Thursday, September 29, 2011

My GUILTY Pleasures

I have finally been getting off my bum and training again, which is a GREAT thing since I have the Marine Corps marathon in a month. I imagine that 26.2 miles will not be very fun if I don’t train for it. Snap.

My post-race blues have up and gone (yay!), but not before I indulged in a few of my favorite guilty pleasures. Yes, on the outside I look innocent and wholesome: A total fitness freak in love with anything healthy. A family gal who adores my sisters and brothers. A sweet, Christian girl. :-)

But inside, I am a wild child.

Yup.

I indulge in guilty pleasures. Especially when suffering from post-race blues.

No, I’m not doing anything illegal. It’s worse: It involves M&M’s. And that’s just one of my guilty pleasures.

I’m sure you have your own. You know, those secret little indulgences you’d rather not admit to. Appetites that make you look lazy or unhip. Preferences that reveal your lack of taste, brains or will power.

I don’t know about you, but after a week (or two) of indulging, I feel like I need to fess up. Here’s my top ten list of guilty pleasures, friends. Oh, and I’m pretty sure 67.8695% of this list is all about food.

1) BREAD! Bread for breakfast. Bread for lunch. Bread for dinner. Bread for snacks. You get the point.

2) Writing, singing, and playing piano covers to popular rap songs. Totally serious. I make a bag of popcorn and some hot tea, sit down in front of my keyboard, find a fun rap song and turn it into a chillaxed jazz song with my weird, wispy, low voice. My favorites to play are: Lollipop by Lil Wayne, Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rhianna, Grenade by Bruno Mars, and last but not least, Hey Ya by Outkast. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but I never claimed to be cool. :-) I think I might video record one of these jam out sessions and put it on YouTube. I’m pretty sure it would give plenty of laughs to my family and friends.





3) Waking up really early and watching a movie instead of training. I don’t know why, but something about laying around when I am usually working my butt off thrills me.

4) Baileys. I don’t drink much or often, but when I do, Baileys is my choice. Oh, and I can’t tell you how many times I am tempted to add some to my chocolate protein shakes. True, but scary.



5) Reading blogs. I count this as a guilty pleasure because I could literally spend hours and hours reading everyone’s posts. I love reading about other people’s lives and staying updated. Creepy?? haha

6)  Listening to a guy with an accent talk. Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about a guilty pleasure – I could listen to a guy with an accent talk all day long. I met a guy last week with an Australian accent, and I turned to complete mush. I don’t even know what he was talking about because I couldn’t stop thinking about his voice. This is one guilty pleasure I don’t get to experience often, but when I do, I can’t get enough.

7)  I almost never answer my phone. It is always on silent and I don’t like to pick it up, but will text back almost immediately. Hmmm...

8) “Creeping” on Facebook: Also known as stalking in the real world. This usually occurs when there is some sort of work I’m supposed to be doing, but can’t seem to focus. So I start to click away on friends of friends profiles going through their pictures, and after an hour of that I realize that I am on my cousins best friend’s sister’s roommate’s page and just learned that she get’s a little crazy after 7 jello shots. Then instead of clicking out of the page I see what her boyfriend looks like.



9) Peanut butter M&M’s. I keep a massive bag of them in my freezer. Sometimes I wake up at 4am, eat a couple, and go back to bed for an hour. They make me happy.

10) Taking Super Long Showers – Ok, I’m guilty: I do not take a shower every single day. Call me gross, call me disgusting, call me dirty, call me whatever you want. I try to take one after every workout, but sometimes when I get home, I pass out on the couch....or spend too much time on the phone...or figure that the chlorine from my pool swim was good enough. Anyways, when I do take showers, I could probably be done in 5-10 minutes. But no, I end up just standing under boiling hot water for another 10-15 minutes. Very wasteful? Yes. Great way to clear your mind and relax? Heck yes. And I love it.


Whew!!!

I feel a TON better getting all of that out. Now I can go do my hour tempo run with a clear conscience and smile on my face. Snap!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Post-race blues

I sat on my butt all week, eating food that I normally stay far away from--fried chicken, steak, cookies, ice cream, and bread (yeah, lots of bread). I watched plenty of Seinfeld episodes, hung out with non-triathlete friends, went through hours of vocal training (while bidding my wicked cold goodbye), took naps, and wandered around my house aimlessly even though I had plenty of work to get done.

I ignored the laundry piles, the papers I needed to write up, and everything else that was begging for my attention. I became a blob, completely lacking the motivation to do anything.

My coach had told me to take the week completely off because of how sick I had been. I think I went a little past his advice by pigging out on everything bad for me. I seriously went out of my way to eat junk food. I don’t even like candy and I found myself eating it...just because I don’t usually do it. 

And I moped. A lot. 

What the heck is my deal? 

One of my buddies brought up post-race depression today--as I was dragging my butt (and complaining) while getting back on my bike for a ride. I laughed at him over the suggestion. 

And then I Googled it. 

Yup. 

It seems that this post-race depression is actually real. Who’d a thought these blues could have some actual reasoning behind them? From what I’ve learned, it sometimes occurs after a big event that an athlete has trained so long and hard for-- then after reaching the goal--they suddenly don’t know what to do with their time. 

Mission completed. Life is now pointless. Yup, that sounds about right. 

Of course, I think it has a lot to do with all those happy-hormones that get released during exercise. My body has been seriously deprived of the endorphines (or serotonin, or dopamine, or whatever the heck causes the high). With my crash injuries, being sick, and then hitting up some time of recovery after the 70.3, I’ve been motionless and drained.

Like I wrote previously, I did what I could to wait it out. Ate chocolate, emailed a million friends, played music, bought flowers, enjoyed some Baileys, watched mindless movies, slept in, ate some more, and all that other “great” stuff.

None of it releases those happy-hormones though. 

I’ve got the post-race blues. 

So what to do now???

Fortunately, I’ve got the Marine Corps marathon in 5 weeks. Hopefully, that will be a little motivation to get my lazy bum moving. ‘Cause right now I’m tempted to carry on this recovery week a little bit longer, eat some more chocolate, and mourn the ending of my tri season. 

Bleh! 



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My first HALF-IRONMAN!!!

You know, races are funny things.  Sometimes they’re a test of physical strength, sometimes mental strength – and sometimes a combination of both (as well as usually a bit of luck).

The other challenge with races is that the more experienced at a given sport you get, the more focused you become on a specific goal – and when it appears that goal is out of reach during the event, one starts to question the rest of the attempt at that goal.

See, for me, the day was a relatively simple numbers game.  In order to reach my goal (under 6hrs), I needed a fairly simple and quite achievable day that consisted of these rough block times:

1) Swim: 42min
2) Bike: 3hrs
3) Run: 1hr 50min
4) Transitions: 5 minutes total

From one standpoint all of this should have been fairly achievable for me – as I’ve done all of this before in training.  I got a sub-42 swim in open water, sub-3:00 bikes on far more difficult days on the same course, and sub 1:45 runs in worse weather after longer rides. This was in essence going to be the perfect race course for me (although I realize no race is EVER perfect). I just needed to pull it together.

But, just like virtually every airplane crash – it’s never one singular major event, but rather a cascading chain of small things going wrong that leads to ultimate failure. Thus, my race.

You know what’s the best part about the Branson 70.3?  It’s close to where I live and I was able to pre-ride the course 3x in training.  Yup, I had ridden this piece of hilly heaven before. It is supposedly the hardest half-ironman bike course in the world. I didn’t think it was really that tough in training, but now, I fully respect every curve of those dangerously deceiving hills.

I’ll begin with Saturday, the day before the race. I was greeted in Branson with chilly weather and thunderstorms. It was miserable weather, especially since I had been fighting a chest cold all week. The lower temps seemed to slap my lungs a bit more. Once at packet pick up, however, my excitement blocked out any worries I had over being sick. I was way too pumped to care about my runny nose and burning throat. Heh.

After picking up my chip and numbers, I heading back out in the cold to bring my bike to T1. It was still raining (of course!), so I covered my seat and aero bars with bags to keep everything dry overnight. Then at T2, I put my shoes in double plastic bags. Lovely preparation, right? 




Once I had everything ready for the big day, it was time to pick up my little bro from the Branson airport. Thomas had flown in from Florida to cheer me on. Yay for awesome brothers!

After eating a light meal with my tri-family from Arkansas, it was time to call it a night. I relaxed a little, inhaled cough drops, and begged  prayed to God that I’d be 100% better asap. I was worried that the nervousness and little cold would make it even harder for me to sleep, but the nyquil I’ve been depending on the last week proved to be 70.3 worthy.

4:15AM came fast enough on race day. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing a half-ironman. Ahhhhhhh! I had almost everything ready the night before, but I was still running around in the morning like a headless chicken. My bro helped sooooo much in keeping me calm before the storm. He went with me to the shuttle, carrying all my stuff and taking lots of pics.

Still waking up, waiting for the shuttle 
Too excited to care about the cold!
The Branson course is point to point, which means the swim is one place (in the hills) and the run is another place (downtown along the river), and you have a bike course connecting the two. We had to take a shuttle to the starting point. The shuttle ride took us about 15-20 minutes. We were all crammed into a Duck bus like a bunch of sardines (yes, it was a bus oddly looking like a duck for tourist purposes). 

The weather was still cold and rainy. My sore throat and the congestion were bothering me, but like I said before--I was way too excited to care. I honestly didn’t think I was feeling that bad. Ummmm, don’t worry, I get a reality check at some point. heh. Since I had set up my bike the night before, upon arrival in the morning I simply got into transition and got everything else all set on the bike.

Then I waited for the race to begin.

And sucked on some more cough drops, waited in line to use the porta potty, gave up waiting in line because I realized I didn’t really have to go, sucked on some more cough drops, posed for pics, danced around, noticed that I was one of the few without a wetsuit in the cold, and laughed at myself for a million different reason.

Getting my swim cap and goggles ready for the millionth time

Still messing with my swim cap and goggles

Waiting for the horn to blow...

Starting the race!!!! 
Swim:

Now would be an ideal time to mention the water temperature: COLD.

I don’t really know the exact temp, but I do know that I was one of the few NOT wearing a wetsuit. I had decided to go without when a few weeks before I had tried mine out in open water...and absolutely hated it. So, my stubborn ass decided to be a freezing ass. Well, let me tell you: the open water swim is a whole different world when it’s cold. It wasn’t quite Polar Bear cold, but it was really darn cold.

Once the horn sounded however…it wasn’t too miserable for me. I know what the feeling of panic is like in the open water because I have felt it so many times before. Oddly enough, during the one time when I should have been more panicked (during a half-ironman and not a training day), I was at ease. Okay, that’s a little lie. The first 90-120 seconds were hard due to my inability to breath in the chilly water.  I’m reasonably certain that the entire wave passed me during this time.  Sure, I was swimming forward…but probably not very fast.

That said, after those first two minutes I got into a bit of a groove and it really wasn’t that bad. From a pacing standpoint I wouldn’t say I was pushing as hard I would have been if I was healthy. I didn’t want to get my lungs going too much because I wanted to avoid any coughing spells in the water. I went about 20 minutes before having to stop for 5 seconds or so to cough, but other than that, I was golden.

As we neared the beach and exit I was feeling pretty good.  I knew I was going to be around my slow estimated swim time because my watch goes off every 15min for reminders of nutrition when on the bike. I ran up from the water to T1 and my legs were stinging from the cold. I was numb. I zipped through transition as fast as I could, dodging the unusually high number of people sitting in the middle of the transition aisle. Race Tip: If you sit in the middle of the aisle stretched out across it, don’t be surprised when people get upset with you.

My official swim time was 45:15, three minutes behind schedule, which may not sound like a lot – but when you are a slow beginning swimmer, every second makes it looks slooooooower. My T1 was 2:12, which wasn’t too bad considering I spent about 30 seconds staring at my bike shoes trying to remember how to put them on.

Bike:

In triathlons, there are all these little things that make it fun. One of which is flying mounts and dismounts. I used to be terrified to run and jump on my bike to save time, but thanks to some good coaching, I now think it is tons of fun. I’ve practiced my mounts and dismounts numerous times. NUMEROUS. It sounds easy--you run with your bike shoes on, grab your handle bars, and jump on the seat. But with numb legs, I wasn’t sure I could even jump. I was sooooooo cold. I resisted the urge to actually stop my bike and get on it, but I am pretty sure my “flying mount” was more like a "hobble then stop real quick and jump on”.

Grabbing my bike in T1

Realizing the flying mount was not going to happen

Annnnnnnnd I made it on. heh.
Often times you’re highest heart rates on the bike course will be within the first 1-2 minutes of the bike, so my coach had told me to try and get things under control quickly. But that’s what’s great about the Branson bike course (sarcasm). There is one little descent to assist you in lowering your HR, and then you pretty much go right into the hills. As much as I tried to get my HR to calm down, I’m pretty sure I just decided to ignore it. Bad mistake.

About 10 minutes into the bike, my chest cold decided to play me a little song. Cough. Cough. Sniff. Sniff. Blow. I had it down to a rhythm. It was then that I realized breathing in this race might be a little bit harder than I thought. This is also the time when my body reminded me that I had been in bed all week, unable to move my legs much due to my crash a week before. My hip (where I had been bruised pretty bad) started throbbing and my quads were unbelievably tight. I couldn’t believe how weak I was feeling. It was so different from the training days when I dominated the Branson bike course.

The roads were wet and slick, which made me somewhat nervous with the long downhills, especially before turning. The course that I thought I knew before became a whole different beast with the change of weather and sickness. There were moments when snot was just plastered all across my face. Times when I wished I had tapped cough drops to my bike. And seconds when I doubted my ability to race. But there were also a million smiles across my face as I thought about how insane and fun this all was--and that I was actually doing it!

To sum up the bike, I finished 30 minutes slower than planned from my training days at 3:29.

BUT, I was unbelievably happy.

Seriously thrilled.

I didn’t care that my bike time was slow. I didn’t care that my body wasn’t up to par. I didn’t care about the coughing or the snot or my swollen hip. I was having fun. Yes, I was in pain, but I was having fun.

That said, I was ready to roll on the run and give it my best – looking forward to something that my body was more familiar with.

Hobble/Walk/Run:

And then…I got off my bike.

And I couldn’t walk. heh.

My hip hurt and I was getting a crazy side stitch.

So the first…while…was a hobble to try and get up to a run.  I found that as I tried to go faster and take in more oxygen, the coughing spells would make the pain in my side worse. Seriously, y’all, it was the side stitch from hell. And it lasted the whole race (and 24 hours after as well).

Around the 4 mile marker I decided I would walk an aide station, get some fluids/nutrition and then make a go at it again.

That hurt.  In fact, it hurt a lot.

I was better off running. Which was fine, except I couldn’t quite get up to speed.  I needed to be around 8min miles, which sounds easy, but I couldn’t even keep an 11min pace. I couldn’t believe how much my body was rebelling. I was definitely in the hole. You get to the point where you’re just questioning why you’ve just spent so many months training when you can’t hit the times you should easily be able to. And while I certainly recognize you can’t have the perfect race, this was the one race I felt like I was fully ready to do. And then to have it all end up like this, with sickness and injuries rocking my body, pretty much was a bummer.

Oh, did I mention it was pouring?? I was trudging through massive puddles of water like crazy. After I finally got to the point of letting go of my planned race time, I had a blast jumping in the mud. Seriously. I went from coughing, to smiling, to “why God am I hurting so much?”, to coughing, to laughing, to waving at everyone, and....you get the point. It was an emotional and physical roller coaster. But I guess that made my first half-ironman experience all the more fun.

oh, plus note: my bike to run was a lovely 1:34 transition
Accepting the pain and goofing off

I ended up finishing with my slowest half-marathon time ever, though I did make it a goal to try and run/hobble as much as possible with a smile. :-)  And the last two miles were respectable, mostly because I was so desperate to make it end I just ran more or less as hard as I could, darn the pain.

Wrap-up

It goes without saying that my race fell short of my goals. At this point all I can do is learn from the race, and try to apply those lessons learned to next time. Of course, it is hard to do that when I was racing sick and hurt. I asked my coach, mentor, and friends what I could have done to make it better..and everyone told me “not get sick”. Hmmmmm, okay.

I finished at around 6 hours and 30 minutes. Despite the slow time, it was an epic experience that I will never forget. It meant the world to me to have my brother there, supporting and taking pics. After all, I was racing in honor of his best friend and our fallen brother. Josh’s memory and courage were on my mind during the whole race, even with all the other crazy things that tried to distract me.

Teammate and I showing our tattoos for Josh, racing in his honor. 

Even though I didn’t reach my time goals, I finished it.

Yup. I did it.

And I can’t wait to do it again...healthy.



Oh, one more thing!!! I almost forgot! I got a flat tire right at the end of the bike, but I was so out of it...that I just went right into T2. Yup. First flat tire ever...during my race. I was actually pretty excited about that one since I had been waiting forever for it. Weird, I know. :-)

Posing with my first flat tire ever! Snap. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Total Shutdown

I crashed my bike on Saturday morning. All is well with the bike. I’m just a little beat up.




I had gone on a group ride with about 25 guys in Dallas. We were in our last 1/2 mile of a 36 mile ride when my front wheel got stuck in a long crack in the road. The bike and I went down pretty hard. I went from 26mph to 0 in seconds. Honestly, this crash shocked my body. I was shaking for at least 4 hours afterwards. It just tore me up physically and mentally. 

I got back up though. I got back on the bike and finished out the ride. I’ve been down and out since then, but hoping to do an easy spin today. The only problem...I’m fighting a stupid chest cold. Yes, seriously. 

5 days before my big race, the Branson half-ironman, I’m nursing bruises, cuts, road rash, and fighting sickness. WHAT THE HECK!?!?!? 

It’s gonna be ok though. I’m confident that I’ll be feeling better and back on my feet ready to rock this race!. 

Prayers appreciated though! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bittersweet

11 more days ’til the Branson 70.3!!!! Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

I can’t believe race day is almost here. All the hard work. All the chaos. I can’t believe that I am actually doing a half-ironman. THAT is craziness, my friends. 

God, this year has been hell. Yes, I learned a lot and I’m sooooooo thankful for each experience--as painful as it all was--but dang! September last year I was having trouble moving and preparing for surgery. Then 6 months of Mr. Lou-Pron knocked me on my butt. And now, I’m doing something I never in a million years thought I’d be able to do -- a half-ironman. 

Swim 1.2 miles


Then bike 56 miles


Then run 13.1 miles



WHAT!?!?! 

I still can’t believe I’m freakin’ swimming, let alone doing the whole 70.3! Sheez! You would think that I’m over that fact by now. It’s been about 4 months since I learned how to swim. Can’t I get over it already? Ummmmmm, NOPE!  I went from barely getting my face under water to actually moving--and racing triathlons. That is insanity to me and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. 

Training has been CrAzY, especially the past two months. My weeks have been ranging from 12-18 hours of running, biking and swimming. I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it all--even the painful, BLAH training days. Don’t get me wrong, there have been sooooo many times when I’ve questioned my abilities and whether I was absolutely mad to attempt to do something like this. There have been training sessions when I’ve wanted to quit. Like yesterday, when I started out on my 30 mile bike ride at 6AM in 48 degree weather. It was dark, cold, and...it could have just sucked. But I kept telling myself to embrace the challenge--the freezin’ cold weather slapping me in the face. Why? Maybe because I’m a little nuts, but I love taking on the rough stuff that will make me stronger and better. 

So here I am, entering my taper days before the big race. I’m getting excited, nervous, and scared to pieces for my first 70.3 race. I really have no idea what to expect. This is going to rock my world, I just know it! 

11 more days. 11 more days. 11 more days...

Until I get to live out the amazing, craziness of racing in this whole new world in honor of my amazing friend, brother, and hero Pfc. Josh Jetton. I wish he was here now, but his life and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Not a training session goes by when I don’t miss and think of him. My little bro is flying up from Florida to be there, right after he gets done with a memorial golf tournament being held in Josh’s honor.

It’s bittersweet. I’m excited about this race and doing it in Josh’s memory. It means more to me than just doing it for fun -- it is a purpose larger than myself. Me and Kevin will be wearing US military race tattoos with “gone but not forgotten” on them. It’s not just for Josh--it’s for all our men and women who have given their lives for our freedom--just a little something to honor them.

No, it doesn’t take away the pain of losing our Josh. There is still this huge massive hole in our lives. There is still an emptiness and sadness nagging at me every night when I lay still for just a moment. But somehow it helps the ache to know that I’m sharing Josh with others by racing in his honor. 

11 more days.






Friday, September 2, 2011

The yellow light

This post is not that happy. It kinda sucks actually. I hate to sound like a debbie downer, but I’m definitely feeling a little bit of that tonight. 

Before I go into why--let me throw out some awesome positives. :-) 

I moved this week into my own place and I love it. I’m still getting used to sleeping alone but that’ll come. haha. Another great thing this week--I got a tri bike. It was kind of an unplanned thing, but I absolutely love my little cervelo already. I named him The Howitzer (nicknamed Howie). To add to those awesome things, I have been feeling great in my 17 hour training week--well, with all my muscles, bones, and joints.  

BUT...

In some areas, my stupid body is not happy. 

It’s not my muscles. I’m not tired or sore. 

It’s not an injury. My ankle, hips, and everything in motion are feeling awesome. 

BUT...

My stupid female parts are acting up in a bad way. I usually tell all when it comes to this blog, but I just don’t feel like dishing the hell of it all tonight. All I will say is that I’ve been in a lot of pain down there...and lately it hurts to move. I don’t want to tell anyone though. I don’t want to go to the doctor again. I don’t want to address the issue because I hate it. I realize that I sound like a whining brat when I complain about this, but I hate it and I wish that I could ignore it. I wish that this wasn’t an issue with my training. With it being so close to the Branson 70.3 race (16 days!), I’m scared that this won’t heal up in time. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do my best and enjoy the 6 hour (or more) race because of this....health stuff. 

Obviously, I won’t ignore my body. I can’t. And I have to address the issue and go back to the doctor. 

I’m just whining tonight--throwing a fit at my body for giving me the yellow light. 

Yet thanking God for giving me the smarts to recognize when I need to slow down before it’s too late...as much as I don’t want to. 

UGH! 

I seriously hate this disease, y’all. 

I hate what it does to me and so many others. 

And with that, I’m going to sleep so that I can get some much needed rest and wake up for a short little recovery ride instead of the 4 hour ride that I so desperately wanted to do with the group. 

Life is full of surprises. Ups and downs. And occasionally, moments of slowing down. 

Nighty night, friends. Say a prayer for me, please. I know God’s got this. :-) 

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”
 ~Oscar Wilde