Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Today is going to be your day, I just know it!"

And with that, I teared up for the 4th time race morning. Those words were said to me by one of the fabulous IMAZ volunteers as I dropped my gear bag with her. I had several ‘mantras’ ready to talk my mind and body into staying as strong as possible throughout the day and now I had one more thanks to the kind words of a volunteer. 

Heading out to the water from Transition

In Transition, I nervously checked my bike a million times, searched for Pam spray to get my wetsuit on and hugged all of my teammates as tightly as possible. When we lined up, I wanted to get into the water with my friend Beth R. We held hands and tried to walk to the water’s edge together despite the crowd pushing around us. As we neared the inflatable swim arch with timing mat, a volunteer was yelling, “Climb the fence, climb the fence, the race is starting”. Beth and I hurried, scrambled over the fence and jumped as far as we could out from the wall into the 61 degree water. Yes, 61 degrees is cold, especially when the health club pool is 83 degrees. I had double swim capped and plugged my ears for the race. Luckily the day before, I had found out on the practice swim that my head really doesn’t like that cold of water, especially in my ears. I had been very dizzy and nauseous after the practice swim. A teammate gave me some ear plugs and I crossed my fingers that they would work.
Holly(me) and Beth

Swim - 2.4 Miles
After we jumped in, I lost Beth.  We had to swim under a bridge and a little ways past to get to the official start. I was treading water now, exchanging looks with other athletes around me. I kept thinking, how many of you are going to beat the crap out of me on this swim? I was way too far up in the crowd for my abilities but it was too late to move back, I just had to wait for the inevitable beating. The cannon went off and the most aggressive swim I’ve ever been involved in began. Believe me, this isn’t my first rodeo so I’m always expecting a good amount of contact. This was, well, brutal. I was convinced I was going to come out with black eyes after getting some really good hits to my goggles and pushed under water multiple times but I stayed calm. No panic just kept thinking to myself, “I’m swimming at freaking Ironman!!!”  It seemed like it was almost until the turnaround before I had some space. I stayed up by the buoys and sighted pretty well. Took in a good amount of water during the swim, the water was so choppy with 2600 people all swimming at the same time.  Got to the steps at the finish and 2 big guys basically lifted me up to the bottom steps. I was a little shaky but walked the chute to the wetsuit strippers – Shwoop, off it went.

Coming out of the water with a smile

T1 – Got my gear bag, carried it and my wetsuit to the tent which was was packed. Found a seat eventually and tried to towel off for my full change. I had decided to completely change so put chamois butter on, bike shorts, fresh jog bra, socks and jersey. I wasn’t too cold since I changed fully. I paid the price on time doing this but really, I just wanted to finish Ironman so I wasn’t too concerned. I ran out and grabbed my bike from an awesome volunteer.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Jersey and off on the bike

Bike - 112 Miles
The bike felt great but I was really taking it easy. I saw Brooke as I headed out for loop one and that was just awesome! I had hoped to reserve energy on the bike for the run and just take it all in. The bike was 3 loops with some false flats but not bad compared to Georgia. The headwinds were pretty strong on the way out for me, but then on the turnaround, the wind cooperated and was behind so I was flying. I thought, this is going to be GREAT. Gut it out for the first half of each loop and then tear it up on the second half. Unfortunately, the winds in the desert aren’t that predictable. The winds on the 2nd and 3rd loops were constantly changing so you just never knew if it was going to be a headwind or not. I didn’t feel any tailwind on loops 2 or 3, just always head or side winds. It was awesome though, people would come by and call you by your name (on your bib) and say good job. It was a mental pickup to just hear someone say your name out there when you were in the tougher miles and mentally a little off.

I over hydrated – stopped at the porta potty 5 times, yes 5 times. Can’t even imagine how much time that took since each time I had to wait in line to get in but it did feel good to stretch and get off of the bike for those moments. I met a really nice guy, John, while waiting in line. He’s 68 and was doing the race with his son, though his son was way ahead of him. We talked a few minutes more and then off we went. He got ahead of me coming out of the porta potty and I passed him a few minutes later and said, 'See you on the run John'! I later saw him on the run which was heartbreaking– more about that later.

I was really hungry on the bike. I did try to eat some Pringles (in my special needs bag) and some Luna bars in addition to my liquid calories but was still hungry. Not a good sign unfortunately but my stomach wasn’t upset, just grumbling and hungry. Finished the 3rd loop and was THRILLED to get off of the bike.

T2 – I grabbed my gear bag and saw my awesome girlfriend, Paige. I gave her a quick hug and jumped into the changing tent for another full change. Just like superman in the phone booth. Come in one way and emerge in a completely different outfit. At this point, I was so slow on overall time; I didn’t have to fight a crowd in the changing tent and had a volunteer that was helping me. I got all of my bike stuff off and started putting on my run stuff and realized I had forgotten to put my body glide in my run bag… Not good but they had some Vaseline so I improvised. Got my hat, sunglasses, threw on my race belt again and out of the tent I went.

Another outfit change to TNT Purple and the run begins

Run - 26.2 miles
I came out and started the first loop (3 loops total for the run) and it was packed with spectators. It was so nice to hear all of the cheers. I felt pretty good for the first three miles and was able to run then walk through the stations. My plan had been to run a mile walk a minute. HA! That plan fell apart quickly as my stomach started revolting. Though I had been able to do ‘number 1’ multiple times, not a chance for the alternative. Not all damn day which makes things uncomfortable to say the least. I eventually had to move to all walking which was really defeating mentally for awhile. Everything felt fine except my stomach. I stopped taking in fluids, food at about mile 6. I just couldn’t do it anymore, got dizzy, nauseous so that was that. The good news was that I was walking faster than I could’ve jogged at that point so I just changed my mindset and said to myself again, ‘This is freaking Ironman, take it all in and smile.’ I knew I would make the cutoff even walking the entire marathon so with that pressure gone and my ego back in check from not being able to run, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. The Vaseline had not worked well and I now had multiple blisters with the worst being on the bottom of my left heel and back of my right heel. I had gotten rocks in my shoes from the 'off pavement' portions of the course so fearing I wouldn't be able to get back up if I sat down and took my shoe off, I left them there the whole race. Suck it up buttercup, this is Ironman!

At about mile 7, I met Angela who was also resigned to a walking marathon at this point. We stayed together for almost 10 miles talking about everything under the sun. There we were, at Ironman in the complete dark talking like old friends though we were complete strangers. We tried to run a little but my stomach just couldn’t do it. I had cut off fluids, food, and gel for awhile and it hadn’t helped. Probably hurt me but that's the way it went. Again, I took it all in. The awesome company of Angela, who was in the navy and raising a step child with Cerebral Palsy, the lights from the bridges shining on the water, the amazing volunteers at the aid stations. Angela had started to feel better and was going to try to run, so we parted ways and a few minutes later I saw Paige and my Coach Mary again. So great to see them. A couple of minutes later I saw my daughter Brooke and just broke down crying again. It was SO amazing to see them; I really needed a kiss from my 4.5 year old to finish that 3rd loop. She said to me, ‘Go get those boys Mommy’ and I laughed and took off after the guys in front of me.

I thought about so much when I was in the dark walking by myself. My family, teammates, Paige, friends throughout the country tracking my day online and my friend Paula who had lost her battle with cancer this year. Paula was with me out there throughout the entire day for sure. Smiled when I saw signs that my friend Frank had his family hang for me. At around mile 23, I met Reggie. He was from Tempe and this was his second Ironman. He was having a rough night and was off of his goal but in good spirits too. What can you do? Accept that it didn’t go as planned and keep moving. We chatted for a while and reached mile 25 where I saw an athlete in bad shape being helped on the course by 2 other athletes. He was being supported by them and was trying to walk and finish the race. Reggie and I came by and it looked like there was nothing we could do so we carried on. Later I found out that the struggling athlete was 68 year old, John, that I had met on the bike earlier. I believe he fell late into the run and fractured his pelvis. The heart of an Ironman. The athletes that were helping him had no worry about their time, their races; they were going to get John to the finish no matter what and they did. To me, that is what Ironman is. Not what time you finish but everything you learn about yourself and experience with others over those 17 hours. I’m pretty competitive about a lot of things in my life. Racing for a time goal just isn’t one of them anymore and truly it hasn’t been for a long time.  I’m 43 and a mom with a full time job. I got exactly out of this race what I wanted, to make the cutoff, have Mike Reilly call me an Ironman, have the experience of a lifetime doing something I wasn’t really sure that I could. A true stretch goal if you will. Though I finished at the BOP for my age group and about an hour later than I had expected, those ironman miles in the sunrise, sunset and dark were some of the best of my life. The finisher chute is the most unbelievably amazing finish in the world. People are screaming for you, banging on the side boards and just giving you so much energy. I swear I ran a sub 7 minute mile pace in that chute. It was the first I had run without pain or stomach upset since mile 3.

Crying and laughing crossing the finish!

The day after Ironman, they showed a short video of a guy that they discovered still out on the course at 2am. He was 2 hours past the cutoff but wouldn’t stop until he finished the race. He got no medal, he is not an 'official' finisher but it didn't matter, he was going to finish that race for him. Again I say the heart of an Ironman. What an amazing individual. Some people hold the winners of the races as their inspiration. For me, its people like him and John. I’m so thankful to have shared this experience with such amazing teammates raising $320,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
GA IronTeam at the IMAZ Practice Swim

Team, I’m going to miss training with you every week, thanks for sharing your last 10 months with me! Here's a link to the video I put together from my clips in AZ. Thanks for the memories of a lifetime!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

4 Weeks From Today - #623

Holy smokes, really? I'm still in shock that it's almost here. It's been a bumpy month but one with some great peaks that went along with some of the valleys from my last entry. In the last month or so I've done 3 100+ mile bike rides, race distance swim (2.4miles), runs of 18-20 miles the day after my 100 mile bike rides. It hasn't been easy but it's been rewarding. Last week I turned 43!

My husband tried to get the cookie place to do the Ironman logo but they couldn't seem to wrap their minds around it for some reason so they did this Swim, Bike and Run cookie. Very cute!

I'm feeling a lot better since my last entry. Thank you so much to all that have donated (special shout out to my mystery $250 donor!!) and to Bob H who sent out a plea for donations for me but also sent me the most amazing email after he read my last update. I forwarded it out to my teammates as we've all been pretty beaten up lately. Take a look at my new training inspiration compliments of Bob:

"Holly, I just read your latest post on your fundraising page and was moved by your training toil.  You're the only person I know that has ever attempted to do what you are doing.  From your comments, I can feel your pain as you spend so much time training, so much time away from your family.  You could call it quits; throw in the towel any time you want….but I know you won't.  You are a fighter.  And you are fighting for all those cancer patients who can't fight for themselves.  They are with you on all of your swims, all of your rides, all of your runs.  But they're not there to be a burden, but to lighten your load; to give you strength; to give you inspiration.  You are their hope….not just for them, but for their friends, their family, and their loved ones.  The race is long, but in the end, you will be rewarded beyond measure.  You are becoming a hero for thousands.  You keep going, girl, because we are all counting on you, we all believe in you, and we are all with you."

I can tell you that I've been using pieces of this email during my training this week and it has helped immensely. I'm trying to figure out how I can laminate it and take it with me on the course. Bob also became my 'B' lap for my swims this past week. I used to count laps when swimming but now have moved to the alphabet so each lap is a letter of the alphabet and during that letter lap, I think of someone or something that starts with that letter and inspires me. B is a hard lap to get, my husband's name is Brad, my daughter is Brooke so for someone else to get the 'B' lap, is pretty huge. Thanks Bob!

Yesterday was a FREEZING ride - air temp in the 30s when we got started at 8am. It was the coldest ride I've ever done. My toes hurt so much... They finally thawed out after we finished but yikes.

Today was about 800 or 900m open water swim at Mary Alice Park. We started later to try and let the air temp warm up a bit but I think it was in the 40s outside and the water was in the mid 60s. I tried to splash water on my face about 15 times and fill my wetsuit up a little with the water pre-start so I could get a little acclimated before we got going. It ended up working pretty well. The splashing on my face definitely made me get that panic-y feeling but the good news was doing that vs. just sticking my face in the water and swimming got it out of the way so when I did start, I cruised right along. 

Haven't given you one of my training songs in my blog lately so here's what I've been listening to lately - it's Rush, Marathon:

It's not how fast you can go
The force goes into the flow
If you pick up the beat
You can forget about the heat
More than just survival
More than just a flash
More than just a dotted line
More than just a dash

It's a test of ultimate will
The heartbreak climb uphill
Got to pick up the pace
If you want to stay in the race
More than blind ambition
More than simple greed
More than a finish line
Must feed this burning need 
In the long run...

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes
One moment's high, and glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades in the summer sky

Your meters may overload
You can rest at the side of the road
You can miss a stride
But nobody gets a free ride

More than high performance
More than just a spark
More than just the bottom line
Or a lucky shot in the dark
In the long run...


You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don't burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you've got to last...

Let the countdown begin, 4 weeks baby!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Melissa, Paula, Julie and Me

This week has been one of the most up and down mental and physical weeks since I've started training for Ironman Arizona.Some extreme highs and then the inevitable lows.


Had strong workouts all week despite a serious lack of sleep. Swam race distance of 2.4 miles with the team wednesday night and it was easier (not easy though) than I had expected. Took me around 1:25:50 I think. Everybody finished way before our Ironman cutoff so we popped some sparkling grape juice and celebrated. Awesome time!

Ran 6 strong miles the next morning despite having about 4 or 5 hours of sleep between getting home from the swim and getting up for my early morning run.

Ran 18 miles Saturday with some of my favorite girls from the team. Probably one of my best 18s ever just because I was with them.


Brad's car broke down on the highway (up an exit ramp thankfully) with brooke in the car. He tried to call me and I was of course training. It REALLY bothered me that I wasn't there. I have been having extreme mommy and wife guilt lately about the amount of time I'm gone from daily existence with my family. It hit me really hard Saturday night thinking about them needing me and I wasn't there. I'm just not pulling my weight at home and I'm sad about that.

Sunday morning I woke up and just was so mentally drained I had probably the worst attitudes I've had since starting to train. Got to the ride, made the best of it since my teammates were keeping me in good spirits and then something just clicked again during the ride mentally and I was mad. Mad about training all of the time, mentally and physically tired from lack of sleep and the volume without rest days for a couple of weeks at a time. At about 50 or so miles, I just packed up my bike, got in my car and left. Was supposed to ride 110. Physically could've kept going, mentally just didn't want to. I'm tired, I'm mad, I'm out of here. Will I do that in the race, hell no, but today, I just needed to.

Got home, opened my email and found out one of my running buddies had died from cancer. It wasn't a surprise, we knew this was an uphill battle that based on her husband's updates, had not been going well. Honestly, I'm just really sad. Paula and our group of running friends met on the Chicago marathon training boards back in 2000 or so. We would meet up and run various races throughout the years, most notably Dances With Dirt in Hell Michigan. We would have so much fun running those trails, laughing, running our butts off!! I can picture Paula in sunflower shorts like it was yesterday. A big group of us also did the Swedish Days Century to celebrate Paula's 40th birthday. Here we are riding through the cornfields in IL
Paula's in the blue and I'm in the Red flashing the deuces

I read back through her Caringbridge pages tonight and it was just brutal. I still have her note on Facebook letting us know about her diagnosis. Cancer sucks. Between my Mom, Paula, my old friend from growing up - Kristin, I just am numb at this point. I'll pull it together and get my mind back on training but I guess it makes me glad that at least while me and my teammates are out there for hours and hours, we've been able to raise $250,000. I'll be continuing my season and racing Ironman with Paula's memory to keep me strong.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Augusta Half IM Race Report - Don't Eat the Paste

Some of the fab athletes on our team pre 70.3 (I'm second from the left)
I'm going to keep this entry limited to just the Augusta wrap up vs catch you up on my missed weeks of training updates. This race was a 'training day' for us as we enter our last 6 or so weeks of training. We were supposed to test ourselves but not go all out. 

Woke up race morning to 95% humidity and overcast (slightly spitty) skies. My wave didn't go off until 8:44a so since we had to be out of transition by 7a, I caught the shuttle over, set up transition and then caught the shuttle back to the hotel to chill out before walking back around 8:10. Put my wetsuit on and got lined up, time was flying. Pre race I had a couple of sport bottles of EFS. It was a little hard to figure out nutrition as I haven't started a race that late so was hoping I didn't screw things up by drinking too much pre-race.

Beth B, Me, Ann heading toward the swim start
My husband, Brad, and 4 year old daughter, Brooke, made it just in time to see me head into the water. I got the best pre-race kiss from Brooke, I was thrilled to see them as my day was starting.
Go Mommy, Go!
Swim 1.2 miles: 0:29:22 (1:32/100m)
Swim was very murky with lots of random weeds, branches. The great news is that the field was pretty spread out and there was a nice current working positively for us. I was really happy with my swim, felt strong the whole way and even caught people in the waves ahead of me (a first).

T1: 0:5:37
Ran up the hill and met the wetsuit strippers around the corner. Picked the biggest guy I could find and off it comes, I was shucked like a big ear of corn. Got on socks, shoes, my number and off I went.

Bike 56 miles: 3:18:10 (16.9mph)
Weather was still overcast and it was just a nice rolling course so I was trying to hold back some. I felt so good so I just kept saying to myself, "Don't eat the paste", as my girl Paige reminded me. Basically meaning don't get pulled out with everybody, let them fly by. I didn't eat the paste for a long time but then, guess what, I ate it... I had 2 bottle of EFS and 2 bottles of water with gel. Didn't eat my luna bar (critical error), just drank all of my calories. Sun came out full force at about 30 or so miles on the bike. I mean HOT. Was starting to dread the impending run. 

Funniest part of the bike was a guy standing at the end of his driveway with a sign that said, GO HOME on it. I saw him and started laughing thinking it was a joke. That was until he started saying, 'Go home, you're an inconvenience to the community, don't come back'. What?! So then I pedaled a little further and his next door neighbors were on their driveway saying, 'Don't listen to him, we think you guys are rockstars. Please come back'. Too funny! Sweated out the last 25 or so miles with the sun baking down and then hit the transition area.

T2: 0:4:26
Threw my bike back, grabbed my shoes, did a porta potty break and off I went. I felt pretty good other than hot. Unfortunately that feeling didn't last.

Hello Sun! 
Run 13.1miles 2:42:10 (12:24 pace)
Yep, the wheels fell off. Don't get me wrong, I'm no speedster runner but I can pull off faster than this. I made it to just mile 2 before I reverted to a very sporadic run walk. Basically it was based on my stomach. I had so much fluid in there that my stomach was sloshing every time I'd start running. I'm running next to this guy (stranger) and he hears it and says, 'is that your shoe?' I say, 'nope, that is my stomach'. Ohhhhhhh. Yeah, not good. Major gastric issues. 

Brooke and me - about 5 miles into the run

Generally when I do races, I run with friends that are new runners or I'm pushing a jog stroller running with my husband or something that has me go at someone else's pace. It cracks me up because people look up race times and think I'm so much slower than I actually am but the reality is that I almost never run my own pace at races. Well, this time, I completely own this run time. I didn't hang back to stay with anybody, didn't  push 35 pounds in a jog stroller for the distance. Nothing, it was just a rough run. Sun baked until about 8 miles in for me, shoving sponges down my jersey, running through hoses (yep, blisters). Then, the thunder started and a downpour. Every type of weather decided to be represented during the race at some point. It felt great to get rained on though my two toes with new blisters weren't so happy. 

Despite some challenges during the race, I smiled the whole time. Seriously, even the worst day out there beats what other people go through on a daily basis to just live. Whenever I hit that pity party moment I try remind myself how lucky I am to do this sport no matter what the day brings. I have to smile.

Hopefully this crazy finish photo makes you smile too
Finish: 6:40:10
Note to self, before attempting a finish line photo where you jump, let the photographers get ready so they catch you in the air. I was a cheerleader from grade school until college. We used to do this 'C' jump where your body forms a C. This was me either jumping or landing while doing the C. I can't tell what it looks like I'm doing, some sort of dance maybe? I might need to have a caption contest to do it justice. 

No more races until the big dance on November 20th. The next several weeks are brutal looking at the schedule but our team has raised over $250,000 now so I'm going to keep smiling through it! Thanks for reading, I'll try to update this weekend. As always, your donations are appreciated and help find cures for blood cancers so thanks for your donations!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Epic Training Weekend in the Mountains

Holly (me) and Beth arriving in Blowing Rock NC

This past weekend was our team's Epic Training Weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Blowing Rock NC. What an experience - there was laughter, there were tears, there was exhaustion and self doubt and yes, there was wine but no whine (a team rule for the weekend). Beth (in the purple) was my roommate for the weekend and was a good sport about wearing the Hello Kitty gear my daughter Brooke picked out for us. I really had so much fun with Beth over the weekend, THANK YOU for being a great roomie, co-pilot in the car and just partner in crime in general. I've got lots of pictures for you on this entry from the weekend.

We drove from Atlanta to Blowing Rock on Thursday afternoon. Grabbed a nice mountain top dinner on the porch with Beth, Chris H and our Coach Mike prior to check in. Off to a great start! Settled into our 'rustic' accommodations thursday night, good night sleep and up and at 'em to ride at 7:30 Friday morning. 
My riding partners- Wendy, Beth, me, Dori, Rachel, Sally and Amy

Wendy and me

We rode from our hotel to the Blue Ridge Parkway for our 6.5 hour ride. No mile expectation, just time. On my GPS, I got up to 41mph on some of the downhills and crawled up the mountains like a turtle. I can't pull up my account but I remember something like a 6500ft elevation gain from the ride. It felt great though it took me all of that time to just get 80 miles. Yes, that's how tough the ride was - 80 miles in 6.5 hours. Dori and I took a wrong turn on the way back to the hotel and ended up downtown Blowing Rock. We were definitely lost. Mike came and picked us up thankfully otherwise Dori and I would still be out there saying, 'I think this is right'. 

Dori and Me
We got back, had some lunch around 2:15p, couple of hours off and then to the pool for an hour swim practice/drills. Dinner and to bed.

Yep, I'm hiding in the back!

Saturday morning started with a return to the Blue Ridge Mountains for 3 hours of trail running. Again, no mile goal really, just 3 hours on the mountain trails. You can tell from the group picture above how excited we were... It was absolutely breathtaking I have to say, same as the ride. Hardest thing ever but the scenery keeps you going. 

My Pre-run curtsey- water and gel, check!

We ran about 4 trails I think, some looped into others so we started on one of the easier trails and ended on one of the shorter but harder ones. The great thing about our last trail was that it was a good incline to the top (we walked a good bit) but when you turned around it was a beautiful downhill for about 3 miles. Well worth it to end the 3 hours on a 3 mile downhill. 
After our trail run, we went back to camp and had an hour stretch clinic, lunch and then break time. About 4p we headed back to the pool for an hour of swim drills and land based exercises. Back to the camp, dinner and then visualization techniques from 7:30-8:30p. 

Regina, Beth, Karen and Me (my FAB midtown ATL running partners)

After our visualization time, we all just grouped up and laughed, drank wine/beer, took pictures and just bonded. This weekend was great for bonding and amazing team spirit. Such a cool, cool thing to be a part of let me tell you. I got to know some teammates that I didn't really know well and the ones that I did, well we got even closer. In the famous words of John Dapper, Proud to be your teammate!

Sunday we got up and were supposed to catch another 1.5 hour ride in the mountains but the winds from Hurricane Irene were too strong so we skipped it and packed up to head to TN for an open water swim. We drove for about an hour and then got to the Lake. This was great, I got to try out my new full wetsuit so thankfully the water was a little cold. I definitely got warm in it but was determined to leave it on to make sure it would work for a good long swim.

Me and Abby
We jumped in the lake and swam out and around the island, just doing that loop for an hour and a half to an hour 45. I felt pretty strong during the swim. The first loop I sighted horribly but did better on the next 2 loops. I heard it was around 2 miles if you did the 3 loops so I felt good about that. 
 Me, Amy and Jane post swim

After that, we jumped in our cars, grabbed lunch and drove 6 hours home. Got home Sunday around 6p or so and then back to work monday morning. Needless to say, it's been a bit of a sleepy week. We're now on recovery week and will ramp back up next week. We're definitely getting close!

Thanks to all for reading, donations and support. This team has raised over $200,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society but we're still trying to get to our goal of $250,000. Please consider helping us with a donation - you can click the tab on my page to donate!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Phew, Am I back in SE Asia?

My running path in Cyberjaya Malasia

I've been having flashbacks to working and running in Malaysia given the heat here in GA. Though I miss working in Malaysia and Singapore, I don't miss the heat and running in it. Can we be done with it please? On a HUGE note, our Ironman team has raised over $200,000 so far and we are well on our way to raising $250,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!

Go Team!

Lately I definitely haven't been pulling my weight on the fundraising side - I'm stuck at $6300 so if you were waiting for another blog post before donating, here you go! Seriously, thanks for any amount you're able to donate. 

I know I'm way behind on my blogging and weekly updates so I apologize for that. Between working full time, taking care of my family and training 12-14 or so hours a week I've been a bit strapped for time. I got my new bike recently - it's a Look 576 and it's absolutely beautiful. Thanks to Podium Multisports for getting me on a great fitting bike and putting up with my emails everyday asking when it would be coming in. 

Ricky Bobby

I have this weird thing where I have to name my bikes. I feel like it needs an identity - after all, we spend a lot of time together so why wouldn't I name it? So I'm pleased to introduce you to Ricky Bobby. Yes, I'm a huge Talladega Nights fan. What can I say, it cracks me up. I figure that when times get tough riding I can try to think about some ridiculous parts of that movie and crack myself up. Plus, it reminds me of running my Ragnar legs with Paige and having a great girls vacation in Key West afterward drinking wine, sailing and quoting the movie. 

Cal Naughton, Jr.: Shake and bake! 
Ricky Bobby: What does that do? Does that blow your mind? That just happened!

On to training. The last few weeks have been regular training weeks and then recovery week so last week was back to pushing ahead. Here we go:

Mon: 3500m. Off to a good start - long workout of drills but it went well. Got to the pool right at 5am to have enough time to get it all in.

Tue: 22 mile bike. Listened to music and jammed on the Trainer. Started to feel a little puny though, sore throat, stuffy nose.

Wed: 20 mile bike. Supposed to swim today but couldn't breathe through my nose. Opted for the bike again. 

Thu: Rested... Supposed to run 8 miles but took a nighttime allergy pill and just couldn't get up. Also sound like Stevie Nicks so probably best to rest vs. push it.

Fri: Rested... Same deal, still not feeling well but better. Supposed to swim 2850 but had taken another nighttime allergy pill and tried to sleep off the funk.

Sat: 78 hot, hilly miles on the bike at the Blazing Saddles Century. Had such a great time with my friend Paige. I had no idea how up and down the course was and it was about 100 degrees so I felt badly about pulling poor Paige into my crazy training for the day. She did awesome, such a rockstar!! 

Sun: 13.5 mile run, or should I say run/walk. Sooooo hot and such tired legs for my run. Tried to gear up with a little Common, Universal Mind Control. Such a great song to get going. I don't run outside with headphones so I have to get my music fix on the way out the door.

See ya next week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Work That Body Girl, You Look Gooooood!

As I was running my 12.5 mile run this morning a random guy says, 'Work that body girl, you look goooood'. Just cracked me up - first it's like 7:30 in the morning, second, I'm so far from looking good at this point. My clothes were SOAKED from the humidity to the point that I had to keep yanking my shorts to keep them in place since they were sticking to my legs. I have to say though, it did make me smile for a few blocks. 

Mon: 6mile run. 4th of July! Went to the Peachtree Road Race to see some of my teammates run. I didn't get in to the race, it looks cool though. It's got about 60K runners and is an Atlanta tradition for the 4th. I volunteered last year and thought about getting in it this year but I generally don't like huge races like this, too many people, too much traffic. This one ends by my house though so I think I'm going to do it next year.

Tue: 22 mile bike - threshold ride. Good ride, feeling strong this week coming off of recovery.

Wed: 3500M swim with the team. Bit the bullet and went to the evening swim to be with the team. I love swimming with everybody so it was great to be there. For this kind of distance it's just so nice to swim in a 50M pool too. It's a pain to do 3500 in 25m that's for sure. There's a huge temp change between my normal pool and the team swimming pool. It's so much colder swimming with the team, I always end up getting a foot cramp of some sort right when I get in. Had a coconut water right after swim and some greek yogurt when I got home. Trying to fuel better so I can recover by the early AM run. Got home about 10:05pm from the swim and have to leave at 4:45a thursday AM

Thu: 5.5 mile run. Having some really strong workouts this week, really excited about that. This was a fairly short run so just had some water during. Was listening to Kesha Blow on the drive in. Cheesy I know but for some reason it got me jazzed up to get going after such a small amount of sleep:

This place about to blow
This place about to blow
This place about to blow
This place about to blow
This place about to-

Now what (What)
We're taking control
We get what we want
We do what you don't

Fri: 2700m swim. Tired but got it done. New suit seems to be better on the shoulder thankfully.

Sat: 70 mile Bike/2 Mile Run Brick. Coconut water, steel cut oats/granola/cranberries pre ride. Testing out EFS nutrition and did the electrolyte drink and the liquid shot during the ride. Felt really good the whole ride. I had a little cramping when I stopped but not riding so not a bad first test. This was obviously a long workout so I wouldn't say my stomach was perfect but it held up pretty well. Didn't eat or drink anything other than the EFS throughout the workout. A little spent for the run but it was blazing hot by then. 

Sun: 12.5 mile run. Got out around 6:40a to try to beat the heat. Ran from Midtown up Peachtree into Buckhead. Had a pretty good start out and ran into 2 of my teammates, Karen and Regina, running the opposite way. Stopped for a quick second and said hello, it was fun to see them out there. Pretty much ran the Peachtree Road Race course - up 6th to Peachtree and then straight up P'tree turned before Lenox and ran it back. Had to walk on some of the hills but ran Cardiac Hill on the way back. Saw Karen and Regina as I was running up it and that gave me a little boost. It's definitely a good workout running P'Tree. I usually run from our house around Piedmont, Monroe and the Park but this was better to just run a straight out and back vs. loops. I'm sure I'll be bored of it soon enough though. As you saw from my title and story, I had to laugh at the comment. I just said good morning to him after he said that and kept on runnin'. Never know where a response can get you some days so thought I'd tear off before he said something else. 

Til next week!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Are you walking Santa? C'mon, pick it up!

GA Peachy Runs

Walked down to the Peachtree Road Race 10K this morning to see some teammates running and ran into this GREAT EMS who was heckling the racers at the finish. One of the things he said is my title this week. A santa look a like was walking about 2 blocks from the finish and so he yelled at him, 'Are you walking Santa? C'mon, pick it up'! It was classic. Anybody that was walking that last 2 block section to the finish he would yell, 'Stop walking, you're 2 blocks from the finish!','Unless you've got a pacemaker, you have no excuse to walk right now this close to the finish','Stop walking, pick it up, it's 80% mental at this point'. Total entertainment value let me tell you. The number of people that started running after he'd guilt them into it was amazingly high.

Here's training for last week - recovery week:

Mon: 2900m swim. This workout was primarily a kick, pull, swim workout that I really enjoyed. I don't know what's wrong with me but I'm really liking the kick pull swim repeats. I need to get a new suit though. I just bought one a couple of weeks ago and I think the strap is hitting my shoulder in a bad place that keeps making it click and hurt. Never had that until I switched suits so off to buy another new one.

Tue: 20 mile bike/2mile run. Pretty uneventful.

Wed: 2500m swim. Really like a speed workout, lots of distance with negative split then 100 fast. Took it out of me for sure. Neck sore from trying to keep my head pressed down. Focused on keeping my head very low in the water and only one eye coming out of the water when breathing.

Thu: 8 mile run. So far this week my workouts have been really strong. I've had a lot of recovery weeks that seemed really more difficult than they should've been but this recovery week has been great so far. Was listening to Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition for this run:

So stay there
Cause I'll be coming over
While our blood's still young
It's so young, it runs
We won't stop 'til it's over
Won't stop to surrender

Fri: 2200m swim. I'm trying to stretch after swimming now, haven't been doing that. Grabbed my IPOD and listened to Robert Plant Big Log for stretching today. Hadn't heard it in so long and it was AWESOME - totally relaxing:

My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride as the cities fly by
And the tail-lights dissolve in the coming of night
And the questions in thousands take flight
My love is the miles and the waiting
The eyes that just stare, and the glance at the clock
And the secret that burns, and the pain that won't stop
And it's fuelled once again
Leading me on - leading me down the road
Driving me on - driving me down the road

Sat: 50 mile bike. No formal team ride this weekend with the 4th of July holiday weekend but about 10 of us met up at the silver comet and had a nice ride. I'm looking at a new bike since mine is about 2 sizes too small. I'm waiting to hear from the bike shop about a LOOK 576 to make sure my dimensions look good for it. I'm really uncomfortable on my bike so can't wait for my new ride! Switching nutrition from Hammer to EFS since the last long ride we had my stomach was cramping and screwed up. No cramping with EFS but it was an easy 50 so the true test will be this coming weekend with 70+.

Sun: 2mile fast run. Was supposed to be a rest day but I got myself worked up about something and had to go out and run to clear my head. Working on picking up my feet and butt kicking more which definitely increases my pace but I'm having much harder runs cardiovascularly. I watched a lot of runners at the Peachtree today and the faster people were definitely kicking up towards their butts more. The slower the runners, the more the shuffle look. Very interesting. Don't think I can keep that kick up for 10+ miles though so maybe a kick shuffle until I get it together.

We're about halfway through training now. Hard to believe. Please consider helping me raise $10K for Leukemia and Lymphoma. I haven't had any donations in a month so if you're holding out to see if I'll make it, I've made it halfway!! Thanks for making your tax deductible donations and supporting our Teams efforts to raise $500K. We're at about $180,000 as a team so far I think. Have a safe holiday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are You Crying?

There's no crying in triathlon...

Coming off of the Death Valley 3K Open Water Swim Meet I was feeling pretty good about my training. It was a nice confidence boost knowing that I could do 3k in a murky lake, sight well enough to stay on course and do it all without my binky, AKA my wetsuit. If only that feeling would've lasted.
Mon: 3700 swim - Not such a fun start to the week. Warm-up: 6x75 as odd DPS, even build* Main Set: all on :20RI, 4 x 200 IM race pace,1 x 100@T-pace +2, 3 x 300 IM race pace, 1 x 100@T-pace + 2, 2 x 400 IM race pace, 1 x 100@T-pace +2, Cooldown: 6 x 75 as 25 free, 25 drill, 25 free
Tue: 6mi run - Fartlek. I'm so accustomed to doing bike on Tuesday I hadn't even looked at the schedule. Woke up, put on my cycling gear and checked training peaks for the workout and realized it was a run instead. Nice run since it was unexpected.
Wed: 3400 swim. Managed to get to the team swim tonight. Horrible storms so thought we'd get kicked out but we got it in. Just spaced out for some reason so not sure if I got all of the meters in - lost track and just swam continuous with a rest here and there. Sore shoulder...
Thu: 18mi bike on the trainer. Kicked some old school Rush on the IPOD - Distant Early Warning:
An I'll wind comes arising
Across the cities of the plain
There's no swimming in the heavy water
No singing in the acid rain
Red alert
Red alert
It's so hard to stay together
Passing through revolving doors
We need someone to talk to
And someone to sweep the floors
I admit it, I've got strange music taste. 80s rock and hip hop from the 80s to current. What can I say?
Fri: 10 mi run. Woke up not feeling great. Got to the gym and tried the new honeystinger gel I had bought. Squeezed the whole thing in my mouth before I really tasted it and then had that, 'Oh wow, that really sucked' but it was too late, had to gulp it down. Definitely didn't have a happy stomach. Slugged out 5 miles and then had to walk at the top of every mile for 1-2 minutes and then run the next. It was a long, defeating workout. Kept getting the sweats/chills at work until about 1p
Sat: Epic training weekend! From 11:30a to 4p we rotated between swim, bike, run clinics being evaluated by each other and our coaches. Learned a lot about my form. Thanks to teammate Ann for your run form suggestions and to Katie for your swim suggestions. I think my work is cut out for me on the swim. The videos were great for evaluation. Long day though.
Sun: 30 min Lake Open Water Swim, 59 mile bike on NGA mtns and 1.5 mile run. Was supposed to do 30 OWS, 70 bike and 2 run but it just wasn't my day. I think the 90+ degree heat, bad nutrition and not enough sodium/hydration took me out. Swim went great, got to the bike and started hitting the bike. It was definitely a tough course and I was still feeling a little puny physically so around 40 miles, I had stopped at a SAG vehicle in the shade and was shaking, dizzy, not good. My coach Mary had said I should stop there and SAG in. I started to cry. Yes, I said it, I cried over not being able to finish the ride. Watched that group take off as another group came in with my other coach. I was feeling a little better as I stood there cooling off and taking a break. By the time they were taking off, I decided to try to go on - Mike my coach agreed to stay with me no matter what so I felt safe that he would be there. We took off and I had turned the sorrow into rage so I took off like a bat out of hell. He caught up and was cracking up about my speeding off fueled by anger. We got to mile 59 and I was having really bad stomach pains, was dizzy again. SAG vehicle was there waiting so I got in the car with 2 other teammates as my coach took off. 

It was the first time that I had to SAG in on a ride ever. Sunday I'm not sure how many on our team caught a ride back and couldn't finish the ride but I think it was the majority. I'm trying not to let it mentally get to me and just call it a bad day but that's hard. I tried every affirmation, visualization I could and no luck beating the physical and mental issues. Got back, unloaded all of my stuff and stretched out under a tree for a few minutes. Got up and went for a 15 minute run after a mental battle of whether I was going to get up and do it or not. So thankful that I did. On the drive back with my fabulous teammate Karen, I had some pringles and a diet coke and instantly started to feel better. Maybe that's the secret!
No matter what I go through during this training, it doesn't compare to those battling cancer and their journey through treatment. I hope that you'll continue to follow my training through all of the ups and downs and will consider making a donation to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My longest OW Swim- Death Valley 3K

Lake Hartwell Pre Race - Clemson University

This week was a recovery week leading up to the Clemson 3K on Saturday. It was a really strong training week for me but even given that, I was really freaked out about swimming a couple of miles in the lake, especially with no wetsuit. Yes, I know Ironman is 2.4 miles but it's still 5 months away so mentally I wasn't confident in this distance in the lake. Take a look at Saturday's writeup for details. Cool thing was I met with a sports nutritionist this week who told me I'm not eating nearly enough so green light to eat more, woohoo! Here's my training:

Mon: 2100 swim. Loved this swim, it made me miss short workouts. Here was the drill - WU 400, as build by 100 (0:30 RI), 4 x 100 as descend 1-4 (0:20 RI), 4 x 50 sprint (1:00 RI), 200 Moderate (0:20 RI), 4 x 50 sprint (1:00 RI), CD 100

Tue: 18 mile bike, 1 mile run.

Wed: 2800swim in the am. Still swimming in the am vs pm with the team. I had to facilitate a late meeting at work so couldn't have gone in the pm anyway. Miss the team!

Thu: 7 mile run. This was a GREAT run. Ever since I met with the nutritionist Tuesday I've been really trying to up my calories (good calories, not junk) and I've felt so much stronger. I took a gel pre run and kept water on the treadmill with me so I finished nice and strong and happy.

Fri: Off day to rest pre swim meet. Retail therapy with a teammate and picked up some new goggles (barracuda tinted)
Coming out of the water at the end of the race

Sat: 3000m/1.86 miles Time to face my fears. Loaded up the family at 6am and drove to Clemson University to meet the team. Even though we've had swims longer than 3K in the pool, they're (a) in the pool, (b) broken up with drills and short rests so I was really not feeling confident going into this swim. This race was my 3rd open water swim in 7 years which also was sticking in my brain. Our race started at 10am so tried to stay hydrated and fueled from 6am til 10. I entered the water and was still swimming up to the 'official' start of the race when the cannon went off, whoops. Had no problems with panic, yaya! It's crazy what your mind will do for that long. Thought about work, thought about my family on the shore, thought about my teammates and LLS, repeated my affirmation - all that I need is within me now - and of course, Beyonce's 'Who run the world, Girls!' was on a loop non stop. Brooke LOVES this song now so I kept picturing her singing it laughing. The course was an out and back and the lake was pretty flat until the turn and part of the swim back. Got a little nausea with the rocking but kept it together. No ocean swims for me apparently. Took it very slow, really in hindsight probably too slow as I had a good amount of energy left at the end, especially since this wasn't a tri, just a swimming race. I haven't heard my time yet, I think it was around 1:15:00. You couldn't wear watches and I didn't see the clock when I finished so we'll see. Definitely slower than normal but I got the whole distance in feeling really good so that was my goal. Mentally it was a boost for sure.

Sun: 50mile bike. Did it on the trainer again. Brooke started swim lessons on Sundays at 10am so I've got to get my workouts in before her swim lessons.

Ramping back up this week on the training.Thanks for your continued support everybody!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Holy Heat Batman!

Yep, this is how I must look training in the heat right now

We've now switched to a 2:1 schedule - 2 weeks hard, 1 week recovery. It was 3:1 so it's nice to get a little step back a week earlier than we've had. The recovery is leading up to the Death Valley 3K open water swim this weekend. Death Valley, geesh, not thinking I like the word 'death' in the title of the race as I go for my first 3000 in the open water next week. Send some strong swim vibes for Saturday - to say I'm scared of this race is an understatement. Take a look:

Mon: 600y Open Water, 2500m pool. Met the team out at Mary Alice Park. I brought mini me with me just to go out and watch the team but my fabulous teammate Sally, offered to watch Brooke after she finished her swim so I could do a swim too. THANKS SALLY! I did just one loop so Sally didn't have mini me for too long so I ended up going to the gym later to get the rest of the distance. Amazing what holidays used to be compared to now - gotta love it! Thanks to all of our men and women serving and those that have served in the past- Happy Memorial Day!

Tue: 22 mile bike. Power intervals again.Hard workout...

Wed: 3600m swim. Tasted perfume the majority of the swim. The lady next to me must have had a ton on for me to smell and taste it in the lane next to her. It definitely didn't diminish in chlorine so that is some serious scent! WU 500 as: 300 Moderate / 200 build by 50, 1000 Moderate (0:30 RI),2 x 500 as build by 100 finishing last 100 at T-pace effort or faster (0:30 RI), 10 x 100 as: Odd: Moderate; Even: Fast (0:15 RI) CD 100 EZ. Yikes, right?

Thu: 6 mile run. Pick ups throughout, serious panting going on around here. 

Fri: 2500m swim. Kicks, drills, stroke counts. Not so exciting really.

Sat: 70 mile bike. On.the.trainer.A good percent of the team rode the gaps (N GA mountains), but Brad had to work so there wasn't going to be time for me to drive up north, ride the mountains and then get back in time without hiring a babysitter so I had no other choice. The trainer really, really isn't fun for that long of a ride. I did watch my DVR of IM to try to keep my spirits up but that didn't work for the whole time so just watched trashy reality tv after the inspiring IM coverage.

Sun: 11 mile run. This was a challenge after having some dead legs from Saturday. I ended up having to do this on the treadmill at our gym where we live (not my 'real' health club). I'm not going to lie, there was some walking happening, I couldn't run the whole way. The treadmills are the old school Landis so they're like running on a surface harder than asphalt, just no give at all. I ended up feeling like I had shin splints on my right leg afterwards. Iced it, rolled the 'stick' over it a lot and then slathered it up with some ben gay type stuff. Our daughter didn't want anything to do with me given the medicine smell on my leg. I'll have to remember that next time I need a little red wine and quiet time alone. Cooled down to Collective Soul - Run:

Is there a cure among us
From this processed sanity
I weaken with each voice that sings
In this world of purchase
I'm going to buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities

Have I got a long way to run
Have I got a long way to run
Yeah, I run
Have I got a long way to run
Yeah, I run
Have I got a long way to run

See you next week everybody!