competitor) and then the run. No 70.3 here. Oh, but the Age Group winners still get slots to the 70.3 Championships. Doesn't seem fair. So if you're a really crappy swimmer but are good at the bike and run and want to get to the championships, go enter a 70.3 that might have the swim cancelled. There's your chance! And that's yet ANOTHER blog post...I digress.
As the sun came up and I saw the water, sure, it was a bit wavy. Didn't look too bad, but I guess they can't take the risk. I get that. Still disappointed, but I get it. So now how do I focus on trying to make this a good race? And at the very least, a solid training day. We headed out for a warm up run that really wasn't good or long enough because of all the people milling about. I didn't feel it would help one way or another, but it was a way to pass time.
I put on my bike shoes, helmet and must've changed my sunglasses 4-5 times. Is it sunny? No, too cloudy. Will it get sunny? Should I use the dark lenses? No, the orange ones. Wait, no, too dark, ok get the clear ones. Wait, here comes the sun, get the dark lenses out again. It was super windy and all I had was my disc wheel. I didn't even bring the other one. Oops. I'll just deal with it. We waited as they started the age groupers off every 3 seconds. Made some friends with the other ladies whose numbers were around mine. Saw lots of friends while waiting.
Off we go - anti-climactic start with no spectators, but what can you do? I ride for about 10 minutes before I try to find my groove. Within the first 15-20 minutes I realize I'm riding way too fast. This is not where I should be. I'm breathing too hard. My legs are working too hard. Oh, but in the back of my mind I am thinking about all the time I have to make up for there being no swim! If I could just make up those minutes on the bike...wait, what am I thinking? That's so silly! But at this point, this race doesn't mean much, so let's just see how much it takes to blow MJ up. Let's keep this pace and see if I can hang on for the run. If I can't, I don't lose anything anyway...
So I fight for every mph I can get. Every time I felt myself starting to coast I looked at the clock and tried to figure out how much further ahead I was of my predicted (SMART) time. I wondered if I was digging myself into a hole that I would regret being in on the back half of the run... I was glad I had armwarmers and toe covers on. It was chilly. I had to remind myself to drink. I just wasn't thirsty. The winds whipped my bike around a couple of times, but overall, the disc was a good decision for the day. Due to the time trial start, I witnessed very little drafting, if at all. Then again, I saw no officials, so it wouldn't have mattered.
Mile 36 of the ride and I see my favorite abandoned RV and think of the training day we had out there. I had to smile. It was one of those rides you'll never forget. And wonder what possessed you to continue riding in those ridiculous conditions. Back on to M63, the final stretch of the bike, and I poured it on. It is my favorite part of the ride. I counted the minutes and we had a sweet tailwind that made this last section really fun! At the end of the ride, there was a sharp turn
into the park...WAIT! ON TO THE SIDEWALK? WTF! NO! This sucks! It was narrow, you couldn't pass anyone, the banners were blowing across the very narrow sidewalk that was actually the course, the turns were too sharp to maintain any sort of speed. Oh, yeah, I did not like the finish to the ride.
Once in transition, it was THE LONGEST TRANSITION EVER! Ugh, I got tired of running with my bike! I quickly whipped off my helmet and armwarmers, switched shoes and grabbed my hat, gels and visor and took off. OK...let's see how the legs hold up! Right away, I was chilly. My toes were numb from the ride - yeah, I know it wasn't that cold, that's just what happens to me! They warmed up by mile 3. Running along, a decent hill at the first turn...had a woman pass me with "52" on her calf. 52? WOW, lady, you're fast for an old chick...I know I was running sub 8s and she flew by me! Then I saw her other leg. Um, 52 was her PRO race number, not her age. Duh. No wonder why she was so fast! :)
Since the run was 2 loops, I didn't see a whole lot of our teammates. I started pretty early and I tried to pick up the second loop of the run when I was told there was a certain someone about 5 minutes ahead of me. Can I do it? I pushed. We went through the Whirlpool campus - a small, narrow path. First time through, piece of cake. Second time?? WAY TOO MANY people and tough to pass. Some people were trying to run 3 abreast. Really? I hate pushing past people like that, but I shouldn't be expected to slow down for that, either. I took in water at every aid station and most of it was consumed. I did miss a few gulps.
A big motivator was the Team Tri Smart Team Spectate! These are the cheering fans of Team Tri Smart and can be spotted with the bright, red shirts. Every time I saw a solid, red shirt, I looked. It was a huge boost to see these guys out there, cheering us on. On my second pass, I
pushed. I caught up to the only female who passed me on the bike. It felt good, though because she started behind me, I knew she was still beating me. I didn't stop to wave to the peeps, I just focused. I wanted to see what I had left. It started to hurt. I knew I had about a mile left. Just a mile. I kept telling myself it was less than 10 minutes, just keep pushing!
I ended up NOT catching my rabbit, but I had him in my sights! I was able to meet up with him in the finish chute and we had a little post race celebratory water together. We both overextended those bike rides and paid for it a bit on the run, but it was fun. And I STILL haven't done a "70.3"....
Friday, July 29, 2011
In looking back at the last week, I've done some pretty silly things. All to "get the training in." I sometimes wonder if being dedicated to triathlon is dangerous to your health, and my answer for the past week was: yes.
1. Last Thursday: Needed to get a semi-long run in. In order to not have to do this alone, I waited for my friends to be able to join me. It was to start at 3:30pm. It was 98 degrees outside with a heat index of 115. Not smart.
2. Last Sunday: Need to do my long ride. Forecast shows 60% chance of showers, but clearing up fast. Temperature was warm enough, what the heck? 30 minutes into the ride, we see that we are riding into a huge dark cloud. We didn't turn around. Lightening, thunder then pouring rain. We pulled off the road into a ditch under a tree. Still getting poured on and, unprotected from the winds, became cold quickly. We waited over an hour for a guy with a pickup truck who gave us a ride back to the cars.
3. Wednesday: Need to get in a semi-long ride. Forecast shows 30% chance of thunderstorms, but not until 2pm. We'll be done long before this. 20 miles into the 56 mile ride, it starts raining. We keep going. Lightening. We keep going. Rain comes down so hard, can't see the road, glasses fog up and no brakes. We still have 20 miles to go. We pull over into an abandoned garage where we waited for over 90 minutes until the rain stopped. Hands and feet numb, absolutely freezing, we get back on the road to finish the 20 miles.
Thankfully, no accidents or incidents to report, but really not smart training. I wonder why I sometimes think a workout is more important than the safe thing do to. It's easy to know what's right and smart and sometimes hard to do it.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I forgot to look at one thing. The wind prediction. Though they were calling for 14 mile per hour winds, there were definitely gusts that had to go much higher than that. I couldn’t hear anything but the wind whipping in my ears for the first half of the ride. And then the rain started. Thankfully it wasn’t a pouring rain, but one of those misty-type rains that covers your glasses and you really can’t see anything. I wanted to take them off, but it was so windy, I would for sure lose one of my contact lenses! So I pushed on, telling myself this was stupid, why the heck am I even out here?
Once I got to the halfway point, I realized – if that wind didn’t shift, it would be a sweet ride home! And that it was – my computer wasn’t calculating speed for me yesterday, but I know it was fast because I was able to get in about 25 miles in 60 minutes. Hot damn! Now that’s what you call a tailwind!
I’m happy to have pushed through it. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in such windy conditions. Maybe Kona, but it was hot there – with only 70 degrees, rain and wind make it really chilly and cold isn’t exactly my friend. Happy to have it done. VERY HAPPY with my new ride! And now to schedule the next one….
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Is Triple T harder than Ironman? I say no. However, I guess it's how you decide to play it. I went into the weekend not really knowing what to expect - except that I would NOT redline any of the events. First, I was in no way trained well enough. Second, who knows how the body will respond by doing a super sprint one day, two Olympics the next day and a half Ironman the third day? I didn't want to spend the next couple of weeks recovering from this. So let's do it.
Arrive around 2:15pm on Friday - first race is at 5pm. Find out assigned race jersey (which is required for all events) is too small. Go figure. Hustle to room and scrounge for food. No time to leave and get food, just eat some of the snacks we brought for the ride. Can't find parking near event. Circle around and go back to hotel, switch all gear to a backpack and ride down to race with all gear in tow.
I'm number 58 - how did I get here? Oh, they seeded you by your fastest Half Ironman time (now I wish I sandbagged that time). Don't even have time for a warm up swim, besides, I heard the water is pretty cold. Off we go - time trial start, by 2s, 3 seconds apart. I meet the nicest guy who I'd start with all weekend - Chris from Canada. One of the nicest guys I've ever met. Get in the water, hyperventilate for about 75 yards, then settle into a flow. Turn around - oh, it's time to get out. Only 250 yard swim. Really? On to bike - keeping HR low - up a hill. Slow. Manage watts - wait...PowerTap goes blank. Are you kidding me? Who cares, it's only 5 miles. Back to transition, out on the run. HR feeling high. How long is just ONE MILE, anyway? Damn, feels long. Finish. Some food provided at end of race. Normally, I wouldn't touch it, but I was starving. One done. Three to go.
Back to hotel, shower, discuss the day - head out for food. There is absolutely NO CELL SERVICE in the area. No email, no calls, no texts. Weird. Drive around for about 30 minutes before finding a pizza buffet. Cheap. Eat, go back and prepare for the next day. First race - regular Olympic distance. First climb on the bike about a 14% grade. Yay. Pace yourself. Went about the pace I felt I could do all day. Goal was to get both Olympic races the same time. FREEZING out of the swim on the bike. Wished we were riding in some sunshine. Wished I put arm warmers on. Run OK, nothing great. Hilly ride and run.
Go back to hotel, shower, wash jersey and hope it dries before next race @ 3pm. Athletes are pretty low-key....arriving to transition very close to race start. Different type of feeling to this event, hard to describe. Take a nap. Shovel in some food and head down for an Olympic that is Bike-Swim-Run. Heard nasty stories of people getting off bikes and jumping into the 58 degree water and cramping up. I'm just gonna chill. Did the bike - challenging, but not as bad as the morning course. Ripped my wetsuit putting it on but NO WAY was I getting in that water without one. Felt refreshing, but my chafing from the run earlier in the day stung. Stung bad. I know I screamed. Passed LOTS of dudes in the water. Made me smile. Out on the run, all those dudes got me back. :( Tried to hold same pace as the morning. Couldn't do it. HOT! Not used to the high temperatures.
Showered again, ate in the room. Had to pay for internet service. Packed up all my stuff since they wouldn't give us a late enough checkout to shower after race. Went to bed pretty early.
On Half Ironman day, I decided to start later. In case you haven't had this experience, being a strong swimmer, decent biker and mediocre runner can be pretty taxing in the mental department. People pass you all day long. Somewhere during the weekend, I decided that passing someone in the swim is not as satisfying as passing them in the bike or run. Just isn't. Swim felt great. Love the time trial start, no thrashing arms and legs to be scared of. Just the ice cold water and my rhythym. Felt nice.
Out on the bike. Brutal. Climbs are hard - wishing I had more gears or a compact crank. Got passed A LOT. Downhills were not better as my back wheel slipped on the first hairpin turn going downhill. I was overcautious for the rest of the ride on the downhills. I don't want to kill a season trying to decend like a fool when I really wasn't in contention for anything. Rode the brakes. A lot. Probably should replace them now.
On to the run. Very hot. SLOW. Just keep moving - only walked up hill. That's because I probably walked up some of those hills faster than I could run them! As usual, picked up my pace in the second half of my run. Not sure why, but I always have a better second half run. Maybe I need to do more brick training. One of the aid stations I had to grab a used cup and dip it in a garbage can full of water. Nasty! But I was so thirsty! It was near 90 degrees. Not complaining, I love the heat, but I needed water!! Descended my splits the last 4 miles of the run. Felt good to actually PASS some people on the run!
I felt great. Yes, my legs are pretty cashed still - but I still think it was easier to break up the 140.6 miles over 3 days than to try and to it all in one day. Especially on that course. The second loop of the bike on Sunday was mentally challenging. I didn't want to be out there anymore. But I came out to finish. And I did. Time for the next challenge.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
I had no idea how this race was going to go. I haven't put in the speed or mileage I know I should for the Half Marathon, but my entire season of racing is a bit later on this year, so I try to tell myself "I'm OK with going slower than last year." But who really wants to admit that? I paired up with an athlete whom I know is my speed and figured I'd hang on as long as I could.
The first mile was difficult with a lot of zigzagging. Then it opened up and, though the splits were OK, it felt hard. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm only at mile 4! Is it bad to quit? I pushed on, realizing I really didn't bring enough nutrition for this run. Just as well, I had no pockets to carry it. At the turn around, it was fun to see 2 TRI SMARTers pushing each other - they were cruising and making it look effortless!
I jockeyed back and forth with one girl for probably 10 of the 13 miles. I promised myself I would try to get ahead. I had one pretty slow mile and had to dig deep to bring the pace back. I passed this girl around mile 11 and figured I had her for good. I didn't hear her feet or breathing any more. Coming up the last little hill, I got a few words of encouragement from a local Palos runner.
Down with about 400 yards to go, a spectator yelled "Almost finished, Ladies!" Ladies? Uh oh...it had to be her. Sure enough, with about 200 yards to go, she shot past me. Oh no - I can't let this happen. I tried to sprint. It didn't feel like much, but I was able to get about a half a foot step ahead of her at the finish line. HOLY COW THAT HURT! Results show me finishing one second - you got that - ONE second ahead of her. It was like we ran the entire race together! Wasn't a stellar performance, but I'll take it. Great race as always. I'll be back next year.
Monday, April 18, 2011
INTRODUCTION TO CYCLING
Whether you are new to cycling or triathlon, or if you’re an experienced athlete just looking to improve your skills and technique on the bike, please join us for a two-part workshop designed to help you be more knowledgeable and comfortable in your cycling endeavors!
April 27 and May 4, 2011
Location: Urban Tri Gear
210 Burr Ridge Parkway
Burr Ridge, IL 60527
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Registration: SIGN ME UP
This workshop will cover the following:
• Group Riding Etiquette
• Paceline riding
• Skills and Drills
Bring your bike, shoes, helmet and dress appropriately for the ride. Each workshop
will include a short informational session followed by a ride for hands on practice of the material discussed.
All participants must complete a registration and participant waiver. Registrations will be accepted on day of the workshop (cash or check only).
A FIST and BikeFit Systems Certified Fitter will be on hand to do free spot-checks during the first session for all Introduction to Cycling participants! A good bike fit is essential for strong riding performance.
Friday, April 08, 2011
Yet another year of Luna Summit has passed. I always head into the weekend knowing it will somehow go faster than the previous year. We headed out on Thursday afternoon and arrived to the hotel expecting to be in separate rooms. But we arrived to find out the 3 Chicago Triathlon LUNAs were all in one room! Unfortunately, it was an extremely small room – just one bed and a cot. I had no idea how we were going to fit all 3 of us and the bikes we had rented in this room. Good thing we wouldn’t be spending much time in this room!
For dinner on Thursday night, we ventured out to find the same little restaurant we ate at last year – only to find out it wasn’t really the same restaurant! We walked a while to another place we thought might suit our needs – we walked about 15 minutes and the place was perfect. The atmosphere, the food, all just what we were looking for! After a quick dinner, it was back to the room for some much needed sleep.
Friday morning, we woke early to fit in a run before I needed to be in Leader Training all day. Uh oh. It’s dark. It’s 5:30am. We’re in a strange place where we don’t know where we’re going. When exactly is sunrise? 6:32am? Considering I needed to be in the shower by 7am, we couldn’t wait that long. So we took off a little after 6am, and yes, it was still dark, but we stuck to the trail and road we knew and it was a perfect little run. Not as far as I would have liked, but better than nothing.
Leader Training was interesting. Clif headquarters had moved since the last time I was here and I was excited to see the new place. We were tucked away in just a
couple of the rooms for most of the day where we discussed the new teams, best practices, Luna products, minimum requirements for the Chix teams, the Breast Cancer Fund, and one of our sponsors, Ahnu. Then my teammates showed up and we took a tour of the new facility. As expected, it was incredible.
We finished the night with dinner at Clif headquarters, an overview of the Breast Cancer Fund and a quick introduction to the pro team and it was back to the hotel for us. The next day was a big one for us, so we went to sleep pretty quickly.
Saturday was individual sport training. So all the tri teams were off to swim in the bay and do a quick run along the ocean. This year was much warmer than last,
but still really pretty cold. Many of the LUNA Chix were freezing by the time they got out of the water. We did a very short run and were hustled off back to the hotel where we scarfed down a quick box lunch and took showers to clean off and warm up for our afternoon seminars.
The first 2 seminars were on nutrition. Then there was a road bike handling skills session with a coupl3 of the Luna pros. Quick break and then on to the Breast Cancer Fund talk and another presentation on LunaFest. Not much time before dinner and then we had the option of heading out to do some shopping of the Luna Sport line.
Now the weekend was almost over and on Sunday morning was the “epic” road ride. We were told it was a challenging ride, but I’m still not sure I got what I expected. It was tough. California has hills that we in the Midwest are not used to. A couple sections of 45 minutes of climbing. I haven’t been outside on a bike in 6 months! Though I looked completely overdressed, I have to say I was glad I brought every stitch of clothing I did because the steep descents were VERY CHILLY! I was impressed with the riding of the other Lunas and this was now by far my favorite part of the weekend. It was tough, but some of the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. And we’re still about a month away from decent outdoor riding in Chicago.
The rest of the day was basically grabbing another quick box lunch, which my roommates were kind enough to grab for me before there were none left (THANK YOU!!). A shower, a few minutes just sitting around and off to the airport to head back home. It always goes so fast.
I’m excited to have met some of the new awesome teams with the LUNA program this year. It’s refreshing to talk with new LUNAS and try to help prevent them from making the same mistakes we did as a first-year LUNA Chix team. I’ve given a lot of time and effort to this program, but I also think I’ve received more in return. As the saying goes, “you get out what you put in”. Our team has gone through LOTS of new members. Some teammates have been outstanding, others not so much. But I do think that this program gives back so much more if you really are in it for the right reasons and you do your part as a team member. I’m excited to see what spectacular things this team achieves in 2011. We have lots of returning team members, but we also have first-year members – the perfect combination for a successful year!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Tri Smart Beginner Triathlete Program includes:
- Swim, bike, run technique clinics, core-strength and flexibility workshops
- Informational discussions on training, race day nutrition, injury prevention and brick training
- Demonstrations on transitions and open water swimming technique
- Technical training shirt, Tri Smart water bottle, nutrition samples and 15% off all purchases at Runner's Soul for the duration of the program
MONDAY Run - 6:00pm @ Runner's Soul in LaGrange
WEDNESDAY Ride - 6:00pm @ Runner's Soul in LaGrange (Lectures on Wed evenings until warm enough to ride outdoors (Approx May 4), then rides will meet @ 6:00pm @ Urban Tri Gear in Burr Ridge
FRIDAY Swim - 5:30am @ The CORE in Lemont
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
- STARTING LOCATION - We are moving the starting location of this training run to allow us access to indoor bathrooms before the run! We will beet at Safety Village which is located at 55 Stephen Street. View map HERE.
- START TIME - 7:30am Sharp! Please plan to arrive a few minutes early so we can get started right on time. Safety Village will be LOCKED while we are out running.
- FREE SAMPLE - Clif Shots will be available for everyone.
- T-SHIRT GIVEAWAY - There will also be a few Quarryman shirts given away. The Quarryman Challenge is a 10 mile hilly race that takes place on May 7th. To register for the race, click HERE.
- COURSE MAPS - The course loops around and you are able to cut the course to 6 miles, if needed. The course is marked, but you can find a map HERE.
- BREAKFAST AFTER RUN - We should be heading to breakfast around 9:30am and will be going to the Pancake Cafe, 1264 State Street, map HERE. They have a variety of breakfast specials for under $5.00. If you can't make the run, please feel free to join us for breakfast!
Monday, January 31, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Before the injury, I ran with him for just some shorter runs around the neighborhood. He was still much too little and not conditioned enough to put in any more than a few miles. So I thought, "Great, I'm starting running over again, he can start with me."
I let him out in the yard to take care of his business and went to get dressed. I came back, called him, and he starts playing games. He gets close enough to the door just ALMOST enough for me to catch him. When I go to reach out to him, he runs away. Clever. So, because I am smarter, I get a treat. I try enticing him to come in the house to get the treat, but the beast knows this means he will stay in the house. No deal.
So I grab the leash and walk around to the gate so he could see we'd be going for a run. I open the gate and he runs to the back of the yard. No leash for him. Now I'm ticked and running out of time. So I figure, "OK, well, let him watch me run away and then next time I come to get him with the leash, he'll remember we used to go run together." I throw the leash down near the garage door and start to head out.
His big block head is facing my direction and his ears are up. I turn around, figuring I'll only be gone for 20 minutes or so, he'll be fine in the yard. I run a couple houses down and I hear 2 thuds. With the third thud, I hear the gate swing open and 4 puppy paws running down my driveway and out onto the street to follow me. CRAP! He doesn't come when called and now I'm scared he's going to get hit by a car or run away for ever. I left the leash at the house.
What to do? The only thing I could think of - run like a fool back into the back yard. Whaddya know, the little guy follows me right into the back yard. I am relived, but now I have no time to run. Oh, and I need to fix the gate.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
So what is there to do? Aside from a lot of time on the bike and one-legged flip turns in the pool, I've now focused on changing the diet up a bit. I am now working on the Paleo diet - well, I'm trying! I cannot believe how wierd it is to not have bread, rice, pasta, bagels, etc. And I don't think I've eaten this much meat since I even started this sport. I actually bought a WHOLE chicken the other day. It almost makes me gag thinking about it. But we'll see how this goes - I'm game to try anything once. The real test will be to see what happens to my power numbers on the bike. Last time I made a drastic change to my eating habits, I just about lost all power on the bike. This was when I went RAW for an entire 4 months. I figured 4 months was enough time to decide if that was the right diet for me. It wasn't.
So Paleo it is - for how long, who knows? I'm trying new recipes and learning what to order when I actually go out to eat. Paleo is like the "caveman" diet. Wait, caveman didn't have First Endurance? OK, I guess I'm not going to be 100% on Paleo - there are some things I just need to have! I mean, have you tried the Wild Berry yet??