Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School

Even though I haven't been attending classes for quite a few years now. . . the last week in August still signals that school is right around the corner. With my triathlons completed for the season, I decided to take a "back to school" approach with my fall training. My study? Three of my triathlon weaknesses:

1. Running
2. Strength
3. My weight

My extra-curriculars for the fall semester will be some fun easy time on the bike and some technique work in the pool.

Yesterday I started my new "running focused" plan. My ultimate end goal is the Richmond Half Marathon on November 15th. Coach Michael is gearing all of my run training over the next two and a half months towards getting me across the finish line under the 2 hour mark. Yesterday's workout was a nice break in post 1/2 IM - a half hour run on the grass field focusing on technique with 5 minutes in the middle of barefoot running.

Today I started my second class - my weight. First, I've made major progress over the past year and a month that I've been seeing my nutritionist, Tina Shiver. Not only have my stomach issues decreased substantially (after figuring out my gluten intolerance) such that now they seem to be infrequent rather than every day and are usually associated with a meal eaten in a restaurant, but I've also lost about 15 pounds and gone down almost 2 clothing sizes. That said, I still have a few tires around my stomach and more wiggle in my thighs than I'd like. So, we are aiming for another 10 to disappear.

In anticipation of my appointment today and refocus for fall, I took last week completely off (i.e. drank lots of wine, ate a few more sweets and didn't really pay attention to portions or nutritional content) and celebrated my "last meal" last night post workout at Casa Grande with a large margarita, lots of chips and salsa and our usual fajitas texacanas. This morning as I faced a new day, I got a good chuckle at pro Elizabeth Fedofsky's very timely blog this morning about she and her husband's grocery shopping habits. It reminded me of the difference between Bart's and my grocery lists - mine usually full of locally grown produce, organic fruit, alternate grains and "happy" meat and Bart never letting the jar with the dark chocolate Hershey kisses get empty, loving his hot dogs with cheese whiz and finishing off many meals with either a cookie, some ice cream or a big glass of chocolate milk. To his credit, he now also usually has bananas, salmon, organic strawberries and V8 on his list.

Today's visit with Tina as always was helpful in getting me prepared for my next goals. We talked through my successful nutrition and hydration at Timberman, designed some new bars for me to try from You Bar and then got down to business - my new eating plan. In essence, the next 3 weeks are going to be an attempt to trick my body into losing weight again by mixing things up and giving me enough protein to repair my worn muscles. We rarely talk calories (I have a hard time counting them) and instead talk in servings. My new plan is going to be tough - a lot more lean protein than I'm used to (a whopping 12 oz a day) and a super tiny allowance for fat (between 35-38 g a day). Since today I learned each ounce of protein from meat averages 2 g of fat, that means if I get at 2 oz of my protein from non-meat sources, I only have 15 g of fat left to spend during the day. Not much if you consider that a teaspoon of olive oil or butter has 5 g fat and most of our starches have some fat content - even if only 1 or 2 grams. Essentially this means I have to make some hard choices these next three weeks and eliminate most of my "luxuries" that I've been allowed to enjoy this past triathlon season - i.e. chocolate, mayo, regular salad dressing, butter, potato chips and the most disappointing of all, wine. Yes, wine must be counted as a fat and so most nights (thankfully not every night) I will have to go without.

So. . . if I'm a little grumpy the next few days as I adjust to my new plan, I apologize. The grumpiness will disappear soon and hopefully this will be just the jump start I need to get me back on track and losing again.

Tomorrow - I tackle the start of my final class - strength training - with a 6 am core endurance class.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Timberman Race Report

First, I apologize for the lack of pictures to accompany this post. My mom was responsible for capturing the moments at the race and they left for whale watching before I remembered to download the pictures from her camera. I'll try and post some later.

Overall, I had a great day and a great race.

Our morning started extremely early - the alarm went off at 3:45 am. By 4:30 we were dressed and ready to go, gear packed in the car, breakfast in hand. We picked up my mom and dad at their hotel and immediately issued a warning: "I'm sorry if I am grumpy or quiet this morning. I promise I'll be better after the race is over." For whatever reason, my anxiety before a race is horrible. Pre-race I'd pretty much rather do anything than wait around to race. The stress of it all turns my stomach in knots and is by far the worst part of racing.

Because of our early departure, we were able to get a pretty good parking spot at Ellacoya State Park in the shaded section in the lot by the swim start. Bart and I walked over to transition, took the tarps covering our bikes off and prepared our transition area and bikes for the race. At the last minute, I wimped out and decided to put on my bike shoes in transition rather than trying to put them on while on the bike. Although I've done it many times before, on race morning, it just seemed like too much for this particular race with this many people around.

After our transition areas were ready, Bart and I headed back to the car to try and eat some breakfast. I managed to gag down a banana and a half a cup of white rice before my stomach started to do flip flops. Thankfully there was a port-o-potty nearby and I went to stand in line. Back at the car my mom started asking questions about the race: "Why do some people have Rs on their legs versus an age? What is the distance again of the bike? etc" Finally I had to just ask her to not ask any more questions. The more I thought about the race (and answered the questions) the more my nerves got to me. So yep... back to the port-o-potty again. This time when I returned to the car, it was time to put on my wetsuit and head to the beach for the swim start. I was amazed at how quickly 2 and a half hours passed.

Once on the beach I was able to spot some familiar faces - TGs Lynn, Sharon, Karen and Shawn, plus Blake and Fred were wading in the water getting ready for the swim to start. The pros (both men and women) were off first. It is amazing how quickly they move through the water and how close they swim to one another. The 50 and older men were off next, including the Hoyts. I continue to be inspired by the strength and accomplishment of the Hoyts. As the pros were headed back to shore, it was time to test my goggles, swim a few strokes and head towards the start. Finally, around 7:50, TG Karen, Sharon and I were off.

The swim was much choppier than what I had experienced in my practice swim two days earlier. The buoys were easy to spot and I felt like I was making solid headway, although working hard, on the way out to the first turn buoy. Unfortunately, I wasn't having much success in finding someone to draft off of. It seemed the people around me were either too fast, and I would lose their feet, or too slow and I was climbing up their legs. So I just kept at it and swam. After the turn, while we swam parallel to the shore, I felt a little stronger and more comfortable. I was able to stretch out my stroke a bit and relax some in the water. Then, as I neared the last turn buoy, the waves started. Yes, I meant to write waves. Around the last turn buoy there seemed to be considerable chop and current. Almost every time I lifted my head to sight, I encountered a wave of water in my face. I felt like I was going nowhere. At that point, I wanted to be done with the swim, and I felt like it was taking me forever to get from buoy to buoy. Finally, after about 3 buoys, the current slowed some, the water calmed and it was a quick swim into shore.

I stripped my wetsuit down to my waist, and jogged off towards transition. My dad was alongside the swim exit and I got a big smile and "Go Beth" to help me on my way. One of my favorite parts was next... the wetsuit strippers. I plopped my body down on the AstroTurf and two kids yanked my wetsuit off in record time. As I started down my row, I noticed Bart leaving transition and realized my swim must not have been as slow as I thought.

T1 was purposefully on the slower side. I put my shoes on, took time to take electrolyte tablets, added my glasses and helmet and headed out to the bike. By then, my mom and dad had made their way to the bike shoot and were there to see me off with cheers and smiles.

Bike - My goal for the bike was to keep my heart rate in check - in zone 3 - for the entire leg other than a few of the killer hills and to eat and drink plenty on the back half of the course after getting through the initial 12 miles. The first 12 miles were as challenging as I thought they'd be. The worst hill was the "Monster" at mile 10. As I was grinding pedal by pedal slowly up the hill, Andy Potts was flying down in the opposite direction, followed quickly by a few more male pros and my favorite woman triathlete, Chrissie Wellington. Before I reached the top and right when I needed it, Blake also passed me and gave some encouraging words. Finally, the hills were over and fun part of the course began. I was very thankful that I had trained on what few hills we have in Richmond and also biked on the Blue Ridge a few times in training. The Blue Ridge rides were especially great preparation. The middle of the bike course was more typical of triathlons I've raced and I felt like I was flying. I ate well, drank lots and by the time I hit the turn around, I was much closer to my White Lake time than I expected and that bit of surprise gave me a little more energy for the next half. The return up the hills was easier than the trip out and I started to pass more people than I was passed (which was frequent by the 45-50 age group men in the beginning). Soon I was headed back into the park taking my shoes off on the bike and surprising my parents by my earlier than I anticipated arrival.

T2 - Again I took my time in transition, dried off my feet and body glided my blister spots, took some more electrolytes, grabbed my visor and took off for the run. I decided to wear my run belt after all just in case I needed water at a time it wasn't available. If I do this race again, I would leave it in transition.

Run - For the first time this year since the Kinetic Sprint, I actually felt good on the run. My heart rate stayed where it was supposed to and, while my legs were certainly hurting during the second lap, I didn't feel like I was going to die out there on the run course. Although I haven't looked at my splits yet, I'm pretty sure I ran a negative split. The support on the run course was better than any race I've ever done. I loved the man handing out snowballs (which I promptly put down my sports bra to help keep me cool) and the block of neighbors at the turn around who sang barbershop quartet and played Broadway show tunes. I took a cup of water and a cold sponge at every water stop and did my best to keep myself cool. The double out and back course was great for cheering on and seeing all of my fellow TGs (Karen, Susie, Shawn, Sharon, Lynn, Melissa, Mary, Kate, Sarah) , Coach Blake, my fellow Endorphin teammates Fred, Missy and Brian and of course my hubby Bart. I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire run. Having volunteered at Placid, I made sure I thanked each of the volunteers who handed me a cup, sponge, food or cheered me on. Final Kick's arch before the last half mile of each loop played motivating tunes when I needed them and helped me push the end of each loop. Despite the harder course, I ran about 4 minutes faster than White Lake and almost reached my run goal of sub 11 min miles.

As I neared the finish line chute, Bart was there to cheer me on. I missed seeing anyone I knew as I ran down the chute but as soon as I got my medal and my frozen ice pop, my parents were there to give me a big hug and congrats. I was so glad they made the trip and were able to be a part of my race experience. I think it gave them new insight into this sport I love and for me, it certainly made me want to work harder out there on the course. It was awesome to see their smiles and I know they were proud of both Bart and I.

While this doesn't fit in my race schedule next year because of Placid, I definitely will put it on the list of possible races for future years.

Here are my race stats:
Swim 42:12 (35:10 mile pace)
T1 3:34
Bike 3:23.42 (16.5 ave)
T2 3:46
Run 2:25.53 (11.09 pace)

Final Time: 6:39:05 (59/101 in my age group)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We're Here - Pre-race Report

We finally arrived late night Thursday (actually early am Friday) after a 12 plus hour drive from Richmond to Meredith, NH. We'll have to plan our return trip a little better since we hit NYC at peak rush hour and then proceeded to drive through construction site after construction site in CT, MA and into NH. We also had luck (not) getting behind a 20 tractor trailer caravan of wide loads escorted by no less than 8 police cars as we neared Boston. It would have been a serious blocking penalty in the sport of triathlons.

The town of Meredith is quaint and beautiful. Here are a few pics from our hotel room at the Inns at Mills Falls over looking Lake Winnipesaukee.

We slept late yesterday, checked some work emails and headed off to a yummy brunch at noon. After chowing down and browsing the shops near our hotel a bit, we headed to Ellacoya State Park to check out the transition area, meet up with TG Kate to hand off her bike and do our practice swim. The ride to Ellacoya started to put doubts in our head as to the terrain of the bike course as we headed up and down and up and down the hills over to the park.

The transition area is huge. . . probably twice as big as White Lake. On either side of the transition are two beaches. Based on the course maps, it appears start our swim on one beach and return from the other. I will have lots of time to watch and the pros should finish the swim well in advance of my wave start.

The beaches were roped off and there was boat traffic all along so we put on our wetsuits and swam several times back and forth down the length of the beach near the buoys to get used to the water, current and swimming in our wetsuits for a change. The water temp is perfect, cool but not cold and the water itself is pretty clear. We will definitely face some current and maybe some small swells depending on boat traffic. It felt odd swimming in my wetsuit again - a little constricted and definitely different body positioning. By the end of my short swim I was sighting well, my wetsuit felt comfortable and it was time to get out and head to Gunstock.

Here is TG Kate and I post swim.

We drove up some more hills to Gunstock Ski Resort to packet pickup. I had heard that Timberman had great goodie bags and they were right. We got awesome TYR bags, long sleeved race Tshirts and hats plus an assortment of samples, and a triathlon magazine (unfortunately a back issue I've already read). The best item for me however was the portable sample size chamois cream. I had meant to pick one of these up to put on my bike for the race just in case, but had forgotten. Now I'm covered.

Post packet pickup we drove the bike course. The work on this course is definitely going to be during the first and last 13 miles. The are not for the timid and I will need to remind myself on race day not to be discouraged by them. There are definitely some longer climbs, some shorter steeper ones (including the Monster) and some twisty high speed descents. As I told Bart, I'm going to have to put on my big girl pants tomorrow and take some of these descents outside of my comfort zone in order to make up some time from the hills. TG Lynn and TG Fave are going to love them. The back half of the course is more typical of the triathlon. Some up and down but predominately flat. We even found a yummy ice cream stop - too bad we can't stop and enjoy during the race. The course is definitely doable, but it certainly will be a challenge. I just need to remember to race my race, not someone else's and have fun.

Despite our ice cream snack, at dinner time I was starving again. We ate downstairs in our hotel at Lago. It was fantastic! I had grilled pork tenderloin with a blueberry, raspberry and strawberry salsa, rosemary mashed potatoes and green beans. I learned from the waitress that the blueberries had been picked that morning and delivered to the restaurant by a local. Yum! We also had a few glasses of vino to celebrate our arrival and race weekend.

Back at our hotel room we capped the night off cheering at our TV as Michael Phelps won his 7th gold medal by .01 seconds. He is simply amazing!

This morning we tested our bikes out on the roads around Meredith and got a little taste of what our first 12 miles will be like tomorrow - hilly. Although scenic, the road we took from the hotel was anything but flat. After about our 5th hill climb,14 minutes of riding and taking a look at the next huge descent I turned around and headed back towards town. My legs got their requisite warm up and the rest of the day they can relax.

On tap next? Lunch with my mom and dad who should arrive soon, race meeting at 3 at Gunstock and then off to rack our bikes for the night.

Tonight, think good thoughts for the 15 of us racing from Richmond and pray we have a safe, fun and fast race tomorrow.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ahhh.... my Taper

My Taper has started and other than feeling like I've gained 2 or 3 lbs, I am loving it! As an added bonus to my shorter workout schedules, the weather in Richmond seems to have broken for a few days and the last week had been beautiful. As a result, my mood is more upbeat and I am having positive thoughts for next weekend.

Some highlights:

  • A speedy hour bike Wed night at West Creek (ave 18.5 with my zone 4 fifteen minutes at paces over 20 mph) followed by an easy zone 1 run;
  • Two strong swims at the YMCA;
  • A positive left knee check up at the orthopedist (my knee has been twingy since my fall in Cville and I thought I'd be safe and get it checked);
  • A bike to Ashland Coffee & Tea with Bart and the Gammons this morning and a 40 minute run in the fan around my old stomping grounds and through the Carytown Watermelon Festival followed by a quick cool down dip in the pool;
  • A yummy Friday night dinner at the Farmhouse with TG40 and hubby followed by some sangria under the stars and big oaks as we listened to Susan Greenbaum; and
  • Lots and lots of inspiration from the amazing athletes competing in this year's Olympics.

I've started my packing lists for Timberman and we head out to New Hampshire Thursday morning after our brick. One week left!