Saturday, December 10, 2016

DAM Brute Squad Postal Swim - Nov. 30 2016

On November 30th I did the DAM Brute Squad postal swim. On the very last day I could. That's a 200 Fly, 400 IM, 1650 Free, all back to back. Stopping is allowed only between the events, not during them. I was idiotic enough to do this after swimming 3100 yards of the noon RAM practice. I also haven't really been swimming much fly either, so there's that. All things considered my time wasn't horrible, but I know given the right circumstances I could have done much better. I finished in a time of 33 minutes and 38 seconds. That includes about 20 seconds rest between the 200 Fly and 400 IM, and about 10 seconds rest between the 400 IM and 1650 Free. I think this may have been tougher than the 10K postal I did this summer, though I'll probably recover quite a bit faster than that. Hopefully I'll be able to train more butterfly in 2017 and drop my time quite a bit. Fingers crossed. It sure was exhausting. I think Thanksgiving being less than a week before the swim may have had something to do with it. It really took me a few practices not to feel like total garbage after the Holiday. That's actually probably why I swam practice first, just to feel a bit better conditioned for the swim. I didn't push too hard in practice, but I'm not one to really slack off (anymore).

Thanks Darryl for timing me, and Doug and Sue for coming to cheer me on! I sure enjoyed my lunch afterward, until getting called into work that is. The other reason I was probably so tired was because

The picture below has my splits. It doesn't show the stoppage, but it's estimated above.

Brute Squad Postal Split Sheet

The results won't be posted until after December 10th, so I'm not sure how I did, but I'm just glad I was able to complete the challenge!

In another note, I did do the Inside Out Sports Turkey Trot 8K on Thanksgiving morning. I had kept the 2-3 days a week running in my schedule because of it. I PR'd and surprised myself with my time. I'm glad to have all my running races out of the way though, so now I can just focus on swimming.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

USMS 3000 and 6000 yard e-postals - Oct 28th and Nov 1st, 2016.

The last 2 postal swims are the 3000 and 6000 yard swims. Same idea as the previous two, except these are done in a short course pool. Harry timed me again and this time I had a better idea of how fast I could go and how long it would take to complete. I did the 3000 yard swim first this time and really pushed a bit the first and last 1000 yards. This swim went really well I think. I hung around for practice afterward, just in case any of my teammates wanted to participate in the postal. No takers. I think next year I'm gonna try to promote them a bit more within RAM. Some other LMSC's have a lot more people doing them. I know several teammates who would do pretty well in most/all of the postal swims, so it'd be nice to increase participation a bit and see how everyone does.

Below is my split sheet from the 3000.
3000 yard postal split sheet.

The 6000 yard postal was rough. Only a few days separated my 3000 and 6000 postal swims, which may be part of the reason this one sucked a bit more. I was definitely tired, and quite honestly, just wanted to get it over with. My time ended up not being terrible, but was a bit slower than I know I'm capable of.  I was just glad to have it done. I definitely don't want to do them that close together again. Below are my split sheets for the 6000 yd postal.

6000 yard postal split sheet, page 1.

6000 yard postal split sheet, page 2.

After chatting with Mark a bit after Saturday practice, I learned a bit more about relays, and that he thankfully included me on some. I decided to put a relay together with the three fastest 3000 swims for NCMS. I got a hold of the other two ladies and they both said they were cool with it, so I went ahead and entered us (Thanks Anne and Debbie)! We are in the 25+ age group because of me, the other two ladies are 45+ and 55+, but they didn't mind. Hopefully we end up doing well in that category. SFTL is gonna be tough to beat, they have a lot of fast swimmers. More motivation to increase involvement next year. Lets got 2017!

The preliminary results were posted today (11/8/16) and, as of right now, I'm 2nd out of 24 for the 3000 and 3rd out of 10 for the 6000 in the 30-34 age group. Not too shabby. We'll see if those end up being final in a couple weeks. No word yet on relay results.

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Ironman North Carolina 70.3 (B2B) Race Report - Oct. 22, 2016

Lets go back in time for just a bit to catch up. I did a really good job, in my opinion, of establishing a biking and running base in May and June. I was feeling really good and was excited to start my training in July. This summer was really miserable from a heat/humidity perspective. I did the best I could to get all my training in, only really sacrificing the 100+ RPM cycling sessions every week. However, I didn't do any strength training or yoga. I just didn't have the time/desire to do it. By the time September rolled around I was burnt out. I think a lot of it was the heat. The only thing I wanted to do was swim. I hated the thought of running and cycling just wasn't as fun as last year. I even told several people that if something happened and I couldn't do B2B for some reason that I wouldn't be heartbroken about it. I was just ready to be done. As race day drew closer, I set my sights on a different goal. I decided to go after the swim and try to get the ROKA first out of the water award for my age group. The rest didn't really matter, I just wanted to finish. Now, mind you, I was doing pretty well on my long runs leading up to taper, and my pace really improved as the weather got a bit cooler. I was running on the Tobacco Trail for many of them, which was convenient because it's mostly shaded and there are water stations at regular intervals, so I didn't have to bother carrying mine on me. I was actually starting to think that I could PR the half marathon if I didn't burn up my legs on the bike. I was even starting to think I might be able to get close to the 6 hour mark if I had a really good day.

I had booked my hotel when I signed up for the race, which was nice because it was right around the corner from the expo and the finish line. I had planned originally on coming down on Friday, but had since decided to go down on Thursday to give myself more time. I booked a room at the Marriott closer to the swim start for that first night, which ended up working out really well. After getting checked into the hotel I went to the Convention Center to pick up my packet and buy some swag. I probably spent more money that I should have, but I got a few nice things that I'm happy to have, so I'd say it was worth it! We had a team dinner downtown on Thursday night, which was pretty fun, but since we were meeting up early for a practice swim, I left to go back to my hotel early so I could start getting all my gear bags together. Heather was kind enough to offer me a ride down to the practice swim with her family in the morning, which I greatly appreciated!

There were several of us that met up Friday morning, including Preston and Fred. This practice session was super helpful in learning what lines to swim and where the current was best. We also got pointers on areas to avoid. The current was really strong. In some places I could swim backstroke in place. Overall that practice swim was extremely valuable. When we were done, some nice folks let us climb out of the water on their boat since the ladders for the race weren't in yet. So many nice people! Derek and the kiddos picked up Heather and I near T1 after the swim and they dropped me by my hotel on the way back to theirs.

I got all my things together and checked out of the hotel then headed back over to T1. I was able to park without a problem. I did a quick ride/bike maintenance check down to the beach and back then grabbed the rest of my T1 stuff. It was just a short walk over to T1 from where I parked, so that wasn't bad. I got all my things situated, even had my stuff in Ziploc bags inside the gear bags they provided since the forecast called for some rain that evening. Once all that was good to go, I did a quick 20 min run along the same route I just rode, then headed back to my car. I drove over to T2 to drop off the rest of my transition gear (also in a Ziploc bag) then went to check in at the Best Western. It was still too early to check in since they didn't have any rooms ready, so I changed in the adjacent bathroom then went to have lunch at the Front Street Brewery. The rest of my teammates were all still getting there gear and such situated, so I ate alone, then headed back to the hotel to check in. The room itself was pretty big, and the view was great! It looked out over the river and part of the run course for the race. I met up with Preston and a friend later for a second lunch/early dinner before heading back to the room to chill. I ended up just having a light snack later on before calling it an early night. We did indeed have a line of showers/storms move through that evening, so I was glad I Ziploc bagged my stuff! The picture below is from the day after the race.

Race Day:

Now, as a meteorologist, I knew it was gonna be a chilly morning, and I knew it would be breezy. I didn't expect it to be quite as cold as it was, and I definitely wasn't prepared for the winds. I met up with Preston in the morning and we caught the shuttle to T1 together. Put the last minute things on our bikes and in our bags, then waited for the shuttle down to the swim start. Damn that wind. We were able to get on the first shuttle to the swim start and found a spot behind a moving truck to block the wind. That helped quite a bit, but we were all still freezing. It was comical watching all the triathletes finding spots on the perimeter of the parking lot that blocked the wind. It wasn't till much closer to race start that people were actually gathered out in the open. I put on my wetsuit kind of early because it helped me get warm. I also waited till the last minute to drop off my morning clothes bag. I don't think I had shivered so much in a long time. The water was gonna feel like a bathtub compared to the air. Thankfully, I was in the first wave of swimmers for the 70.3, so I didn't have to wait around forever before starting. I also didn't have other swimmers to inhibit my path. While we were all waiting to get in the water I started a little group hug, just to keep warm.

I think we all appreciated that brief warm up. I think we were in the water for about 5-10 min before we actually started the race, which was actually probably a good thing because it warmed us some. I lined up in the front so I would have a good shot at getting out front and not having to swim over people. The swim was tough. I'm so glad I knew where the best line/current was because that helped. I could also see another woman very close to me the whole way, so I pushed the whole swim. As I made the first turn the chop was now in my face. I swallowed more saltwater out of that inter-coastal than any human probably should, but I couldn't stop, couldn't slow down. I knew that woman was close. I could see her every so often. When I got to the ladders they were hard to spot at first, but I climbed out as quickly as I could and followed the pointer's directions up the ramp. I could here the beep of the timing mat, but had no idea where it was or if I had gotten out first. There were a couple of women who got out around the same time, and several people who were doing the full that I had passed or caught up to that were also exiting around that time. I made my way to the wetsuit strippers and then through the shower station. The pressure there sucked, but I tried to rinse the saltwater off so chaffing wouldn't be so bad. I finally made it into the transition area to pick up my bike gear bag and into the changing tent I went. Now, for a 70.3 I normally wouldn't have planned a full change, but given the cool air and strong winds, I decided to put on dry clothes. My transition time was long, but I did the best I could. Got some sunscreen on my face then headed out of the tent, grabbed my bike, and headed out onto the course.

The bike course. one word, HELL! That wind that froze us all before the race and created such a choppy swim was now the beast we had to fight on the bike. On a side note here, because of hurricane Matthew, there were still several roads closed on the full course, so they were shortened to 56 miles. That meant everyone was just doing the 56 mile bike course, which would mean a busier transition area and run. Okay, back to reality. The wind was out of the northwest/north-northwest at 18 mph. The first 40 miles of the bike course were mainly headed west or northwest. That's right folks, we had an 18+ mph crosswind/headwind for the first 40 miles of the bike course. When we were on the highway and had the crosswind it was everything I could do to not be blown to the left. I just prayed that no one got too close. All vehicle traffic was on our right (north) so we would get gusts of wind between vehicles that would literally blow us sideways. Thankfully I made it through that section without an issue. Not everyone was so lucky. From there it was straight into the wind for about 20 miles. I was getting passed a lot, but I didn't want to burn up my legs and not have anything left for the run. I kept a steady pace and just tried to get through it. I knew that my chance of getting close to a 6 hour finish was gone, and likely was a 70.3 PR. Mentally that's a tough thing to realize during a race. I just kept telling myself that I was still going to finish and that I may have even gotten the ROKA award. Where is the damn turn around? Every time I'd go up a hill or around a turn I'd think it would be there, but no. Finally I reached the turn around point. I put it into high gear and it felt damn good to go fast. I think I had averaged about 13-15 mph the first 40 miles, but was able to average 19-22 mph the last 15 or so miles. I did stop once just to eat a cliff bar and drink some water since the wind really didn't allow for much of that on the way out. I was so glad to be off the bike. I changed again into what was going to be comfortable, stopped at the porta-john, then headed out on the run course. Another long transition. Oh well.

The run wasn't bad and time really seemed to go by pretty quick. Saw several IOS teammates which always helps pass the time. My pace was pretty good on the way out, but shortly after the turn around point I started to get some tightness on the side of my knee. IT band issue most likely. I slowed it down a little, continued to walk through the water stations, and tried not to push or give up. The last 3 miles really hurt. I walked more than I wanted to and at my lowest point, around a mile from the finish I thought about walking the rest of the way. I didn't want to because I knew that, despite the crappy bike and transitions, I was close to a PR. Right around that time I passed an intersection where there was music playing. What song was on? Eye of the Tiger, of course. I thought of DeGaulle and how he would be trying to pump me up with that song and I knew I couldn't give up. I sucked it up and started jogging. I managed to jog the rest of the way into the finish, even though it hurt. I finished the run with a split of 2:14, which was just under a 10 min/mile pace and much faster than my run split at Raleigh last year. Can't be too upset about that. I got my medal and my PJ pants (let's be honest, they are the reason I wanted to do the race), then posed for the obligatory photo. On the way out of the finisher area the Beachbody tent was handing out protein drinks. I took one. It was chocolate. I knew it would be a bit before I could eat anything but that my body needed nutrition. It probably helped me more than I knew.

All the morning clothes and bike gear bags were at the finish, so I picked mine up and limped my way to the hotel with them. I rested for a bit, watched some of the runners go by, then got in the shower and cleaned up before heading back downstairs. I got some pizza and watched some of the awards ceremony, got some more pizza, then went to get my bike and remaining gear bag. I probably looked like an idiot trying to balance all of that while holding onto my plate of pizza, but I didn't really care at that point. I wasn't moving very fast anyway, so balance I did. Finally made it back to the room, dropped my stuff off, at a slice, then went down to the IOS tent to hang with the rest of my teammates. I saw David there, who had come just to cheer us all on. I saw him at the beginning and end of the run course with Dennis, who was taking pictures of all the IOS folks he could as they went by. Julie and Julie were also there, along with several others. I finally found my results (they weren't on the Ironman website and no one was able to track 70.3 athletes along the race). I didn't PR, but I did get first out of the water in my age group! Yay for achieving my goal and winning something for a change. Overall I'm happy with my race and glad to be taking a break from triathlon for awhile.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

USMS 5K and 10K e-postal swims. - July 17th and August 6th 2016

I found out about the USMS National Championship e-postal swims in May, shortly after Spring Nationals. By that time I had already missed out on the first one (1 hour swim).  You get a special patch if you do all 5, so that was out then and there. No worries, I'll get it next year. The other cool awards you can get by swimming the long distance national championship races are the All-Star and All-American honors. The All-American honor goes to the first place finisher in each division for each race. The All-Star honor is given to the top point getter in each division at the end of the year. The requirement though, is that you must have done at least 3 long distance nationals races, one of which has to be a postal and one has to be open water. My plan, to go after the All-Star honor. I intended to do all 4 remaining postal swims and in June I signed up for the two Lake Lure open water swims (1 mile and 5K on August 12th and 13th, respectively) that were designated USMS National Championships this year. Unfortunately the Lake Lure swims were cancelled due to the water temperature being too high. Big time bummer but out of my control. I'll try again for the All-Star next year!

The second and third postal swims were the 5K and 10K, which had to be done between May 15th and September 15th in a long course (50 meter) pool. Thankfully, I have an awesome RAM coach who enjoys getting splashed and timing me as I swim length after length (200 of them for the 10K). Thanks Harry!

I decided to do the 10K first, knowing that if I did the 5K first I probably wouldn't want to do the 10K after. Now, the longest swims I had done straight up to that point were 2-3 miles in open water and a 4K swim non-stop on July 3rd as a pre-postal test swim. I did it in 1:03:12. That gave me a bit of an idea how long it would take me, but I had not idea how I would feel during and after the 10K. I took guesses as to how often to stop for water. I did the 10K on July 17th. I approached it just swimming comfortably so I could finish, which I think I executed pretty well. My splits were really consistent and I was able to finish without much trouble (small watch issue in the beginning resulted in an impromptu 200 meter warm up). I finished in 2:44:01. That's 100 100's, long course meters in under 3 hours. My body was spent, arms were tired, and I was really hungry afterward, which was taken care of in short order, but otherwise I was no worse for the ware. I ended up taking 4 water breaks, which seemed to work out well. I do know that for races much longer than 10K I will need some food too. My 5K split during the 10K was 1:19:59, so I have a goal for the 5K.
The 5K I did on August 6th. It was a much tougher swim for a couple reasons. First, my shoulders were really really tight that day and I wasn't super pumped to do the swim. The other reason is that I actually tried to put some speed into my swim, which made my body pay a lot more after. My finish time was 1:17:43. I did beat my 5K split from the 10K, so the plan worked I guess, but I still think I could have done it faster. My walls weren't quite as good as they normally are and I was way more fatigued. I only took one water break for this postal, so that helped. Harry was able to time me again, so thankful for him! When I finished the 5K I went home and entered in my splits and other necessary information onto the online registration and submitted it. Then I had to wait until late September to find out how I did compared to all the other women in my division. I ended up in second place for both races, which means I should get two silver medals in the mail sometime in the coming months! 
I still haven't gotten my medals from these races yet, so I may update this post when I do.

Triangle Open Water Series 2016

I had a big goal this year. After finishing 4th overall female for the Triangle Open Water Series in 2015, I was going to try to get in the top 3. Last year I did the 2.4 mile swim on Mother's Day, the 2 mile (Big Deuce) in July, and the 1.2 mile series championship (since it was right after IMCHOO). This year I signed up to do all the 1.2/1 mile races. The Mother's Day race was so much better weather-wise than last year. I finished 2nd overall female in a time of  29:21.91. Topped it off with a 45 mile bike ride from Jordan Lake to my house. Fred and DeGaulle kept me company on the ride.

The second race of the series was the Lil Uno. I swam hard for this one and really pushed. It paid off. Finished 3rd overall female in a time of 26:25. So far I am executing my plan well, but there are a few other women doing just as well or better because both long and short distances are factored in for the overall series awards. I need to have a really good race for the series championship race.

 Well, as fate would have it, Hurricane Matthew put a damper on things and the third race of the series got cancelled. Overall series point standings, 4th again. Outside looking in. More motivation to come back next year with the same goal and hope that mother nature doesn't get in the way.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

USMS Short Course Nationals 2016 - April 28 - May 1

I trained really hard for nationals. I was putting in 5 practices a week and working hard on the distance freestyle pacing. I didn't do as much butterfly or any other stroke for that matter. My goals for the meet were in the distance free events. I set my goals to go under 6:00 in the 500 free, under 12:30 in the 1000, and under 21:00 in the 1650. I've only raced these three events one other time in the past decade and that was last year. I knew I was training harder, focusing on swimming and not triathlon. I remember thinking "I wish I could train 2.5 hrs a day, 6 days a week like I did in college." It's hard knowing what you were once capable of and that you could get back to that if time and responsibilities didn't get in the way. So, I did the best I could.

Nationals was a 4 day event. Day 1 I had the 1000 and the 1650. Day 2 was the 500 free and 200 fly, Day 3 was a day off and Day was the 400 IM and the 200 Free.

Day 1: I decided to get a room at the Holiday Inn Wednesday night since the meet started early the next morning and I was volunteering in Greensboro that day anyway. Good move. I checked into the 3 distance races while I was volunteering, so that was taken care of. Both the events on Thursday were deck seeded, so I made sure I got up early, had breakfast, and got to the pool. The check in closed at 7, and they had the 1000 seeded by 730. I was seeded in the even pool, but I didn't get in early enough to warm up in that pool, so I warmed up in the diving well. I wanted my food to settle a bit before getting in, and since there were several heats before mine, I knew I had time. I had a teammate count for me, and coach Harry relayed to her whether I needed to speed up or not, and she would move the counter up and down accordingly. The race went really well, and I felt good swimming it. The only issue was that my counter miscounted on the last 100 and I thought I was done a 50 too early. Thankfully I realized soon enough that I was able to finish and not get DQ'd, but my finish time was "officially" a 12:41, would have been closer to 12:25. It was still about 15 seconds faster than my seed time, so I can't really complain. I knew my counter felt bad, and it really wasn't that big of a deal, definitely not worth getting upset about. So, 4th place finish in the 1000. I had a few hours to wait to swim the 1650, which I was also in the even pool for. The 1650 was tough, but you kind of settle in after a while. my 1000 split in the 1650 was faster than my finish time in the open 1000, so for my PR I will use that (12:35.40). My finish time for the 1650 was 20:47.81, which was pretty close to what I was shooting for, I can't remember exactly what my goal was, but I think I just wanted to be under 21 minutes, which I did. Overall, a 4th place finish in my AG.

Day 2: This was the big day for me. I had a goal of going under 6 minutes in the 500. Of all my races that's the one I really wanted to go after. I didn't anticipate that the depth perception in the pool would be so off. It made my walls horrible. I usually have really good walls, but to be honest, they stunk in this race. I swam as hard as I could, but in the end my time was 6:00.47. So close. Really annoying that I didn't achieve my goal, but I did PR by a good bit, so I couldn't be too disappointed in myself. It was good enough for a 7th place finish in my AG. Once the 500 was over and I cooled down a bit, the rest of the meet was not stressful at all. I just wanted to finish the 200 fly, which I did. It was slow and smooth and I can't really ask for much better not having trained a bunch for it. Ended up finishing 6th in my AG, another medal!

Day 4: I volunteered on Day 3, which was a nice break from swimming. I got to cheer on my teammates and friends for a change. Day 4 I had the 400 IM and 200 Free. Neither of which I was excited to do because I knew I wouldn't PR, but still did them anyway. The 400 IM was smooth and slow again, like the 200 fly. Had a brief DQ scare, but it was the girl in the lane next to me, phew! 5:29.13 for a final time. Not bad! Good enough for a 5th place finish in my AG. Medal #5. The 200 Free, well, lets just say I knew I wouldn't do great considering all I had done before that. I was hoping to do a 2:12, did a 2:14. It was the only one of my events I didn't medal in (14th overall in my AG) and I'm okay with that!

WDW Dark Side Challenge - April 16-17 2016

The Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Challenge in Disney World was a good time! The Challenge consisted of doing a 10K on Saturday, followed by a Half Marathon on Sunday. I was able to get in a good bit of training before hand, and felt good about going for a time in the 10K. I wasn't quite trained up to a half marathon yet, so I took that race as a fun photo opportunity. The plan worked pretty well. I PR'd in my 10K and had a lot of fun in the half marathon. Even though my overall half time and pace was pretty slow, the moving time and pace was very quick for me. See the images below. The only "bad" thing about the races was just that they were at a bad time in my training for swim nationals and I had to try to fit in swim workouts in odd-distance pools while trying to do all the race activities. It was a lot, but it was pretty fun.

WDW Marathon - 1/10/16

Well, training for the Disney World marathon didn't go exactly as planned. I had laid out a training plan for post Ironman to Marathon, but it all fell apart after I hurt my back. I lost all motivation to run. I didn't run as much or as often as I should have in the weeks leading up to the marathon, and I was really dreading doing it. I had originally thought maybe I could beat my Ironman marathon time, since it's a fairly flat course and I wouldn't have done all the swimming and biking before hand, but once my training fell apart, it was apparent that I wouldn't be setting any PR's (although technically it will be because it'll be my first "marathon." 

I was able to get up to 13 miles before going home for Christmas, but running 2 days a week is less than ideal. I had been swimming when I could, more because I like it more and am better at it than anything else. Getting ready for swim nationals will take a front seat now that the marathon is behind me, but back to that now.

I knew it would hurt, I was just hoping I wouldn't injure myself. Since I had a stress "reaction" last January, I didn't want that to happen again. The first half of the marathon wasn't terrible, but it was uncomfortable. The second half was progressively painful and I couldn't wait to finish. I took Base Salt every water station, walking through the station. After mile 15 I stopped at every mile marker to take a picture in front of it, an excuse to walk a little extra. ESPN was where I really started to feel the pain in my knee. That damn tightness in the back of my knee that just plain sucks. Going up the little bridge before entering the Boardwalk, I almost fell over when the back of my knee buckled. I thought for sure I'd have to walk the last 2.5 miles of the race. Somehow I was able to walk/run the rest of the race, finishing in just under 5:30, though my Garmin said I went almost .5 miles over the 26.2, so I'm going with a few minutes faster than that. I'm glad I did it, but I really don't think I want to do another, at least not unless I'm able to train sufficiently for it. The exception will be if I do another Ironman, because I didn't hurt as bad or for as long after that race as I did after this one. Let that sink in for a minute. I'll probably end up doing another marathon at some point, knowing me, but at this time I really have no desire, whatsoever, to do that. I have the Dark Side Challenge in April, so I'll have to start running again soon, but not this week and not until I'm pain-free.