Sunday, December 15, 2013

House Hunters

Since we moved up to the Northwoods in July, we have been in house hunting mode.  After having owned a home, we felt we were a lot pickier about what we wanted with our second one, making the search a lot tougher.  As a mom and triathlete, I also had a wish list of things that I wanted to accommodate the lifestyle.  Well, as of about two weeks ago, we closed on our new home!  So how did it match up to our needs and wants?  Read on!
One thing I liked about our last house was that there was a second bedroom right next to ours.  It sure made having to get up during the night with a baby a lot more convenient (as if it’s ever really convenient).  Unfortunately, with our new house I now have to trek down two flights of stairs to the kids’ rooms.  There is a loft area next to our bedroom though that a newborn can stay in at first, just for the simplicity of being closer when getting up multiple times a night.  I’m not sure how I feel about having kids two levels down from us at night, but it will be nice not having them on the main level for when we are awake and they are not.
We are now only about 7 minutes from the YMCA, which means I basically have a pool in my backyard (well almost).  We do have a lake though!  HOWEVER, I’m not sure if I would want to swim in it.  The water is so dark that I can’t see anything in it, and frankly, that freaks me out.  It also has a fisherman/weeds shoreline and the information we found on it says that the bottom is 85% muck.  Yuck.  Well, there’s a pool 7 minutes away.  Even if we don’t swim in it, a paddleboat was left behind that we can use in the summer, and I already cleared a skating rink!  Right now we are the only house on the lake, and the end of our dock not only has gorgeous surroundings, but it is also a great place to unwind in absolutely peace and quiet (stolen moments that every mother needs).
We now have a 3 car garage – yes!  That means there is plenty of room for all of our workout equipment (weights), and to set up my bike on the trainer.  When we looked at houses, space for that was definitely something we were looking for.  An additional bonus is a paved driveway!  Say what?!  I should clarify that we now live out in the country on 7 wooded acres with a long driveway, so I could have only assumed that such a setting would mean that we would have a gravel driveway.  However, now I don’t have to worry about getting my bike down a gravel driveway and out to pavement (because as a mother, we all know that every minute of an opportunity should not be wasted). 
Running?  Well, I lost my trail that I had in Three Lakes, but I at least had it for my marathon training.  When it’s winter, I don’t want to take Baya out in the stroller anyway (and the trail is obviously out of commission for it too), but I have the Y nearby with treadmills, and we are on pavement for when it someday warms up again and I can bundle her up enough to take her out when the road has cleared off.
Another bonus is separate his and hers walk-in closets in the master suite.  This means that Andy no longer has to see or complain about all my workout clothes hanging all around.  Overall, we are in love with our house, even though it needs some work done on it (including the immediate attention of a new water heater).  We are excited about this being a place where our kids will grow up.  Our driveway even does a loop in our yard where they can ride their bikes around.  That is, until someday when they are ready to venture out on bigger rides with their mom!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thriving on Routine

            It makes sense that kids thrive on routine.  It is obvious that Baya is at her best when she has stayed on her schedule.  I’m also at my best when Baya stays on her schedule!  Starting with her wake up time, we are at the point where I can expect certain things from her at certain times now.  Illness, traveling for holidays, and other things sure know how to mess up routine and I can see how it affects her mood and behavior (mine too).
            Yes, routine is amazing for kids.  Consistency is so beneficial to children.  It is also superb for me when she stays on her schedule because then I know what to expect from her.  I can plan things around her schedule.  I know my time frame for getting in a bike ride on the trainer.  I know how much time I have afterwards for if I can fit in a shower, or do the dishes, etc.  Routine is more than just that though.  It is said, “Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.”  Winter has already arrived here in the Northwoods, and so I am seeing some newer people come into the Wellness Center to try to establish a new routine that involves working out (and the New Years’ Resolutioners will soon follow).  One woman was saying that her struggle is motivation.  It seems that is common for many. 
            As I’ve said before, motivation is not something I typically struggle with, rather it often comes down to opportunity instead.  If I have the opportunity, then I will certainly follow through on planned workouts, and sometimes I may need to put in a little extra work in making it happen, but I always do my best to fulfill what I have set out to do.  I believe a lot of it comes down to routine, not motivation.  I am in the routine of working out every day.  I am in the routine of running everyday.  It feels wrong to not run, or take a day completely off.  In fact, it bothers me to do so.  This may seem extreme, but it is a good example of what routine can do to you.  It is my routine to go to the Y in the morning and get my swim in first (if it is a day I get to swim).  It is never a question of if I feel like swimming.  I am in a swim block right now, and some of the workouts I am doing are very tough.  Some days I struggle to hit my intervals.  However, I never allow myself to question whether or not I FEEL like doing the workout.  I just do it.  It think Nike is on to something.  Don’t question it.  Don’t allow excuses to pop up.  Just do it.  Make it your routine. 
            My next training block will be on the bike.  On the trainer.  In the garage.  It will not be exciting by any means.  In fact, it can be downright unpleasant.  Given Baya’s schedule though, I know I only have a small block of time during which I can make my ride possible.  There is a minimal amount of time for procrastination, which I think is another pitfall that we can easily fall into.  The more we allow ourselves to procrastinate, the more likely it becomes that the workout becomes compromised.  If we stick to a routine though (come home from work, have lunch, hop on the bike), then procrastination is eliminated and the work gets done.  While I know schedules should be flexible and expected to change, we can adapt easier just by shifting our routines around, but not abandoning them altogether!
            Simply put, routine means happy baby, which in turn equals one happy momma!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trying to Keep Up

            As you know, we moved up north this summer, and while we have adjusted to the new location/surroundings, we have also become really busy in getting involved around here!  So this is an update on what we’ve been up to, and what this busy momma has been doing!  As far as the volleyball season went, we lost in Round 2 of Regionals, ending a solid season of my first year of coaching varsity.  I had a ton of fun with the girls and they developed a lot as individual players and as a team.  It was exciting to be a part of it all. 
I’ve been working at the YMCA in Rhinelander, starting out with just teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding.  I have since become a Fitness Coach as well, and now I work some mornings in the Wellness Center.  This gives me a great opportunity to have more face-time with people and meet more triathletes!  A mother of one of my swim girls also asked me if I would be interested in coaching the Under 8 kids in the Rhinelander Swim Club.  As a result, coaching for the swim club started up the week after volleyball was done, and it will continue until around the time of Track & Field in the spring.  This is a lower level of commitment though as it is only three days per week for an hour.
            I ran the Ashland Whistlestop Marathon in October.  I did the majority of my training for it on the Three Eagle Trail here, which runs from Three Lakes to Eagle River and is about 13 miles in length.  It is a crushed limestone trail and is in very good condition.  I was expecting that the Ashland trail would also be in a similar condition, but I ended up being very disappointed by it.  Not only were there very soft, sandy spots, but there were also larger rocks that were rough on the feet.  It was still pretty scenery of course, but nothing can compare to that of the Three Eagle trail, which winds and curves its way through the woods, and has sweet boardwalks to cross as well.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  So after I got back from the marathon, I contacted the head of the Foundation for the Three Eagle Trail and now we are in the midst of planning for a Half-Marathon and 5K run on the trail October 11th of 2014, and I will be one of the race directors for it!  I am very excited about this endeavor, and so glad to have Andy on board with me as well, as he is doing the logo and helping with stuff that is online or in print.  More information will come about this later on!
            While working in the Wellness Center, it became apparent that others recognize me as “the swimmer.”  While I find it amusing to be viewed as such (after all, I did just learn to swim properly less than 2 years ago), it has also been great in generating interest from others who would like to learn from me.  As a result, I will be leading an adult freestyle swim clinic in December, aimed at triathletes or any other adults looking to improve their freestyle swim.  I’ve taken part in two clinics in the past, and I have been using the model that I learned through them when I work with other adults, and I look forward to spearheading my own clinic this time around.  I would also like to pursue the formation of a Triathlon Club of the Northwoods at some point.  There are not a lot of triathletes around here (I discovered that very quickly as I walked into the Trek retailer and discovered no tri bikes on the floor), but I am finding a few here and there and hope to create a network of us that can connect with one another, learn, and get some group workouts in!
            I have also been in conversation with another potential sponsorship, but at this point, I won’t leak anything just yet!  Hopefully a post in the future will hold some great news.  Other than that, I have been keeping up with training, for the most part anyway.  I am now in a swim focus training block, and so I will be spending a good deal of time in the pool, while maintaining my run fitness and starting to add some intervals to the bike sessions occasionally again.  Andy and I have been discussing the potential races for next season as well.  Currently, I am only registered for one at this point – USAT Nationals 2014 in Milwaukee!  That’s right, I qualified at both Chisago Lakes and Pigman and plan to race at Nationals on August 9th!
            One other big item that has kept us busy is that we have been looking at houses!  We have one in our sights and hope to close on it soon.  More details on that in an upcoming post!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Complications of Being a Mommy Triathlete

           Before a baby enters the picture, the triathlete lifestyle is quite simple.  It’s as simple as routine.  If  I want to do a run, ride, or swim, I just go do it.  The only complications may be pool availability or weather conditions that require an adaptation to the workout to perhaps make it an indoor one.  There does require some strategy, some planning,  but in comparison to life with a baby, it’s much more like putting together the edges of a puzzle instead of the middle, especially if the puzzle is something insanely difficult like a black cat.  Throw a baby into the picture, and life becomes even more complicated.  Sometimes you can do all the planning and strategizing to make a training session happen, and all of your plans still end up being thrown out the window.
            There have been stretches of times, days on end even, where I have been able to get in everything I set out to do.  Some days I’ve even surprised myself with all of the extra household tasks I’ve also been able to get done.  Then there are the other days.  With the fall and onset of winter, there also arrives the flu and cold season with it.  The best-laid plans and intentions don’t stand a chance against it, and our household has not been able to escape its treachery either.
            The plans for a day like today?  I could capitalize on the 8-11:30am drop-in childcare at the Y in order to fit in a swim, my lifeguard shift, and a quick run on the treadmill before picking Baya up and heading home.  Sounds like an excellent morning to me!  Once home, I could eat a quick lunch and hop on the trainer and bike for an hour if she stuck with her “schedule” of taking a long nap at that time.  That should even leave me some time to do the dishes and work on some writing.  Instead, however, after Andy left for work, Baya couldn’t stop coughing and ended up throwing up.  Again.  I got me and her cleaned up and changed, called into work that I would be missing my shift, feeling that I should not take her into childcare with her having thrown up 3 times in the last 12 hours.  This also meant that I would miss my swim. 
Yesterday became quite nice out so I was able to run outdoors with her, but we awoke this morning to snow and cold, and I do not feel that is a good option for her today.  There goes the run.   I am pretty adamant about running everyday too, so this is where it also becomes a mental battle to accept the situation that I am in.  Good thing I can at least bike still, right?  What should have been a 2.5-3 hour nap was cut short and I missed the entire ride!  Of course.
Yes, there are days like today that make it tough to be a mom and seriously pursue triathlons at the same time.  Days like today also test mental toughness.  I can push through hard workouts and races.  It is actually easier to push through them than miss them altogether.  This is also a great reminder for perspective, because in the grand scheme of things, missing today’s workouts (or even a few more), aren’t going to make that big of a difference.  Triathlon is a lifelong pursuit, but so is being a parent. 
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be one of those people who say to embrace and cherish all these moments.  Cleaning up vomit and  listening to seemingly endless whining and crying is not fun, nor is it something I will cherish.  She does not suddenly turn into a little girl who just wants to cuddle.  She does not like to be cuddled much, there is just too much to see and do (much like her mom I guess).  However, being there for your kid when they really need you, definitely surpasses the importance of any workout.  There will always be another day, and another opportunity to train (and this is only the off-season after all).  Being a mom will always come first.  Now it’s time to finish the laundry and celebrate having clean clothes again, at least for a little while.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My First Marathon!

I was now 7.5 months post-baby, but with the big summer races I had, this was something I felt I could have handled months ago already.  While training for this marathon, I was pretty optimistic at how I would do.  The first long run of 14 miles at easy pace (just over 2 hours), was pretty tough on my body.  After that one though, the other long runs felt fine overall and I was able to recover from them pretty well.  However, as the marathon got closer, and my long training runs were behind me, I began to get more and more nervous.  Then I hit the “what have I done?!” stage and needed some reassurance that yes, it was going to be okay and I could indeed do this.  I tried not to dwell too much on it, so I wouldn’t get too nervous the night before and the morning of.
I ended up traveling to Ashland by myself, and I stayed with a family that I had never met before.  Both of these things worked out better than what I was anticipating, and I am ever grateful to my host family (thank you so much!).  I picked up my packet Friday night, and partook in the pasta supper that was free to runners.  Then I needed some chat time with Katherine to help keep me calm, and walk me through different aspects of what I was about to undergo the next day.
It was a fairly warm morning, but there was a strong wind, and the sun wasn’t out until we were underway with the race.  I hopped a shuttle in Ashland and was taken to the race start in Iron River, WI.  I jogged about a mile to warm up, did some dynamic stretching and drills to loosen up.  My body felt pretty good after that, and I was confident that I could run at a decent pace without my hamstring bothering me.  I had only been doing easy paced runs, followed by the foam roller, in order to try and solve my hamstring issues.  It was warm enough out to start in my sleeveless jersey (thanks Draft Cyclery!), capris and gloves and know that I would be fine like that for the whole race.  I wore the jersey so I could carry my gels in the pockets and not have to hold them.  It worked great!
We ran just over a mile on a paved road until we hit the ATV trail, where we would be doing the bulk of our race on.  I knew it was a trail run, but I was expecting it to be more like the surface of the 3Eagle trail that I’ve been doing my training on.  This trail, however, was a lot tougher to run on.  It was a lot softer than I was anticipating (some very soft areas) that made it tough to get traction, and it had a lot of bigger size rocks that were tough on the feet to run on.  The fact that it was a trail surface, however, also meant that it was a lot gentler on the body in regards to the knees and joints, and for that I am thankful.
My husband ran the Twin Cities Marathon last fall, and this was obviously very small in comparison.  It also had a lot fewer spectators.  We would see spectators at the aid stations (there were 15 along the course), but otherwise it was basically just the runners and the trail.  It was a gorgeous fall day, but the landscape didn’t change much for about 24 miles of running.  I brought 4 gels with me, planning to have one about every 5 miles.  Mentally, I broke the marathon into more manageable chunks.  The first chunk was the first 5 miles, knowing I would have a gel then, and would be about a fifth of the way done.  The next marker was at 6.5 miles, which would be halfway to the halfway point.  At 10 miles, I had my 2nd gel and turned my music on for the first time.  Those first 10 miles went pretty well.
At 13.1 I knew I would be halfway, which also meant that from there on out, I would be on count down as to how many miles I had left.  At 15 miles, I had another gel.  Once I hit 17 miles, I was down to single digits of miles left to go.  At 18, I knew I had less than half the distance of what I had already run, left to cover.  This made me feel better.  At 19.6ish miles, I had only a quarter left to go.  I arrived at the 20 mile marker just after 2.5 hours.  My longest training run was 2.5 hours (17.32 miles), so now it was all uncharted territory duration-wise.  I had my 4th and final gel.  I was still feeling good at this point.  For the first 23 miles, my pace stayed at an average of 7:35/mile, and I was doing surprisingly well.  Then it hit me.  Mile 24 was an 8:07, then for the next mile (24-25), my shin muscle was on the verge of cramping.  I had been on pace for a sub 3:20 marathon, but suddenly it now became about trying to just finish it without stopping to walk.  I knew if I cramped, I would struggle to not only keep going, but I could miss the 3:35 Boston qualifying time as well.  That mile I averaged 8:14.  My body continued to struggle though, and my last full mile was an 8:22.  We had about a mile at the end that was off the gravel trail and into town.  It lasted forever.  Finally the finish line was in sight.  I crossed in a time of 3:21:34 (7:42 pace), finishing 4th for females (out of 233), and 1st in my age group (out of 33).
The pain experienced during the last portion of the marathon was only the tip of the iceberg for what was yet to come.  After you stop running, a new kind of pain sets in.  I was taken into the medical tent after I finished, as I had a breathing attack (makes an appearance similar to asthma sometimes), and they had me lay on a cot for a few minutes.  I didn’t know if I would be able to get back up.  My entire body felt so weak, even my arms.  I felt as though I could not move my body.  After leaving the medical tent, I snagged some food (and about 4 cups of chocolate milk), my finisher’s medal and shirt, and headed to my car.  I walked like a 90-year-old woman.  I foam rolled out on the street and it felt both painful and amazing.  I ate some more food, got my award, and headed home.  I survived my first marathon and walked away with only one bleeding toenail and 2 blisters.  Oh yea, and a whole lot of pain that only continued to set in over the next day or so.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thank You!

A HUGE thank you to all those that have supported me throughout this past year: the grandmas who came out and watched Baya so I could get out for long workouts during the build period, friends who came and cheered us on, and Katherine for racing with me (I love sharing this experience with you!).  Thank you for the amazing support and encouragement on this journey!
            I’d like to specifically thank Andy, my husband, who has put up with so much.  He has watched Baya so I could get outside and train.  He has suffered through my insistence that yes, I do NEED to get my run (or substitute for swim or bike) in today.  He has traveled with me to almost every single race, where he would try to kill a lot of time as he waited for me, and photographed each race.  This past Christmas he even bought me my race wheels!  When we moved up north, we had to make sure I would have access to a YMCA so I could swim at the pool.  He would sit at the beach with Baya and wait for me to get back from my open water swim, or he would paddleboat with Baya alongside me.  He kept me stocked with running shoes (this is where we will miss Eastbay in the future) and apparel. 
            There was a stretch where I would get up and hop on the trainer in the early morning hours, and then he would tend to Baya when she woke up for the day so I could finish getting in my ride.  He biked next to me, with Baya being pulled behind, while I did my longest training runs for the marathon, so I wouldn’t have to carry anything with me, and he would help pass the time for mile after mile.  Just over a year ago, I was in my bike accident, and while life was simpler before Baya was born, for a stretch he then had to help me dress, wash my hair, and put it in a ponytail (does any man know how to make a nice ponytail by the way?!) until my shoulder recovered.
            My bike needed some adjustments done to the rear derailer, I discovered, when we were back home with our families over the 4th of July.  Andy helped me find a shop that was open and could take care of it on July 4th for me, so that I could still ride while I was home.  Yes indeed, he sure has put up with a lot for me.  He has listened to me talk endlessly about different races, training, and different gear that I’m dreaming about.  I chatter on about the latest swim I did, and though I know he could honestly care less about swimming, he still listens.  Then he goes to my swim meet and takes pictures for me.  He believes in me, so much so, that after my first Olympic distance race, while I was shocked that I managed to finish 3rd overall, he simply said, “Of course you did.  You’ve been training a lot.”  I think I caught him a bit by surprise though after my first half-iron distance race, when I finished 4th overall, and he said, “You did disgustingly well.”  It feels good to still be able to impress my husband of five years!
            For all the things you do to make my triathlete lifestyle possible, for all the leg massages when I’m really hurting, and for always still continuing to encourage me, despite it feeling at times like my season is never-ending, I want to say thank you!  Only one more race this year (the marathon) of sitting on the sidelines and twiddling your thumbs while waiting for your dear wife to run by, until the next season when we can go through it all again together.  I’m thankful that I can count on you to be by my side for all this.  I don’t know what I’d do without you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Challenges - The Move

My husband started a new job up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin on July 8th of this summer.  All of our belongings were moved into a duplex the days before.  Baya and I stayed behind in our empty house for a week.  We closed on our former house July 12th, and we moved in with friends for my last week at my former job, before we made the move up north as well.
Routine, resources – everything was thrown out the window!  I was starting from scratch during the biggest season of my life, during the end of my big build period, and right before my biggest races.  Think triathlon in itself isn’t challenging enough?  I was already increasing my training for a longer distance and to do the HIM for more challenge.  But wait, let’s have a baby in there too.  Oh, oh, and let’s move!  Yes, let’s move, and start new jobs, and live in a new (super tiny) duplex.  Let’s move up in coaching and now I can start coaching Varsity volleyball and can have the season overlap with my race season!  Yes, and let’s leave all our resources behind and move farther away from our families so they are even less accessible for babysitting!  Let’s find a new congregation to worship with, and while we’re at it, let’s just question everything in life, have Baya regress and no longer sleep through the night....
Yup, this all happened.  Sometimes I feel like if I could survive this season, then I can face anything!  (Perhaps even an Ironman someday?)  Heck, if we weren’t planning on growing our family so soon, then I might as well just do my IM next year already, after all, my new routine should (hopefully) be established, and new resources (babysitters) will (Lord-willing) be found, and I’ll have a whole new support system in place.  If all I had to do was focus on training, the IM distance just doesn’t seem so daunting anymore.  (And this is coming from someone who INSISTED that she was NEVER doing an Ironman.  Yea, about that...)
Well, Baya is back to sleeping through the night (hallelujah!), I’ve started working at the YMCA in Rhinelander, the volleyball season is over half done, and I have only a couple weeks left before my first marathon.  Somehow I made it through the end of my build period and into my race weeks and the close of the season.  I had a couple grandma visits that sure helped with that.  A bonus of being up in the chain-of-lakes though is that I did get more open water swims in than what I had been doing.  I lost all my bike routes, and it's a bit tougher up here.  With all these lakes, there are a lot of roads that dead-end.  You basically have super busy highways (also tourist season up here), or else the side roads that don't dead-end and are paved, are very curvy without extra shoulder space (and often without lines).  They both make me nervous.
At my former Y, I used to do a lot of my running on their indoor track while Baya was in mini-care, but this Y doesn’t have a track like that, so I sometimes resort to the DREADmill, otherwise Baya and I have been hitting the trail a TON with the running stroller.  We live about a block from a trail that has been awesome to do a lot of my running on.  My long runs Andy has biked beside me, while pulling Baya so I don’t have to carry water or anything with me.  I’m back to riding solely on the trainer, but only a couple times a week since I’m focusing on the run, and I’m hitting the pool three times per week.  Baya has become more predictable in her naps, which makes it easier to bike on the trainer, and mini-care at the Y has her while I swim.  For the most part, she’s okay in the stroller as long as I time it out with her eating and nap schedule.  I made it up to running 8 miles with her in it (that’s a long ways pushing a stroller!), and she slept for another hour after I got back, so I guess if I was really crazy I could have ran another 6 or so with her in it (trust me, I’m not THAT crazy).
Somehow it did all come together in the end, and somehow I’ve found a way to keep on going.  The weather has been a blessing, as it has been a beautiful fall for running outside with Baya, but the winter will present a whole new set of challenges.  The changing training blocks will present their challenges, and the track season in the spring will be a whole new battle to take on.  No worries though, I will continue to figure it out and adapt.  No excuses.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Milk Maid

Some women may be wondering about breastfeeding with this amount of training.  My sister said she noticed a decrease in her production once she returned to running after having her second child.  I was curious as to what would happen with me.  Of course I didn’t have a personal base of comparison, since this is my first child.  Nonetheless, I thought I’d share my experience for those who may be wondering if it is possible to breastfeed while being so active.  As always, personal experiences will always vary.  This will track through my results at different points along the way.
I had been producing plenty of milk for Baya after she was born.  She did the normal weight drop after she was born, but gained 13oz  by her 2 week appt (in 11 days).  I started pumping after a couple of her feedings (night feeding and morning feeding) for just 5 minutes and would get .5oz, so I knew there was more there than what she even needed, even though it didn’t seem like a whole lot.  It typically took about 20 minutes to nurse each time until she was satisfied, so I had decent production.  I had been extremely active throughout the entire pregnancy, so my body was used to the demands of exercise.  However, it lightened for the first couple weeks after delivery as my body recovered and I figured out my new routine.  I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen when my workouts started increasing more again.  They had been once a day and pretty mild compared to what I was doing at the end of pregnancy, so I thought my body could easily handle the milk production and my little bit of working out at 2 weeks in.
Going on 3 months, and I was still breastfeeding.  Even though I pulled some weeks with over 12 hours of training, I was still able to nurse, which actually surprised me.  I must say though that we had been supplementing with formula since she was about 3 weeks old, originally because both her dad and I coach track together, and so she tagged along to practices and meets (had her first track practice at six days old).  We found it to be much more doable if we used formula during those times.  I then would try to pump when I could.  At 6 weeks old, she was able to start attending mini-care while I worked/worked out, so then there would be a 3.5 hour stint where I would not have time to pump, and so she also got formula during that time.  For the most part, she mostly took in breastmilk.  She probably averaged with 1-2 bottles of formula in addition per day though as well.
When she was around 4 months, it became common to feed her a couple ounces of formula after I fed her.  I was still producing, despite being in my build period, but it wasn’t enough for her most times anymore (except for morning feedings).  At 4.5 months I started weaning her off of my milk.  I dropped down to nursing her only 3 times/day (unless she got up during the night, then there’d be a 4th).  I was still lactating; however, my milk did not seem to sit very well with her, as she would spit a lot of it back up.  So I decided to cut back on nursing and wean her off.  I’m not really sure it was my milk that wasn’t sitting well with her, as she seemed to spit up a lot of anything.  However, I was done nursing then by time she hit 5.5 months.
When it comes to breastfeeding, women will all have their own stories and experiences.  Some may not be able to nurse much at all, or for very long.  Others may be able to nurse for more than a year.  I was glad I was able to breastfeed for as long as I did, as I am in complete agreement with doctors that it is the healthiest and best option for babies.  You may experience a drop in production when being active, but I don’t feel that was necessarily the case for me.  I’m definitely an advocate for being an active mama, and in addition to that I would highly recommend pushing extra water to not only stay hydrated, but  in order to keep up with the demands of production as well.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Case of Withdrawal

            For most people, the racing season inevitably comes to an end.  This is a time to scale back on training (maybe stop all-together for some) both in volume and intensity, and rejuvenate.  This time of year may be welcomed by some with open arms, as a time to relax and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace (what’s that?!), to reconnect with old friends that may have been forgotten amidst the Swim/Bike/Run schedule, and to tend to other things neglected between work, workouts, eating, and washing those sweaty clothes that always seem to accumulate too quickly.  You can shop for things other than running shoes, gels, Gatorade, and other such staples. (What else is there?!)
            At the end of every season for me though, it is met with sadness – it’s done already?!  Is there another race I can find and do?  Last year I ended with a half-marathon at 13 weeks of pregnancy, a week later had a bike accident, and I accepted that my season was done.  This year I signed up for my first marathon.  There are seven weeks between my duathlon and the marathon, two of which have been mainly recovery, leaving 5 weeks – enough time for about 4 long runs.  If I chose not to count my HIM run training, this might be the shortest marathon training period.  I’m strangely optimistic though.  However, after it’s said and done, I’ll most likely not recommend this format to anyone.
            Withdrawal – or “post-season blues” (it’s been six months, so I can’t claim that I am just now having post-baby blues) – may vary from person to person, but it may include some of the following: looking up races and planning your next season (if you haven’t started already), evaluating your past season and laying out your off-season training blocks to address your weaknesses, making a wish-list of gear you would like to acquire by the next season, or in the long run.  You may find yourself eating as if you were still in your build period, but then no longer admiring that build period physique when  you were at race weight.  You realize water in itself is sufficient for your “workouts” (f you can even call them that anymore) and you don’t need to be concerned about replenishing calories, electrolytes or salt while out running or biking.  You may suddenly find yourself sitting there with NOTHING to do, as you no longer have to block out HOURS of your day for S/B/R, and you feel strange, and then anxious, and then you get the shakes – where is that adrenaline fix?!
            There is still a warmth in the air and you long to put your tires to pavement before the winter comes and you are confined to your trainer and staring at a wall – or sufferfest videos, both painful I understand.  But, dear fellow triathlon junkies, this is a time to embrace, to catch up on life, to refocus for the next season, refresh your body and your mind, take a deep breath and enjoy this time to be STILL.  Or sign-up for a marathon.  Whichever. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Run, Bike, Unite Duathlon

            I basically set up an intense five weeks consisting of  four races, with two of them being half-irons.  Was I crazy?  Six days after my first half-iron at Chisago Lakes, I did Wausau’s Olympic course triathlon, and that seemed to go okay.  Then I had two weeks off before Pigman’s half-iron, six days after which I had signed up to do another duathlon.  I seemed to make it through the first three races pretty well, but by the time the duathlon arrived, I was realizing that what I really needed was some good recovery time.  I took it easy for the 5 days between races, but when I got to the starting line for the duathlon, my legs were not completely ready for this. 
It started with a 2.2 mile run, which I figured I should be able to do at about a 6:30/6:40 pace and still be able to bike well.  I hung on at a 6:50 pace and instantly knew my body was not recovered to perform at its best.  I have been battling a tight hamstring for several weeks, and doing run speed pushed it to its limits.  Even during Pigman’s half-iron, I felt it on the half-marathon run.  At Wausau, the bike at least got my muscle warmed up enough to run feeling okay.  Not at this race.  I knew I was pushing the line of injury if I went any harder, and well, I just felt like I couldn’t really run any faster either. 
I was in fifth for females coming in from the first run, and I headed out on the bike for the 14.6 mile ride.  My plan was to bike hard today.  I wanted to out-bike every other woman at that race.  I struggled to push my watts, as my legs just didn’t have it in them to sustain the higher efforts, but nonetheless, I came in with a good split.  I managed to pull of the fastest female bike split, averaging over 23 mph, and had the fifth fastest bike split overall!  Solid.  I’ve never biked that fast, so that was really exciting for me!
I headed out on the second run of 2.3 miles, and already feeling like I wanted to be done.  My body was taxed, and this speed stuff was tough!  I think I’ve come to really like the endurance aspect of the bigger races.  Who knew?!  I went just under a 6:50 pace, having the second fastest female split and finishing as the second female (first in my age group) and sixth overall for men and women.  The leader had outrun me, but since she used to run for the Wisconsin Badgers, I could not be shocked by that one.  I did have almost five minutes on the third place finisher though, so it was still a fast day.
This marked the end of my big racing season.  It was an awesome year, and I far exceeded my hopes and expectations for it!  I had started off with winning a 5K just two months post-baby, followed by a 10K win (both with significant PR times).  Green Bay kicked off the triathlon season with a very cold day, but a successful win, followed by a duathlon win at Badger State Games in Wausau.  I had my FIRST swim meet of my life at Badger State Games, managing to win two of the events even!  I took a long break from racing and focused on getting ready for my first half-iron distance races.  Chisago Lakes was surreal, with perfect weather and a sub-5 hour race and 4th place finish, and still only 5 months post-baby!  Claimed another victory at Wausau’s triathlon, and then took on Iowa’s Pigman Half-Iron, dropping significant time and finishing in 5th.  Then I wrapped the season up with this duathlon.  I am very much satisfied with the season, but I also know my areas of weakness to work on in order to prepare for next year.
Not able to QUITE be done yet, I signed up for my first marathon in October.  Here I am in recovery week, and writing out my training plan for the next 6 weeks leading up to it.  Just can’t quite end the year yet!  Thank you to Rob, for coming out and racing with me, and thank you to Andy for photographing, watching Baya, and being a huge supporter and fan all season!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pigman Half-Iron

            My husband and I traveled down to Iowa for my big race of the season.  It’s been cooler out for the last several weeks, making it feel like summer has already ended, but now that we were traveling south for a big race, the weather decided to also heat up.  Race day had a high of around 80, but it was intense sun with few clouds in the sky and very little for breeze (nice for the swim and bike but making it a very hot day out there).  The race didn’t start until 7:30, and by time my wave started it was around 8am and things were warming up fast.  It was a time trial swim start, which meant that one person would start every 3 seconds, instead of in giant waves together.  It made it less clustered of a start, but it also made it more difficult to be able to tell your placement throughout the race.  The water was calm, but I had a hard time sighting so twice I paused to clear my goggles.  The giant buoys were too far apart and there could have been more of them.  I didn’t want to chance swimming extra so I figured it was worth my time to get a clearer sight.  I dropped a few seconds from my previous swim time at Chisago Lakes, though it was pretty much the same. 
            It was a long transition area, running up the beach, through the grass, and into the parking lot that served as a long, narrow transition where you ran by all of the bike racks.  I got out on the bike and focused on my watts and how I was feeling.  You could tell it was getting hot, but at least you always have wind while biking in order to help cool the body.  I went through 4 bottles on the bike as well.  I wanted today to be more about what I could do on the bike.  My plan was to bike harder than what I did at Chisago Lakes, where I felt like I was trying to be conservative so I could run.  For this my plan was to bike a lot harder and try to just hold on in the run.  Heat was also a lot bigger issue with this race that I needed to be aware of though, and that makes things a bit trickier.  It was an out-and-back bike course with rolling hills.  I got close to the turn-around and counted the females ahead of me.  I counted 7, though keep in mind that’s physical placement, not necessarily time placement.  After the turn-around, I passed 5 of them within the next 8 miles.  I rode a little harder on the way back, hoping to put some distance between us.
            I had a solid bike split, way better than I was hoping for, averaging close to 22mph and dropping more than 10 minutes from my previous bike time.  I just needed to run well now and this could be a very solid race.  I had a pit stop in T2 and headed out on the run.  I felt good for the first mile, clipping along at a quick pace and feeling optimistic.  If I could run the same split that I did at Chisago Lakes, I could go under 4:50 with my time.  I wanted a 7:20 pace, but as the miles wore on, I was just trying to hold on to a 7:30 pace.  There were some big hills in and out of the park, and one at the turn-around.  On the way out, the air was thick and stifling at times.  I took an extra salt tab at mile 3 and drank a cup of water at every aid station, and sometimes was able to dump another cup on me.  I held 7:30 for the first half of the run, and stayed fairly close to it for the next few miles.  There is a giant hill about 2.5 miles out though and it was tough.  My pace significantly dropped.  Another decent hill in the park in the last mile of the run, so close to the finish, yet so far.  My run time was about 4 minutes slower than what it was at Chisago Lakes.  My body was beat for sure.
I finished with a time of 4:52:08, a significant overall time drop from 4:58:51!  I managed to make the top 5 again, placing 5th overall for females, which was a small cash prize.  There was some very good competition at this race, some very fast women.   I’m glad I was able to hold on to some of them!  It was a fun race, though warm and pretty intense.  I had high hopes for the race, but tried to also keep realistic expectations.  I managed to surpass my bike goal and pulled off a significant PR.  I really didn’t have anything to complain about when it came to the execution of the race.  It was definitely a learning experience, and added to a great overall season.  Andy was my support for the whole weekend and race, as he has been at every race, taking pictures and cheering me on.  What a trooper!  And who would have thought that Iowa could be so much fun?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Return to Wausau

            This was my first time of doing a back-to-back with race weekends.  I just completed my first half-iron on Sunday, went into a week of recovery/race week with a long course race (.5mile swim, 28 mile bike, and 5.8 mile run) six days later.  My very first triathlon was at Wausau, so I always enjoy doing this one every year, despite it being the most challenging bike course I’ve ever done, with all of the intense hills.  I tried to hold back and keep it light for the five days of training between races.  The day before the race, I felt alright, but had a tight hamstring that raised a bit of concern.  I planned on the bike loosening it up for the run and decided to not worry about it.
            The weather was perfect.  It was sunny, a slight wind, and relatively cool, with a high of only 75 for the day.  It was chilly at the time of the swim, which did not allow for wetsuits.  Last year was my first time doing the long course for this one, and I had a horrible swim .  My goggles had fogged up and I couldn’t see where I was going.  My time was awful.  This year I dropped over 2.5 minutes from my previous time, and was the first female out of the water.  I felt good on the bike, and wanted to push it really hard for this race.  I wanted to see what I was capable of.  And of course, I was in it to win it. 
I wasn’t seeing much of anybody on the bike, much less females, until almost 10 miles in, when I was passed by female #9.  She was moving.  I was determined to not let her get out of my grasp.  I hung behind her for dear life.  This was exactly what I needed to push me.  She pushed hard up the hills, gaining some distance, and I’d gain ground on her on the descents.  I passed her up a couple times, only to have her pass me again shortly after.  I had about a minute on her with my swim time, but she made up for it on the bike, and we ended up coming in and finishing that leg together.  We rode hard, averaging around 22mph, and being the only females above 20mph for the long course.  It was a great ride.  I didn’t know where any of the other women were, but I knew she would be hot on my tail, so I flew through T2 and booked it out on the run.  I was hoping she had burned out her legs from the ascents, and I later found out that she was hoping she had burnt me out as well.
Normally the run is a 10K, but due to construction, it was cut a bit short this year.  I was cruising.  I didn’t know how much of a lead I had on her, or if there were females ahead of me to catch, but adrenaline drove me.  Hunger drove me.  I wanted this race.  Could the turn-around of this race take any longer to reach?  I saw the male leaders as I met them on their return and watched for females.  None.  This is where I wanted to be.  I hit the turn and saw #9.  I had a decent lead on her, but I wasn’t going to let up.  I’m not sure if I saw any other long course females when I was out there, as they are harder to distinguish when rejoining with the short course competitors.  I brought it home, exhausted, satisfied.  I ran the 5.8 miles at a 6:46 pace.  Had it been a full 10K, there’s a good chance I could have pulled off a 10K PR time. 
I was not expecting to be able to bounce back so quickly from my HIM.  I dropped almost 9 minutes from my bike split from the previous year, and my run pace was substantially faster.  Granted, when I raced last year I was 2 months pregnant and planned it to be a conservative race.  This year, I left everything out on the course.  I ended up winning by over 3 minutes.  A comment from my friend, “All the fast women are racing next week” (Nationals in Milwaukee).  It’s always good to keep things in perspective, and there’s never room for pride, just perseverance.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My First Half-Ironman

            This past weekend I finally did my first half-ironman distance race.  There has been a lot of preparation, anticipation, and anxiousness leading up to this.  I had six weeks of focused training, uninterrupted by other races.  My realistic goal was to complete the distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) in 5 hours and 30 minutes.  I thought an attainable goal was 5:15, and someday, I wanted to go under 5 hours.  I had several weeks of running 35-40 miles/week, with my longest run at 11 miles.  I was swimming over 10,000 yards/week, with my longest swim being 4,000 yards.  I had a couple weeks of biking over 170 miles/week, and my longest ride was 76.7 miles.  This race would be my sweat and blood.  It would test my heart, my will, my mindset. 
            My mentality was to be conservative, especially early on.  There is a lot that can happen in over 5 hours of racing, and I wanted to be strategic and careful that I did not bonk on the run.  I was warned to expect that the race could take me closer to 6 hours, especially since it was my first one, and that I should just make sure and set myself up to run well.  What would I be like on the second half of the run?  Would I be my chatty self, or would I be grim?  Would I be walking?  I did not want to have to resort to that, but I have also never hit the wall yet in training where I could not run.  My longest training session was 4:20, what would happen after that?  There is certainly a lot of unknowns.  This could be a long day.
            The weather was near perfect.  It was about 50 degrees at the start, making the wetsuit feel great instead of too hot.  There was a bit of a wind, making the water choppy for a stretch and it had to be dealt with on the bike as well, but I didn’t really even let it enter my mind.  They were just uncontrollable, external factors.  I was just here to do my thing.  The swim was fine.  My goal time was 35 minutes, and I hit it, coming in right where I wanted.  I struggled a bit with the wetsuit and tried to get out of T1 quickly.
The first half of the bike was chilly, but the body doesn’t notice as much when the mind is not fixated on it.  The first miles went by quickly.  At mile 20, there was an aid station.  I should have stopped there at the port-a-potty, but kept going instead.  I have been making it through my long rides just fine, I did not think I needed (or wanted) to get off my bike to stop and go.  I should have stopped at mile 20.  I was in agony waiting for mile marker 32, where the  next aid station was supposed to be.  I quit drinking on the bike for at least a half hour or more, feeling like I was about to explode at any minute.  I looked at the trees alongside the road.  Should I just stop here?  No, I’ll keep going.  Then there came a point at which I thought I might have an accident on the bike, just because I could not contain myself any longer.  The road got bumpy for a stretch, adding to my agony.  Not cool.  Finally I see mile marker 32, but nothing around it!  The aid station was just before mile 33, I pulled over and stumbled off my bike, almost falling over and dashed into the port-a-potty.  Sweet relief.  That was the most painful part of the whole experience that day.  I thought I would be in pain on the run, but nothing else that day compared to this.
I pushed it in on the bike, the miles going by much quicker again now that I had my pit stop.  I wanted my bike time to be under 3 hours, preferably 2:48, but even with the pit stop, I came in around 2:45 (and the course was 1km long due to construction).  By time I hit T2, however, I had to go again.  I rushed through transition, and the port-a-potty at the exit was being used, so I thought I needed to make it to mile 3 before I could go.  Fortunately, there were three at the bottom of run out and I stopped right away.  A bit delayed, but I was finally off and running with 13 miles to go!  I started off at a comfortable pace.  My goal pace was 8 min/mile, but I started out just a bit slower than 7:30/mile.  Should I slow down?  Was this going to make me hit the wall later?  In order to hit my 5:30 goal time, I just needed to be under 10 min/mile, so I figured if I did hit the wall, I could still hit my goal time, especially if my first miles were this fast.  I decided I would risk regret and just keep going based on feel. 
At mile marker 3, I ended up running alongside a man from Wausau who was running a 7:30 pace, and we stuck together.  It was great to have someone to chat with who was going at that pace, and I decided I would try to hang on for as long as I could!  Those miles together actually paced by quite quickly, and I was thankful for the company.  I also don’t know if I would have pushed that pace on my own either, and so I was grateful for that as well.  We hit mile marker 6, and I said, “Well, the first 6 miles were easy!”  His response was, “ Speak for yourself, love.”  It was an out and back run, and on our way back, a man passed by us and told me I was the fifth female.  Could he be right?  I knew the top five got prize money, but I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much.  I needed to hold my position though.
I kept watching our pace and overall time and I knew if I kept it up I could go close to 5 hours.  He told me to pick it up if I wanted.  I did slightly, and he still kept up with me.  We passed another woman.  Did this put me in 4th?  Surely I was at least top 5 by now.  I didn’t think I needed to pay attention to placement, after all, this was my first half.  How could I expect this to be going so well?!  Then we had about 3 miles left and he told me that if I wanted under 5 hours, I should push hard the last 10 minutes or so.  I picked up my pace then and ended up leaving him behind.  The last miles alone felt like they took a lot longer, as I kept glancing at the time and trying to figure out how close I could get.  Could I push it hard enough in the end to make it under 5? 
I had a mile left and I was booking it.  I was hungry for it.  I came into the last section and kept glancing at my watch.  A slight downhill before the ascent to the finish line.  I charged the hill and crossed the finish in 4:58:51.  Unbelievable.  I had the 4th fastest time for females, and got a piece of the prize money.  What a perfect day!  It was about 70 degrees for the run, with times of shade and sun.  I had stuck to my nutrition plan for the race, but with such cool weather, it didn’t fully get tested.  I felt great for the entire race (except for that whole bathroom fiasco).  My half-marathon time was actually a PR from the one I ran last fall as well.  Simply unbelievable.  Now that I have my first half under my belt, I’m thinking I set my own standards too high with a sub 5 hour race, hitting my “someday goal” right off the bat.  This is what I had been training for though.  This was my sweat and blood.  This was my heart.  And cheering for me on the side was my husband, my mom, and my little 5-month-old baby girl, wearing her “tri, mommy, tri” onesie.  A perfect day indeed.