Sunburns, Tanlines, and Naps

As the days get longer and summer comes into full swing, it seems like these three things are the focus of my weekends.  Summer has definitely arrived, it’s currently 106 degrees outside my door, and with that, new worries in my training.  Obviously the importance of staying hydrated is huge and I am constantly drinking water, but it never seems like enough.  I am also battling the sun every workout.  I am very light skinned, thank you mom, and that presents challenges when you are training in the sun for hours.  I am very aware of this and have made it a point to always have sunscreen on, reapply, and stay in the shade as much as possible.  This was not working.  I was getting burnt during every bike ride.  One ride I reapplied sunscreen three times and still came home burnt (not as bad, but definitely still red).  It is difficult to stop and reapply sunscreen so often and to carry a big bottle with you when you are trying to ride…it wasn’t working.  So I finally caved and bought some Desoto “cool wings” to protect my arms, shoulders, and back.  So far I’ve only worn them once and surprise, I did not burn (well, anyplace that the wings were covering at least).  They are supposed to be cooling so that when you sweat, they actually cool your body temperature down, but that is yet to be determined.  What I do know, is that I have to wear them.  I can’t keep burning myself every time, and it makes for an even more difficult recovery when I am coming home burnt and exhausted.

My cool new attire for long rides that will keep me covered!

My legs and the back of my neck are still an issue that I can’t seem to find a solution for (I am not wearing pants), so I will continue to carry and reapply sunscreen for now.

 

Luckily, this has yet to bother me on my runs, as my runs are still on the “shorter” (when the heck did 9 miles become short?!) end and I haven’t burned yet.  But the runs will get longer and I will then need to carry sunscreen with me on my runs.  I haven’t figured out how this is going to play out on raceday yet.  I was not planning on carrying anything with me on the course…

 

Besides the burning, I have been developing some amazing tan lines that are just going to be ridiculous come November.  I have tan lines from my shorts (2 different lengths), my watch, my bike gloves, my bike shirt, my running tanks, my calf sleeves, and the summer barely started!  I have two weddings this summer and finding a dress to cover those is going to be a challenge.

 

I have also become an epic nap taker.  I have always been good at naps, anywhere, anytime (plenty of naps have been had in my car during lunch or right before going into the gym after work).  But I tended to do power naps…give me 10 minutes and I would pop right back up and be ready to go.  With all this training, I am tired, and worn out by the sun, and I just sleep.  Not sure if this is totally normal yet, or if my body is just adjusting to the longer distances, but I nap…for hours.  If I sit on the couch, I’m done for.  Usually within about 5 minutes I am out, and I am in a deep sleep for a good two hours.  It’s glorious and apparently needed, but it definitely takes up a lot of time.  Around these parts in the summer months though, there isn’t much else you want to be doing than resting inside a cool house.  But if you need me on the weekends between the hours of 1-3, I am probably sleeping 🙂

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A beautiful view for a recent training run and swim day!

 

My distances are going well in my training.  I’m slowly building up my running miles.  I did my longest bike distance last week, 70 miles.  Mentally for me, this was a big deal.  70 seemed long, and for the first time after that ride, I felt like 112 was actually possible.  I had done 67 miles before, but I came home crying after that ride because I was so sore and tired.  After the 70 (other than needing to eat a little more), I felt good.  So that was a big accomplishment.  I also did my longest swim distance this past week.  It was not all at once, I was swimming 400 meter repeats, but I still got the distance in and I felt good.  I’m getting there!

 

I still definitely have moments of doubt about whether or not I can actually do this.  But I am becoming much more confident.  I truly feel that I signed up for the race with almost zero belief that I could do the distances.  I bought the insurance so that I could start to train and then pull out when I wasn’t able to keep up.  But this journey is so rewarding and with each workout (even those that don’t go so well), my confidence builds.  I might do the same distance, but I feel stronger than I did last week.  Or I’m getting faster.  Or my distance is increasing.  Each time I surprise myself that my body is continuing to get stronger and go farther.  It’s so encouraging.  And when that happens, I feel more and more like I will be able to complete an Ironman.  It’s still going to be hard as heck and hurt like hell, but maybe I can do this.  My goal for the next couple of months is to maintain the distances I am at now and focus on refining my nutrition during the workouts, and taking less breaks, therefore getting faster.

My 70.3 is 10 weeks from today, and I want to feel strong for that.  I have already hit all the distances in each discipline, so I know I can do it, I just want to be able to do them all together, and strong.

I have a couple trips coming up this summer which I was initially concerned about how that would effect my training.  Worried about where I would be able to find a bike or a pool to train.  But I have changed my view on it and I am SO looking forward to the amazing landscapes that I will be running and biking through while I am gone, in addition to the much cooler weather.  I know I will still get the workouts in when I can.

As far as our house goes, we are back in, and were back in on that Wednesday after my last post.  It took a little time to get things back in order (thank you 4 day holiday weekend), but for the most part they are back.  Still have a few things to organize, and still have to paint and put in baseboards, but that seems so minor now.  We get to enjoy our house and cook food in our kitchen and it has been great :-).  Very grateful to have our normal routine back.

Lastly, I have a lot of thoughts and emotions surrounding the many tragic deaths to bikers that have occurred in the valley in the last few weeks.  I don’t have the energy to write an entire post about it right now.  But what I do want to say is PLEASE watch out for people on bikes.  Pay attention, stay off your phone, know the laws.  The majority of people on their bikes are following the rules and laws and are just trying to get in some good training.  It is very scary to ride your bike out there.  Give them some space, yield to them where appropriate, and PLEASE just pay attention.  I will do my part as a driver and will continue to try to be very alert on the bike and will continue to follow the biking laws.

As always, thank you all for your support, whether you are reading these posts, giving me encouraging words over social media, or checking in to see how the training is going.  It really does help!
-Sarah

Cactus Man Recap

A little bit of a delayed recap of the Cactus Man Tri, but nonetheless, here we go.  Overall there were some very positive things that happened and other things that I can definitely work on.  In general, it was a good race.  My total time was a PR by 10 minutes!  I was much less nervous for this race than I have been in the past.  I think that came from having done more races as well as being the most trained that I’ve ever been for a race.  I got nervous the morning of, since I had not been in open water in almost 7 months and this was my first time in my new, full-sleeve wetsuit.  But overall, the nerves were very calm compared to the past.  It was so great seeing the many familiar faces out there that morning and getting in the water with friends and club members was awesome.  We were in it together.  Also, for the first time I actually liked the race photos (well, most of them)!  Probably because I was trained better and didn’t feel like I was dying, so I was actually smiling.  But they were a nice surprise.

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Trying to keep things ligjt before the start. The photographer told me he better see me that happy when I come out of the water.

I felt surprisingly calm when I entered the water and started swimming right away when the race started.  I still lost my breath a little at the beginning, but I was pleased with just being able to go, and with the limited amount of stops I did to sight.  After the first turn I was able to start breathing on every 3rd stroke, something I have never been able to catch my breath enough to do in open water and something I only started doing about 6 weeks ago in the pool.  This was a good sign!  I was a little off course around the first and second turn, but I was then able to get things a little straighter.  I was able to focus on my stroke, make sure I was turning my body properly, and again, continuing to practice breathing every 3rd stroke.  This all felt wonderful, because every race previously all I have been focused on was getting out of the dang water.  I did have a moment of “this is taking forever!” during the swim.  I wasn’t tired, but it just seemed like it was long.  Definitely need to work on the mental training of this, because the IM swim will be sooo much longer!  When I got out of the water and hit my watch I realized that was my fastest swim and a PR by 3 minutes!!  I was so excited.  For the first time after getting out of the water, I was met by “strippers” — people who help rip your wetsuit off you quickly.  I sat on the ground and off it came, then headed into transition one.

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My transition was not my fastest, but still quick.  The bike overall felt really good.  I felt much stronger on the hills and could tell all the work I was putting in was paying off.  I was passing people!  This has never happened to me on the bike.  Especially on the hills…I was even passing some men!  I was pretty excited and feeling good.  I made sure to eat and drink better than I have in previous races.  The race course for the bike is a little frustrating because there are so many turns in such a small distance.  I believe I counted 16 in the 13 miles.  So just when you feel you are getting into rhythm, you have to slow down and turn again.  But overall, I felt strong.  When the race was over and I saw my time I was a little disappointed.  It was a PR by about 2-3 minutes, but that was it.  With my new bike, and my new strength and how I had felt on the course, I was expecting to PR by about 10 minutes.  Oh well, still a PR.

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The second transition went well.  It was my first T2 in which I had bike shoes, so I had to change into my running shoes—pretty simple.  My legs felt good at the start of the run.  I ran the first mile in under 9 minutes and that is about the pace I had wanted to keep the whole race.  Right away when I started running though, I noticed my stomach did not feel quite right.  This was a frustration throughout the whole run.  It never got really bad, but I felt nauseous most of the time and had to stop and walk sometimes in order to give my stomach a break before I started running again.  Throughout the whole run, my legs felt much stronger than they have in past races, so I was very pleased with that.  As was in the half marathon, I just need to work on figuring out my food/liquid intake and my stomach.  I finished the run distance with a 7 minute PR (from my fastest 10k in a triathlon).  I felt ok with this, again, it was still a PR, but I was hoping for right around an hour, which would have been another 7 minutes faster.

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Coming across the finish line

So again, overall, it was good, I’m getting faster and feeling stronger, that is the most important part.  The recovery felt better this time around as well.  I was tired, I think mostly from sun exposure than anything else, but I was not that sore.  My butt muscles definitely felt it, but that was about it.  It was great to get the first triathlon of the season under my belt and reminded me that I do really love this sport.

 

I do need to continue to work on the mental aspect of training.  During each discipline I had thoughts of, “how the hell am I going to do the IM distance.”  It made me worried and doubt myself.  I should have been focused on the race I was doing and not thinking ahead, but I couldn’t keep my mind from going there.  I need to remind myself that I am not yet trained for the IM distance and I still have 6 months.  I will get there.  Until then, I need to keep focused on the now and focus on the workout I am doing, not looking forward.  Unless I am visualizing myself crossing the IM finish line.  That I do pretty regularly! 😀

 

On the housing note…it’s still not done.  We were able to go back for a few days until they started doing the tile.  The tile should be done Tuesday and then they can start moving our stuff back in Wednesday, 8 weeks later.  Then it’s a matter of re-painting, cleaning, and getting everything back where it was when this all happened.  The end is getting closer, finally.

 

Also, my bike ride sucked today. Just plain sucked.  The out ride was fine, I felt good.  Coming back, it was windy.  Stupid and annoyingly windy.  And I got stung by a bee on my lip.  And I fell.  And it was windy.  And I was completely wiped out afterwards.  It’s not always fun, today was one of those days.  But it was good mental training, and next time will be better.  Until next time…

Sarah

Organized Chaos

Training for an Ironman is hard.  Training for an Ironman while working a full time job is hard.  Training for an Ironman while working a full time job while being kicked out of your home is harder.  The past 6 weeks have been pretty crazy in our household and I’m really hoping it calms down soon!  I have reminded myself numerous times over the 6 weeks that it could be worse, and for that, I am grateful.  I am definitely aware that our situation is not the worst ever, but it is stressful, and I’m definitely ready for consistency and routine back!!  I feel like I have been all over the place lately, with a lot on my mind, so I hope this post presents as somewhat organized.

A brief catch up on our home… Five and a half weeks ago we came home to a flooded (minor) kitchen and hallway.  We had to pull out the cabinets the next day, so at that point we no longer had a kitchen.  Thank goodness for insurance, we started the process of repairs.  Two weeks ago, after three weeks of no kitchen and a lot of eating out, they finally started to rip our flooring up to replace it.  Asbestos was found.  Long story short, we then had to leave our house.  We spent a week in a rental, hoping it would be cleared to get back into.  It wasn’t.  We had to move into my dad’s house (insurance would not pay for another rental), hoping it would be cleared this week.  It’s not going to be.  So right now, we are hoping we will be able to get back in on Monday.  We still won’t have toilets (it effected the bathrooms as well) or cabinets or a kitchen, but hopefully, we will be able to get into our house.  Having to pack up and leave your house for an unknown amount of time while training for an Ironman comes with A LOT of stuff.  It basically feels like we moved out.  My schedule is off, because I am staying much further from my workout locations and job.  I’m forgetting things daily, because I don’t have my usual routine and locations of items when I need them.  Our dogs are stressed, we are stressed.  Yuck.  But again, many things to be grateful for; we have insurance (thank goodness, because the cost is already up over $32,000!!!), we were able to find a nice rental for a week that was dog friendly, my dad is graciously letting us stay at his house, I’m still getting my workouts in, we’re healthy, things are good.  So hopefully we are back in the house within the next week (wish us luck)!

Another thing that has been on my mind the past few weeks that I can’t shake is recent deaths of runners and bikers by cars.  I’m sure I am paying more attention because I am in that community more now, but it just seems like it is increasing.  A bicyclist died a few weeks ago while riding on the road.  Another was killed yesterday while riding.  And one week ago, two runners were hit by a car, one died and the other is fighting for her life.  This one was a little closer to home, being that it was just down the street and one of the women was good friends with another triathlete I know.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them lately.  I never thought of training as being so dangerous.  It has made me much more aware of things when I am outside training, as well as when I am in the car driving.  I am making a point to be a better and more aware driver, and I hope you do the same.  PLEASE stay focused on the road, don’t text and drive, and watch out for vulnerable riders and runners who are most likely obeying all the laws, but don’t have the protection of a car to keep them safe. 

So with all of that going on, I have continued to train and it seems to be going really well!  About 5 weeks ago I noticed a shift in my training, I seemed much stronger, especially on the bike.  I was able to push myself harder, and I was getting faster.  My coach has noticed, some club members have noticed and commented; it feels good!!  I’ve done the South Mountain ride again and was even able to take an extra lap this time.  I also rode to Payson last weekend!  I didn’t quite make it the entire way, stopping about 6 miles short.  But there was another ~1700ft of elevation climb remaining and at this point in training it just wasn’t worth it to keep going.  I had done plenty of climbing that day (over 5400 feet) and I was proud that I had made it that far.

group bike

 

I’m feeling stronger in the swim, and just yesterday I swam 2000 meters in the same amount of time it took me to swim 1500 in October.  Getting faster!!  I’m anxious to get in open water again…we had to cancel our open water swim due to something called “swimmers itch.”  Apparently there is a parasite in the lake that burrows into your skin and causes little pimple like bumps.  NO THANK YOU!!  So the race on Sunday will be my first open water swim in a while.  I’m hoping I can get in a little early so that I can get my mind and my breathing calm before the start.

My running is going ok, but not strong.  Running is what I have done the most of, so I figured this would be the easy part of the training, but it is definitely not.  I struggle with even just getting out and starting my runs.  Running feels so much harder on my body, with the constant pounding, so I think that is what makes it difficult.  I’m still doing it though, and I’m reminding myself to trust the process, because like everything else, if I put in the work, the improvements will come.

sunrise

My first race of the season is on Sunday!  I’m really excited to get the season kicked off.  I have never trained this hard for a triathlon before, so I should do better than I have in the past and I am hoping for a PR.  So I’m just hoping that my body and mind will push myself to where I want it to go.  It will be my first race on my new bike, my first race in a long sleeve wetsuit, my first race with clips on the bike, lots of firsts.  The biggest thing this will effect is my transition time, so I will be practicing and visualizing the transition many times this weekend.  I’m looking forward to seeing so many familiar faces at the race, both club members who are racing as well as volunteering along the course.  I’m usually really nervous before a race, and I will still be a little nervous, but I’m definitely more excited this time around, so I’m ready for Sunday to be here!

I’ll update you all with a report after the race (and hopefully an update that we’re back in our house)!

I’ll end with a quote I came across this week that I absolutely LOVE. “What lies behind us and what lies in front of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sarah

Inspiration

Last week was a good week.  My workouts were strong, I focused on sleep and was able to get more than usual, I felt good.  But those are not the reasons it was a good week.  Last week I was reminded over and over again that I am surrounded by people who inspire the hell out of me.  These people are good people, and strong people.  For some reason last week, this stood out a lot.

I think I became focused on this after coming across a father and son who were picking up trash on their neighborhood street because they saw a lot of it and wanted to help.  We were out doing our club volunteer trash pickup, and they had already been out there picking things up.  That impressed me-there are a lot of good people in this world.  I think that set the stage for the week of recognizing and appreciating things.

There’s Amy who comes to spin class after having knee replacement surgery and continues to push herself to get stronger and better so she can do another race.

Tuesday, because I really did not want to get my run in, my husband rode my old bike (much too small for him-we’re working on finding a good one for him) around our neighborhood while I ran beside him.  Encouraging me the whole way, I finished in a time that was much closer to a race time than any other weekday run I’ve done…so much of a boost, just because he was there encouraging me.

Thursday morning track.  This was the day that I couldn’t get over how lucky I am to be surrounded by these people.  Maria, who had been sick for weeks, unable to run, wakes up in the 4 o’clock hour to show up to track just to cheer people on.  For the second week in a row.  I cannot say I would be able to do the same if I was not feeling well and did not need to get a workout in.

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Coach Anthony and some super strong and awesome women

And it was mile time trial day at track.  Run a mile as fast as you can.  We do this every once in a while to track improvements.  Outside of Coach Anthony, there happened to be just women there that morning.  These women were amazing.  Watching them push their limits and CRUSH their personal best’s was so freaking fun.  Watching the positivity, the encouragement, the motivation…feeling that myself, it was a great morning.  You girls inspire the hell out of me.  Thank you.

Friday was the club happy hour.  I have to say, getting to hang out with everyone while eating yummy food and not feeling like I was going to die was a nice change of pace ☺.  This happy hour just so happened to be the “anniversary” of my first interaction with the tri club.  (Because it was also the anniversary of when Kaci decided to come talk to me at Gavin’s birthday party as I was sitting off to the side and tell me, “hey, Landis tri club is having a happy hour this week, you should go!”  Thanks Kaci!!!)  It was at the happy hour last year that I showed up, nervous to meet new people, eager to meet people who could help me learn more about this sport.  Again, I was reminded how lucky I felt to have gained so many new friendships in the last year.

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Landis Triathlon Club happy hour

Saturday we rode to the towers at South Mountain again.  Tanya and Cindy made it to the top for the first time.  It was so fun to watch them push their limits and make it look easy.  (You girls really did make it look easy, even if that might not totally be how it felt).  Bill, being the only guy on this day and the most experienced rider in the group, was very encouraging to everyone and even stayed behind us all on the way down to make sure we all got down safely.  Good people.

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At the towers (photo credit: Tanya)

These people inspire me every day to push my limits, to believe in myself more, and to overall just be happier.  I am so very grateful to have them in my life.  Thank you!!!

And this is not just the tri club, this goes for all of November Project, and everyone else that I have met through these two groups.  Inspiring, good people.  I know the early mornings are hard, and sometimes working out seems like the last thing you want to do, but I really feel like others are missing out on all this inspiration.  So you should join us.  You don’t have to be into triathlons (we will probably make you convert eventually, but that’s for another day), you can just want to get a workout in.  You don’t have to be fast, in shape (trust me, the first workout I went to I almost passed out and had to lay on the floor for a long while before I felt better), none of that matters, you will be welcome with open arms and will leaving feeling encouraged (and hopefully inspired), I promise.

BMO Half Marathon Race Report

I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe how this race went for me and I have not been able to find the word.  It definitely was not bad by any means, it was a PR after all, but it wasn’t a great day either.

The day started well, I woke up ready, and got a breakfast in before leaving.  I was nervous about the start because it was so different than other races I’ve done.  I had to be at the buses a whole hour and a half before the race started.  I usually prefer to arrive right before the start, as I get hungry the longer I’m awake and never want to eat too much before the race.  It was also different because Ryan, who is usually a calming presence, was not able to be at the start with me (because we had to take buses to the start).  On top of that, it was COLD!  For this Arizona girl, a 36 degree start, especially when you have to be there an hour and a half before race time, is way too cold.  But Ryan dropped me off, bundled up, and I was off.

I saw a familiar face in Kolby, while waiting in the line for the buses.  This helped my nerves a little.  We complained about the cold together and chatted on the bus ride.  When I told him my goal time of under 2 hours, he decided that was a good time and said he would run with me.  Great!  Someone I know to help push me when I want to slow down.

Once we got to the start, it was still about 50 minutes until race time.  There were heaters the race directors had provided, but there were about 30 people huddled together around each.  We stood under one and were able to maybe get a degree warmer, it really wasn’t helpful.  About 35 minutes out from the start I decided I was going to stand in line for the restroom, I didn’t want to have to stop during the race.  I told Kolby that I would meet him by the 2:00 pacer if I did not get back in time.  Then, I stood in line for a half hour…ugh!  I ate an energy snack about 30 minutes before the start.  Then, as I waited, I realized it was going to be really close whether or not I was going to be done in time.  I started stretching in line and started taking off my outer layers to put in my drop bag.  Luckily, with 5 minutes to spare, it was my turn.  I jogged back to the start line after throwing my drop bag in the truck.  Fireworks were already going off and I realized in the huge crowd that finding Kolby was going to be difficult.  I found the 2:00 pacer and as I was getting in line I see Ryan!  I was surprised…he didn’t even tell me he was going to try to get to the start line.  I was able to give him a quick hug and then the gun went off.  My watch did not start as I crossed the start line and I fumbled with it for about 5-10 seconds, which would be an issue later in the race.

I felt great at the beginning.  The pace was good, I kept myself from going out too fast, my legs and breathing felt good.  I shed my sweatshirt at a mile and a half, I was confident it was going to be a good race.  Ryan popped up on the side of the course at about mile 3.5 and I gave him a wave and tossed him my gloves, which I didn’t need anymore.  Shortly after seeing Ryan, Kolby ran up behind me and found me.  Yay!  I apologized for not being able to find him at the start.  He was feeling great and after a couple minutes he said he was going to go for a PR, as his legs were feeling so great.  I was all for this, not wanting to hold anyone back and I gave him some encouraging words as he ran off (secretly wishing I could keep up with him).

About mile 5, an older gentleman, wearing a bright orange shirt, who had been running next to me for a while asked if I was following the 2:00 pacer.  I said yes and that I have tried to break 2 hours twice before and was not successful.  He said he was the same and that he usually hits a wall around mile 10.  I said we would make it this time and we ran together.  I then turned to the 2:00 pacer and group (one who I had met at packet pick up and shared my goal with) and said…”I am going to do this under 2 hours, so if I fall behind, you yell at me!”  They were on board and so we continued.

Ryan was on the course again at mile 6 and gave me some more encouraging words, he was happy to see I was still on pace.  Somewhere between mile 6 and 7 my stomach started to hurt (dang it!!) and I wanted to walk for the first time.  I decided I would walk for about 15 seconds just to take a deep breath.  I started to slow and the guy in the orange shirt and the entire 2:00 group did what I asked them to…they yelled at me, told me I could do this and so I didn’t stop.  I didn’t need to, I was feeling ok, it was mental at that point.  I was grateful for others encouragement.  One of the pacers came up to me and gave me some encouraging words, and helped me put the focus back on my breathing.  This is the time that I usually eat something to keep my energy up.  Since my stomach was already hurting, I decided eating would make it worse, so I kept going.  At this point, myself and the guy in the orange shirt pulled ahead of the pace group for a bit.  We weren’t really running faster, they had just slowed down.  It started to get harder, but I knew the November Project crew was at mile 10 cheering, so I focused on making it to that point.  My stomach continued to bother me and right before mile 10 my hip flexors started to hurt, nothing bad though, I knew they would be fine.

I saw the NP crew at mile 10, Ryan was there as well, and I gave them all high fives.  Ryan said I was on track and to keep it up.  At this point the mental part was getting to me.  I felt like I needed to walk (even though I didn’t).  I knew my time was going to be close and I thought if I do a brief walk, I will have more oomph to push at the end.  So while in a crowd, when the pace group couldn’t see me, I dropped to a fast walk for about 30 seconds.  I kept the pace group in site and decided when I started running again, I was going to pick up the pace to catch them.  I did that and was right behind them, but was tired from picking up the pace.  I kept going for a short while longer, until about 11.5 miles and I walked again.  I was mad at myself at this point for letting myself lose the support of the pace group.  I checked my watch so many times, trying to figure out how quick I would have to run the last 1.6 miles.  I let my heart rate come down a bit and then started off, at a quicker pace than I had been in order to make up the time.  I was hurting, but still moving.  My stomach started to feel worse, probably from pushing a little harder, also probably from the nerves of knowing my goal was going to be tight.

WARNING: Discussion of stomach issues and bodily fluid ahead…not too graphic, but be warned 😉

I hit mile 12 and started to pick up the pace more.  I quickly realized my stomach was not going to let me keep that pace up for the last 1.1 mile.  I kept it just a few seconds quicker than race pace until about the last half mile.  It was downhill at this point, so I started to go quicker, choosing people ahead of me to pass one at a time.  I focused on each person and picked another as I ran past them.  I knew at this point that my sub-2 hour goal was going to be incredibly close.  When I turned the last corner before the homestretch I checked my watch and I had a little over a minute left.  I started sprinting, all the time remembering that my watch didn’t start right away and I had to give myself a few seconds.  Then I could see the finish line and I had 30 seconds before my watch clocked 2-hours.  I was sprinting as fast as my legs could at that point.  I crossed the finish line and hit my watch.  I went straight to the side where the trash cans were, I felt sick.  There was already someone laying over the trash can so I put my hands on my knees and started to dry heave.  A volunteer walked up to me and asked if I was ok.  I told him I was fine and took a few deep breaths.  I looked at my watch, 1:59:53.  I had a small moment of excitement, but knew I still might not have it, because I was not sure how much time had gone at the beginning when my watch didn’t start.  I felt good though, I didn’t think it had been 7 seconds.  I took two steps forward and then I lost it.  I darted for the side again, found a tiny bush, plopped myself down in the dirt and started to vomit.  A lot.  I had never done this after a race, during training, anything, so I was surprised.  I knew that sprint push at the end was going to be a bit too much.

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A picture of me just before crossing the finish.  My color looks bad, you can see in my face I’m about to lose my stomach.

I had more volunteers come up and ask if I was ok.  I told them I was fine, I just needed to get it out.  I refused the medical team, water, and towel they had for me.  They finally made me sit in a chair so I would get out of the way of the medical team that was trying to get to other people.  I sat for a minute, caught my breath and then proceeded through the chute knowing that I needed to find Ryan.  I had been on the ground for a while and he was going to be looking for me.  I saw Kali and told her I thought I made it under 2 hours (spoke too soon!).  I walked past the picture ops, right through all the post race food and drink (French toast sounded absolutely disgusting right then) to the racer exit, where I saw Ryan.  I told him I thought I made it, but I wasn’t sure.  I asked him to pull out my phone.  My mom had signed up for the race text updates, so I knew she would text me a congrats if I made my time.  I had a text from her and it said, “call me when you get a chance” with a kissy face.  That was the give-away, if I had reached it, she would have said something much more congratulatory, I knew I had not reached my goal.  I called her while in line to pick up my drop bag and said, “what did I get, two hours and two seconds?” and she giggled and told me yes.  UGHHHHH!!!  Unfortunately for her, she was not aware that she was the first person to tell me my official results.  I was so disappointed.  3 seconds.  3 seconds.

I was frustrated with missing my goal by just 3 seconds, but I was happy that it was a PR, and by over 3 minutes from my last race.  I was proud (but still so frustrated).  Each race, you learn more about yourself.  I still have my mental obstacles to push through.  I pushed more this time and so the next race I will be able to push even more.  And I will break the 2 hour mark on the next race.  I still have a lot of work to do with my stomach and calming the nerves both before and during the race.  I’m confident that if I did not have an upset stomach, I would have been closer to a 1:57 time.  I also kept thinking about the guy in the orange shirt.  When I dropped back, he was still with the pace group and I did not pass him at any point, nor did I see him at the finish.  So that can only mean that he was ahead of me and finished in under 2 hours.  I was really happy for him, but wished I would have seen him to tell him congrats!

Other than my stomach, my body was in much better shape for this race.  My legs felt great, including the following day.  I was hardly sore at all, I felt great.  And the most amazing thing of all, my shins did not bother me AT ALL.  Not even in the slightest.  Not during the race, not after, not the next day.  That has never happened to me.  I’ve been on runs a few times since and have had zero shin issues as well.  It seems like my body turned a corner with that, thank goodness!

The rest of the day was spent congratulating everyone else I knew running that day.  So many of them also had a  PR, finished their first half or full, qualified for Boston, so many other accomplishments.  I am very happy to be a part of a community that is such a HUGE support.  So much encouragement, love, and friendship in these people.  It was great to see all of their accomplishments that day.

race-friends

So…for now, onto the next race.  I had a PR, I’m happy, but those 3 seconds will linger until I run another half again :-).  For now, I’m focused on my first triathlon of the year, an Olympic distance on April 30th.  Still focusing on the bigger picture of finishing the Ironman this year.

-Sarah

 

7 weeks in….

It has been a little while since I wrote an update.  Some of that is due to lack of time, some of that is due to not feeling good about my training and not wanting to share it.  I’m going to push myself over the next 9 months to get past that, because there are definitely going to be more setbacks and I started this blog to share it all, the good and the bad.

The word I would use to describe the first month of training is frustrating.  I spent most of the month not feeling well and probably only got a handful of really good workouts in.  I started the year off ill and then got sick again in the middle of the month.  I never felt really horrible, I always wanted to continue working out, but I just didn’t feel right.  It seemed everyone I was around was sick as well, I just couldn’t get away from it.  After a few weeks, I finally took a Wednesday off and did not do a workout thinking that rest would help me feel better….but I got worse.  By this point I was completely without a voice.  I pushed through work whispering most of the day and not able to talk on the phone because no one could understand me.  By the end of the day my chest felt tight and I thought it was probably time to see a doctor so I didn’t get worse.  I reluctantly went to Urgent Care after work and walked out after a 40 minute breathing treatment, a steroid shot and an inhaler.  It was actually amazing how well the breathing treatment worked, and I could talk, although a little raspy, when I left the office.  20170125_191736

I was told to rest, rest, rest.  I hate that word!  I’m not good at resting, but I did, for a day.  I took the next day off work and I didn’t workout, and it didn’t help me feel better.  I had not yet had a solid week of workouts and I was getting really frustrated.  I started to doubt whether or not my body could handle the training, while still realizing that at this point I wasn’t doing anything more than I had done for previous Olympic distance races.  I slowly started to feel a little better and got back to working out, but it was about another week and a half before I FINALLY started to feel good.  I didn’t realize how bad I had still been feeling until I had my first good workout that I was able to push myself to my limit and felt stronger afterwards.  I was still using my inhaler after my workouts (and still am at times) because my chest continued to feel tight and was still wheezing.  But I was back…I was able to push myself and I was excited about it.  I had some good workouts, I was feeling strong.

 

During January, on top of not feeling too hot, my shins started to act up again.  Shin pain, “shin splints,” is something that I have dealt with for 20 years.  It has brought many tears over the years and at times an inability to even walk from the pain.  It ebs and flows, but as my running miles increase, my pain typically increases.  The pain is usually an indication that my shoes are worn out and I need new ones, but the shoes I had were new and they were definitely not worn out yet.  I was frustrated that I was experiencing this so early in my training and feeling defeated.  My coach suggested I go to physical therapy.  Reluctantly I made an appointment…I’ve tried everything under the sun for shin splints and it has all seemed like temporary fixes.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I got there.  My physical therapist, Tracey, was very knowledgeable and informative.  One of the first things she said to me was, “I just feel bad that you were never able to get good treatment before.  A few little adjustments/stretching and I don’t think you would have had this issue all these years.”  I wanted to cry in frustration at that fact because my shins have been so frustrating for so many years, but I was also happy and hopeful that maybe I found an answer.  Tracey informed me that my pain is coming from a tiny muscle under my shin bone.  My heel lifts too quickly when I walk and run because my calves are too tight.  This quick lift causes all the weight and pressure to be placed on the front of my legs and that tiny muscle, which is way over worked.  Working on stretching and improving the motion in my calves and ankles will help me heel stay down longer and therefore let the rest of my leg, the muscles that are supposed to do their jobs, actually carry that weight and not my shins.  She also did Astym on me, which is a process where she takes a couple plastic “tools” and scraps them up and down my shin and calves over and over.  This is done to break up the bad tissue so that it can heal in the proper way.  This is basically torture.  My shins have been an area that, whether I have been running or not, the slightest touch on them makes me scream.  So yeah, that has not been fun.  BUT, it seems to be working and I’m still hopeful.

 

A couple weekends later, after finally feeling better and after a few rounds of physical therapy, I tackled a feat that I wasn’t sure I could do.  I climbed south mountain to the TV towers on my bike.  I hate hills and my history proves that I’m not very good with them, running or biking, so I was a little nervous.  I ended up being alone most of the way up to the towers which I think was good because I wasn’t able to complain to anyone and I had to keep myself going, no one else was there to push me along.  I ended up surprising myself and made it to the top!!  I didn’t have to walk my bike once and I actually felt good when I got up there.  I was happy to feel better, happy to be able to push myself and was starting to feel hopeful in my training again.  My coach met me up there and coached me on the way down…I still have some work to do on the downhills with my bike…I’m a little fearful of the speed at this point.  It was a great day.  20170204_102444

The next day, I had a 12 mile run on my agenda on a road in which mile 6-10 were uphill.  The best thing about the run, I had zero shin pain.  After just a couple physical therapy sessions, my shins were feeling great and had not hurt again since I started physical therapy.  WOOOHOO!  I felt great on the first 6 miles and I finished the full 12, but let’s just say my legs were pretty dead from the bike ride the day before and there was a lot of walk/running going on for mile 6-10.

After that weekend, another challenge faced me as this was my first week of being on call for work.  It really was not a big issue, but it did cause me to miss a couple workouts that week which was a little frustrating.  I also had to do my 3 hour bike ride on a trainer in my home.  I was excited about this at first, looking forward to watching some shows I like, maybe reading some while I was on the bike.  That quickly faded as all I wanted to do was get off the bike and sit on the comfy couch that was a foot away.  It was tough to get through, but I finished.  Not looking forward to those future on-call bike rides though.  20170211_112611

I still had some good workouts that week, including a run Tuesday night after a long day of work in which I PR’d my 6 mile time.  I was feeling pretty good.  No shin pain, feeling strong.  And then I woke up Thursday morning.  I went to track and instantly, my shins were hurting, even my knee was starting to hurt.  Again, FRUSTRATING!  This was out of nowhere.  I was feeling fine the day before, nothing had changed and all of a sudden pain.  By the end of the day, my coworker was asking why I was limping (I didn’t even recognize it) and I my knee was killing me and super swollen.  I went to physical therapy the next morning and Tracey helped me to feel more hopeful…told me to trust the process, recognize how pain free I have been already, and reminded me to focus on the basics…stretching and spending time with the foam roller.  My knee issue seemed to be caused by a lack of a good foam rolling session the day before and went away after some rolling and swelling reduction, whew.  I continued to focus on stretching my calves and  I was able to get my long run in this weekend with very little pain, so that was a little more hopeful.  I get easily frustrated with the pains that seem to come out of nowhere and when my body does not perform like I feel like it should.  I now recognize though, that there are so many more ups and downs to come for me and I need to focus on the big picture and listen to my body.

Despite the setbacks the past 7 weeks, there have been some overall positives as well.

  • I have accomplished being able to breathe bilaterally while swimming without feeling/looking like I’m drowning!!  I still don’t like it, but I can do it and that’s a start.  And I am loving the stillness and calmness of my morning swims.

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  • “The drop” when I run is gone.  “The drop” is this lovely thing that happens to a lot of runners, a couple miles into your run (for me, it’s at mile 3)…when your stomach “drops” and makes needing a bathroom an immediate thing.  Yeah, not enjoyable.  For me, it usually comes with stomach issues after my long runs as well, for about 3 hours or more.  But as I build up miles and my body gets used to it, that goes away.  Luckily, for the past 3 weeks or so, I have had no stomach issues during or after the runs!!!
  • As the days are getting longer, I am finally starting to see the end of the sunlight and the beautiful sunset colors as I’m leaving work.  I am grateful that it is no longer pitched black during my non working hours.  And I can barely see the hint of light as I am getting to work these days, so I know that seeing the sunrise is not far behind.  I absolutely love the sunrises and sunsets and I’m ready to enjoy those daily again.

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  • Also, my husband is amazing.  He has already been so helpful and supportive, whether it is cooking dinners, helping me tackle my never-ending to-do list, or giving encouraging words and hugs when I come home from a workout in tears.  He even sketches little pictures when I’m not looking and leaves them on the mirror for me to find when I leave the house in the early morning hours :-).  There is no way I could do this without him and I am a lucky girl.20170215_190553

A quick sketch Ryan drew.  Notice the detail…the attractive bike shorts, my goggles, race distance, the M Dot.  I love it. 🙂

I have my first race of the year coming up this next week.  The Phoenix half marathon on the 25th.  My goal in this is to break a 2 hour time.  This has been my goal in my past two half marathons and I came up just short in both.  I want that sub 2-hour time so bad!  I’m nervous about how my shins and my body are going to hold up, especially since I didn’t get to all of my training runs that I had planned, but I am still hopeful.  Send me good vibes that my next post will be a race report with my sub 2-hour time!  Thanks for reading and supporting me!

-Sarah

 

 

Facing fears

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear” – Jack Canfield

The build up to the official start of training has definitely had me thinking a lot about fear.  In particular, fear of failure.  Fear has kept me from doing a lot of things I have wanted in my life.  I wanted to play volleyball at a small college somewhere.  I was afraid I would fail, so I didn’t even try.  I also wanted to go to college at NYU.  I was afraid of leaving my friends and family and afraid I would not get, so I didn’t apply.  I even had the entire application filled out and the letter written, but I threw it away.  I stayed in relationships much longer than I should have because I was afraid of being alone, or that no one else would love me.  I wanted to spend a semester abroad but I was afraid I would be too lonely.  Luckily I have learned, and I would do all of these things in a heartbeat now if I had the chance.  So many times fear has held me back from doing what I want or from pushing myself more.  I have been much better at this in the last couple of years, pushing past fears to try new things and meet new people, but the fear still creeps in.

I have a lot of fears about Ironman and the training that comes with it.  The biggest one that keeps coming up is the fear of not being able to finish the race, letting not only myself down, but others as well.  The next 11 months is going to be hard on those that love me and are close to me.  My husband, in particular is going to be making some sacrifices that he definitely doesn’t have to do, but is willing and wanting to do to help me reach my goal.  If I don’t finish, I feel like I will let him, and the rest of them down.  I’m also afraid of letting myself down, putting in so much work to not get across the finish line.  I’m afraid of letting my coach down, who is going to be putting in a lot of work to help get me there.  I am well aware that there are a lot of other factors, many of which I can’t control, that come into play on race day that have nothing to do with my physical endurance to finish the race.  So I know that not finishing is a possibility.  I am also aware that those that love me and have helped me get to my goal will not be let down if I don’t finish.  They will be proud of how far I go, no matter what.  And  I know that the race is the icing on the cake at the end of a very long training year.  So getting through the training is a giant accomplishment in itself.  I am confident that I am doing this race for me, to push my limits, myself and my abilities.  All that aside, the fear still creeps in.

I’m fearful of the little steps along the way as well.  The increasing miles in the different disciplines.  Falling on the bike.  Swimming in a new body of water for the 70.3.  So many ways that fear is trying to take over.

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But I am going to face them all and then leave them in the dust.  With the fears and insecurities that I have faced before, I have found so much strength in getting through them.  I’m excited and looking forward to being able to face so many fears in the next year and grow into a better person as a result.  I believe a big part of this was that my training had not started yet.  So I have been left to wonder.  Now that I will get moving on my training, I think I will find myself gaining confidence and strength in each stroke, rotation, and step along the way.

I’m looking forward to the journey!  What fears will you be overcoming this year?