Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year! I am blowing the dust off this blog and starting 2015 off with a renewed promise to write more often on this site.  2014 was a great year for me personally and professionally.  I did the biggest deal of my life, bought a house, replaced my old clunker with my dream car and ended the year with a huge step in my career by taking a new job.  It was also a year of disappointments in my athletic endeavors.

After surgery on my foot early in the year, I never fully recovered mentally.  I did some training here and there...did a handful of races...but didn't have much enjoyment in any of it.  As a result, I packed on the pounds.

This time of the year is typically when I go on a frenzy of signing up for races.  I have done a ton of research on races, training plans and philosophies of training.  I have officially registered for 1 race...a half marathon in April.  I've also done a lot of reflecting on what made 2014 so challenging for me in my training and racing.

After all of this research and reflection, I've come up with a few resolutions:

-My main focus needs to be on my diet.  I have got to get rid of these extra pounds that I have gained in the past few months.  As I've recently learned, losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  I know that my exercise will be fine...but my diet needs to change dramatically in order to lose the 30 pounds that I want to get rid of.  I would love to lose the 30 pounds by June, which I think is a realistic timeframe.

-I would like to start and end my racing year with a long distance event.  I have found a 50 mile triathlon in May and a half ironman in September that I am seriously considering.  This will test my endurance over a long period of time...which could also give me some idea of whether or not I will have the ability to train for a full Ironman.

-I will be running more than in years past.  Running has been a weak area in my training for the past few years.  I have registered for a half marathon in April to force myself to get a training plan in place.  I want to get to a point where the running leg of the triathlon is not a struggle mentally anymore.

-I will give myself a break.  This past year, I was really hard on myself when I allowed life to interfere with my training.  That ended up being the start of a downward spiral...I would just get more and more frustrated with myself and with life for getting in the way.  I need to be more forgiving of myself if I need a day off.  And I need to be more flexible when life throws a curve ball into my well scripted training plans.

So once again I say Happy New Year! I am hopeful that 2015 is a good year for me and all of my readers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Run, Run, Run

So if there are any readers left on this blog, you have probably noticed a theme...running has not been my favorite thing lately.  As a matter of fact, I have not really gone for a run since August unless you count the triathlon in early Oct. 

However, for the last 2 weeks, the only thing on my mind is running.  Now I haven't actually gone for a run, but I'm working up to that. 

Last weekend was the Baltimore Running Festival.  I raised money for The Frannie Foundation and signed up for the 5K.  I beat my fundraising goal and was very proud of that fact.  Unfortunately my husband had to go out of town that weekend for work.  So I was left with no childcare coverage for the race.

There were several offers to watch my kids, but really I was OK with not running the race.  It's always an amazing atmosphere to be around...but it's also very challenging to get down to the city on race day.  I didn't want to leave the girls with a sitter for that long of a time and I didn't want my parents to take them to Betterton for the whole weekend. 

So I didn't run.  But I watched the entire TV coverage of the marathon.  I was reminded of how much I have struggled with the half marathon both times that I ran it...but how amazing I felt when I was finished.  I remembered last year's fun of being part of a relay team.  I wished I was there and I wished I was running.

Yes, I said it...I wished I was running!  This is a breakthrough folks!  I wished I was running!

So here's the new plan...I am going to slowly build up mileage and then I'm going to sign up for the winter half marathon training group.  My running buddy Heather sent me a FB message and said that she's going to do the same thing.  We will pick a spring half marathon to do together!  This will motivate me to keep focused during my training and it will be great preparation for a half Ironman early in the season.

I need to get over the excuses that are keeping my from running.  I woke up this morning and it was I didn't run.  I need to stop thinking about running...I need to stop wishing I was running...I need to START RUNNING!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lane 4? Really?

I started in the swim program about halfway through the summer of 2013.  I started in lane 1...the slow lane.  I didn't last long there and was moved to lane 2 where I comfortably hung out for several months.  Towards the beginning of the summer, I was consistently swimming in lane 3.  Summer attendance was so low that we all just swam in whatever lane because there were typically not more than 2 swimmers per lane.

Pam is back now.  (She takes the summer off from teaching/coaching us.)  Because Pam is back, the attendance has grown signifcantly.  So there has been some lane shuffling.  On Tuesday, one of the lane 4 swimmers left class when it was only halfway through.  So Pam shifted ME to lane 4 in order to even out the number of swimmers.  Yes, I said that Pam moved ME into lane 4.

Now there are only 5 lanes in my swim class.  Lane 4 and 5 are the FAST lanes.  They typically swim more yardage because they can cover the more distance in the same amount of time.  They are really nice people but really intimidating swimmers.  So here I was moving into lane 4.  I was terrified.

I took my place last in the lane.  I was just hoping to hold my own.  As we continued with the intervals, I noticed that while I wasn't keeping up with the lane 4 swimmers, I was definitely outpacing the lane 3 swimmers.  I would start the interval at the same time as their third swimmer but I would finish before their second swimmer!

On Thursday we had 4 swimmers in lane 3.  I started as the third place swimmer.  For every interval, I had to slow down because I was catching the swimmers in front of me.  It was definitely holding me up.  I decided to ask them if I could try to lead the lane.  When I was going as the first swimmer, I was able to stretch the space between myself and the swimmers behind me. 

When class was over, I spoke with Pam to let her know that I wouldn't be at class next Tuesday.  She mentioned to me that I needed to either lead lane 3 or move to lane 4.  She said that I am "a really good swimmer"!  I couldn't believe my ears!

In my mind I am still that slow swimmer from a year and a half ago.  I have really come far in my development...and I need to remind myself that I am stronger than I think I am.  Lane 4?  It's still very scary...but I can do it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Race Report - Osprey Sprint Triathlon 2014

I went into this race very undertrained.  I knew that from swimming 2 times a week I would be fine in that area.  I also knew that it was only a 15 mile bike ride, mostly flat, and I would be fine in that area.  The big issue was that I have not run at all for a long time.  As it turns out, the run was the least of my troubles!

I spent the night with Colleen at her house.  It was so great to catch up with her...we both stayed up later than we had intended.  But I woke up on race morning feeling rested.  The weather was questionable - with a chance of thunderstorms overnight and into the morning.  However it was not raining when I woke up.  The pavement was damp so it must have rained at some point overnight.  Colleen left before I did in order to meet up with another friend who was doing the race.

Matt was again racing the Osprey.  This year he was joined by his wife Sharon and his brother was the first triathlon for both of them.  In addition, my friend Kellen was racing it as her first triathlon.  Kellen had gone to check out the course the day before and had posted a picture of a jellyfish on her Facebook page.  Of course that sent me into the same panic that I had last year. 

When I arrived at the race site, it was really windy.  The water had whitecaps and the current was the wrong direction.  We would be swimming directly into a strong current with very large waves.  The good news was that there wasn't a jellyfish to be seen.  All of the athletes I spoke with seemed to be nervous about the swim.  Even Chris, who is a race director and has done numerous IronMan races, was commenting on how the swim was going to be rough on people.

The weather was not cooperating.  There were quick showers that pushed through right as I got to the race venue.  Then it seemed to clear out, but the sky still looked pretty threatening.

The rough water freaked me out, so I really wanted to get in the water early.  I got in and did some breathing bobs and swam a few strokes back and forth until my wave was ready to go.  Colleen and I lined up to the side but in the front of the group.  I was nervous but excited.  The weather seemed to have cleared just in time for the race.  It was still windy but the rain showers seemed to have pushed past us.

The countdown was on and finally we started the race.  I wanted to establish a good pace from the start so I really pushed it to the first buoy.  After rounding the first buoy, I got slammed in the face by a wave.  I drank a lot of the salty water.  I tried to calm myself down but it rattled me more than I wanted to admit.  The waves were large and the current was coming right at us.  I was trying to get into a good groove when it my hand entered the water, I touched the top of a jellyfish.  I immediately yanked back my hand and stopped swimming.  Somehow I avoided being stung.  I tried not to scream, but I definitely let out a loud yelp.  I turned and saw several women in my wave swimming towards me.  I knew that I had to keep going or get run over.  So I tentatively began swimming again.

The waves kept knocking me around and my stomach began to lurch.  I feared that Chris' prediction of people getting sick would happen to me.  I kept going and tried not to think about my stomach.  The second jellyfish that I hit didn't cause me to scream, but it didn't do anything to help me calm down.  I realized that I was swimming slightly wide of the swimmers in front of me.  I moved over and got directly behind another swimmer.  I followed those feet all the way in to the dock.  I couldn't wait to get out of the water.

As I ran down the dock towards the transition area, I knew I was in trouble.  My stomach was rolling and I felt like I was going to lose it at any moment.  I took a little bit longer than normal in transition, trying to calm my stomach.  Finally I knew I had to go...I got my bike and ran to Bike Out.

Once you get on the bike, there are 3 quick turns to get onto the main road out of town.  I made the 3 turns and immediately started looking for somewhere to pull off the road.  Several cars were parked on the shoulder and I had to hold it down until I got to an open spot.  I barely got my bike stopped before I threw up.

Knowing that I had to get myself together and continue on in this race, I took a swig from my water bottle, swished it around and spit it out.  Then I clipped back in and took off.  I didn't want to push it too much but I really wanted to make up time from that horrible swim.  I kept it in the small ring and focused on my cadence.  The wind was pretty tough so I tried to stay as low as I could in my aerobars.

About 5 miles in to the bike it started raining.  It was a light rain so it wasn't too bad but it made me worried about the sharp turn that was ahead of me.  The wind seemed to be in my face no matter what direction I turned.  But finally at one point, I found myself going 24 MPH without any additional effort.  The wind was finally working in my favor! I knew it was time to take advantage of this.  I cranked down to a harder gear and muscled my bike up to 26 MPH.  Unfortunately that only lasted for a mile or so until we turned back into the headwind.

My stomach was finally settled and I could concentrate on getting everything I could out of the bike.  I knew the run would be my undoing.  As I rode back into town, I was dreading getting off the bike.  My transition was pretty uneventful and I headed out on the run.

I was running out of town as the first finishers were headed back in.  This was pretty cool because I could see all of my friends that were ahead of me.  The first mile was tough.  After I cheered for Matt, my head got to me.  I walked.  Then I jogged.  Then I walked.  I was having the mental battle of trying to convince myself to run. 

Finally I got within eye-sight of the turnaround point.  Something in my head just clicked.  I knew that I had 1 1/2 miles to go to finish this race.  I picked up my pace.  I was now running, not jogging.  The young man at the turn around point was dancing as I approached.  The old Karen came out...I danced with him as I made my way around the turn around.  A smile was now on my face.

I picked up my pace even more.  I wasn't looking at my watch anymore.  I was just running.  And I was having fun.  It took until the last mile and a half, but I was having fun.  I did not stop running again until I crossed the finish line.  I had broken through the mental barrier! So in the end, while this may not have been my ideal race by any stretch of the imagination, it was a great day.

Race by the Numbers
Total 1:48:04
Swim (.5 miles) 14:58 - actually 1 minute faster than last year which shocked me
T1 2:43
Bike (15 miles) 52:47 - 17.3 MPH
T2 1:38
Run (3.1 miles) 35:58 - 11:36/mile

Friday, September 26, 2014

Change of Perspective

Monday and Tuesday I attended a work retreat.  It was held at the Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa in Southern MD.  I decided to go down on Sunday evening in order to avoid an early rise and questionable traffic.

I got some work done on Sunday night and went to bed.  When I woke up on Monday morning, the first thing I did was look out my window.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sun was just coming up over the water.  The water was calm.  The colors in the sky and reflected on the water made a stunning view.  I just stood there, taking in the whole peaceful scene.

The very first thought I had was "I wish I had brought my running stuff".  That is literally the first time that I have wanted to run in a long time.  I didn't bring my running stuff because I really didn't expect to have the desire to run.  I was trying to save space in the suitcase so I didn't bring anything "extra".  There was a time when my running stuff would never have been considered "extra".

The retreat started and I got wrapped up in the meetings. I learned a lot and consider it a very valuable use of my time.  At the end of the session on Monday, the instructor told us about a running path.  Several of the class members mentioned that they were going to run in the morning.  I was disappointed that I couldn't join them. 

I don't know what happened to trigger this change of heart about running.  For at least a year it has been a struggle to run.  Maybe I just needed a break.  Maybe I just needed to take the pressure off.

Whatever the reason, I am hopeful that this mindset continues.

Next Saturday is the Osprey Triathlon.  It will be the 3rd time I'm doing that race...the first time was my very first triathlon.  I am undertrained.  I am not "race ready".  But I am looking forward to getting out there and participating.  It was at this race that I crossed the finish line and fell in love with triathlons.  I hope to experience that feeling again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Down 8 Pounds!

The first week of my "diet", I focused on only my food.  I did not swim, bike or run.  It was very time consuming to prep all of my food for the week and pack my lunches.  I had migraines for 3 days straight.  But at the end of the week, I was feeling a lot better.

The second week I started adding athletic endeavors back into my routine.  I continued to follow a strict diet, although there were events where I had to "make do" with what I could.  We traveled to see Ryann at KSU and we had many meals in restaurants.  I realized that it's probably not 100% clean eating, but it is pretty easy to be healthy if you just make the right choices and be sure to ask for what you want from the waitstaff.

I am now 8 pounds lighter but the big difference is how I am feeling.  I am completely off my caffeine addiction and I am not consuming sugar of any kind.  No dairy either...which surprisingly I don't miss at all. 

My clothes are starting to feel normal again.  They had become so tight and I refused to buy larger sizes.  So now, even though I am pretty far from my ultimate goal, I am moving in the right direction.  Losing the weight is the first step towards getting all of my training 100% back on track.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stepping Back to Move Forward

So this blog has kind of gotten stale.  I haven't posted regularly and I'm sure that anyone still out there checking my blog is either related to me or just really bored.  So I've decided that I am going to change things up a little. 

The reason I haven't posted is that I haven't had much to say.  I have been very sporatic with my training since my foot surgery.  I have also gained a lot of weight, which mentally weighs me down and physically holds me back in training.  SO, now that September is here, I've made a decision...I am going to take a step back in order to move forward. 

What does this mean?  Well, I will still swim, bike and run but it will be with the goal of getting myself into a good, healthy place instead of with goals of going longer, harder, faster. 

I have always done better when I am being held accountable.  So, I will make a daily post on this blog that talks about the challenges or the successes I've had that day.  This will include both my workouts and my eating, however this will never be a weight loss blog.  I'm just not that kind of girl!

Feel free to chime in if you are on a similar path.  I am by no means an expert and will take any feedback or support that anyone will give me!

So, day goes...

Success: I have eaten "clean" all day.  Only meat, veggies and fruit today so far.  I have given up my treasured hot tea with Splenda in the mornings.  I have been drinking water all day.  I actually enjoyed my healthy lunch.

Challenges:  I probably did not pack enough food to get me through the day since it is almost 3 pm and I feel very hungry.  My sleep was not good last night so when I woke up this morning with the intent to run, I chose to reset my alarm and go back to sleep.  I did not plan ahead for dinner so I am probably going to be challenged there.