Broken

I was planning to publish a post this weekend about how gorgeous (and challenging) cycling is in the Madison area. I even had photos to include and everything. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about what I’m eating to fuel my training when I’m not swimming/biking/running, and I had brainstormed some ideas for how to write about that topic too. And I wanted to talk about how excited I was to sign up for my first non-triathlon open water swim this Sunday (2.4 miles!) and my first 200k bike ride (126 miles!) in a few weeks.

CAM00515

Ok you get to see a cycling picture

CAM00518

This state smells like cow manure

Instead, I spent Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon going from urgent care to the emergency department to the trauma unit at the hospital. Not as fun as blogging, let me tell you.

On Sunday I set out to ride about 65 miles, doing one loop of the Ironman course plus part of the stick to eventually add up to about four hours. About two and a half hours into the ride, I was going pretty fast down a hill when a big tractor appeared coming up the hill in the opposite direction. Because of the angle of the road and a tree, I didn’t see him early enough, so I slammed on my breaks and went over the handle bars, landing hard on my right shoulder and rolling a few times. Thankfully I always wear a helmet and I didn’t land on my head, so my head and spine were fine. A cyclist stopped and waited with me until my friend arrived to drive me to urgent care – the first of several wonderful strangers I’d come in contact with that day.

A few x-rays at urgent care revealed I cracked my clavicle (collarbone) and a rib, and I had a small puncture in my lung. Additionally, I have road rash pretty much everywhere.  My jersey ripped in a few placed (though not where I have scrapes?) and my shorts and sports bra have some holes too. The nurse and nurse practitioner at urgent care were amazing. Due to the lung situation, they had to send me to the hospital, which meant an ambulance ride. The guy who rode in the ambulance with me was great too, talking about how he works the Ironman every year and then giving me the heads up that going into the trauma room at the hospital would be overwhelming (it was). The nurse there was very sweet, though I was annoyed they took off all the bandages the urgent care nurse had painstakingly applied, but I guess they have to get a full evaluation. Eventually I was admitted to the hospital for observation, where I met yet another awesome nurse (and another when they changed shifts in the morning). Honestly, nurses are my favorite people in the whole world. Finally Eric and I headed home Monday afternoon, over 24 hours after the crash, with a sling, about a million pieces of gauze and medical tape, and a prescription for pain pills.

CAM00547

My jersey. Note that the only real hole is is the center-left. I have zero scratches there somehow.

A couple of observations:

  • When trauma unit nurses see how much road rash you have and say, “oh honey…” you know you’ve done an impressive thing.
  • The default settings for the heart rate monitor thing are not set up for athletes – I kept setting off the alarm in my sleep because my resting heart rate was below their threshold.
  • Related, I crushed the respiratory exercises and measures, even with a hole in my lung. Fitness FTW.
  • I got a tiny glimpse into how much being a resident sucks. The same resident who talked to me about my rib in the emergency department at about 6pm was doing rounds with the attending at 8am, so yeah, I’m guessing he didn’t sleep.

So where does this leave me and Ironman training? Honestly, I don’t know. Or I’m avoiding admitting that doing the race is out of the question. Supposedly the rib and clavicle will take 6 weeks to heal, and the race is 9 weeks away. The nurse practitioner at urgent care made it clear she didn’t think it was possible, and I haven’t talked to any other medical providers about it. The orthopedic resident said I could stationary bike as soon as I felt like it, but I didn’t broach the subject of Ironman. I’m taking this week completely off, and I guess I’ll reevaluate over the weekend. I go back for follow-up x-rays in two weeks, where I’ll learn how things are healing up. A cracked rib and clavicle is a painfully common cycling injury, and plenty of forums have posts from people saying they were back to (stationary) biking and elliptical-ing in 2 weeks and swimming in 6 weeks. Plus my fractures are tiny, whereas many people have surgery. So I am not ready to give up yet (plus I don’t think I could handle the next 9 weeks of wallowing). I need Ironman to motivate me to do my arm exercises and my breathing exercises (oh yes, I have a sweet incentive spirometer), and then to get back on a stationary bike next week so I don’t completely give up on exercising.

CAM00549

Get Well flowers from Eric’s parents

And that’s my sad update for the week. I doubt there will be much happening on the blog as I continue to rest and wait.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Training in a New City

Moving to a new city is a challenge no matter what: which grocery store should I go to? Where is the nearest gas station? Best Thai take-out place? Nearest Target? But when you’re three months out from the biggest athletic endeavor of your life, you have  a whole new set of questions: Where will I swim? What are the best running areas? What are some good cycling routes/which roads should I avoid so I don’t get hit by a car? Where will I buy my next pair of running shoes, my nutrition, and any other triathlon supplies I might need? What events/races should I do? And most of these questions need to be answered immediately so you don’t miss too much training.

After a month here, I think I’ve done pretty well, so I figured I’d share a bit of advice in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation.

1. Do a little internet searching. Of course. I searched for “Madison triathlon store,” checked out the websites I found, and then started following Endurance House Madison on facebook and twitter. Same with Fleet Feet (running store) and Berkeley Running Company. Stores will post events – free or otherwise – that you might want to check out. Just this week, the Madison Fleet Feet store posted about an “unofficial half marathon” at a park nearby that I had only partly explored. Eric and I decided that a somewhat organized 13.1 miles would be a great way to spend part of my 2.5 hour long and a chance for him to see how 13 miles felt on his recovering-from-injury legs. We went this morning and really enjoyed it! I ran over to the park to get some extra miles in, while Eric drove. 50-some people showed up to run a few loops (you had to run 4 plus a bit extra to get to 13.1) around the park just because that’s something runners do.

As for cycling, my preferred way to ride 100 miles is to have someone else map out 100 miles and provide water refills every 15 miles, so I found the website http://www.bikeacentury.com/ that lists century rides in every state. Sadly I had to Google Map every single ride because I have absolutely no knowledge of Wisconsin geography. I’ll do at least two rides from this list, maybe three.

2. Talk to staff at tri/running stores. The very first thing I did when I came up to Madison was go to the triathlon store with two goals in mind: find out where exactly the store was located and ask the employees where to swim/bike/run. (Seriously the first thing. I had not even seen my new apartment yet and could not give the employee an idea of where I lived besides my precise address.) Obviously store employees love the sport (and talking about it) or they wouldn’t be working there. We chatted with the guy at Endurance House for probably 20 minutes to get some ideas for where to train. Eric has lived up here for 6 months now, but either Madison was covered in snow or Eric was injured for most of that time, so he’s just figuring things out too. Added bonus of going to the physical stores: they have brochures or postcards for upcoming local events – I grabbed a bunch.

3. Talk to co-workers. Luckily I was able to find a few runners at my new job, so I asked them about their favorite running spots and can’t-miss races. I now have a few races on my radar for late fall or next spring.

4. Get out there! The single most important piece of advice is that you have to just go. If you see an event you think might be fun, go even if you don’t have anyone to go with you. I was lucky today that Eric was interested in doing the group run thing. But he’s not training for ironman right now, so he isn’t going to register for any century rides or open water swims any time soon. A few weeks ago I drove about a hour down to Janesville to ride a century there. Later this summer I’ll drive out to Dodgeville for a 200k ride there. I always find at least one person to ride with, and I don’t mind spending some time on my own either.

So far I’m loving training here. The gym/pool situation is working out well. The scenery is beautiful. And there are always other people out running and biking. Plus, what better way to get your bearings in a new city than exploring by bike and foot?

image

Good luck to any folks living in a new place – I hope these bits of advice can provide some inspiration to find new places and people to train with!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Joined A Gym – Take 2

This poor little blog. I have such good intentions for it. Every weekend when I write out my to do list (yes, I make to do lists for my weekends), “write blog post” is on there. But then I feel pressure to summarize the past 2+ months (for whom, I’m not sure), and that’s quite daunting, so I never make time for it. To avoid that stress today, I’m just going to cut to the present, or at least to three weeks ago…

As you may remember, last May I joined a gym in Durham, and then cancelled my membership within the week-long trial period. The gym didn’t have a pool, so it just wasn’t going to work. But I moved to Madison, WI at the end of May for a new job, and my number one priority when I got up here was to find a pool to minimize the disruption to Ironman training. As far as I can tell, many pools around here are at the high schools or swimming clubs, and the hours do not work well for pre-work swims. Conveniently, there is a very nice 24 hour gym with a 25 yard pool between my apartment and work. They give a great discount to folks from my company, and they have plenty of spin classes and other classes that I’m excited to try after Ironman. So once again, I have joined a gym. I’m three weeks into my membership (yes, I joined the gym immediately upon getting to Madison), which means I’m out of the one week trial period, so I think this relationship is going to stick. Sadly I already shower at the gym more often than I do at my apartment.

As for a general update on Ironman training, so far so good. Between my last post in mid-April, I finished up the Super Simple 70.3 training plan, raced happy and set a new 70.3 PR of 5:52:44 at the Carolina Half Triathlon, raced my first duathlon at the Cary Du Classic, set an 8k PR (35:15) at the Running of the Bulls, started at week 18 of the Beginner Full Ironman 20 Week plan from BeginnerTriathlete.com, and rode a century ride (100 miles) in Janesville, WI.

From the Carolina Half:

image

image

Probably the happiest 13.1 miles of my life.

Plus I got a new job, left a job and co-workers and city I loved, moved several states away (huge thanks to my mom for helping me pack and driving up to Wisconsin with me!), and started a new job in a new city that I’m super excited about. It’s been a whirlwind. My new apartment is a few miles from the Ironman bike course, so I’m pretty pumped to be able to roll out my door and get plenty of experience on the infamous hills this summer. The bike course is a “lollipop” course, as they say, meaning that you start by going out on the “stick,” then do two loops of the “lollipop” part, and then head back on the stick to the transition area.

image

So far I’ve done the loop, but not all at once. One ride I ended up on about 3 miles of gravel road where they must be repaving – and the roads need it. These are possibly the worst quality roads I’ve ever ridden on. I appreciate the bike lanes, wide shoulders, and courteous drivers, but man, the winters must do a number on the road surfaces.

And that’s how Ironman training is going! A lot of waking up at 5am and constantly smelling like chlorine. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or all-consuming, which may be because I’m focused on my new job. I love having workouts as a time to myself, and I want to make sure I enjoy these next few months however hard they get so that training for my first Ironman doesn’t just pass me by.

Posted in Training Recap, Triathlon | Leave a comment

Carolina Half Iron Training Recap Weeks 9-13

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Training has been going well enough, and the rest of life got pretty crazy with work, travel, a wedding, visitors, and more travel. My week day workouts are straightforward enough. This training plan has been true to its name – quite simple to follow – and I’ve missed a run here or there but mostly got in all the workouts. The weekends, however, have each presented their own challenges, as I supposed weekends tend to do. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Let’s see where we left off…

March 15-16: One of my college BFFs Lexi ran the DC Rock n Roll half marathon on Saturday. I had coached her, making use of my RRCA certification. She lives in New York now, after spending a year or so in London, and living in Boston before that. With her traveling down to DC for the race, I was happy to drive a few hours north to go see her for the first time in 2 years. I got in late on Friday evening to stay with another friend and plotted out my morning long run around the race course. On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early, got in a few miles on my own, ran down Rock Creek Parkway as the leaders were coming through, and met up with a friend to cheer for a while. After we saw Lexi, I sprinted up a few miles to meet up with another friend to cheer for a bit. When we saw Lexi, I hopped in and ran the rest of the course with her. It was a wonderful way to catch up on life, and I’m immensely grateful I got to run part of her very first half-marathon with her. After lunch with her friends and family, I headed home.

On Sunday the threat of rain kept me on my trainer for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Not particularly exciting. After that I went for a swim. (The typical weekend format on this training plan).

March 22-23: I ran the Merge Records 25k and had a blast. It was a one-time race to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of Merge Records, and we ran from Chapel Hill to downtown Durham. It was a small race of about 800 people, which is a great size in my opinion. We ran on roads I ride my bike on a lot, so I was familiar with the course. It was a beautiful day, and Merge Records had some of their artists performing afterwards. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay because I had a flight up to Madison, WI.

Which brings us to Sunday. I was supposed to ride for 3 hours, but I couldn’t find a not-outrageously-expensive spin class option to take two classes back to back, and 3 hours on a stationary bike in a gym somehow seems so much worse than 3 hours on the trainer. Eric and I went to the University of Wisconsin gym, and I swam and then biked for an hour while watching the NCAA tournament.

March 29-30: I mentor for Fleet Feet’s No Boundaries program that coaches people to their first 5k, so we had practice Saturday morning in the rain. Then I ran from the store to the American Tobacco Trail to squeeze in my own 13 miles before heading to the airport to pick Eric up. I love running in the rain. Pro tip: wear a hat or visor.

Another rainy Sunday meant 3 hours on the trainer. I catch up on a lot of tv this way… And again I swam in the afternoon.

April 5-6: We had a wedding to attend in Asheville on Saturday, so we drove out Friday night and waited up for our friends to join us in our very cute Airbnb. On Saturday morning the couple getting married hosted a hike for guests. While Eric and the others went to that, I took my bike out for an impressively hilly 45 mile ride. I printed out a route from AshevilleCycling.com, left a copy with Eric in case of emergency, and headed out for an adventure. As expected, it was gorgeous, but hilly and not all the roads were marked, so I had to stop a few time to confirm on my phone that I was going the right way. And only one dog ran through his electric fence to chase me, so I guess that’s not too bad. After the ride, I went for a 20 minute brick run. I love riding in new places, especially ones as beautiful as Asheville. This would’ve been a great place to insert a photo if I’d taken any… Our crew met back up at the house and headed into town for pizza, followed with coffee and fancy chocolates. Asheville is the best.

On Sunday, I headed to the Shut-In Trail, which I found by Googling “running trails Asheville,” to get in an approximately 10 mile run. Again, super hilly, and I had to walk up parts of the trail. I ended up running more on the Mountains to Sea Trail that was less extreme. After a shower and some food and coffee, I drove home. Back in Durham I – you guessed it – went for a swim.

April 12-13: Wow I’m all caught up! We had perfect weather this weekend in Durham, though the pollen was a bit thick, and I’m glad I got to spend a lot of time outside. On Saturday morning, my No Boundaries group ran the Girls on the Run 5k in downtown Durham. I was also part of the planning committee for the race, so I got there extra early to set up tables, cut up orange slices, and generally help get things ready. Once our No Bo folks showed up, I switched gears (and t-shirts) and got into my mentor role. I’m super proud of the ladies I ran with – they ran the entire 5k, just stopping to walk at the water station. I was planning to ride my bike after the race, but it was the middle of the day and I just wasn’t motivated to spend several hours outside in 80 degree temps. And here’s why triathlon training is so great: I just switched Saturday and Sunday’s workouts. Easy enough. After taking care of some chores at home, I went swimming, then took a break to walk around the mall (oops I did a lot of shopping this weekend…), and then headed home for my long run of 12 miles. I doubt I’ve ever run in the evening on a weekend, but it was peaceful! Of course it was still hot and I still got covered in pollen, but overall a positive experience.

Then on Sunday I headed out for a 60ish mile ride on my tri bike. Up until this point, all my outdoor riding had been on my road bike as my tri bike lived on the trainer with a special trainer tire on the back wheel. But with my race coming up in 3 weeks, I figured I need to get comfortable riding my tri bike outside again. I was a bit off balance at first, but then I got right back into it. As I’ve mentioned, this pollen is no joke. At times I could literally see a hazy yellow cloud of it over the road. And it’s really hard (not to mention gross) to sneeze a million times in a row while in aero position, and without tissues. When I got home, my face had a layer of yellow powder, I had yellow gunk coming out of the inside of my eyes (TMI but it was seriously terrible), and I really really needed to blow my nose. My legs felt fine on the ride, but my sinuses and my sit bones were not happy. Hopefully things will get better in the coming weeks.

So that’s my weekend training! I honestly have no idea how this race will go. Last fall I had spent the entire summer riding my bike, and I’ve gotten in the bare minimum of riding this spring. At least I know what’s coming this time (lots of pain on the run), and this race is very much a warm-up for Ironman training, so while I hope to go faster overall, I’m going to take it easy on the bike. I have two more long rides and runs before the big day to eek out any more fitness gains I can find.

Happy Monday!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carolina Half Iron Training Recap Week 8

After Saturday’s marathon, I was glad this week was a recovery week in my triathlon training plan. I was a little sore on Monday (my rest day), and by Tuesday, I felt much better.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 40 minute Trainer Ride

Gradually making my way through Orange is the New Black.

Wednesday: 1300 yard swim; 6 mile run

I bought my 6 month unlimited pass for the swimming pool instead of continuing to buy 20-visit passes. This is getting real, guys.

I finally made it back to the Wednesday night Fullsteam run with Bull City Running. I was glad to see some familiar faces and catch up with the girls I saw so often over the summer. I’d like to get back into the habit of going to this run.

Thursday: 1400 yard swim; 48 minute Trainer Ride

More swimming, and more Netflix. I’m considering cancelling my cable, but I would be so sad to miss the Tour de France. Hmm.

Friday: 4 mile run

It was cold and windy and rainy, so I ran on the treadmill. The tv in the apartment gym was on a show about finding real life superheroes. They were showing a man who can conduct electricity through his body without feeling any pain. Strange.

Also, 6 months to race day!

Saturday: 43 mile bike ride + 20 minute run

In contrast to Thursday and Friday’s terrible weather, Saturday was absolutely beautiful. I rode in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey and may have developed the beginnings of a farmer tan. Next time I’ll remember the sunscreen. Also, lots of trees and branches had been knocked down in the storm, so most of the ride smelled like pine trees. No complaints from me!

Sunday: 9 mile run; 1700 yard swim

Another gorgeous day. I went for a run in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt! It was strange coming home from a run and then knowing I’d go swim in a few hours. Two-a-days are easy to schedule when I work out before and after work, but for some reason coming back from my run and doing chores and reading for a few hours to let my lunch digest so I could swim felt weird. I’ll need to get used to it.

Also, this week may have been the first time this training cycle I completed all my workouts as written (I swapped a few workouts around but more or less followed the plan). I’ll get off track again next weekend when I travel to DC to see my friend Lexi run the half marathon there, so I’ll savor the fact that I got everything accomplished in almost the right order this time.

Totals:

Swimming: 4400 yards

Cycling: 65ish miles

Running: 21 miles

Yoga/Foam Rolling/Strength: 15 minutes

I’ve really fallen off the boat when it comes to yoga and strength stuff. This week I’m implementing a Monday/Wednesday/Friday 15 minutes of abs and strength in the morning before other workouts. On Tuesday/Thursday I’ll do a short yoga sequence to wake up. Let’s see how this goes…

Posted in Training Recap, Triathlon | 1 Comment

Umstead Trail Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday my mom and I ran the Umstead Trail Marathon in Raleigh, NC. It was a challenging course but a very well-run event. My goals and finish time reflect my inadequate training, but I still had plenty of fun.

The Goals

I had a few goals for the race, in order of importance:

1. Don’t fall, especially on the single track section, and don’t develop any lasting injuries

2. Run smart and happy even when it gets hard

3. Finish in the top 15 women (top 15 men and top 15 women each get hand-crafted wooden plaques)

4. Break 4 hours

The Plan

To address the “run smart and happy” goal (and hopefully goals 3 and 4 in the process), I planned to run 9 minute miles for as long as possible and then start walking a minute and running 9 minutes after that. My long training runs had averaged 8:30-8:45 pace, so this pace seemed reasonable. I suspect I’ll turn to some sort of walk/run plan for the Ironman marathon, so I may as well start getting used to it now, imposing some sort of structure instead of walking indefinitely.

The Race

I achieved goals 1 and 2, and finished as the 16th woman with a time of 4:17. Honestly, goals 3 and 4 would have just been icing on the cake. I wanted to run around in the woods for a few hours and practice walk/jogging, and if I could get a plaque for doing so, that’d be great.

This race has about 200 runners, and we all gathered in and around the small wooden lodge before the 9am start. There were some real trail/ultra runners, with trail shoes, gaitors (keep rocks and debris from getting in your shoes), and t-shirts from 50 and 100 milers. One day I hope to run enough trail races to justify purchasing trail shoes, but I’m not there yet. Many people seemed to be locals who’d run the race before or regularly trained on the trails. They warned us that it would be very hilly but worth it. Great. Just before 9am, we clustered behind the starting line.

Trail shoes + gaitors. These are not my feet. Source.

Miles 1-2

The first thing I noticed: no matter how far back from the start line people were, everyone started their watches when the race director said, “Start.” I’m used to chip-timed road races where it can take a while to actually cross the start line so people wait to start their watches. Apparently I’d forgotten that trail races are much more laid back. Also, the race had announced it would not use disposable cups at the aid stations, so everyone received a small collapsible plastic cup. Many people opted to run with hand-held bottles (including me), water bottle belts, or hydration backpacks.

The first two miles were on pretty flat crushed gravel roads. The crowd moved forward casually, and I let them keep me from going out too fast. I tried to remind myself we had a lot of miles ahead of us. I settled into a smooth and easy pace, and both miles clicked by in just under 9 minutes each. Perfect.

1279042_666971673361734_1688968270_o

This picture is from early in the race and get I still couldn’t manage to keep my eyes open for a good photo. Also I was overdressed for the weather.

Miles 3-8

The next six miles were on single track trails. Thankfully it hadn’t rained much the week before, so the trail was dry except for a few small muddy patches. A few times I got caught in line behind some runners going slower than I might like, but again, I let them slow me down. 26 miles is a long way to go, and single track trails in the first half of the race were not where I needed to push the pace. Each mile was marked, even in the thick forest, which was great. I was holding steady with the 9 minute miles and happy to be running in the woods.

Around mile 6, we turned onto the gravel roads for about 200 yards to go past an aid station. I took a Gu Roctane with water at this point and suffered from stomach pain the rest of the race. So I probably won’t be using Gu Roctane again.

1606413_666997853359116_488846246_o

Aid Station!

Miles 9-19

After 6 miles of the single track trail, we turned onto the gravel roads for the rest of the race. The road surface was smooth enough, but the route was constantly up and down. At the aid station at mile 10, one volunteer had a list of everyone’s name and race number, so they cheered for you by name as you ran through. That was a fun boost of energy that kept me smiling for a while. I was feeling great and keeping up with my planned pace. Throughout the race, I tried to think of it as a casual Saturday long run in the woods. I generally do my long runs in the Duke Forest, so this wasn’t so different. There were a few spectators in places, and I appreciated them, but I don’t mind running alone in quiet woods. In fact, I much prefer staying in my thoughts in silence to huge crowded races. Some people get energy from the constant noise, but I’m not sure I do.

Around mile 15 we went through a turnaround and I counted how many women were ahead of me. I was the 8th place woman, but there were plenty of women not far behind me, and I could feel my quads were getting tired of the downhills. Mile 18 or 19 I started to really suffer on each descent. Every tentative step made my quads hurt, and I knew I was slowing down. I saw people walking the uphills, and maybe I should’ve followed suit, but sometimes I’m stubborn. One or two women passed me here.

Miles 20-26.2

When I passed the mile 19 sign, I took my first one minute walk break, in keeping with my plan. After nine minutes of running, I passed the mile 20 sign. I thought maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if I can keep 10 minute miles for the rest of the race. Wishful thinking. My calves and hamstrings started doing that annoying thing that happens towards the end of marathons where they threaten to seize up by sending little warning cramps. I changed my approach to “walk when you get to a hill or after 9 minutes of running.” Over the last few miles, I managed to walk the uphills and hobble the flat and downhill sections. It wasn’t pretty,  my quads were in plenty of pain, and I was ready to be done. As more women passed me, I envied their smiles and smooth strides.

At some point I started having trouble breathing, probably because my body was so tense from the pain of each step and I wasn’t letting air into my lungs. I’ve hyperventilated a few times before, and I was surprised to be having breathing problems when I wasn’t running very fast/hard. I did not have the presence of mind to focus on deep breaths, so I’ll need to keep my yoga breaths in mind when this happens again. While I wish I could’ve finished stronger and controlled my breathing, I’m proud of myself that I only took one unscheduled (meaning not uphill or after 9 minutes of running) walk break.

One sad thing happened: I’d been drinking from my water bottle (refilled at one aid station), but the later aid stations also had Coke, and that sounded great. I ran/shuffled up to the volunteer and then realized that they didn’t have cups (none of the aid stations did), I didn’t have the small portable cup they gave me with my race packet, and I wasn’t about to dump out my water bottle. So I sighed upon my realization and continued on my way without any delicious sugar and caffeine. In hindsight, I could’ve stashed the cup they gave me in my water bottle pouch in case I wanted a sip of Gatorade or Coke without emptying my water bottle, or I could’ve dumped the water, gotten some Coke, and then refilled my bottle with water.

The last mile or so is gently downhill. I tried to convince myself this made it easier, but I couldn’t move any faster. Again I envied the runners passing me – how had they not trashed their quads as I had?? I slowly shuffled to the finish line where a volunteer handed me the finisher’s pint glass of water. As I tried unsuccessfully to catch my breath, the volunteer and a medical staff person came over to try to help me. I knew I’d be ok, so I thanked them, walked around for a bit, and changed into warm dry clothes to wait for my mom.

The Analysis

Overall, I’m pleased with how my race went. I hadn’t fully trained for a marathon, and this was a particularly challenging course. I’m not sure what you can do once your quads get that sore. I kept to my race plan pretty well, with no lingering pains or injuries, so I got what I wanted from the experience. I stayed positive for most of the race, even when it hurt, and I adapted my race plan as things changed. Maybe I should’ve gone slower on the single track section, and maybe I should’ve started walking the uphills sooner. Regardless, it was fun and made me almost sign up for another marathon in two weeks. So far, I’ve restrained myself – gotta get some cycling in.

About the Race

If you want to run an early spring marathon in North Carolina and don’t care if you PR, choose this one! The race organizers are top notch, and the trails are lovely. The volunteers were amazingly helpful and kind. Communication from the race was clear and helpful in the weeks leading up to the race. Race morning packet pick-up was smooth –each person got a short sleeve technical shirt, a pair of Smart Wool socks, two Burt’s Bees chapsticks (my favorite), and a Honey Stingers Waffle. The lodge had a fire, coffee, bagels, and fruit before the race, and all that plus burritos, cookies, chips, hot chocolate, and more after the race. Finishers get the pint glass and a random prize (you draw slips of paper as you finish). My mom got a technical t-shirt, and I got a box of cookies made with Durham-based Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Pecan Butter (and the recipe!). So so good.

The race fills up within a day or two when registration opens (in November, I think), but they allow people to withdraw in January, and then those spots are offered up again. I registered in February using one of those spots.

I love trail running because of the people it attracts and because of the time spent in nature. I hope I can integrate more of it into my future. My mom and I thoroughly enjoyed the race despite our inadequate preparation. I can definitely see why people drive to Umstead for their long runs while training for Boston!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

6 Months To Go

For many Ironman races, you convince yourself this feat is possible, get excited, and sign up for the race a year in advance. Then you wait. Sure, you can (and should) keep up with some of the swim/bike/run routine and maybe run a few races. But twelve months is too long to wake up day-in and day-out and say, “Today I am training for Ironman.” (Though I have kept in mind that this is an important year to not get hurt from pushing too hard before Ironman training even starts.) Instead you can plan your season with mesocycles and macrocycles (this book covers a lot), focusing on shorter races and eventually building toward Ironman. Typical training plans I’ve seen are 12-20 weeks, or 3 to 5 months, and those plans assume varying amounts of fitness in all three sports going into the formal training cycle. I’ll follow a 20 week plan, but since my half ironman is two weeks into the plan, I’ll complete my half ironman plan, rest a bit the week after, and pick up the Ironman plan there.

Six months out from race day feels like a pretty significant milestone, if only for the fact that this week I finally switched from buying 20-visit passes to the pool to a 6 month unlimited pass.

Taking a moment the check-in with where my head is right now…

Since January, I’ve gotten lucky and had some weekends that warmed up enough to do my longer rides outside. I’ve certainly kept up with my running. And swimming is still an unknown – I feel like I’m doing just fine, but the swims in my half ironman training plan seem short, and who knows how good my form is – but it’s a relatively short part of the race, and I’m trying to trust that my plan will be sufficient. All that is to say, I’ve been doing the training that should get me across the finish line of my half Ironman in May, but it has not felt intense (I guess they don’t call it super simple for nothing…). (Once again I regret not entering last fall’s training data somewhere so I could easily compare the volume this time around).

I am so overwhelmingly eager to get into the thick of Ironman training. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I’m in the midst of if, but right now I can’t believe that. I can’t wait to dedicate myself to this cycle of training, to push myself each week, to see what kind of meltdown(s) I’ll have, to see where I’ll find my strength.

Plus, there is a list of questions to answer for race day, including but definitely not limited to: What will I wear (yes, a very real consideration – 140.6 miles allow for lots of chafing)? How will I pace myself? What will be my nutrition strategy? Do I prefer goos or gummies or protein bars? Liquid nutrition (new to me)? Real foods like dates? A mixture of all of the above?

I’ve heard enough horror stories to know that dialing in your nutrition is a huge component of how well your race will go. I spent the run of my fall half ironman feeling sick and unable to take in any calories. I had stomach pain the majority of my marathon last weekend, probably due to eating a Gu Roctane for the first time in a long while. So these small brushes with nutrition issues have me worried about reaching a whole new level of digestive pain and discomfort during Ironman.

For now, I’m resisting the temptation to order a box or canister of every product ever created, but I’m compiling a list of things to try. I have a bunch of gu’s and other assorted items in my cabinets to work through, but I welcome any and all suggestions for different products and strategies.

So how am I feeling? Super excited (and maybe a little impatient) to start official training in a few weeks months. Bring it on, Ironman Wisconsin!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment