Sunday, June 30, 2013

First Ever Swim Meet - Oh Boy...

           Being 26 doesn’t mean you're too old to have your first swim meet, right?!  Badger State Games were in town, and so I entered in the 50, 100, and 200 (all freestyle of course).  I would have entered longer races as well, but there were not any open to masters.  I am a swim instructor and have volunteer coached with a high school boy’s swim team, so while I was familiar with blocks, I’d never done them myself.  So the week before the meet, I had my own lessons in them.  Anything that I could relate to track, the better.
            I’ve done so many swim workouts, and dropped my times tremendously, but how would I do in a swim meet?  Sure, I could swim 10x200 on 3 minutes, but how fast could I swim just one 200?  Or 50?  Or 100?  Let’s first talk about warm-ups.  Circle swimming?  Ugh.  This was going to be stressful.  Fortunately, I had a lane to myself (all the good people must come early to warm-up) for a while.  I swam 1,000 yards to warm-up, then did some starts.  On Friday when I went off the blocks, I felt smooth, but this morning, I could not get a good feel for it!  I kept pulling up too soon, so my feet slapped on the water.  I eventually just gave up. 
            Swim meets are a strange thing.  I have a track background, where before you compete, you are able to jog around, do drills, etc to make sure you are good and warm before you go.  Swimming?  Not so much.  You sit around and wait for your event, maybe move your arms around a little, but that’s about it, then it’s ‘go time’!  I had the 50 first.  There was only one other woman I had to race against.  Apparently her and I were the only female adults at the meet.  Of course, she was an actual former swimmer, though she had about 7 years on me.  There’s only one flip turn for the 50, and somehow I managed to mess up the turn.  My feet slipped and I hardly got a push off the wall.  I still managed to beat her to the wall by less than a second, giving myself a time of 31 seconds.  Nothing impressive in my books.  Drats.  I was told I should have been out of breath by the end of that.  Guess I need to learn to swim a lot harder.  I was ready to go again already.
            The next race was the 200, and I was up against a bunch of teenage swimmers.  Time to hold on for dear life!  I’ve averaged 2:42 in a workout of 11x200 on 3 minutes before, so I should be able to clip along at a pretty good pace for this, right?  I came in at 2:29.  I did manage to beat at least one girl, but she was probably 10.  If I can swim a 200 in 2:40 in a workout, I should be way faster, that’s all I could think.  Bummer.  The 100 was last, and I was only up against the one other woman again.  This was a fun distance.  I came in with a time of 1:07.4, ahead by about 2 seconds.  Meh.  I collected my medals and headed home.  I’m not sure if this makes me want a do-over to try and get better times, or just accept that I am not a swimmer.  Either way, it was neat to experience at least.  I never had the opportunity to be on a swim team in high school or college, so it was nice to have this chance!
            I guess I’d do it again.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wausau Duathlon Race Report

            Two weeks after Green Bay, I was on the starting line for a duathlon, with Baya on the sidelines at 3.5 months old.  It’s a very awesome experience to see your husband on the side with your baby girl strapped to him!  The roads were wet from rain, and it sprinkled during warm-ups even.  I convinced myself the bike would still be fine, after all, I’ve done intervals in the rain and survived!
            The first run was a 5K, and every took TOOK OFF crazy fast.  I did not want to do the same, and so for the first mile I had a ton of people running by me.  I did not have my GPS watch on, so I didn’t know my pace, but I tried to keep reassuring myself that I was holding a good pace, being conservative, I would hammer it in on the bike, and I’ll catch all those people later.  Coming in from the 5K, I was pretty far back in the pack, my placement being nothing impressive, with several women ahead of me, even though I had a time of 20:44 – a minute faster than what my goal even was. 
I flew through transition and headed out on the bike quickly, knowing I had some ground to make up, this is where I needed to make my move.  It didn’t take very long and I had passed all the females, setting myself up in a good position.  And then Bridget came riding up behind me and passed me.  We had raced at the Duathlon in Stevens Point last fall, when we took 1 and 2.  I could not let her get away from me.  I stayed on her, and then passed her, but I could not lose her.  She stayed on my tail for the majority of the ride, sometimes pulling up beside me to pass, but I was not letting that happen!  I tried to take turns just a little bit faster than her, just to keep an edge on her.  She pushed me out there, it was great!
I finally put a little distance between me and her in the last couple miles coming in on the bike.  I sped through transition, not really knowing how much time I had on her, but afraid she might catch me.  The last run was only a 3K (less than 2 miles), and I knew I had to be quick.  I have a hard time telling my pace coming off the bike, but I felt so slow.  I wondered why I couldn’t move any faster.  I thought anybody could run faster than what I was doing!  I made the first turn around and saw I had a decent distance on her, one which would be tough for her to make up in the short distance we had left.  There was no letting up though.  It was time to be relentless, to make sure I secured my position. 
Even though I felt slow, my pace for the second run was 6:14/mile, and it was more than enough to claim first.  Bridget finished about a minute later.  It was a fun race with her!  I was glad to have a competitor like her pushing me along the way.  One of my favorite things about winning this race though, was to have Baya with me (she was unable to attend Green Bay’s triathlon).  What an honor to receive a medal with my girl in my arms!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Triathlon Season Kick-Off

Last year, I did my first Olympic course triathlon at Green Bay.  I was so nervous leading up to the race last time.  This year, I’m just pumped!  I did not think I could feel this ready to race so soon after having a baby.  Since the beginning of 2013, I have swam over 190,000 yards, ran over 400 miles, and biked about 2,000 miles, putting in about 225 hours worth of training.  Oh yea, and I had a baby somewhere in the middle of all of that.  Details.  If I wouldn’t have had to slow down for pregnancy, I would have had a lot more run miles in, that’s for sure!
Green Bay has a great course, and with it taking place the first Sunday in June, it’s a great one to kick-off the triathlon season with.  Except it was a big tougher this year.  The temperature was around 50 degrees, and there were about 10-15mph winds.  Cloudy, windy, cold.  Doesn’t exactly make me feel like taking an outdoor swim, or hopping on a bike.  The swim is in a shallow man-made body of water.  We have to take two laps in order to get 800 yards in.  Despite the long-lasting winter, the water is fairly warm.  I was able to borrow a wetsuit from a friend, which also helped to keep me warm while waiting at the swim start.  Quite a bit of the swim is dolphin diving, due to it being so shallow for a chunk of the time, so this race isn’t the best test of how much faster of a swimmer I’ve become.  I dropped about a minute from last year’s swim time.  I practiced removing the wetsuit the day prior, so by the time I got to T1, I just had to pull it off my legs.  I felt like I was wasting time with it, but my time doesn’t really show that too much.
I hopped on the bike and headed out.  The first 20 miles (of a 29 mile ride) were brutal.  I kept telling myself there had to be a tail wind at some point.  I felt overly cautious with the wind.  I’m not sure if it was due to the accident, or just the inexperience with race wheels in the wind.  I definitely could feel the pull on the bike.  There was a lot of mental anguish when I was out there.  I slowed down too much for curves, and every time I touched the brakes I would scold myself.  My feet went numb.  My fingers were freezing, but it was bearable.  Finally we got some tail wind on the way back and I tried to use it to my advantage.  I had surpassed my swim goal, but my bike was not where it should have been.  I was hoping to cut the most time on the bike (from last year’s results), and I ended up coming in at about the same time.  I flew out of T2 and out onto the run.
My feet felt like bricks, and I kept telling myself that they would eventually warm up while running.  They started to tingle, but it took until I was about 2.5 miles into the run to finally feel a hint of warmth in them.  Not far into the run, I fortunately met up with a man also doing the long course, and both of us had a goal pace of 7 min/mile, and he was wearing a GPS watch.  We stuck together for the rest of the run, and actually held a sub-7 minute pace.  Despite my frozen feet, I felt really good on the run.  My 10K time for the triathlon was 42:44, faster than what my 10K time was, though this course seemed short and the other long.  Either way, I held a good pace and felt great!  I dropped about three minutes off of my run from last year’s race there, which I was not expecting, but it did make up for my poor bike split and I was still able to beat my overall goal time for the race by four seconds.  I was also the first female finisher, winning the event by over eight minutes!
My friend (3rd female finisher) and I
I knew going into the race that I had wanted to be a contender for first, and that I have been training well to set myself up for that position, but it is also crazy to believe that I not only won the race, but I won it only three months after having a baby!  This was my first win of a triathlon, and I am hoping that it is only the beginning! You’ll never know what you are capable of if you are never pushed to your limits.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The 10K

I ran a 10K three weeks after my 5K, with Baya being about 2.5 months old.  I like doing this one in order to prep for Green Bay’s long course triathlon.  It was so cold and extremely windy for this 10K!  We ran on a mix of paved and gravel trails, but it’s basically a flat course.  I did this race alone.  I was feeling pretty confident that I could PR at this distance as well, after that amazing 5K, but I knew it would be a rough race in this kind of weather!
The route was a bit long. My GPS watch had it as 6.27 with my pace at 6:50, but their time put me at a 6:55 pace.  Drats!  My goal was 6:50 for the race, and when I ran it, I made sure I held that pace.  It was still a PR with over a minute time drop from my 10K last year, with a new time of 42:53.  I was bummed that it could have been a bigger time drop, but the main goal was getting ready for Green Bay and running a big PR, and I was successful with that still.  I was also the top female finisher for it, and second overall finisher.
I still find it unbelievable with how quickly I have not only recovered from having Baya, but also how quickly I have gotten faster than ever before.  I had no idea how long it would take for me to get back into running faster, and I tried to brace myself that it could take quite a bit of time.  It has already been an exciting spring with how much I have surpassed my expectations. I can’t wait to see what I can do this triathlon season!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

First Post-Baby Race: The 5K

I’d first like to state that I do not have a history of being a distance runner.  I did track in high school, but I mostly did field events, and was not very good at running events.  When I competed in track in college, I focused on the pole vault, which made me more of a sprinter, and not at all a distance runner.  After I graduated from college in 2010 and my track career ended, I began running distance to prepare for my first triathlon.  Now I like to get in at least one 5K before every race season.  I did my first 5K in 2010 in a time of 26:36 – nothing impressive (the 5K portion of my triathlon was faster than that thankfully).  A year later, I ran one in 22:17, and last year my best was 20:41.
I usually run my 5K’s with my husband, which was the case for this year’s as well.  I woke up so tired (no surprise there, huh?) and I had a cold.  I was definitely not feeling on top of my game.  I had been preparing for this race, but I wasn’t sure what I would be able to do.  I always want a PR when I run, but I didn’t know if it would be possible at this point yet. 
It was nice weather for a change and the 5K was a flat route.  I did this same race last year and won it with a time of 21:06.  I wore a GPS watch so I could try and watch my pace.  My goal was a 6:35 pace, but I had my doubts about it.  I mean, after all, I did just have a baby two months ago, and I had struggled with my running during pregnancy.  What was my body capable of?  I ended up winning the race (and surpassing my goal) with a time of 20:14 – a 27 second PR!
I did not know how quickly I would be able to come back from having a baby.  I never would have imagined that I could bounce back this soon though!  Because I remained extremely active throughout the entire pregnancy, and quickly resumed training afterwards, I never got out of shape and was able to make fitness gains rather fast.  I had been concerned about my running due to the difficulties I faced while pregnant, but I got my running legs back in short order!  I have been very blessed, and I am excited about the upcoming season!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Motivation vs Opportunity

            Most days I feel like I have plenty of motivation to go around.  I am very driven, disciplined, and highly competitive.  If I wanted to get a swim, ride, or run in on a particular day, I’ll do my best to get it in.  Sometimes my body may not feel like it, but I can mentally push past that.  It is very rare that I’ll skip a workout if I can help it.  This of course can drive my husband nuts sometimes. 
            There’s a huge difference between having the motivation to train, versus having the opportunity to train though.  I am surely discovering this as being a new mom.  The beginning of something new is always the roughest.  You are often taken out of your routine and encounter new challenges, and you must adapt.  The beginning was also especially challenging because Baya needed to be six weeks old in order to go to mini-care at the YMCA.  So I adapted.  For the first couple of weeks, my husband would sometimes work half-days in order to spend some time at home with us.  When he got home, I’d head out the door for a run, or hop on the trainer for a ride. 
            Figuring out the logistics of fitting in workouts is the most challenging part of the new transition.  I once could do things on my own schedule and when I wanted.  Now I was at the mercy of my baby’s schedule.  I couldn’t head outside for a run and leave her unattended.  Winter also lasted an incredibly long time, so I wasn’t even going to think about taking her out in a jogging stroller so I could run.  It is against Y policy to have her in her carseat next to me on a treadmill, so that was not an option either (though I was able to do that using the treadmills that the school I coach at has).  But there are some things I did figure out for those first weeks.  Swims were at the mercy of her afternoon nap, when I knew she should be asleep the longest.  I’d set her at the end of my lane (out of the splash zone as much as possible), and try to fit in my swim while she slept there.  I limited my swim distances to 200 yards at most (except once I did a test set of 300’s, and felt like that was an acceptable span of time to be ale to check on her frequently enough still. 
We got a baby monitor for me to be able to listen for her while I was down in the garage on the bike.  I still continue to do this method, as it is my best option to get rides in during the week. Now that it’s warmer in the garage, I sometimes will just have her nap in her seat down there with me.  Some days are great and I’m able to ride for an hour or more.  Other days are a struggle, and she’ll only let me go for a short time, resulting in frustration that I try to accept.  Now my mindset is more of, “Doing as much as I can, whenever I can.”  I try to make the most of my current situation and seize any opportunities that come my way.
Things that you may not like, may need to become your new best friend.  For example, I used to tolerate the trainer, but over the winter I somehow came to love it (now that it’s hot in the garage though, it’s not as fun).  I still continue to hate running on a treadmill, but if that is my only option, I will suffer through it.  It is at least not the enemy that it used to be.  Ideally I would run outdoors all the time, no matter the season.  I have run in snow, rain, cold, or high heat.  That is not as simple with an infant though.  Now I do most of my running on an indoor track at the YMCA while she is still in mini-care.  Run 60 little laps in order to get in 5 miles?  Certainly!
Figure out who your support people can be.  I have one weekly outdoor run scheduled with a lady from church who has agreed to watch her the 45 minutes while I run.  I have left her with friends a few times in order to get outside for a run on a weekday.  I have once even left her with a friend for a couple hour outdoor ride.  Those are tougher to ask for though, since it is a bigger chunk of time.  It is nice when friends will stop over when I want to go down on the trainer, so if she cries, then I am able to keep riding while they tend to her.  As I get into my build period this summer, leading up to the Half-Ironman distance, I hope to have some Grandma visits so I can get outside for some longer weekday rides.  (We do not live near our families.)  My biggest supporter has been my husband, as he watches her while I get out for a long ride and run on weekends.  We have recently made a “no complaining” deal as well regarding my workouts (no complaining on his part), and as I help him with a project of his (no complaining on my part).
We had a one-month milestone (well kind of).  To celebrate being one month, Baya was an awesome little girl and cooperated ever so well, so that I could get my first triple in since she was born!  Talk about exciting!  I didn’t know if I’d ever see a triple again.  Since then I have pulled off about a dozen triples, though doubles are much more doable.  Returning to work part-time also requires a lot of challenges.  She may get her good nap in while I’m working, instead of while I want to work out.  The track season started (I coach) six days after she was born, so every afternoon we had practices and track meets to work around as well.  Figuring it all out may require some creativity, and it definitely requires persistence, but it will eventually come together and be worth it.