Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Running Bear Triathlon 2022

Before I even got to Nationals, I was feeling burned out and just very tired. My thought was to take end my season after the race, and take off next season. Last year, I did the Running Bear Triathlon in Three Lakes the weekend after Nationals and had fun with that. This year though, I felt like I couldn’t push for another week. I would take off from structured training after Nationals, and would see what I felt like doing. Well, I held true to my word, and did no swimming, biking, or running that week, until Saturday when I did an easy 3 mile run, simply because I needed to be moving again.

Sunday morning I woke up and told Andy that I was going to do the race as long as my tires weren’t flat. Good to go! It didn’t start until 11am, so I had plenty of time to make a decision and pack up for it. Last year I was 2nd behind the overall male by only 1:18, so early in the season, I was hoping to get in some hard training for an attempt at beating him. Since life has had a lot of curveballs, my goal became to just have fun and I figured I should still be able to finish as Top Female. 

I was trying to come up with little ways to cut time, as the Top Male had beat me out of T1 since I was changing my shoes and he wasn’t! So I tested out riding my bike with my running flats on and felt comfortable with that plan. In T2 last year, I had also put a swim cap on and took a drink of water. This year, I had my hair braided so I could skip the swim cap and I didn’t bother with a water bottle for transition since the swim is so short anyway.

The returning male champ took a lead right away on the bike and I couldn’t go with him, but tried to keep him within my sight as much as possible. The bike has a lot of curves and rolling hills, so it’s pretty fun. I was passed by another male that caught up to the lead and stayed on his tail for a chunk of it, but he eventually dropped off from him and I couldn’t see the lead anymore at all. The last quarter mile of the bike is on gravel, but I felt a lot more confident going over it this year. I caught and passed the guy in second in T1 as he was changing his shoes and I could just take off on the run!

I felt a lot stronger on the run this year than last year, probably because I didn’t push as hard on the bike (and I really have had great run training this year!). As I was running out, there were a lot of bikers coming in, including females, so I focused on staying relaxed but pushing on the run. I widened my lead on those behind me and I was slowly gaining on the lead male. The final mile has some tough hills and I lost sight of anyone else.

When I got to T2, I took off my shoes and socks, grabbed my goggles and hurried down to the water. I could see the leader in the water still! I knew it would be tough to catch him, so I just tried to swim strong, in a straight line (not so well), and catch my breath from the run. I came out of the water only 37 seconds behind the lead male, cutting the gap in half from last year! I also ended up dropping 2 seconds from my overall time from last year. That may not seem like much, but I was impressed I could pull that off this year! Maybe I’m not quite ready to rule out triathlons from next summer yet. But maybe I’m ready to dropping down to the shorter sprint distance races at least. I must say, it was nice to end on a good note feeling positive about things!

Monday, August 8, 2022

USAT Nationals - Milwaukee '22

There have been huge changes in our lives recently that has resulted in a lot of sleepless nights. Events have taken a physical toll on me. I debated pulling out of Nationals altogether as a result. But I also had put a lot of training into it and had already paid for it (and it is an expensive race), so I went with the na├»ve optimism that I would still be able to perform at a high level. My race here last year was so good for me that I didn’t want to think about the potential of not making podium again. Just trying to stay positive, right?

The waters of Lake Michigan measured at a frigid 62 degrees. While cool waters are supposed to help you swim faster, I think there is a point of cold at which that is no longer true. My arms felt rigid, and my hands and feet felt numb. I was over 2.5 minutes slower than last year. I tried not to become disheartened and to just focus on having a great ride.

The first few miles on the bike felt good, but over the course I struggled to put out the watts that I should have been. I was passed by a couple women in my age group and couldn’t keep them in sight. This is not how the bike usually plays out for me! The top of my storage box on the back of my bike popped open within the last few miles and I tried fumbling around and putting it back on while riding but it just slowed me down. It was a relief to finish on the bike. I was about 3 minutes slower than I should have been. 

I have been running incredibly well in training and was hoping to be close to a seven-minute pace originally. By time I got off the bike, I just told myself over and over to just keep going. I didn’t want to fall apart like I did in Omaha. I assumed that to make Top 10 for podium, I would need at least a 2:20 overall time or faster. Heading out on the run, I knew I wouldn’t make that time. I was looking at 2:25 at least. Part of me regretting being there. I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t performing well. I was really struggling mentally and physically. It was high heat and humidity with sunny skies as well. I think there were a lot of factors that played into it that really got to me.

I finished in 2:26:10. Not my best performance, but not my worst. After looking at results, it seemed that a lot of swims were longer and overall times were slower than I would have expected. I could have been 10th and made podium with 2:24:00! I finished 16th overall, which still qualified me for Team USA for the World Championships in Spain next fall, although I will not be taking the spot. It took me a while to come to the point of feeling okay about how things went. Training had taken a back seat the last three weeks, and the accumulated lack of sleep really wore me down. I am feeling the need for a season off, and I look forward to everything that next summer can hold. At the end of the day, I can say that I did my best on that day, and I can’t feel bad about that! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

BSG & River Vault 2022!

In June, Marathon hosted the Badger State Games Track and Field meet. We started going to BSG Track several years ago when it was hosted in La Crosse. Then it moved to DC Everest then went on a 2-year hiatus. This was the first year back since 2019, and with a great location, we were not going to miss out! We ended up taking the kids with and they got to participate as well. We also had our biggest Club showing with 10 of us there! The fun part is the low-key atmosphere, competing within your age group, and the medals. 

I registered for shot, disc, pole vault, and the 800m run. I had only one disc and shot practice, but I lucked out with one good throw for each, breaking 30 feet in shot, and over 90 feet in disc! Both were near my best marks. I missed the 800 since it was at the same time I was vaulting, but I was feeling good that day! I made 11’ with a lot of clearance, so while another girl went to 11-3, I passed to 11-6. Maybe I should have done that height with her, as she beat me with 11-3, and I missed at 11-6, but while I ended up 2nd overall, I was the only one in my age group, so I did come away with a Gold (same for my other events). The kids did great! Their favorite was the long jump, but they also ran the 100m dash and the 4x100m relay and they all came away with medals. Myles even ended up winning his 8U category in the long jump and Rowyn was 3rd! (They are 7 and 5 years old).

Doing Badger State Games Track gave me the confidence to do the River Vault again this year. When you don’t get a lot of practices in, and several of them do not go well, it really shakes the confidence. Doubt is always lurking and grows deeper roots every chance it gets. It can be tough to shake that. My goal was to get that 11-6 mark. 2021 was the first summer since 2016 that I hadn’t hit that height. With 2019 being my best summer with hitting a new PR of 12 feet, I wasn’t ready to settle for 11’ yet.

There were over 35 females competing between 2 flights, and I was in the higher flight. It was pretty stacked this year with good vaulters, and I wasn’t seeded very high! I believe 15 of us made 11 feet. I made 10-6, 11, and 11-6 all on my first attempts! That dropped the remaining field to only 8. I didn’t have any good attempts at 12’, but after 3.5 hours of vaulting, I think my body was just done. Since I didn’t have any misses at my made heights, I ended up 5th overall for females! I also had a minimum of 10-20 years of age on my fellow competitors, so I still won my age category.

I have our 2 club meets in July yet, but I am ecstatic that I already hit the 11-6 mark! I am also in the thick of training for triathlon Nationals, so while it means I am pretty fit, it’s also a lot to try to balance and to ask of my body. One month left until Nationals!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

One Month Post-Surgery

I thought I would share one final update on my leg for anyone who might be considering going down this same road. I wore compression the full 4 weeks after vein surgery. If I skipped it in the morning (after 3 full weeks), I would put them on after lunch before I worked out. I was a little nervous (and excited) to ditch them altogether for a workout. 

Exactly 4 weeks post-surgery, I thought I would try running without them, even though it was my hard run day of the week. Easy pace felt okay, but as soon as I started doing strides, my leg started bothering me. So I put my tights on for the rest of the run since I was starting threshold work. When I wear the tights, running hard doesn’t bother it at all. While most of the visible bruising was gone at that point already, there were superficial clots that were lurking under the surface. They were hard, tender spots, and even a lengthy hard section in my thigh that was where the vein used to be. My calf was mostly good (one smaller clot), but my whole thigh had them. The dark lines/areas on my leg were the spots that had clots under the surface. When I pressed down on my skin, you can also see the long line of clot in my thigh.

I started rubbing frankincense, lavender, and deep blue oils on the clotted areas at night to try to massage/loosen it up in hopes that they would dissolve faster. My friend warned me that I may need to keep wearing compression for my threshold runs for another month, as the clots were what was causing the discomfort. Fortunately, on my lifting days, I felt okay without compression. Even box jumps (higher impact) were okay. Week 5 hit, and I thought I would test out strides without compression before putting them on before threshold work. I was in luck! I was able to run without the tights, with only minor/tolerable discomfort. The clots are still there, but hopefully with the massaging and oils, they are beginning to dissolve. One month post-surgery, and I would say that my leg no longer looks “ugly”. Even more important, I am back to 100%!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Bouncing Back

Timing for surgery could not have been any better! I had it on December 21, which meant that the first week post-op was during Christmas, when we go back “home” for several days to spend with our families. We always take a week off from lifting as a result, and it can be challenging to find good times to squeeze in a run. It had natural down time perfectly built right in. Plus, no feeling like I “had to” go for a run.

The day after, I walked some laps in our house in the afternoon, but after school, Baya convinced me to go down to the ice to watch them skate. Despite my protests (Too many stairs! I’ll freeze just sitting there!), Baya helped me put on my snow pants and boots. Andy had stayed out there until 10pm the night before shoveling off the big rink, but the small rink wasn’t cleared. I thought walking with a shovel would be okay until he got home. I ended up clearing off the entire small rink! It was fortunate that we did all that before leaving the next morning, as it ended up raining on Christmas Eve and it would have ruined anything that wasn’t shoveled, but it sure made the rinks nice!

I stuck to just walking the entire first week. Nine days after surgery, I took the kids to the Dome and jogged a lap with Rowyn. Despite being cleared to return to regular activity (with the advice of easing back into it), running did not feel great at that point. Since the kids were on break still for my 2nd week post-surgery, I decided to take advantage of that week and not worry about trying to run or lift yet. Instead, I did a lot of shoveling, ice-skating, xc skiing, and snowshoeing. It was great!

It's healing so well!
After 2 weeks off, the kids returned to school and I did my first run back on the treadmill. I just ran 1 mile at an easy pace and felt no pain! I also lifted with lighter weights afterwards. After 2 weeks off, I am okay with building back into mileage and will probably keep it to 12-15 miles this first week before hitting 20 or so miles next week (I was doing 22.5 miles typically before). Lifting felt fine, except box jumps made me nervous. I did not feel as powerful in that leg and it’s a higher impact. I think by the end of the week when I do them again though that I will be comfortable jumping more again.

The recovery experience has been impressive. After 2 weeks, most of the glue had come off. I had full range of motion without pain. There was still bruising, so the kids would bother it when they would crawl on my lap and kick around, but otherwise it was feeling good. Some of the incisions were barely noticeable already. Others will take a while longer to fully heal. I’ll wear the compression for at least a full 3 weeks before I wean off from them.